While Northern Croatia is stunning, Dalmatia is warmer, and I mean that literally. The Adriatic is crystal clean along the Croatian coast (no sharks to be afraid of!), but it is in Dalmatia that it has the right feel - and the weather is more likely to be warm and sunny. Visiting Hvar is a must, but for good swimming, head out of town. Hop on a pleasant taxi-boat ride to the surrounding beaches – my favorite is Jerolim, pictured here - not only will swimming be better, but that local restaurant is far more likely to have good food.
In your country, better establishments might be fancier ones, but in Croatia the opposite tends to be the case: the modest taverna with one or two waiters will often have the grilled octopus salad or fresh grilled fish at half the price and double the taste than in the town of Hvar. Don’t forget to ask your taxi-boat driver for a recommendation! You just might make friends and get invited for a glass of wine past the official departure time.
Speaking of wine: while branded, bottled stuff is superb, it will cost just as much if not more than when imported to your home country. Try it, but know that cheap local wine tastes just right where it’s made.
And speaking of surprise invitations: when in Croatia, ditch your schedule and do like locals do. This is the land of lounging, lingering and relaxation. Rather than town-hopping, choose your island: staying in one place will bring you much more joy and a real feel for Adriatic living.