Croatia beaches

I don’t like to run through a country at the speed of a bullet train. I like to linger and let my senses take the time to assimilate what I am seeing. This means: beach time. CroatiaWhat a perfect way to relax! Every third day was designated beach day during my month in Croatia. Time to vegetate and meditate. And, as you may have read in my post , I like the beach life.

I am not a “throw myself on a beach towel” type of traveller so I like to find beaches with services. This means more than toilets. It means beach chairs and umbrellas for rent. This takes a little planning and I’ve found that the best way is to ask around. Ask the locals. They know. And, this kind of place usually involves buses, ferries or small motorboats, so give yourself time. Once I have this precious name of where to go, I bring enough money for rentals and maybe drinks. Then, it’s off to the beach. This is always a surprise. Getting there is half the fun an old advert used to say and this is certainly true of the beach search in Croatia. You never know how long or complicated the process will be. This is part of the adventure. 

In Rovinj the best full service beach is on Red Island, a twenty-minute ferry ride from the main dock in town. Ferries are on the hour from the island and on the half hour from the mainland and accommodate big crowds so you don’t have to worry about space. Once on the island, though, the chairs are limited, so I would run like heck to the rental person and nab whatever free chairs were within sight. If you’re lucky, he’ll haul the chairs to your favourite spot and you’re good to go, or not go in this case. There are other great sunbathing spots on the island, clothing optional included, but they don’t have rental chairs. They call this beach sandy but it is in reality fine pebbles. There are many rocks in the water but there are spots you can enter with a clear little path. The water is fabulous.

Croatia beach  Croatia beaches

On the ride to and from the island, there is one stop at the other end of Rovinj. On one trip, I was so engrossed at looking out at the scenery that I lost track of where I was and got off with the folks moving off at this stop. Once on the dock, I looked around for my travel friend but did not see her. I also noticed that most people were still on the ferry. And then, I saw the gangplank going up and realized that I was at the wrong stop. I yelled at the man lifting the gangplank to stop but he shook his head and pointed to several men in uniform at the nearby café.Rovinj Croatia As the boat sailed off, I spotted my friend, on top deck taking pictures, just as she spotted me. Imagine her surprise! I waved goodbye and made walking motions with my fingers indicating that I would join up with her at the central pier. I then went up to the men in uniform and told them of my predicament. Of course, they asked me how I could get off at the wrong stop, while they had a good laugh.

I said that ” I got distracted because I was looking at your beautiful country.”

They took me back to my stop by water taxi. No charge.

Once I am on a beach, I slather on sunscreen, set up my towel and bag on or under my chair and maneuver the umbrella into the right position. I have packed a lunch and a book and am ready for a quiet day away from maps and routes and guidebooks. The closest I come to drawing routes is to let my fingers and toes run lines through the sand. This, by the way, is hard to do in Croatia. Not the relaxing part, but the sand part. That’s because most beaches in Croatia are rocky. When I mentioned my disappointment with the rocks to my host in Dubrovnik, she said that she thought sand was messy.

Hvar, Croatia“It sticks to you and gets into you bathing suit, clothes and bag”.

Stunning observation for me!

“I love sand, I miss it like I miss toast”, I said.

“Sand is messy”, she insisted.

I continue to extoll the pleasures of sand but she is not convinced. I still prefer sand. Rocks are hard and make your chair uneven. It’s hard to walk on. One needs beach shoes to help prevent cuts. It’s a  precarious balancing act. Although I do agree that the water is crystal clear in Croatia, maybe because of the rocks. It is magnificent turquoise water and at the right temperature. It is wonderful.

The island of Hvar is a nice quiet spot or party spot, depending on where you make your home. We had a nice appartment overlooking the water, high in the hills where it is quiet. It was a nice walk downhill to the beach areas. Again, it is not the North American idea of a beach. People here lounge on rocks and outcroppings and precipices. I called them beach lizards. For them, any spot is great for sunning and diving into the sea.

Hvar Croatia   Hvar Croatia   Hvar Croatia

And, YES, these chairs and umbrellas are for rent! Hvar Croatia 

My favourite spot was on level ground, although it was rocky, of course.

Hvar, Croatia  Hvar, Croatia

Korcula is a pleasant stop, with a charming old town and a magnificent…SANDY…beach. All it took to get to this beach was a bus ride of about 15 minutes and a 15 minute walk through grapevine country. The sandy expanse was long and large and extended into the water. It was heaven and I was so disappointed to have found this on our last day on the island.

Korcula, Croatia    Korcula, Croatia

Our last stop on the trip to Croatia was Dubrovnik. There are a few gravelly beaches around the city but we headed out by city bus to the hotel district where, they told us, were the best beaches. Best is a matter of opinion. This beach has rocks, not pebbles and it was hard to keep the chair stable. I couldn’t understand the pleasure of slipping around on those rocks into the water where more rocks awaited. The restaurants and boutiques were nice, the food was good and the sun warm and constant. The rocks were awful.Take a look:

Dubrovnik, Croatia         

The beach experience in Croatia was surprising, different and fun. This is part of travel: the differences.

©photos bbunce

Beach gossip


beachI am neither a gossip nor a sun seeker but I love to sit on the beach and watch the waves from the safety and comfort of my chair and umbrella. After a few days of this, I usually have finished my books, crossword puzzles and conversations with my umbrella buddy, so I move on to people watching and gossipping.

This is such fun! The best part!

OK, men, I know you’re going to say that you do beach watching all the time but I am talking about watching people in general, not just babes in bikinis. These, by the way, have become almost non-existent…the fabric of said bikinis not the babes!

While on the topic of babes, and women in general, let me say that I have observed that plastic surgeons everywhere are making loads of dough! I have never seen so many body parts standing at attention-in women- even when lying on their backs.

Now, that defies the laws of gravity. And, no, I have no pictures. I am a gossiper, not a voyeur!

I watched as one lady turned to bake her back and she had to lean on her elbows as her artificial chest did not squish down as the real things do. What’s very funny is watching the movement of men’s heads as they follow a particularly well endowed bikini top, even if obviously artificial, they don’t seem to care. One man, sitting next to his wife or girlfriend, was so funny as he surreptitiously watched one of these babes. He slowly and carefully moved in order to remove the umbrella blocking his line of sight. I should have taped and posted this to Youtube.

Maybe next time. Be forewarned!

Another fun factoid of beach behaviour is the amount of, or lack of, personal space that people need on the beach. I need a lot. I put the beach bag 2 feet to the left, the shoes 2 feet to the back and leave a 2 foot space between me and the central pole of the umbrella. This is a view from my space.

French Canadians, who were there in such large numbers that it did not feel like a vacation sometimes, (I am from French Canada) do not seem to need much space, physical or vocal. And, they travel in packs. If you think you are setting up next to 2 quiet French Canadians, you are wrong. Within an hour, the extended family will arrive, followed by friends they met here in Florida and neighbours who came from Quebec to be with them. Together, they form a large circle, like the covered wagons of the wild west when attacked, and put the beer coolers in the safety of the middle. Conversation, and beer, flows loudly from point a to d to f and so on. It is like being in a loud tavern. They do not physically encroach on your invisible circle, though, which is thoughtful. However, sound carries. They are friendly and willing to admit you to the circle if you decide to give up on personal space. Lunch is a group affair with an appointed few going off to haul giant boxes of pizza. That’s another reason to join their tribe: someone goes for lunch!

So, if you can’t beat them, join them.

Something that surprised me about these and other beachgoers, is their continued love relationship with the sun. Most are greased and poised to make sure every part of their body is fully exposed to the sun. I sit under an umbrella with number 60 sunscreen over every part of my body, sunglasses and a hat. I take no chances with that devious, cancer-bearing sun. I wonder how these beach lovers missed all of the articles on skin cancer. This time, unfortunately, it will be the dermatologists making the money.

 Generally, it is fun to watch and gossip. People are fun. I like them. But, heh, don’t touch my beach-bag perimeter!

beach gossipHere’s to people watching and gossip! And cheers to whoever was watching and gossipping about me! :)

***From my beach vacation in Hollywood Beach, Florida.

photos ©bbunce