The Adriatic Coastline has always been a real gem. As tourists sought alternatives to the resorts of Western Europe, they discovered this coast only for the Balkans to descend into war. Once those struggles came to an end and Yugoslavia was broken up, tourists gradually returned. Undoubtedly, it is Croatia – a new country with just a few million people – that has benefitted the most.
There are over 100 beaches on the coastline and islands of Croatia that have attained blue flag status. This is due to their stunning white-pebble beaches and clear turquoise waters. With so much choice, it is difficult to choose the 15 Best Beaches in Croatia.
Suffice to say, if you head for any mentioned below, you won’t be disappointed.
1. Stiniva Beach, Vis
Vis is an island known to be the refuge of Tito’s partisans and a haven for British commandos fighting the Nazis in World War II. It is a two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride from Split and Stiniva Beach has previously earned the title of the best beach in Europe.
A limestone region created by erosion and collapse, the setting is stunning – if difficult to reach once you are on the island, but it is well worth the effort to get there.
Swimmers, snorkelers, and sunbathers regularly make that effort.
There is a land route but it is only for the intrepid hiker with good sandals!
2. Bršeč Beach, Bršeč
The locals are fairly happy that tourists have yet to discover this beach below the cliffs of the ancient village of Bršeč in Istria.
It is quite small but certainly spectacular, with views over the Kvarner Gulf to Cres Island.
It is another spot that is a little difficult to reach, involving a 90-minute trek.
As a result, it is rare that there are significant numbers of beachgoers when you arrive.
Another limestone region, it is popular with climbers and abseilers.
You need to bring your own refreshments because there are no facilities at the beach or even close by.
3. Kamenjak National Park, Istria
The Kamenjak Peninsula in the South of Istria is a national park where 70-foot cliffs overlook the sea.
Some brave folks even jump off them into the clear, blue waters; it is a favorite pastime of many locals, though tourists should be very careful and take advice from the locals if wanting to give it a try.
It’s better to stick with kayaking or windsurfing.
Dolphins and monk seals play in the waters and the fossils and footprints in the limestone tell of life here in a bygone age.
The park and beach are south of Pula and in total there are over 25 kilometers of coves and caves.
There is no need to name each small beach and you can walk from one to another.
4. Oprna Beach, Krk
Krk has the most blue flag beaches of any Croatian Island.
The conditions for swimming are comparable with anywhere, but Oprna claims to be the best and snorkelers and divers certainly aren’t arguing.
It is fairly quiet because of the effort needed to get here, down a slope via a narrow path.
You will not find any facilities once you arrive.
There is a 16th Century Franciscan Monastery very close on Košljun which you can reach by boat.
5. Beach Mali Bok, Cres
If there is one criticism of this beach, it is the complete lack of shade; you need to bring an umbrella.
With no facilities, you should bring your own picnic and towels as well.
Cres is an island in the Kvarner Gulf between Istria and Dalmatia.
There is a narrow route down to the pebble beach from the car park and you will need sturdy footwear.
The environment is truly natural and the endangered Griffon vulture nests in the rocks above the beach.
It is a great place for scuba diving but rarely are there any significant tourist numbers here at all.
6. Lubenice Beach, Lubenice
The ancient, fortified city of Lubenice on Cres has some of the oldest standing structures in Croatia; it was founded over 3,000 years ago and is awaiting UNESCO recognition.
Tourists come to see the old towers and churches but also the picturesque beach.
The contrast of the white shore and clear blue waters is typical of the coastline.
Blue Cave nearby is worth a visit but you have to swim there along the bay or walk from the hills above to reach it.
7. Zlatni Rat, Brač
Zlatni Rat translates into “golden horn,” describing the shape of this gorgeous spot.
The beach is the mouthpiece of the horn and its pebbles are so fine that the texture is as soft as sand.
Behind, the bulk of the ‘’horn’’ are pine groves, where there are the ruins of an old Roman villa.
One side is fairly sheltered, with calm waters; this is where you will find tourists with their towels and tents.
Surfers head for the other side.
While you are there, you should look for the ‘’lucky stone’’ – a sea snail shell that is found among the sand.
8. Punta Rata, Brela
Punta Rata is on the Makarska Riviera, south of Split below the Biokovo Mountains.
The outstanding feature of this place is the Brela Stone, a huge boulder just a short distance offshore on which pine trees grow.
The beach is the shape of an arrowhead and is ideal for families.
There are plenty of facilities, including showers and sun beds.
If you are feeling like some action, you can rent a bike and cycle some of the trails.
Some are paved, so head inland to explore the district as a whole.
9. Nugal Beach, Makarska
Nugal is a nudist beach which is accessed by walking through dense forest.
It is not easy to get to, but without doubt, it is the most beautiful setting on this stretch of coastline.
Nugal’s highlight is the small waterfall that comes down from Mount Biokovo, cascading into the sea.
It is most impressive in winter when it is too cold to swim.
The beach itself is small, but there is shade and privacy offered by the nearby pine trees.
There are no facilities so you need to bring your own picnic.
Osejava Forest Park is nearby and worth exploring.
10. Sunj Beach, Lopud
Lopud is just west of Dubrovnik and Sunj Beach is one of the few sandy beaches in Croatia.
Cars are not allowed and the only motorized transport to transit between the beach and the town is golf carts.
You can walk or cycle but the slopes are challenging in hot weather unless you are fit.
The region has a rich history with plenty of ruins – monasteries, forts, villas, and palaces.
Earthquakes and invasions have been regular occurrences over the centuries, but not anymore – it is just a matter of getting there and enjoying yourself.
11. Sveti Jakov Beach, Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik has been used extensively in the epic television series ‘’Game of Thrones.” Fans will recognise it as King’s Landing.
It is as impressive on screen as it is in real life.
Sveti Jakov is just a short bus ride or 20-minute walk from the center, though it remains a feature as you enjoy the beach’s tranquillity.
There is plenty of shade to get out of the sun for a while, with snorkelers enjoying the clear waters.
In general, this beach remains quiet and serene.
The sunsets here are most impressive, so stay a few hours longer in the afternoon before you head back for your evening meal.
12. Banje Beach, Dubrovnik
Banje Beach is a pebble beach and undoubtedly Dubrovnik’s most popular beach, helped partly by its proximity to the Old Town.
There are plenty of activities available, though many are happy to simply relax and enjoy the views of the city walls.
Facilities include plenty of refreshment options.
Banje Beach Restaurant Lounge and Club can be a bit touristy, but the food is good and the views spectacular.
As an alternative, Restaurant Horizont offers good, traditional Croatian cuisine.
13. Dubovica Beach, Hvar
Dubovica Beach is in a quiet cove along an unmarked trail.
As a result, it is never busy and a great escape from crowds.
You need to take your own food and drink with you.
The views of Villa Benedeta – a private 19th Century villa belonging to the Kolumbić family – may interest you.
It is also available for rent and makes a great base for a large family or group of friends.
The Island of Hvar is a lovely place.
14. Saharun Beach, Dugi Island (Dugi Otok)
The waters along the shore of Saharun Beach are as clear as they come.
This is a family-friendly beach surrounded by pine trees.
The trees provide shade from the glare of the sun’s rays.
The water is shallow and calm, ideal for even the smallest of children.
There are facilities but they are seasonal, so you may need to bring your own food and drink if visiting in low season.
There are some beachside rentals if you wish to stay on Dugi Island.
15. Divna Beach, Dalmatia
This beach on Pelješac Peninsula in Southern Dalmatia is part of a lovely natural environment, including clear blue waters, green valleys and secluded coves.
The name of the beach translates into ‘’beautiful.” It is a pebbly beach but soft on the feet at the same time.
The brilliant white hues seem to strengthen the sun’s rays, so have plenty of sunscreen ready.
Divna is remote so you need to bring your own refreshments.
There is a nearby campsite and a small hotel on the beach, so why not stay for a few nights?