The first thing the foreign visitor should know about beaches in Croatia is that very few of them are sandy. Fine shingle is the closest you’re going to get – and, in most cases, the beach is one of smooth pebbles or rocks. Only in rare cases – such as the city beach of Bačvice in Split – has someone come and dumped sand somewhere convenient because it’s easier for people to play and lie on. What you see is what has been here for millennia, a long, rugged, indented coastline fringed by more than 1,000 islands, almost all of it unblemished by man, industry or motorboat. The range is astounding: some are pure serenity, while others attract toddler-wielding families seeking play-spots in the sun. On some you’ll hear the background buzz of bars and café strips – on others, nothing but the waves.
Facilities around beaches are usually simple – at most a couple of cafés nearby. Don’t expect showers or changing rooms, although beaches near hotels usually have a concrete platform to lay your towel on or dry off easily. Those in the main towns and major resorts will have the standard shops on hand, perhaps a restaurant with a panoramic view. In certain cases, a beach will be the ideal location for a nightclub, but it would be wrong to suggest that Croatia’s coastline is built up – yet. The government sets strict guidelines on planning: no permission will be granted for a construction nearer than 100 metres from the Adriatic. Without much industry to speak of, the country depends on tourism, and here tourism depends on the quality of the country’s beaches. Croatia’s 1,100 miles of mainland littoral and 2,480 miles of island coastline are its riches. Here, we handpick the best.
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