Best beaches in Croatia

Island & mainland beaches in Croatia

Some beaches in Croatia provide shade by way of parasols, pine trees and monstrous clumps of Mediterranean scrub whilst others offer sun-worshippers an unimpeded solar grill for cooking on all sides. And we mean all sides as naturism, in selected spots, is positively encouraged. Warm shallows can go on forever at knee height, perfect for picigin (water-based ‘keepie uppie’) and for families who prefer paddling to plunging.
Adriatic winds can play a part in deciding which beach to go for as islands are often sheltered on one side and wilder and more natural on the other. Getting to certain beaches in Croatia can also be an experience in itself with the most secluded requiring the confidence of a mountain goat and are definitely not to be negotiated in flip-flops. Below are just a few of the best beaches in Croatia and if you’re looking for a few more then grab your ferry timetable, hiking boots, sun cream and set off on an odyssey that knows no bounds.


Dubrovnik’s best beaches include the busy Blue Flag Banje and not so busy Sveti Jakov, both within walking distance of the city’s Ploce Gate, via lots of steps. Outside of Pile Gate you’ll find Sulici and Dance beaches easier to access but far less comfortable with a lot more crowds. The best beach in Dubrovnik is the tiny patch of pebbles to be found at Betina Cave (Betina spilja) although you will require paddle power or a water taxi to find this secret spot - with sublime seclusion, just reward.

Mljet Island

Saplunara Beach on the southeastern tip of Mljet Island is surprisingly peaceful considering it’s the only patch of sand to be found within the national park. Shallow water and surrounding pine and woodlands make the dual beaches of Saplunara extremely enticing with Blace Beach, around a 20 minute stroll south of Saplunara, an even quieter option without a cafe in sight. Saltwater lakes, Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero, offer an inland Adriatic oasis and provide sheltered swim and sunbathing spots as well as a 12th century Benedictine island monastery.
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Peljesac Peninsula

Head north from Dubrovnik to the Peljesac Peninsula and you’ll discover not only terraced vineyards, olive groves and several oyster bars but also some incredibly picturesque Blue Flag beaches. Prapratno Bay, Zuljana Bay and the beach at the fishing village of Podobuce are all to be found on the south coast of the 70km peninsula and provide protected pebble or shingle settings alongside crystal clear shallows – ideal for families. The north coast of the Peljesac Peninsula, especially towards the northernmost point, offers a much more natural environment with Jezero and Divna both beautiful beaches although without shade if you’re seeking solace from the sun.

Korcula Island

The 15 minute Peljesac Channel ferry takes you from the southwest of the Peljesac Peninsula to the undulating folds of Korcula Island. In the main, the beaches of Korcula are easier to access in the north and far more sheltered whereas the south coast beaches are steeper to reach and a bit more weather beaten, thanks to the south-easterly Jugo wind. Along the east coast you’ll find a couple of sandy options, Lumbarda and Vela Przina, however, head to the southeast of the island and there’s several secluded spots that can be reached on a hike through the Defora countryside, with the pebbled Pupnatska Luka and rocky Raznjic Beach both popular with local snorkellers. The western tip of Korcula features the small coastal town of Vela Luka which, for archaeological reasons, is well worth a visit within its own right although it’s the surrounding bays, such as Gradina, and islets, particularly Proizd, that grab the headlines as Korcula’s best beaches.

Hvar Island

North of Korcula, the island of Hvar features fertile slopes filled with lavender, olives, vineyards and pines many of which lead to fine shingle beaches on the southwest coast and sandier stretches towards the north. The north facing bays of Hvar, between Jelsa and Sucuraj, are the most sheltered and best for families whereas on the opposite side of the island, just off the south coast, you’ll find Jerolim and the rest of the 16 Pakleni islands accessible to water taxis and the yachting fraternity. Some of the Pakleni islands are semi-inhabited and exploring by boat gives you ample opportunities to discover deserted pebble and sandy beaches, hidden lagoons and sheltered coves alongside the scent of pungent black pines. Other beaches also worth checking out by boat are either side of Hvar town including the coves situated around the fishing villages of Brusje, Grabovac, Lucisca and Stiniva.

Brac Island

Continue north from Hvar and you’ll bump into Brac which boasts the Croatian tourist board’s favourite image: Zlatini Rat. This picture postcard fin of white pebbles emerges from a Mediterranean pine grove around a mile west of the southern town of Bol and is popular with windsurfers wishing to make the most of the unhindered Jugo winds in the morning and opposing Maestral winds in the afternoon. If you are heading to Brac’s world-famous spit it’s worth remembering that there’s a fairly strong current the further out you swim although it will eventually carry you back to Bol harbour so try not to panic if caught in the riptide. The best of the rest of Brac can be found along the north coast from Lovrecina Bay to the village of Sutivan where pine groves lead to secret coves and sandy beaches including numerous hangouts for naturists, such as the shoreline from Mutnik to Vela Luka.

Vis Island

Head further out from Brac and you’ll find the inhabited island of Vis which is surrounded by small stone beaches, secluded rocky bays and high-walled sheltered coves. The best beaches can be found on the south coast with Srebrna shaded by pines, Stiniva accessible only on foot or by boat, and the sandy beach of Milna where the sea retains a constantly shallow depth for paddling or picigin. Head to the north of Vis and there are several nudist options, such as Vela Svitnja and Punta Od Biskupa, as well as a couple of partially covered alternatives for families including the pebbled Grandovac Bay and Stoncica which is a sandy option with a restaurant and snack bar, well worth the walk down the gravel track to the beach.

Cres Island

There are some wonderful beaches on the northern island of Cres although getting to them usually requires at least a 30 minute hike downhill from one of the island’s remote villages. The town of Lubenice is a prime example where a steep scree descent takes you to a pebble beach flanked either side by large rocks. Take the left hand fork in the track and you’ll find yourself at the entrance to the Blue Cave where a short swim in the dark reveals a flickering blue cave ceiling – quite magical. Meli Beach in the south of the island, close to Ustrine, is a Blue Flag option for families although there’s not much shade and walking for half an hour to reach the beach may not appeal to everyone, although it does keep the crowds away. Finally, if you find yourself near Orlec, on the east coast, whisper the name ‘Mali Bok’ and you’ll be met with knowing smiles or, perhaps, worried frowns. The hike down to Mali Bok beach is slightly precarious and once you arrive there’s no shade although, if you’re looking for seriously secluded then it is well worth the effort.

Rab Island

Finally, to the east of Cres, Rab Island is revered for the 20 or so sandy beaches on the Lopar Peninsula, in the northeast, that regularly feature amongst the best in Croatia. Rajska Plaza (Paradise Beach) is the longest and probably most popular but at 1.5km there’s plenty of sand to go around. Just along the coast from Paradise you’ll find the small sandy outcrop of Livacina that also has some much needed shade amongst the pine trees. Nature is everything at the clothing optional beach of Stolac where a tiny islet makes for an enticing stroll through the warm shallows. Finally, Sahara Beach, about a 30-minute walk from Paradise Beach, is another minimalist clothing option. The sandy crescent bay is fringed by Mediterranean scrub which provides a bit of shade but other than that Sahara is just about as natural a beach setting as you could wish to imagine.
Photo credits: [Top box: xbrchx] [Dubrovnik: Jose Miguel] [Mljet Island: Jose Miguel] [Peljesac Peninsula: Milo van Kovacevic] [Korcula Island: Remus Pereni] [Hvar Island: Mario Fajt] [Brac Island: Szabolcs Emich ] [Vis Island: Chadica] [Cres Island: Mario Fajt] [Rab Island: Patty Ho]
Written by Chris Owen
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