* During its geological beginnings in the Adriatic, Vis Island rose above the sea (or perhaps remained unconquered by it). As the tenth biggest island among thousands of islands, islets and rocks scattered along the Croatian Adriatic coast, it makes the bluest sea in the world more magnificent and desirable for all those who will seek their own piece of paradise beyond the waves.
Although its 90.3 km2 might make it seem rather small, the island has a long, rich history. Dating back to prehistory it was the home of one of the first Mediterranean cultures in the Adriatic at the dawn of civilization. Legends about crowned heads (Illyrian Queen Teuta), prehistoric caves and forts were woven into its legends. There are stories about Issa, the ancient city-state, with its own currency and rulers. This bodes well for the island and its changing fortune.
Vis Island is above all rich in time. Like a lizard stretched in the sun, it listens to the chirping of that ancient cicada in the pines and carob trees. With its wine producers and citrus orchards, fishing boats and fish processing plants, Vis opens its door wide to welcome all to its rocky seclusion. It radiates uniqueness, offering salted fish bread (an island’s specialty). It rocks you to sleep with its beaches, which flirt with the clear sea and provoking artists with its beauty. The little churches scattered across the island are reminders of its spirituality. Patrician palaces tell stories of the splendor of past times still evident in their ruins. Not to mention its climate, for which it is renowned as one of the warmest islands in the Adriatic.
Once you’ve set your foot on the island, you’ll find it hard to get them off again. It will become part of you and you’ll become part of it. Indeed, the island of Vis is like the first girl you’ve fallen in love with – you may move on many times, but that flicker of Vis will remain, treasured as a melancholy memory, which neither the sun can fade nor the sea can wash away.
Tucked in a bay facing west, you’ll find Komiža, seeking to fuse all the pieces of its past under picturesque dusk sky painted in out-of-this-world colors. The town waterfront has tamed the sea and provides spectacular views of anchored boats, their arrivals and departures, walkways and local customs, and the clear open sea. Like boats moored to the pier, the waterfront ties life here together. It’s the center of everything, a spot where everything is in sight and everyone can see you. One cannot imagine living in Komiža and not strolling along its waterfront at least once a day, to buy something, to meet someone, or just because, to check the time on the clock on the impressive fortress, or stroll by the columned cornice.
It’s a well known Komiža tradition to ritually burn the gajeta falkuša, a fisherman’s boat which sailed into legend because of the island’s fisherman’s heroic past. This ritual is a cue from the past and a beacon of tradition. It’s also a reminder of the boats’ lifecycle, which starts in the caulkers’ hands and finishes in the sacrificial flame on St. Nicholas’ Day, an offering to Komiža’s patron saint for the safety of all boats currently sailing the seas.
Komiža Bay opens on the wide sea, which has once staged famous fishermen regattas to the island of Palagruža in hopes of securing better luck. Palagruža, the southernmost island of the Croatian Adriatic, was historically an island of life importance for Komiža fishermen. From Komiža Bay you can see the islet of Biševo, famous for its sandy beaches, but above all for the Blue Cave. Entering the cave by sea is an extraordinary daylight experience, a celebration of blue and symphony of colors.
Until recently the Mediterranean monk seal, forever fighting for its share of pilchards with the fishermen, had its home in the caves on the Biševo and St. Andrew’s islands. You might also be intrigued by the volcanic origin of the island of Jabuka, which shines like a black fin in the distance. Or perhaps the volcanic island of Brusnik will tickle your imagination, a quarrelsome nesting ground for seagulls. All these islets are part of the Komiža Archipelago, blazoned on this part of the Adriatic.
* Impressions of Vis and Komiža taken from texts by Jakša Fiamengo, poet from Komiža.