Croatia’s beaches come in a variety of forms, from rocky to pebble, sometimes sandy and concrete (sometimes called a pier, but if you can lie on it in the sun I say it counts).
Because of the relative abrasiveness of Croatia’s beaches, bringing sandals or water shoes is a great idea for an independent traveler trying to enjoy the sun and sea. Also, many beaches are a hike from the nearest bus-stop, parking lot, or boat dock, so real shoes aren’t a bad choice either.
The most popular beach in Croatia is Zlatni rat, on the island of Brac. Translated literally, Zlatni rat means the “golden cape” and the beach extends from a grove of trees straight out into the ocean. The peninsula is packed with people in the summer both who have made the day-trip from nearby Split, or descended from one of the many nearby resorts.
The calm water on the lee-side of the spit is great for paddling, windsurfing or kiteboarding, and the spit is big enough that there is always room for one more beach towel even on the busiest days.
One of the longer stretch of beaches lies near Brela, just south of Split. Brela’s beaches are nearly six kilometers of picturesque white pebbles surrounded by idyllic fig trees, pine stands and olive groves descending into Mediterranean perfection. Far from getting away from it all, nearby Punta rata beach has lifeguards, a doctor on duty, facilities for the disabled, a sports complex and catering. There are plenty of shops and restaurants nearby, but who would need to leave?
Brijuni island was the getaway for European aristocracy in the early 20th century, and it has maintained a kind of elite atmsphere since then. Did I say elite? Sorry, I meant “circus.” Brijuni is full of things like ostriches running loose, donkeys, roman ruins and fossilized dinosaur footprints. The animals are the offspring of the collection of Marshal Tito, who had a summer residence here, and visitors to the main island can observe his elephants and zebras on a tour of the safari park. To visit the beaches you’ll need accommodation at an island hotel or be part of a guided trip to the park.
Krk island is Croatia’s biggest island, with one of its most impressive beaches. Baska is one of Croatia’s few sandy beaches and it is often packed with Austrians and Germans on holiday. For another true sand beach, try Malinska, a port town on Kosljun island.