A day at BOWA Restaurant Dubrovnik – a hidden gem by the sea

I’m always on the lookout for something different to see or do when I go on my solo travel trips. Something a little off the tourist track.  When I heard about a beautiful restaurant on the island of Šipan, which I was already planning to visit, I decided to spend some time there.  Read on to find out how I spent a day at BOWA, Croatia — a restaurant in Dubrovnik and a hidden gem by the sea.


Becoming BOWA

The idea for BOWA came about following a partnership between three friends. Each one offering a different skillset and perspective – a restauranteur, an architect and a seaman.

With the concept of ‘fine dining in the jungle’ in mind, the friends decided to bring BOWA – which stands for “The Best of What’s Around” – to life.

Using an old boat dock from the 18th century as their base, they started by creating the main structures for the restaurant using a variety of wood sourced on the island.  A few seasons later nestled on Vrbova Bay – and with all five of its cabanas – BOWA Restaurant was complete.

BOWA’s positioned by its owners as a unique yet traditional Mediterranean restaurant, with all of the dishes made using fruit, vegetables and herbs hand-picked from their garden, fresh fish caught daily, and hand-homemade olive oil. The menu itself has been inspired from the trio’s memories of days past spent with grandparents.

I was really looking forward to feeling part of it all!

Setting off for Šipan

I boarded the first ferry of the morning to Šipan from Dubrovnik’s port in Gruž and arrived at Sudurad, the islands main port.

As the largest of the Elaphiti islands, Šipan is located northwest of Dubrovnik and is just over an hour away by boat. It’s one of three inhabited islands in this archipelago along with Koločep and Lopud.

The island of Šipan certainly graced me with its presence. The little harbour was framed with cream-brown brick buildings with orange rooftops. It looked like something you’d find on the front cover of a novel aptly set by the sea.

Sudurad port and water taxi - Šipan_RiA Vistas
Sudurad port and water taxi - Šipan

It was so tranquil.  Somewhere to unwind away from the fast-paced town of Dubrovnik.

From Sudurad I caught a water taxi to Vrbova Bay and it’s at this point that your BOWA experience starts.

Solo travel - RiA Vistas on route to BOWA
On route to BOWA Restaurant

Greetings from the restaurant with a view

My first glimpse of BOWA was of the beautiful cabanas.

As my boat approached the dock, I was greeted by a member of the team – like all boats are when they arrive to the small jetty.

View from the water taxi - BOWA Restaurant Dubrovnik
View from the water taxi - BOWA Restaurant Dubrovnik
Cabanas and terrace - BOWA
Cabanas and terrace - BOWA

With two cabanas on the lower deck and three more nestled among the trees on the hillside, the restaurant is separated into three areas:

The terrace 
In the terrace you can pick a sitting that suits your schedule between 12 pm – 2 pm, 2 pm – 4 pm and 4 pm – 5 pm. You can choose from the à la carte menu when seated here.

The Lounge 
The lounge area has been set up mostly as a place for drinks and light refreshments. It has large sofas as well as bar stools overlooking the terrace and cabanas below.

The cabanas 
If you fancy spending all day at BOWA, you can opt for one of the cabanas. You can stay there from 12 pm until the restaurant closes at 6 pm. There you can experience the BOWA tasting menu or choose à la carte.

Lounge at BOWA
Lounge area at BOWA
Beach cabanas BOWA
Beach cabanas at BOWA
BOWA Restaurant - Best of Whats Around
BOWA - Best of What's Around on Šipan Island

Experiencing the tasting menu

BOWA is all about inspiration through food.  On its menu you’ll find options suitable for vegans, vegetarians and for those that require gluten free choices.

Some of its most popular dishes include the sashimi and tartars as well as the swordfish, sea bass and tunas – all of which are caught fresh from the Adriatic Sea daily.

Choosing the tasting menu will give you an all-day food experience. It consists of five courses served between 5-6 hours.  It’s a great way to sample a variety of dishes made at BOWA Restaurant.

The tasting menu on the day I visited.

The tasting menu at BOWA Restaurant
The tasting menu at BOWA Restaurant

I’d never tried octopus before, so this was one course I was nervous about. I’m not a particularly adventurous (some may say fussy) eater, but I actually really loved it – and all of the other courses!

I still can’t decide which I liked more – the swordfish or octopus tentacles – but everything was cooked and prepared beautifully. I topped off my meal with a few drinks including the BOWA Sunset cocktail.

The best thing about the tasting menu apart from the food is that you have time to really relax in between each course. I now understand the reason behind making it a lengthy all-day menu option.

BOWA Restaurant menu
BOWA Restaurant - menu
Food at BOWA Restaurant Dubrovnik
Octopus tentacles at BOWA Restaurant Dubrovnik

I was able to wander around and explore its cabanas, chill back in the lounge or venture down to the jetty on the other side of the terrace.

I felt like I was in paradise and to think earlier that morning I was in Dubrovnik’s busy old town!

Cabana view - BOWA Restaurant
View from the cabana at BOWA Restaurant
The beach at BOWA
The beach at BOWA, Dubrovnik

In my opinion

BOWA was all I expected and more. The food offers a fresh blend of seafood, herbs and fruit and vegetables, and there’s a variety of cuisines for everyone and to suit all preferences.

If you’re looking for traditional Mediterranean cuisine and fancy a restaurant with a twist and sprinkling of just the right amount of paradise, then you should spend a day at The Best of What’s Around – BOWA Croatia, Dubrovnik.

RiA Vistas - travel blog_solo traveller - relaxation time at BOWA
Me in paradise at BOWA
Thanks everyone - from RiA solo travel blogger!

To the team at BOWA Restaurant!  Maya for arranging, Alan, for being my host for the day, the chef for the lovely food and also to Pjetar who served up some refreshing drinks.

All of the thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own as I’m here to share my experiences to inspire the solo traveller in you!

Getting to BOWA Croatia

There are a few different ways to get to BOWA…

On your own
You can use the same route that I did. I was in Dubrovnik and took a ferry from its main port in Gruž to Šipan with the Jadrolinija ferry company. I then took a water taxi from Sudurad port in Šipan to BOWA. The water taxi from Sudurad will be between 300 – 400 Kuna (cash only).

Pick-up package
If you want to get a full experience starting from your hotel, BOWA partners with Adriatic Explore to offer guests a pickup from their hotel. For 1,200 Kuna (at the time of visiting – Sep 2019), you’ll be transported from your hotel to the shores of Vrbova Bay. 

Walk to BOWA
From Sudurad’s port you can get to the restaurant on foot – instead of taking a water taxi. You’ll still need to get a ferry from Dubrovnik to Sudurad and from there walk the main road and take the hiking path. It’ll take you about in about 25-35 minutes. It’s a gravel turn rocky path into woodland, but if you’re feeling adventurous why not!

BOWA details

All guests have full use of the beach and loungers there and on the jetty.  There’s no WiFi available at all so use the opportunity to sit back, relax and have a smartphone detox.

BOWA opening hours: 
11am – 6pm daily.

When to visit BOWA Croatia Dubrovnik 
BOWA opens in May and the end of its season is usually around early October.

Phone: +385916366111

Email:| (reservations): [email protected]

Website: https://www.bowa-dubrovnik.com

Price range: £££’sC

Make sure you add BOWA Croatia to you list if you’re ever in Dubrovnik – it’s simply beautiful and well worth spending time there!

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