As snow in New York continues to make global headlines, a much lighter sprinkling of white powder on the hills of Europe’s sunniest island of Hvar in Croatia on January 28, 2015 caused the usual national interest.
Famous for its sun with an average of 2,718 hours of sunshine a year, the local hotels are said to offer free accommodation if it snows, so rare is the occurrence, although this year’s light snowfall is mild compared to the heavy snow of 2012, when one Slovakian visitor skied 5 kilometres from the island’s peak to the picturesque bay of Dubovica.
The rare snow is just one aspect of winter life on Hvar that most tourists never experience. Despite being the birthplace of organised tourism in Europe with the founding of the Hvar Health Society in 1868, based on its healthy winter climate, Hvar in winter these days attracts few visitors.
Although the island is much emptier, there is plenty of activity, as locals relax and tend their fields. The focus of life on the Dalmatian island moves from the popular beaches in summer to the olive groves and vineyards, which are an important source of subsistence for many families on the island, while activities are based more on the natural resources of the island. A photo overview of Croatia’s premier island in winter, with commentary: