At the dock, about 15 woman, most of them older, stood crowded around the boat ramp, awaiting the boat’s passengers to disembark so they could descend on them. They all clutched laminated one-sheets boasting color photos of their sobes. As soon as people would begin to walk off the boat, they would commence hounding to rent their rooms.
“You need a room?” “I’ll give you a good deal.” “I’m in the city.” “My home is beautiful.” And so it continues until you either tell them you are not interested, have other lodging, or are able to escape unscathed, beyond the fortress of sobe owners.
As a traveler, it is overwhelming to depart a boat, or a bus or a train and be surrounded by people trying to hawk their rooms at you. I get it, but sometimes you just want to get off whatever mode of transportation you are on and not have to dodge, weave or otherwise avoid being chased after.
I planted myself just outside the group of women to avoid the chaos and to survey the passengers for Mel and Shaun.
I waited. And waited. And waited.
My heart began to sink as I noticed the boat was nearly completely emptied. They hadn’t made the boat after all. Maybe there was a Facebook message waiting for me back at Green Lizard saying they were staying another night in Split.
Then, two girls emerged, sunglasses covering half their faces, hair piled on top of their heads, and backpacks strapped on. Mel and Shaun!
I stood back for a moment and then, as they walked down the ramp, forged my way through the group of women, and placed myself in front of them.
It took them a second for my appearance at the dock to register, but when it did, we all smiled, hugged, and maneuvered beyond the women and out towards the path to the hostel.
Following our reunion, we began our walk up to the hostel, exchanging stories about our ridiculousness the night before (“Simon and I saw you two jump naked into the water!”), why they missed the earlier ferry (“I couldn’t get Mel out of bed!”), and what was next (“Beach? Bar? Both?”).
Once we arrived at Green Lizard, I switched my room so we could all get one together. The room slept five, so it was the three of us and two other girls who had arrived on the same boat as Mel and Shaun. The two slipped their swimmers on, and we decided to take a walk around the island to Hula Hula.
The walk was simply stunning. We walked past the more tourist, upscale area with monstrous hotels, pools and restaurants and came across a spa situated on the coastline. Aside from the nude beach, it had been a goal of mine to get a seaside massage, and this place, complete with private outdoor cabanas with curtains drawn to provide breathtaking vistas of the sea, made reserving a time before I left the island an easy decision.
After the brief detour, we continued towards Hula Hula. The walk took nearly 30 minutes, it was a good distance away from the main part of town, and in flip-flops walking over the rolling hills and twists and turns took a little longer than had we been wearing sneakers.
When we finally arrived, we were greeted by a flamboyant man with a shaved head and wearing a leopard print sarong. His smile was bright and his happiness was contagious.
“Welcome to Hula Hula,” he said. “You’re going to have so much fun. There is a DJ and he is going to play music.” Then, he bounded to his table, clapping his hands and bopping to some imaginery beat he had in his mind.
Mel, Shaun and I grabbed seats by the water, grabbing menus and quickly ordering food and drinks. The view from our spot was amazing. You could the islands surrounding Hvar, the water dotted with sail boats. We watched as the sun slowly sank beyond the hills of another island, eliciting a round of applause from the drunk group of men behind us.
The two girls from our room were seated at the table next to us, so we invited them to join. Then, Jason appeared, and our party of three turned to a party of six. We all became quick travel friends. Emma, Laura and Jason were all from Australia. According to Shaun, Jason, who quickly had shed his intimidating image once he began to speak, looked like Chopper Read, the infamous Australian ex-convict who had oddly reached some level of celebrity status. We never referred to Jason by his given name again — it was Chopper for the entirety of the trip. Even once Shaun and Mel were gone, and Jason and I were in Dubrovnik, he was Chopper.
I had told the group about my desire to go to the sandy beach the following day. Chopper could drive a boat, so we determined the next morning our motley crew would rent a boat and create a boating/beach adventure.
We weren’t planning on staying much past sunset at Hula Hula, but the man with the leopard sarong from earlier in the evening had drawn attention to him. He stood at his table with two girls, laughing and dancing. The three of them were on something (maybe ecstasy we surmised), and throughout the course of the early evening, the two women would take off their tops, run screaming down the dock and jump into the water. Then, they would get out, expertly remove their suits without showing any bit of skin we hadn’t already seen in their topless jumps, and do it all over again in another suit.
After about four fashion changes, they took to dancing. The one girl, a blonde wearing barely there cut-offs and a tiny bikini top, began to hop around the outdoor dance floor like a bunny, and Chopper decided to have fun with her, getting onto the dance floor, hopping along with her.
“Weeeeee,” she screamed, bouncing around in delight.
The five of us remaining at our table burst into laughter as Chopper started a dance party with her.
Finally, after about an hour of being amused by the girls and the leopard-saronged man who now had a stuffed spider on his head, we decided to head back to the hostel, absolutely exhausted.
Mel and Shaun went straight to bed, but Emma, Laura, Chopper and I joined a group of travelers who were pre-gaming before they headed to the bars by the water. We all sat and talked for a little, but decided if we were going to have a full day of sun and then go out in Hvar the following evening, we had to call it a night.
The next morning, we would meet early, go get food and drink from the grocery store, and then rent our little boat and go explore more of Croatia’s islands.