The Island of Šolta - A Wild Kingdom Near Split

The Island of Šolta - A Wild Kingdom Near Split

An island with two faces

The island of Šolta is located in the immediate vicinity of the cities of Split and Trogir, and is a popular destination for boaters beginning or ending their charter trips in one of its coves. However, Šolta offers much more than just a convenient place to stay overnight for boaters near Split; this is an island of Illyrian legends, ancient fish ponds, medieval poetry, rich nautical tradition, and a growing centre of oenology and Mediterranean culinary specialities.

Mario Paparela / TZ Šolta

The best part of it all is the fact that you can still feel the spirit of the past while relaxing in one of the island’s coves, or touring small villages near the shore and further inland. Due to historical circumstances, inland villages were the island’s only continuously inhabited places for a long time. Eventually their ports became towns and villages, and nowadays they are charming nautical centres.

Šolta has eight villages – Gornje Selo, Srednje Selo and Donje Selo, the inland administrative centre Grohote, and their old ports Rogač, Nečujam, Stomorska and Maslinica. The latter are all facing inland and are centres for island events held during the summer. To put things into perspective, all eight villages stretch along the only island road that meanders from east to west and measures a mere 14 km.

Petar Jurica / Hotel Martinis Marchi

Urban centres

Just behind the Šešula cove, in the westernmost part of the island, lies the old fishing village Maslinica, nowadays known for the most beautiful little marina in Croatia, nestled beneath the Martinis Marchi castle on the south side of the cove. The castle was built by the Alberti family in 1708, and it has since been restored as a modern hotel with a luxury marina and dock that accommodates 40 boats. Thanks to the marina, Maslinica has also developed an array of services for boaters, who can enjoy several lovely restaurants with a great offer of seafood delicacies.

Jure Ravlić / TZ Šolta

Rogač is situated on the north side of the island, and as its main port, it has a newly constructed dock for passenger boats. There is also an old seafront promenade stretching from the petrol station to the bottom of the cove, which serves as a lovely little commercial berth. Boaters often visit Rogač not only for the berthing service, but also to refuel, as waiting times here are tenfold shorter than in Split.

About half a mile from Rogač due southeast, Nečujam, the biggest and most indented cove on the island, will reveal itself in all its glory. Piškera, one of the most well-hidden little coves at Nečujam, was the site of Emperor Diocletian’s fish pond, which is evidenced by the underwater wall at the entrance to the cove, only one metre below the surface, which can easily be seen by freediving. Among others, Nečujam inspired the father of Croatian literature, Marko Marulić, who spent a lot of his time here creating his masterpieces, enjoying by the peace and harmony of the surroundings.

 

About two miles from Nečujam, you will reach Stomorska, a small port with a row of waterfront houses made of stone. This is the oldest village on the island and as such, it was the place of origin of Šolta’s nautical tourism. Stomorska has a long history of shipbuilding and was known for its impressive fleets of wooden sailing boats, which the locals used for transporting wine, oil, figs and lumber.

Mario Jelavić

In the early 1960s, shipbuilders from Stomorska brought wooden sailing boats back to life and turned them into ships equipped for commercial cruises across the entire Adriatic. Today, Stomorska is a popular nautical centre on the island, with a range of high-quality restaurants, and a tiny port with 25 berths for sailboats and two for mega yachts.

If you decide to leave the safety of one of the island’s ports and head inland, you will step into a completely different dimension of space and time, as time stands still in the heart of Šolta. There are only a few vineyards, cultivated mostly by younger winegrowers involved in the project of revitalising Šolta’s indigenous grape variety, the dobričić. There are plenty of olive groves, since olive-growing is currently the most widespread agricultural activity on the island.

 

To the delight of most tourists, beekeeping is also on the rise, so you can enjoy some delicious honey during your stay. The villages of Srednje Selo and Donje Selo lie to the west of Grohote; both are preserved nearly in their original form, with stone houses and a church in the middle of a small square. It is this combination of tradition and modernity that gives Šolta its special appeal and makes the island an increasingly popular nautical destination.

Mario Paparela / TZ Šolta

Wild kingdom

On the south side of the island, facing the open sea, there are many “wild” coves that still show almost no signs of civilisation due to the difficult terrain that needs to be crossed when approaching them by land. Modern-day pirates “attack” from the land, so boaters in Šolta’s southern coves are fairly well protected from these “attacks coming from civilisation.”

The south side of the island, which the locals call Izvanje (meaning “outside”), can be reached by sailing through the Split Gates strait. The first cove is called Livka. This hydroarchaeological site and popular diving location offers a safe space to sleep during high winds coming from the IV and I quadrants. Heading west, the next stop is the deep and beautiful Stračinska cove, with lovely beaches and a few fishermen’s houses and vacation homes.

 

If you continue sailing due northwest, following the tall vertical slabs that drop sharply into the sea, you will reach two pretty and secluded coves, Grabova and Senjska. Both of these have beautiful beaches surrounded by several small houses. The legend has it that long ago the Illyrian queen Teuta built a palace for herself above the Senjska cove.

 

These are followed by two smaller coves called Lučica and Jorja, where you can find buoys for berthing your boat, and beyond them, you will reach the most well-known southern cove on the island, Tatinja. It branches off into three parts, each with a few houses and docks with fishing boats. There are several other, smaller coves due northwest, the most beautiful and secluded one being Zaglav.

 

In addition to these larger coves on the south side of the island of Šolta, there are many smaller coves, such as Poganica, that offer a nice place to stay and rest for small boats during fine weather, in a truly secluded and “Robinson Crusoe-esque” environment. However, this requires being familiar with the “Mediterranean mooring” technique, so we advise against spending the night in these small coves if you are not an expert.

Just beyond the Marinča Rat cape on the west side of the island, you will have beautiful views of the string of islands that adorn Šolta’s west coast, in front of the most popular nautical cove, the deep and secluded Šešula. Here, you will find two restaurants with their own berths, which are available to the patrons free of charge. This is also the site of the island’s earliest lime kiln – lime burning is a local tradition dating back to Emperor Diocletian, so in a way it can be said that Split was built on the back of Šolta.