First Stop: Dubrovnik
I read about Bowa in a Vogue article and it didn't disappoint. Truly one of the most incredible dining experiences I have ever had. A small, but fantastic restaurant, bar, and beach located on the secluded Sipan Island.
From Dubrovnik, take a taxi or Uber 30 minutes to Port Brsecine. From there you can catch Bowa’s water taxi ($15 pp), reserve in advance.
Alternatively, if you want to make a boat day out of it you can rent a boat from Old Town in Dubrovnik. Either way, you'll feel as your approaching your own private island when you pull up to Bowa.
Opt for a spacious cabana for a larger group or reserve a table hanging over the water on their patio. Both are equally lovely and the staff is super friendly and the food delicious.
The small, private beach is furnished with lounge chairs and perfect for a float in the Adriatic Sea before, after or during your meal. (That's my dad taking a dip between courses!)
After your meal, there is an elevated cabana bar and lounge, perfect for one last drink!
And if you'd prefer more sun, you can relax on the lounge chairs as long as you'd like until you ask to have the boat take you back to the mainland!
Go for the swanky ambiance and an unbeatable view.
The hotel's expansive veranda features live music and delicious bites and cocktails with a phenomenal sunset.
We enjoyed Aperol Spritzes and olives under an umbrella before heading into the Old Town for dinner.
Buza Bar (I or II)
Literally a hole in the wall, these “cliff bars” are a unique drinking experience, but not given enough credit!
They are truly a thing of natural beauty with no thrills and no bathrooms. Look carefully for the nondescript entranceway in the walls of the Old Town.
Pass through the wall to find a table or flat spot amongst the rocks and soak up the sunset and the casual vibe.
Located in Old Town, expect a wait for the most delicious Bosnian food. The Bosnian border is very close to the city of Dubrovnik, so we didn't want to pass up the opportunity to try to their cuisine. I was blown away by the flavors and the service was amazing! (Oops - I forgot to take a picture before we started eating!)
Right next to the town and down the steps from our Airbnb was Banje Beach.
It is definitely the touristy beach, but hey sometimes you have to embrace it! It was an easy and accessible beach option and there were some perks...
Half the beach is run by the Eastwest Beach Club and you can rent a lounge chair or a sunbed through them. Plus, they have waiter service serving lunch food and beach cocktails! Go early to reserve the chairs closest to the water.
You'll see kayakers all over Dubrovnik. If you're going to book a kayak tour I recommend choosing a smaller tour for a more intimate and customizable experience (like the one I linked above).
My mom and I joined a small group for a kayak tour that took us around the Old Town and into a cave then across the channel to the island of Lokrum.
It was certainly a lot more physical than we expected, so be aware - it's a workout! But the tour did finish with local wine during the sunset, so that was a bonus!
Next Stop: Split
On our first night in Split, we wandered through the winding streets of the Palace in the heart of Split to the most beautiful oil bar for dinner.
Tables spill on to the hidden street where this rustic restaurant and shop is serving up a delicious menu featuring locally-sourced regional olive oils and seasonal ingredients.
We enjoyed olive oil, charcuterie, cheese boards, and pasta. All paired with Croatian wines (which are delicious, by the way!).
We discovered Ciri Biri Bela only because it was around the corner from our Airbnb. It is off the beaten path and a little walk out of the town center.
I ate there three times during our stay in Split, because it was that awesome! This café and bistro is situated in a beautiful courtyard of a historic house.
The front and back terrace are divided by an adorable boutique, featuring local Croatian artisans and designers.
I recommend the back patio because you have a direct view into the kitchen where the chef is cooking up breakfast, lunch and dinner. The majority of ingredients are local, organic and from their own farms! The flatbread is a must and their house-made salad dressing is to die for.
After a quick cataman ride to Hvar, we met our captain and departed from Hvar in a private speed boat for a day of exploring the islands. After being surrounded by dolphins on the way out to the islands we began our island hopping.
Our first stop, required us to drop anchor and be pulled by dingy into Stiniva Beach.
Thispicturesque and very hidden beach was ranked the most beautiful European beach in 2016.
We then made our way to the famous Blue Cave, which we cruised into through a super tiny entry hole.
The Blue Cave is considered a national park.
We then weaved in and out of the Seal Monks Caves.
And anchored at truly the "Smallest Beach" on island Vis for some snorkeling! (That tiny pile of pebbles is the beach!)
Then we stopped at Palmižana Beach for a bite.
This popular beach in the Pakleni islands has a super trendy cocktail bar and four restaurants.
We stayed at an Airbnb but we're thrilled to find that you can buy a daybed at the nearby Radisson Blu Beach & Spa.
It provided us with access to a beautiful pebble beach with amazing views of the Adriatic Sea and all amenities.
There is a friendly staff serving lunch and cocktails at your beach chair and solar-powered outdoor showers for after you take a dip.
If you'd prefer more of a scene there is also a fun beach bar with music and a swimming plateau.
Those were the highlights, hope it's helpful! Croatia is an amazing country and I highly recommend it anyone planning a trip to Europe!
Xx - Sara