Dalmatian Coast Beaches

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Dalmatian Coast Beaches
Dalmatia has miles of coastline and hundreds of islands dotting the Adriatic Sea, with opportunities to learn to sail, dive among shipwrecks, swim with dolphins, kayak around sea caves, and more.

Additional copy by Anja Mutic. 
By Neha Puntambekar , AFAR Local Expert
Photo by age fotostock
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    Dalmatia’s Iconic Beaches
    The famous Zlatni Rat Beach is actually a sandspit that extends from the island of Brač, and in the summer months it's packed with bodies and beach towels. Carpe Diem is the name of both a beach and a club on the island of Hvar that's popular with the glamorous crowd. A little further north of the region, but still worthy of mention, Zrće beach on the island of Pag is the place for younger, more raucous partyers. For a mellower vibe, visit the sandy beach at Trstenik on the Pelješac Peninsula, a quiet bay on Brač such as Lovrečina, or remote Stiniva Cove at the far end of Vis Island.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Evenings on the Riva
    With so much waterfront, it's not surprising that the riva (or seafront) is the perfect place for people-watching on the Dalmatian Coast. A leisurely coffee on Split's palm-fringed riva is a must. On Hvar, stroll the riva to rub shoulders with the upper crust. This is the place for celeb-spotting—Beyoncé and Prince Harry have both been seen here—so find a seat at a local café, sip a cocktail, and see who you can see. Better yet, order your own evening meal while you watch tables being set up on the decks of the private yachts. If you're looking for a more down-to-earth evening among the common folk, try the fun promenades on the islands of Vis or Mljet.
    Photo by Franck Guiziou/age fotostock
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    Go Island-Hopping
    There are hundreds of islands in the Adriatic Sea, many of which are accessible by water only. Each has its own character, so island-hopping is a fantastic way to get a well-rounded impression of the region. It's impossible to visit them all, so plan which you want to see. The most popular Dalmatian islands are Hvar, Korčula, Brač, Vis, and Mljet. The first three are lively and crowded, with lots of amenities, activities, and parties; the latter two are much more serene. Once you've decided where you want to go you can plot your route via tourist boat, ferry, or catamaran, or hire a sailboat for ultimate freedom. Secret Dalmatia offers great private skippered excursions around Kornati.
    Photo by J. Wachala/age fotostock
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    Bottlenose dolphins are a common sight along the Dalmatian Coast, particularly in the waters surrounding the islands of Brač, Korčula, and Vis. On days when the sea is calm, especially along the more secluded bays, they will come closer to shore. These creatures tend to be friendly and playful, and the ones here are not intimidated by sailboats, ferries, or kayaks, so if you do come across a school in the sea, take a chance and dive in. Stiniva Cove on Vis and the stretch between Komiža and the Green Caves are well-known for dolphin sightings. Blue World, a non-profit organization on Lošinj, runs a dolphin-adoption program that raises money for dolphin research and conservation projects in these waters.
    Photo by Neha Puntambekar
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    Shipwreck Adventures
    The sea floor skirting the Dalmatian Coast, where a busy shipping route once operated, has its fair share of wrecks. Divers around Dubrovnik are familiar with the Italian merchant ship Taranto; in 1943, it hit a sea mine and sank. Vis is also a super wreck-diving destination; take a dive in its nearby waters to look for the 1909 steamship Brijuni. Diving is regulated around the Croatian coast, particularly in ecosensitive zones like Mljet National Park and the Kornati archipelago, so it’s best to choose excursions with a licensed operator.
    Photo by Franco Banfi/age fotostock
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    Learn How to Sail
    Given the clear waters and myriad islands of the Dalmatian Coast, sailing is a great way to tour. You don't need your own boat, or even to know how to sail: Many local companies, such as Sail Croatia, can arrange excursions that include a skipper along with some instruction. Bookings are usually by the week, and you can choose a boat that suits your group size and budget. Yachtium is a Croatian charter outfit that, besides offering boats with and without skippers, also organizes flotilla sailing journeys for people who'd rather have some company on the water.
    Photo by Neha Puntambekar
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    The Adriatic Caves
    Much of the Dalmatian Coast is a limestone karst landscape; as such, there are numerous sea caves that visitors can explore. The easiest way to check them out is to take a boat tour with one of the many companies that offer cave excursions; kayaking is another—and more active—option. By far the best-known is the Blue Cave, close to the islet of Biševo, near Vis. When the weather is good and the sun is high (typically around noon), the sunlight illuminates the limestone below and reflects a luminescent blue light within the cave walls. Licensed boats leave each morning from the fishing village of Komiža, on Vis. Companies often combine this with a trip to the nearby Green Cave, in which you are allowed to swim.
    Photo by Borut Furlan/age fotostock
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    Water Sports
    Croatian beaches are increasingly offering visitors a host of water-based activities. Vis has numerous companies that run sea-kayaking trips to its islets and caves. On the beaches of Brač, particularly on Zlatni Rat, windsurfing and kitesurfing equipment can be rented; instruction is available on request. One sport rising in popularity is stand-up paddleboarding (SUP); local outfitter Meridien Ten has rental facilities in Split, Brač, and Hvar. If you want to get underwater, the Kornati islands are ideal for reef- and cave-diving—though diving within the national park is regulated and there is an entrance fee.
    Photo by Heinz Wohner/age fotostock
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    Family-Friendly Beaches
    With clean waters and nicely maintained beaches, the Dalmatian Coast is wonderful for families. Well-known family-friendly places to dip a toe in include Ninska Laguna Beach, close to Zadar, which has shallow waters and a great stretch of sand; even adults will want to play in the mud here—it's said to have healing properties. Stončica, on Vis, is a sandy beach in a naturally protected cove, and has a lighthouse nearby. Although shorelines along the Dalmatian Coast are known for their cleanliness, it's worth checking to make sure that the area you'll visit is a Blue Flag beach. (This designation indicates that it's sanitary and safe.)
    Photo by Neha Puntambekar