Croatia – a beach destination?
We’ve just returned from two weeks in Croatia.
Well, ‘just’ as in over a month ago…. I have been a little distracted for various reasons so have been remiss on writing this blog. My apologies to those of you who have already abused me for not updating the latest news from our little travelling family! So here’s a first installment.
Croatia really is a fabulous country with beautiful countryside, towns and coastline. Would I call it a beach destination though?
Well, that depends on what you’re after.
For those of you out there tossing up about the best time to go to Croatia and whether to include it as a summer vacation spot, I thought I’d do a little roundup of our key pros and cons – of course throwing in a couple of stories from our adventures along the way.
Give me your verdict at the end and I’ll give you mine.
Pro number one – clear, clear water
The water in Croatia is incredibly clear. We were in Greece last summer and it was similar.
Apparently it’s to do with the rocky nature of the beaches, but whatever the reason, it means that there is fabulous snorkelling on virtually every beach you come across.
Being an Aussie and used to mainly surf beaches this is very novel. We love body-surfing, but we’re now starting to think that we love calm, clear beaches just as much. The kids don’t freak out that they are going to die from the surf which means everyone can just relax and enjoy.
It also means no requirement for lifesavers or swimming between flags. So if you like a part of the beach, just pick a spot and go for it.
Con number one – boobs, butts and bits
We stopped one day along the roadside to explore one of the hundreds of little coves all the way along the spectacular Makarska coastline. This is the very best way to see Croatia’s beaches. Don’t stick to the main spots.
There is a sense of anticipation as we climb down the endless stairs on the way to the bottom to check out our first cove.
Miss Sparky goes first, wanting to lead the charge. Out of the corner of my eye as I’m helping the Chubs, I notice she has stopped in her tracks and is staring.
Next thing I hear Lovely Hubby close behind her wondering out loud… “check this out. They’re all in matching white speedos.”
I start to feel a sense of foreboding.
Then I hear “hang on.. they’ve all got the same black patch on the front…” followed closely by squealing – from both of them!
We have stumbled across one of the many, many Croatian nudist (marked on maps as ‘naturalist’) beaches.
After Miss Sparky spends a few moments staring blindly at all of the various shaped and sized appendages around her, we gather ourselves together and head further down through the trees to the clothed end of the beach.
The funniest thing is though. This ended up being our absolute favourite beach of the trip. Once you got past the naked people and their kids, the other end of the beach is really lovely. Lined by trees, rocks not too harsh and best of all, a cocktail bar right on the water. We enjoyed many an evening watching the sunset while sipping an icy cold beer.
And once I reconciled with having a way too detailed view of what my private parts may look like in 20 years time, I could focus on just enjoying the beautiful water! However, I could see how some people might find it hard to ignore the beached whales and matching white and black speedos at the other end of the beach.
Pro Number Two – explore the coastline forever
If there’s one thing Croatia has, it’s a spectacular coastline.
Once you come through the mountains, the whole coastline is blue idyllic cove after blue idyllic cove of beautiful clear water.
Rock sizes vary all the way along. Some beaches have big boulder-type rocks. Others have small pebble rocks. But they are ALL rocky. We didn’t find one sandy beach the entire stretch of the coast and we pretty well explored all the way from Split to Dubrovnik.
And all the way along the coast, there are perfect little towns filled with restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy your standard Croatian fare of meat and potatoes, whilst enjoying the fabulous local Karlovačko beer.
We could easily have done this for 2-3 weeks without getting bored. The coastline stretches such a long way!
And all this from our ‘home’ base of a converted stone cottage perched on the hill above Tucepi. In the evenings, we would sit under the grapevine and munch on fresh figs, local cheeses and home made wine, while watching the sun set over the water.
I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Zorica is a sweet hostess who takes great care of you and the cottage is stunning. Check it out – Villa Stina Tucepi
Con Number 2 – salty and heaving
The main thing to remember in Croatia is to hire a car and get out of the big towns. We travelled in the last week of summer and the main beaches in the larger towns were literally shoulder to shoulder.
As an example, we spent a bit of time on Hvar. One morning we went to check out one of the coves there which is really beautiful. I went out for a swim at one point in the late morning, and I came back to lie on the rocks for a nap.
Next thing, I feel something warm pressing on my leg.
I open my eyes to see and extremely fat, sweaty, sunburnt German lady has laid her towel down next to me. She’s so close that it’s her chubby, sweaty knee lying on my thigh as she snores away, cigarette stub still in hand.
Not the idyllic Hvar relaxation I was expecting.
The other thing is that the water all the way along the Dalmatian coast is extremely salty.
It’s not as bad as the water here in Dubai, in which you float without even having to lift your feet off the ground, but it is salty enough that if you have a scratch somewhere on your body, you will feel it pretty quickly.
For most of our holiday, I looked a bit like a homeless scarecrow woman as my hair was so salt encrusted and dry. The water is also very hard so when you do shower, your hair still doesn’t recover as much as it should.
Pro Number Three – great for kids!
Croatian beaches are excellent for kids.
The beaches are safe, clean and Croatians, Germans and Russians (the main clientele of Makarska) bring their kids everywhere. As I mentioned as well, there’s no waves or rips to worry about.
You do need to make sure you get the whole family a pair of rock shoes though. These are essential to prevent sooking and squealing each time you attempt to get in the water. And they mean you can explore all the rocky coves where some of the best snorkelling is much easier.
All the way along the coast, every town has little shops selling these gems every few metres so you don’t even have to worry about bringing them. And the prices are cheap enough that you can probably throw them away at the end of your trip if you can’t fit them to bring them back.
Some of the towns also feature water parks on their beaches. These parks are cheap and they consist of different floating equipment in the water to keep the kids amused. They can run, slide, trampoline and jump around to their hearts content, all while you lie on the beach and sip your hops or vino.
So… Croatia for beaches?
All in all, we fell in love with Croatia and definitely consider it a beachy destination.
It’s definitely not beachy like the Bahamas or the Maldives though.
It’s more ‘exploring beachy’. Unchartered territory where you get out and explore to find the perfect rocky cove with the elements you are looking for. And as I mentioned, there’s something for everyone. Clothed or unclothed.
But if your idea of a beach holiday is lying on soft white sand on a deserted beach while a hot waiter brings you cocktails at the push of a button, probably not the place.
We have many more stories about the towns we explored along the way and of course, our time in Dubrovnik and Hvar so if those compelling destinations are on your list, stay tuned. We also spent some time at Plitvice Lakes, a place I will never forget! More to come…
Love to hear your thoughts on this article and of course, your vote on the Dalmatian beaches if you care to comment.
Thanks for reading…