Reason #3: there are limitations to how and when you can get on the island and how you get from one place to the other, especially in the Winter
Unless you have your own boat (a fast one, preferably) and your own car on the island, transportation is a challenge. Let’s just say, it’s not the same as living on the mainland, and it can be frustrating. Especially outside the Summer season.
Getting on Brač
There are two main land-to-island connections: Split-Supetar (NW) and Makarska-Sumartin (SE). These are ferries that take people and cars.
Ferry lines connecting South Dalmatian islands to the mainland.
The Supetar lines are frequent, the boats are larger – which means there’s very little chance you won’t get on the boat (exception are the peak weeks from mid July to mid August, but even then you will eventually get on one), and the ports are equipped to face almost any weather conditons. In Makarska that is not the case, so the boats often have to wait out a heavy Bura storm, for example. The boat there is also smaller and the schedule is not as frequent as in Split. For that reason I often advise people who travel by car to take the boat in Split.
Also, the last boat from Makarska to Sumartin in the Winter is at 18:30, wheras you can take a boat from Split to Supetar as late as midnight.
Both take about 50 minutes to cross over.
The distance between the two ports of Supetar and Sumartin by land is 40 km.
The ferry company is Jadrolinija. The current schedule is always available through a search on their homepage.
Unless your destination is Supetar or Sumartin, once you arrive by ferry and you don’t have a car, you’ll need to get to your place somehow. For me that often means arriving in Supetar and having to get to Selca (38 km). There are busses that connect most of the villages on the island. Their schedule varies depending on the time of year and whether the schools are in session, as the number of passengers goes up with tourists and school kids.
The bus company is Autotrans . This is the current schedule. However, there are some exceptions to the sched. For example, often, if there are no passengers in Supetar, the bus will not even depart for the other side of the island, which leaves any potential passengers in some small village without the option to get on the bus. I’ve found myself waiting for the bus in Selca and wondering if it will show up or not. Sometimes it just didn’t. And there’s nothing you can really do about it.
There’s also taxis available in Supetar and Bol, and in other places they will come if you call them. They are quite expensive though.
Another way to get to your destination is to scan the ferry lounge for familiar faces and if you find any from your village, ask them if they can give you a ride.
And if all else fails, call your uncle, a cousin, or a nephew to come pick you up.
I’ve also done hitchhiking in the past, but I don’t feel comfortable recommending it to anyone. Although I feel safe around here, and the crime statistics are extremely low, anything can happen, it only takes one psycho.
If you arrive in Sumartin without a car, and you want to go somewhere else, there’s really only the bus at certain times of the day, so you need to match the ferry sched with the bus sched. Which is pretty difficult, especially in the Winter.
Selca are close to Sumartin, so even if you have no one to pick you up, you could walk. It’s 1,5 km up the hill.
Bringing your bicylce
Now this is where it gets really disappointing. Unless your bicycle is transported by your car or another vehicle, in other words, if you push your bike onto the ferry, you have to buy a ticket for it. The price is 33 kn, compare that to 28 kn for a person. I think that’s outrageous and not at all encouraging towards cyclo-tourism.
It’s not any better if you want to transport your bike from, let’s say, Supetar to Selca. Since the bus company doesn’t have a way of charging passengers for the stored luggage they also can’t charge for the bike. That means it’s up to the bus driver if he wants to take it on board or not. If he does take it on, he will charge you anything he pleases, since there’s no pricelist (also, no receipt). I’ve been told it would cost me 30 kn. Compare that to the 20 kn I paid to have my bike transported from Zagreb to Makarska (500 km compared to 40 km). So the options are to either not have an option or to pay an extorted amount against regulations. Once I settle in here a bit, I will see what can be done to regulate this.
All in all, it takes some getting used to the idea that you can’t just arrive and leave whenever you want. That alone can feel a bit confining and claustrophobic to some. On the other hand, that same fact can be freeing in a way. Zen :)
In the Summer there’s enough flexibility in getting on Brač and getting around. In the Winter it can be a hassle and takes some planning, especially if the weather is very bad.
Neither Jadrolinija (ferry company) nor Autotrans (bus line on Brač) are bicycle friendly at the moment.
In Your Pocket guide has a pretty detailed page on transportation on Brač.