An easy day trip, from Korčula town’s smaller east harbour, is the quick, regular taxi boat to Badija. This lovely pine-forested island, with its 14th-century monastery, is a haven for deer and naturists. If you take the regular 15-minute taxi boat to this pine-forested island, round the corner from the quay in front of the 15th-century Franciscan Monastery, paths lead to pebble beaches and hidden coves. Friendly deer roam free since being introduced a few decades ago, and are fed by visitors.
Lumbarda’s sandy beaches are arguably the best on the island. Head south from the village until you reach a fork in front of a small 18th-century Holy Cross Church (where the public Korčula-Lumbarda bus terminates) surrounded by vineyards; take the left-hand one for the rockier Bilin Žal or continue south-east for the lovely, sandy Vela Pržina. Hidden behind a shaggy screen of agaves, vineyards and rushes, this modest but glorious crescent of sand is arguably the finest beach on the island. It gets busy in high summer but has everything you might want for a family day out, shallow waters for paddling, a beach volleyball court at the back and a well-organized bar with drinks and snacks.
Banje beach by the Hotel Marko Polo, is crowded. The nicer, shingle one by the Bon Repos hotel is a bit of a walk, while locals pack sandy Luka Korčulanska, 15 minutes away towards Domince.
North-facing Bilin Žal beach has a tiny strip of sand bordered by lots of pebble and rock, but it is very shallow and reasonably smooth underfoot – making it the perfect paddling beach. The views of Pelješac across the water are magnificent, and there is a cafe and grill-restaurant in a semi-ruined 15th-century bishop’s castle right on the beach.
Lying at the bottom of the coastal slopes south of Žrnovo is one of Korčula’s best known targets for bathing connoisseurs, Bačva beach, a peaceful small bay with a shingle beach and a hut selling refreshments. Be warned however that the steep and narrow access road is not for the faint-hearted – a lot of people come by boat.
Accessible via a narrow windy road, Pupnatska Luka is today a beautiful crescent of fine pebble, and is arguably the best of Korčula’s south-coast beaches. There are a couple of café-cum-snack bars at the back of the beach, screened by outsized cacti. The only problem with Pupnatska Luka is the lack of parking spaces, and the constant danger that you might meet a large and cumbersome car coming in the opposite direction on the way up or down.
The Vela Spila cave, and the off-shore sunbathing paradise of Proizd, provide the main excuses to stick around. Of all the boat-trip getaways in the seas off Korčula, the island of Proizd is the one that attracts most in the way of superlatives. Twenty minutes in a taxi boat from Vela Luka harbour, Proizd features some of the Adriatic’s most dramatic ‘beaches’ – for the most part made up of smooth stone slabs that descend at a steep angle into the sea. All in all, it’s perfect for sunbathing and swimming – the waters here are crystal clear. Tracks criss-cross the island, ensuring that you can visit more than one stretch of Proizd’s coast in the space of a day. One beach them (clearly marked) is reserved for naturists. There’s a cafe-restaurant near Proizd’s boat jetty but it soon gets busy – so bring your own supplies