With more than 1,200 islands dotting its coast, Croatia has its fair share of beaches that range from world-famous to intimate ones you’ll only learn about from locals.
It wouldn’t be a visit to this southern European country without some time on the beach, but which ones are worth your coveted vacation time? Glad you asked. What follows is a guide to getting quality time in the sun, one Dalmatian beach at a time.
(Before you slather on your sunscreen — and you’ll need it; the sun can be intense in the peak of the summer — know this: Sand beaches are few are far between in Croatia. Beaches here are made up of rocks or pebbles. It makes getting in and out of the water a sometimes fraught trip for your feet, so be sure to bring water socks or flip flops with you. The upside? You won’t have sand stuck to you for days.)
Zlatni Rat, Brač island
This is the country’s most famous beach. It’s a long, somewhat triangular-shaped beach whose dry area changes shape depending on the tide. Expect lots of other sunbathers, but don’t worry about crowd control: The locals have capitalized on the beach’s popularity, to the benefit of tourists. There are more than enough loungers and umbrellas to go around, and an impressive variety of food and drink stands line the edge of the pine forest that marks the beach’s boundaries. If you need a break from the sun, the cute town of Bol is a short walk away. There, you can find a small farmers’ market, souvenir shops, and a tasting room for Stina, one of the country’s most well-known wineries.
Stiniva Cove, Vis island
Vis is one of the most recent islands to be open to tourism in Croatia, meaning its landmarks and ways of life are well preserved. This is especially true of pristine Stiniva Cove, which is only reachable by boat or mountain hike, meaning it takes a bit of work and planning to get there. Towering cliffs on either side of the water curve in to give this pebbly beach a truly hidden feel. The stunning blue waters are calm, and the presence of a tiny rustic beachside bar means all your post-swim refreshment needs can be satisfied on-site.
Duga Cove, Čiovo island
While not as famous as other central Dalmatian islands, Čiovo isn’t lacking in charm. It’s connected via bridge to Trogir, a tiny pedestrianized island that’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, and has a vibrant beach culture. The beach can be accessed via a path beside the restaurant Konoba Duga, which is a great place to stop for lunch, before or after your swim in the unbelievably crystal-clear water. If you’re feeling more flush and want a luxe Mediterranean experience, Laginini Beach Club is just around the corner and has more cliffside space on which to lay out your towel.
Baćvice Beach, Split
This is one of the few sandy beaches in Croatia, and just a short walk from Diocletian’s Palace. During the day, this beach attracts locals and tourists looking to cool off in the water; at night, Baćvice takes on a party vibe, with beachside bars and clubs turning up the volume. During the summer, the beach is also the home base for music festivals like the Split Beach Festival.
Betina Cave, Dubrovnik
You’ll need to hop in a boat or hire a kayak to get to the water-access-only beach at Betina Cave. Truly an oasis from the buzz of Dubrovnik in the summer, this secluded beach has no infrastructure, meaning you’ll have to pack your own food and beverages (don’t forget plenty of drinking water) before setting off, but the serenity found here makes it all worth it. You’ll feel as if the dazzling blue and green hues of the Adriatic are your own pool.
Get up close and personal with Croatia's many beautiful beaches on one of our our Croatia sailing tours. We're excited at the prospect of showing you more of this big, beautiful world — check out our full roster of trips to Croatia here.