Best Places to Swim in Croatia
Croatia is often ranked among Europe’s top destinations for those who like to swim, with many arriving to take advantage of the sea and the summer sun. The Adriatic averages in the upper 70s Fahrenheit, around 25-26 Celsius, and the European Environment Agency’s annual reports rate the vast majority of its areas for swimming as excellent, meaning mostly free of pollutants that can harm the environment and/or human health. Croatia, in particular, is among the top five countries with the highest number of such sites boasting outstanding water quality of 95 percent or more, with 99.6 percent of its 997 beaches tested declared to be of excellent quality.
For the most memorable swims, you’ll want to head to at least one of these destinations.
Zlatni Rat Beach
Just over a mile from the town of Bol on Brac Island, Zlatni Rat, also known as the Golden Horn, is one of Croatia’s most photographed beaches. Often named among Europe’s most beautiful stretches of sand, it’s a spectacular strip that changes shape with the waves and the wind, made up of glistening white pebbles that juts out a third of a mile into dreamy, brilliant blue waters that surround it on three sides. After an unforgettable swim, if you need a break from the sun, it’s bordered by pine trees that provide the perfect shady spot.
Stiniva Beach lies in Stiniva Cove on the south side of Vis Island, the most remote of the Croatian islands. It’s framed by sheer rock walls which nearly encircle the smooth white pebbly beach with the only break 16 feet wide, opening up the beach to the dazzling turquoise sea. The surreal scene is believed to be the result of an ancient cave that’s collapsed. It’s one of the most jaw-dropping places to swim and as the land route down is somewhat treacherous, the easiest way to reach it is on a boat tour or as a stop on a small-ship cruise.
Krka National Park
The Adriatic isn’t the only place to swim in Croatia, as the country is home to many beautiful lakes and rivers. Krka National Park is one of the top spots other than the sea for swimming, with the opportunity to swim in the river and a serene pool at Skradinski Buk waterfall, the longest and most stunning on the Krka River. You can take a dip beneath the falls or enjoy a more secluded swim by heading down the river to Lake Prokljan with water that reaches up to 25 Celsius (about 76 Fahrenheit) before summer’s end.
The Pakleni Islands
By basing yourself in sunny Hvar, you’ll not only find idyllic beaches for swimming and sunbathing right on the island, but you’ll have easy access to the Pakleni Islands. A string of forested jewels, the archipelago offers many tranquil, hidden coves and secluded bays with crystal-clear turquoise water for swimming. They stretch for more than six miles off the southwestern side of Hvar, with boat trips that will allow you to take advantage of the top spots. Sveti Klement is one of the best choices for those seeking variety, with peaceful bays, sandy and rocky beaches, beach bars, and restaurants.
An adventure to the Blue Lagoon is like taking a trip to an exotic paradise that looks as if it were somehow stolen from the Caribbean, with remarkably clear aquamarine waters, a sandy seabed, and an unspoiled white sandy beach. It’s just six miles from Trogir and 14 from Split in the heart of the Dalmatian archipelago. Lying between two small islands and Drvenik Veliki Island, it’s protected from the elements, keeping the water wonderfully calm. Snorkeling is outstanding too, with all sorts of fish and other marine life. When you want to simply relax and soak up the sun, the atmosphere is serene.
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