With the main shipyard in operation here since the mid-1800s, the waterfront in the city centre has long since been given over to industry, but there are plenty of beaches a short bus journey from town.
The main ones are all due south. The nearest ones at Stoja and Lungomare are fine for a paddle – most notably Valkane in Zelenika Bay, with tennis courts nearby. Part of the seafront here is sandy, ideal for children and also adapted for disabled visitors. The next bay along, Gortanova, near the Hotel Pula, also has easy access to the sea, with pine trees close at hand for shade.
Gortanova © Pula Tourist Board
A couple of kilometres further south is Verudela, a headland focused on holiday pleasure, dotted with hotels and surrounded by shingle or smooth-stone beaches. Popular ones such as Histria offer plenty of shade, with loungers and umbrellas to rent. Climbing inflatables in the water should keep the kids busy and there’s an aquarium at the nearby fortress. On the other side of the fortress, near the Park Plaza Arena hotel, Hawaii beach, aka Havajka, comprises pebbles that slope ever so gently down into the water, ideal for smaller children a little nervous about going in. As if by contrast, locals use the cliffs alongside to jump off into the sea – only try this if you know what you’re doing.
Havajka © Pula Tourist Board
On the same side of the headland as Stoja, as you come into Verudela, Ambrela beach is sandy, the sea clear, with changing cabins and showers alongside. Again, loungers, umbrellas and basic beach amenities such as pedalos can be rented – and, like Histria, Ambrela has been awarded a Blue Flag.
Pula is the gateway to Premantura and Cape Kamenjak, where Istria runs out of land at its far southern tip, some ten to 15 kilometres from town. The sea surrounding this jagged coastline of some 30 kilometres is crystal clear but can be rough the further south you go. Less experienced swimmers should stick to popular bathing spots such as Stupice near the campsite of the same name, with its tennis and volleyball courts, and windsurfing centre. Convivial Debeljak Bay also attracts bathers, with a beach bar close by.
Banjole beach © Karel Hrdina
Dotted around the far southern tip are swimming spots of varying degrees of comfort and safety, usually with makeshift alongside.
Across from the east coast of Premantura, Medulin has been built around holiday fun, with the sandy beach at Pješčana Bay a family favourite. Windsurfing, SUP and diving can all be found nearby. Medulin is a 15- to 20-minute drive from Pula with scores of hotels and campsites should you wish to stay over.