It’s completely crazy, isn’t it?
Croatian beach Stiniva has just been named Europe’s most beautiful beach and here I am telling you to avoid such gorgeousness.
The Golden Cape (Zlatni Rat) on the island of Brač is one of world’s most photogenic beaches. Together with Dubrovnik and Hvar, this stunning nature phenomenon is Croatia’s signature landmark.
Let’s have a look at this striking arial picture and drool together for a bit. Do I hear you sigh already?
I know, it’s out of this world – been there and can vouch for it personally.
But here’s the thing. I can’t help myself wondering what the beach hype is all about? Or what actually is a beach?
OK, I can hear you huff: ‘A beach is a beach, Andrea!’ It’s where we sizzle in the sun until we get a nice crackling finish, it’s where we sip on a refreshing tipple until all our worries wash away, and it’s definitely a place of a warm soft embrace with the unfathomable – the sea.
If this is the definition of a beach, I assure you – you can do this at pretty much every inch of the Croatian coast.
Provided you use a bit of common sense, of course!
WHAT IS CROATIAN COAST LIKE
Remember the tag line that always gets appended to the Croatian coast?
It’s the most indented coastline in the Mediterranean. With the 1,777 km long mainland, 1,246 islands and god-only-knows (because god created it so gorgeous) how many bays, inlets and alcoves, there is a whopping 4,058 km long stretch where you can meet the divine. I mean dip your toes into the Adriatic sea.
Do you still think you need a list of Croatia top beaches?
If you do, let me give you 10 reasons why you are better off avoiding Croatia best beaches.
#1 Croatia top beaches are ridiculously crowded, part 1
Of course they would be. They have been advertised as the best, disclosed on a map and photographed ad nauseum by professional marketers, travel bloggers and us common folk.
Unless you search them out in the off-season (May-June; September-October), your intimate encounter with the sea will turn into a raucous throng.
Watch out… this is my towel, you idiot… keep it down… get your kids under control, that fool splashed all over me…
Let’s zoom in at what the ethereal Golden Cape looks like at the height of the season.
Don’t like the real picture? Let’s move on.
#2 Some Croatia top beaches may not be spotlessly clean
I take back my word if a beach has the blue flag for excellence. These will never disappoint. You can find them listed here.
It’s only logical that a high turn-around of people will produce a higher amount of rubbish.
As the season heats up, the pristine white pebbles soon get soiled with cigarette butts or pieces of broken glass. So watch where you tread bare-foot.
An odd plastic bottle or beer can may ruin your vista.
I wish I could tell you to do a citizen arrest when you see people leaving their litter on a beach, but there’s still no such thing in Croatia!
#3 Some Croatia top beaches may lack shade
A shaded beach doesn’t fit as many eager sun-bathers as a bare stretch of sand or gravel.
You can’t dot masses of people in between pine trees. Even if there is natural shade, you might have to fight for that perfect spot: legs in the sun, head in the shade.
German tourists are famously hated for waking up earlier than everyone else and claiming the best spots with their towels.
This is so annoying when all you want to do on your holiday is sleep in.
Don’t worry, though. The best cure for those towel-pushers is the naturally changing angle of the sun!
#4 Croatia top beaches charge for parking
Best Croatian beaches are usually located outside residential areas. After all, they are famous for their unspoilt wilderness.
Prepare to drive to reach them. Then prepare to pay for parking: 5-6 KN per hour or 40-60 KN for a day ticket.
TIP: if you get really friendly with the ticket guy, you can try this line to have your fee waved – ‘We’re only going to check out the beach for a bit’.
Prepare to be shown a parking spot that doesn’t look anywhere near a decent place to park. It’s either too small to fit into or it’s on a too steep incline.
Prepare to hike down a goat’s path (the case with the Stiniva beach) so don’t wear your flip-flops yet!
Prepare to come back to a frying pen of a car after a day at the beach.
#5 Facilities at Croatia top beaches charge a bomb
Nothing beats slumping in a cushy lounger and fixing your gaze on the blue horizon, with the only disturbance in the form of a waiter bringing you that dew-covered cocktail. Oh, and the other one in the form of the ensuing receipt!
Everything you consume at a beach bar, cafe or restaurants will be more expensive than in a nearby town.
You pay for the atmosphere, and sometimes there is no price too high for it.
You also pay for the facilities that are harder to set up on a beach. Electricity in pristine wilderness?
Have you ever wondered what powers that rustic eatery only 10 feet away from the sea? Or how long lunch ingredients can keep at 35 Celsius degrees without a fridge?
Unless there is a catch straight from the sea or a gas-powered fridge, I refuse to have my cooked lunch at the beach.
#6 At Croatia top beaches you are more likely to get robbed
Again, where there are more people swarming around, it will be easier to get away with nicking stuff.
At crowded beaches, you’ll notice people going for a swim in shifts. Two will dive in, two will keep an eye on the belongings.
The temptation to take a high-tech camera with you will be strong. Of course you want to capture this dazzling beauty.
Keep your stuff wrapped in towels and swim in shifts.
#7 Croatia top beaches are ridiculously crowded, part 2
It’s one thing swimming out to the open sea… Sunshine glitters on the sea surface, water murmurs as you glide further away, the breeze rustles your salty hair and soon you’re in a private heaven.
Well, try swimming back. The calm blue horizon turns into a picture of an anthill. Your eyes squint as you try to make out your towel. You paddle with your arms faster but, oh, no, this is not your towel. It’s that smudge half the bay away from you. Oh, you’d rather walk on pebbles. Quickly before that dog dries off and drenches it.
Well, maybe it’s not like that always…
#9 Croatia top beaches are ridiculously crowded, part 3
It’s that time in the afternoon. You’ve just had a light lunch but the sun and the sea sucked you dry – in a nice way. You doze off, blissfully.
And then they start: water scooters revving across the sea, speed boats checking in on a beach, music blasting from a cafe’s sound system.
People squeaking with happiness as they play frisbee or ball in the sea. Nothing wrong with being happy. But then it hits you: that wet, heavy, slippery ball coming out of nowhere and landing on your head.
#9 Nudity at Croatia top beaches is confusing, part 1
This is my personal hang up. I usually take more than one swimming suit and always change into a dry one.
If I’m on a crowded beach, I am forced to perform a strange towel dance trying to strip off while protecting my nudity. Try it, it’s quite farcical.
It’s not that I am shy, but if it’s not a nudist beach, I should really respect others around me. I can’t help if a piece of my bare bottom pops out inadvertently.
Check out my blog post on other destinations to visit in Croatia.
#10 Nudity at Croatia top beaches is confusing, part 2
Naturism has a long tradition at the Croatian coast. We are wild, unrepressed people with no issues around enjoying our body.
Actually we are quite famous for casually introducing topless sun-bathing all around the coast. Naked boobs? Rolling hills of half-naked butts? Bring them on. We’ll just pretend it’s the most natural thing in the world to be surrounded by so much naked flesh.
Don’t get me wrong – naked flesh IS the most natural thing in the world. But not to be touched by it is a fool’s dream.
The least you can expect is women assessing other women’s breast and their fitness to be exposed.
There is no nudity manual that can help you behave at a beach. Going topless and half-bottomless seems perfectly fine. But if you show your arse by accident while changing a bathing suit, you might get a scolding look.
Designated nudist beaches confuse me too. Sure, if you’re determined to hit a beach naked, by all means go for it. After all, they are a real sign of progress: from swimming fully dressed a century ago to going skinny dipping.
But to me, they are pointless. You deliberately strip off, you join a crowd of naked bodies and you deliberately pretend not to notice a sea of penises and vaginas (this is the actual etiquette).
Isn’t is much nicer to nose out a secluded inlet and be naked alone or with your beau?
So let’s avoid all those top beaches and do THIS instead.
1| When you arrive to your coastal destination, ask a local this exact question: ‘Where do you go for a swim?’
Don’t make a mistake asking this: ‘What’s the nicest beach around here’. If you do that, they’ll point you to a popular beach you want to avoid.
2| Directions from a local open up a whole different world. You’ll discover long stretches of blissfully quiet coast: inlet after inlet, softly snaking along the sea and topped with fragrant pine tree forest.
You’ll see couples or small groups of people huddled in their private cubbyholes, under a tree or sun-bathing on a stone slab.
This is where you get naked. It’s priceless.
Around the corner, there’s another place just like it. Or maybe prettier. With a little pebbly entrance, from where you can slowly ease into the divine. Or maybe you’ll keep moving?
That’s the Croatian coast for you. Every inch is a beach. And because there are so many inches of this famous coast, you can find the one just for yourself.
3| Ask a local if there are small uninhabited islands around. Most of them swim there to escape the crowds.
Even if there are no organised tours, locals can be persuaded to give you a lift.
The inlets are breath-taking there.
ESSENTIAL GEAR FOR CROATIAN BEACHES
4| If you are wild-beaching, take these essentials with you:
- A good sunscreen, a hat, even a scarf or a cloth that you can hook on a tree branch to make your own shade
- Good walking shoes
- A spare towel in case rocks are not extra smooth
- Lots of water to drink
- Food for lunch and fresh fruit
5| Go sailing. A skipper that I sailed with once told me: the nicest beach in the world is a no beach, when you just jump into the sea from a boat.
On a sailing boat, you can reach even the remotest inlets and have them just for yourself.
Your turn now.
Do you know where your perfect Croatian wild beach is? Do you even know where to travel in Croatia to have a perfect holiday?
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