Dubrovnik beaches have a quiet kind of beauty - most attract a local crowd of sunbathers, who tend to stay loyal to their favourite beach. Some are defined by their lively arcades of cafes and bars, while others are hushed half-moon bays which you'll feel lucky to have discovered.
If you're looking to enjoy Dubrovnik's beaches through a little adventuring, outdoor adventure firm Adriatic Kayak Tours (Zrinsko-Frankopanska 6) offer sea-kayaking jaunts to Lokrum and the Elafiti islands, white-water rafting in Montenegro’s Tara River Canyon, mountain biking in Konavle, and winter sea kayaking in the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro.
Diving is also popular. Clubs such as Blue Planet Diving (Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, Masarykov put 20) and Navis Underwater Explorers (Copacabana beach) offer both trips and a range of different diving courses for all levels and ages.
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A half-moon of pebbles and gravel set in Seka Bay, Copacabana is one of Dubrovnik's best beaches. Studded with luxury white loungers and deckchairs, there's heaps going on to keep you amused with watersports, paddle boarding and inflatables for the kids. The beachside restaurant provides further inducement to spend the day here with breakfast, lunch and dinner covered. Craving a detox? There are deliciously fresh juices and smoothies available. Hedonists can even enjoy table service of cocktails to your sunlounger. The beach is fabulous for families - there's a giant stretch of coastline for the kiddies to explore, while you can get acquainted with the best of Croatian wine from the beach bar, or enjoy a post-swim massage. The sunset boat trip comes recommended, where you paddle out to see while Dubrovnik is basked in the golden light of sundown.
Locals head instead for Sveti Jakov, down the coast past the Villa Dubrovnik, a 20-minute walk along quiet, tree-lined Vlaha Bukovca. Buses Nos.5 and 8 run most of the way from north of the Old Town. Although this is everyone’s favourite beach, it’s rarely crowded. The sun stays warm until late in the evening, bathing the Old Town in a golden light. It’s part shingle, part pebble, with showers, sun shades, and a bar and restaurant at beach level. It is accessed via a long stairway you’ll be reluctant to climb back up.
Between Banje and Sv Jakov are the hotel beaches, either exclusive or hired by the day. Each can offer a pool, a terrace and a fine Martini. Just east of the Grand Villa Argentina is Betina Špilja, a cave with a fine white pebble beach, only accessible from the sea. Rent a taxi boat at the old harbour, arrange a pick-up time and get the captain’s number. Take provisions.
Pile is not known for its beaches – but Šulići is one of Dubrovnik’s cleanest, a short walk from the Pile Gate. On the other side of the promontory, the rocky beach of Danče stretches to an open, clear sea. The bay here isn’t so sheltered, so waves can be rough.
Lapad (bus no. 6 from Pile) has a family-friendly public beach complete with showers, sunloungers and shallow waters overseen by lifeguards. Behind, the pedestrianised shade of Šetalište kralja Tomislava has a bouncy play area and tennis courts are nearby. Immediately to the west, the rocks beside the Niki i Meda Pucića promenade allow for nude sunbathing.
Further northwest, the Babin kuk peninsula (also served by bus no. 6 or reached via the Niki i Meda Pucića promenade) is covered with hotels, each of which has access to a beach of some sort. The best equipped is the Copacabana, a half-moon of pebbles and gravel set in Seka Bay. Parachute boat rides, water chutes, canoes, jet skis, pedalos and banana rides provide high-action entertainment. Nearby is a signposted path down to a naturist beach, Cava. There is also nude bathing at Lokrum, 15 minutes by taxi boat from the Old Town.