The Mamma Mia Experience

If you’re anything like us, Mamma Mia! Here we go again would have left you with an unshunnable urge to ditch the 9-5 and trade it in to live your best romcom life on a Greek Island. Or at the very least, it’s made you want to visit the beautiful beaches that Greece has to offer. 

WELL, DO I HAVE NEWS FOR YOU (old news, albeit, but it was news to me). The beautiful coastline of Kalokairi that intinces you so much is 1. Not a real place, but also 2. Not actually filmed in Greece. So we went on a quest to have the ultimate Mamma Mia experience, and it was nothing short of magical. Here’s what you need to know:

The backdrop to the film is actually a tiny Croatian island called Vis. Getting there is easy- a quick 2 hour ferry straight from Split on the mainland is about £7 (for foot passengers). As you approach, you’ll spot boats dotted on the harbour and a collection of pale-coloured houses scattered across the foliage. It is all very (for lack of a better word) cute. Stepping off the boat, I really did feel like I was a main character, and rightly so- a number of scenes were filmed right along that very harbour. 

From here, we got a taxi straight to Komiža, an old town lying on the western coast of Vis. The town has a beautifully rugged feel, lined with 17th-18th century stone houses and hidden beaches (also very cute). A large part of the movie was also filmed here, and it’s not hard to see why.

Beach scenes

Filming locations include: Barjoska Bay and Stiniva beach.

These are the two main beaches used for filming and are accessible via land (hiking) or sea. I would definitely recommend kayaking the jagged north-west coast to reach Barjoska bay. The Adriatic boasts crystal clear, refreshingly blue waters and isolated pebble beaches tucked into the cliffs indents along the way.  

Story time

So we loaded up our playlist, stashed our phones and speaker into the airtight container strapped to the back of the kayak, and set off from Komiža bay. At the start, the water was peaceful and the sun was softly beating down on our skin. We finally got into our stride and were paddling in time with Vybz Kartel’s ‘Summertime’, making considerable pace might I say. It wasn’t long before we discovered the beautiful Perna Beach. Perna is a natural pebble beach, peaceful and seemingly under the radar. We docked our boat and explored for a while before setting off again. Time conscious, and determined to make it to Barjoska, our synchronised strokes propelled us back out to sea.

Now, I should note, Bea and I are not exactly seasoned kayakers. A more experienced pair might have had the good sense to stay close to the island’s edge, but in our excitement we quickly found ourselves far out with the big boys. Taking in the vastness of the sea around us, fear began to set in; and as though sensing this, the water’s mood seemed to change also. Suddenly, we were battling with the waves and praying we didn’t fall over the edge of our slim red kayak (which I was growing to resent for its smallness and inability to protect us). What was once turquoise and transparent water suddenly looked dark and our minds ran wild with the paranoia of what was lurking below. 

‘We can turn back if you want’ Bea suggested. Okay, now I was scared. Bea is sensible, sensible enough to know when we’re presented with real danger (and would never back away from a challenge otherwise). Despite this, we decided we had to finish what we started and so, we braved on. Noticing something in the distance that resembled a beach, we fixated on it like a horse with blinkers and went for it full steam ahead.

You’ll be happy to hear, we made it to our Mamma Mia beach! Barjoska was beautiful- it’s pristine and shimmering waters were every bit as magical as the film portrayed. We soaked up the sun, used our newly bought goggles to spot fish, and deeply regretted not packing ourselves a lunch…or any snacks for that matter. We then psyched ourselves up for the return journey, which is always easier than the first. 

Before I knew it, we were back at Komiža bay. Our entire little excursion probably took around 4 hours and I won’t lie to you, I thought my shoulders might just fall off. I must say though, there is something satisfying about earning those beautiful views. 

A couple of Kayaking tips:

  • Bring snacks, lunch and a lot of water
  • Charge your phone and bring a portable charger
  • A speaker is essential
  • Do not stray too far out- passing boats can be a real danger and create waves 
  • You’re not too cool to wear a lifejacket 

The Greek Tavern

The Greek Tavern scene where Colin Firth falls dramatically from his chair into the sea was filmed in Konoba Jastožera, a lovely seaside restaurant known for its Lobster. The restaurant is actually hoisted up above the sea, beneath which sailors can anchor their boats. We loved this restaurant so much that we returned several times during our stay, not only for the food but for the wait staff (many of whom were actually used as extras in the film, and were keen to show us clips of themselves in action). They were so fun and friendly, and even had a special Octopus Peka prepared for us on our final night. I have a tendency to dramatise, but I am being honest when I say, this was maybe the best meal I’ve ever had. 

There are a number of Mamma Mia unrelated spots that also deserve honorable mentions, including the enchanting blue & green caves, mountain trails and the sandy Stoncica beach. 

Film fanatic or not, it’s definitely worth a VIS-it (how could I not).

Stay curious

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