10 Stunning Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of

10 Stunning Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of

I often spent a week or two in Croatia during the summer months with my family as a kid and teenager. Several years later we visited it with Csaba. And that was the time we both fell for it – he when seeing it for the first time, and I when appreciating its diverse beauties for the first time. I think I needed to grow up and know the world better to realize what a true gem Croatia is.

Still it took years to return after that first visit together. Of course, we planned to… But we returned for an entire month this September, and our love for Croatia only strengthened and deepened. We love its crystal clear, wonderful beaches, and we love Croatia beyond its beaches! We can’t wait to share all the beauties we found there, but we decided to start with a beach guide. Because people want to go to the beach when they visit Croatia. And they’re right. 🙂

Our top 10 is about the lesser-known beaches

Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of: Beriknica Beach, Pag Island, Croatia

The beaches we’ll show you now, however, are usually not mentioned in any of the “Croatia top 10 beaches” kind of lists. Not because they won’t deserve it, but because they’re not well-known enough. So while we understand and share the enthusiasm for Brela’s famous Punta Rata or Brač’s Zlatni rat, this list is not about the famous and popular beaches. Being as cliché as we can, it’s about the hidden gems.

This guide is also heavy with pictures, and not just because I can’t stop taking pictures of beautiful beaches and posting them everywhere. But also because we’d like to really show you these beaches from different angles so you can decide whether you’ll like them or whether they’re worth the walk. Yes, because usually a 10-30 minutes walk is involved. But that’s exactly what makes these beaches unspoilt and less busy, so don’t let that scare you away.

And the walks itself are pretty and quite easy coastal walks, anyway. Some of them I’ve even done in flip-flops. And in some cases, I regretted that decision. It’s more comfortable and safe to walk in sneakers, that’s my conclusion – again. But enough of the hiking advice and let’s see those beaches:

Oprna Bay, Krk Island

Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of: Oprna Bay, Krk Island, Croatia

Krk Island is not considered the most beautiful one among the many islands of Croatia. It’s one that’s very easy to access though, because there’s a bridge to the island. We thought it’s a toll bridge, but it was free when we arrived. (Later we figured that the toll obligation was abolished just two months before, in June 2020.)

We spent three days on Krk Island and came to love its rocky southern part the most. Okay, we fell head over heels for its rocky southern part! And our favorite gem there is Oprna Bay.

Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of: Oprna Bay, Krk Island, Croatia

To find it, you need to keep your eyes open when driving from Punat towards Stara Baška. The bay itself is not accessible by car, but you can see it from the road – and you can also notice the cars parking by the road. We did the same as there’s no dedicated parking lot nearby. Then we walked about 15 minutes down to Oprna Bay on a narrow coastal footpath.

Oprna Beach is a pebbly beach, and it’s also quite family-friendly with a smooth entrance to the water. Though the water gets deep soon. The beach is natural and not too large, it gave us the perfect atmosphere of a remote, romantic beach. We shouldn’t even mention that the water is crystal clear. It is on all the beaches on this list.

Essential beach info:
  • Type: pebbly beach
  • Parking: free (by the road)
  • Walking required? yes, about 15 minutes
  • Services: bar, umbrellas and deck chairs for rent

Brseč Beach, Istria

Brseč Beach, Istria, Croatia

Istria surprised us with its pure, deep waters and the lack of crowds. Very often we were the first ones to arrive at the beach and had it ourselves for maybe an hour. Then some more people joined, but it was still far from being crowded. (To be fair, we need to add that it was in September and in 2020, the year of the pandemic, and both matters greatly.)

Brseč Beach was one of those that were our private little beach when we arrived. We drove through the Opatija Riviera, but didn’t feel the urge to stop at its beaches. They seemed to lack the atmosphere of a natural, quiet, remote beach. We found that at Brseč Beach instead.

Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of: Brseč Beach, Istria, Croatia

Parking is not that easy there, only for us since we arrived first. 😛 There’s only enough parking space for a few cars. But then it’s a small beach. If you can’t park near the stairs that lead down to Brseč Beach, drive further up to a larger dirt parking lot. However, it might be a good half an hour walk on the road from there to the beach.

Essential beach info:
  • Type: pebbly beach
  • Parking: free (limited space, but there’s a larger dirt parking lot further up from the beach)
  • Walking required? it depends on where you park; but there are stairs that take you down to the beach
  • Services: toilets

Mala & Velika Kolombarica, Cape Kamenjak, Istria

Mala Kolombarica, Cape Kamenjak, Istria, Croatia

Cape Kamenjak Nature Park is Istria’s jewel, and we could easily add all the beaches we visited there to this list. We try to choose our favorites though. First, we choose one that’s not even a real beach. In the neighboring coves of Mala and Velika Kolombarica, you need to jump into the water from the rocks. Mala Kolombarica offers a smoother entrance, but still you better have your snorkeling shoes with you on the sharp rocks. Talking of which, both coves are great for snorkeling.

Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of: Velika Kolombarica, Cape Kamenjak, Istria, Croatia

As we figured it’s not an ideal beach with a baby, but we were amazed by the wild beauty of the Kolombarica coves. Also, it’s a pleasure to walk on the scenic coastal footpath.

Essential beach info:
  • Type: rocky beach
  • Parking: free (but there’s entrance fee to Cape Kamenjak Nature Park)
  • Walking required? it’s a few minutes walk from the nearest parking lot, but the path is not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs
  • Services: toilets at the parking lot, and there’s a cool safari bar not far from the Kolombarica coves

Plovanije Beach, Cape Kamenjak, Istria

Plovanije Beach, Cape Kamenjak, Istria, Croatia

If you’re on the search for family-friendly beaches at Cape Kamenjak, there’s plenty! We found that most beaches on the west side are similar, and east side bays are quite similar to each other, too. Our favorite was the west side, because cliffs are more dramatic there. And we liked Plovanije Beach the best. It’s a relatively small, peaceful, very picturesque pebbly bay surrounded by rocks. You can find shade in the Mediterranean pine forest behind it.

Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of: Plovanije Beach, Cape Kamenjak, Istria, Croatia

But we also have to mention that it’s the west side beaches of Cape Kamenjak where we’ve seen jellyfish in the water: small, transparent and most probably harmless jellyfish. At least no one bothered about them. We’re no experts to tell whether there’s always jellyfish in the water there or whether these species can harm humans, but we’ve seen the same kind of jellyfish later at any other beaches that faced west in Istria. We incidentally touched them sometimes when swimming. It was a feeling like touching jelly (not at all surprising, hah), but that was all. They didn’t harm us.

Essential beach info:
  • Type: pebbly and rocky beach
  • Parking: free (but there’s entrance fee to Cape Kamenjak Nature Park)
  • Walking required? about 5 minutes walk on a narrow, dirt footpath
  • Services: nothing

Pisak-Kulina Beaches, Starigrad-Paklenica

Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of: Pisak-Kulina Beaches, Starigrad-Paklenica

Let’s leave Istria and explore the Zadar region now. Our favorite mainland beach there was the long and scenic Pisak-Kulina Beaches. The white cliffs of Velebit Mountains tower above this beach, and the medieval ruins of Večka Kula tower made us feel like being in Ireland. That’s where you encounter random ruins on beaches, don’t you? But swimming was definitely more pleasant in Croatia. (Not that we tried it in Ireland.)

Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of: Pisak-Kulina Beaches, Starigrad-Paklenica

Essential beach info:
  • Type: pebbly beach
  • Parking: paid parking (hourly or daily fee)
  • Walking required? about 5-10 minutes walk from the parking lot on a wide, paved promenade
  • Services: toilets

Crvenka Beach, Vir Island

On the way to Crvenka Beach, Vir Island

Vir Island is another one that can be accessed by bridge, so we decided to do a day trip visiting it. More precisely, we were on the search for the best beach on Vir, and once we found it, we just enjoyed our time there. September or not, it was hot.

To no one’s surprise, we drove past all the towns and their beaches, and ended up at the remote end of the island. Just the sea, the rocks, the pine trees and the red ground. As soon as we started walking on the coastal path towards where we thought Crvenka Beach is, we knew we’ll like it. The red went very well with the greenish shades of the bays. And we like unique colors, scenic landscapes and remote beaches. Crvenka Beach is all of that.

Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of: Crvenka Beach, Vir Island

Actually, we’re not even sure we found the right bay. There were two of them, and they were very similar. If even Google was not sure about the exact location, how could we have been? Anyway, we settled down in the first bay and were happy with it. A red wall of sandstone towered behind the beach, and it was facing the white rocks of Velebit Mountains.

It was even kind of sandy… Okay, Croatia has only a few perfectly sandy beaches, and even there the sand is rough. Crvenka beach is a mix of rough sand and small pebbles. But it’s okay to walk there barefoot which I like sooo much and missed on most Istria beaches.

Essential beach info:
  • Type: pebbly and sandy beach
  • Parking: free (pullouts by the main road)
  • Walking required? yes, about 15-20 minutes walk on a coastal footpath
  • Services: nothing

Beriknica Beach, Pag Island

Beriknica Beach, Pag Island, Croatia

Since Pag is close to Vir and also accessible by a bridge, we knew it would be our next day trip. We also knew we’d visit its famous Ručica Beach with a bare landscape that looks like Mars. It was a nice plan. Only Ručica Beach was closed because of shooting when we arrived. (No, it wasn’t the next Hollywood success. It wasn’t even a movie, but a commercial. A dildo commercial, apparently. We asked…)

So we switched to plan B. (Yes, I usually have a plan B, I’m an obsessive planner.) Next to Ručica Beach, there’s Beriknica Beach in the next bay. It takes about 20 minutes to get there on foot, and the path runs through that awesome landscape that made us feel like we’re on Mars. Or in Arizona, but with yellow and white cliffs instead of red. Only there’s a sea to jump in at the end of the trail. It felt so good!

On the way to Beriknica Beach, Pag Island, Croatia

Needless to say, there’s no shade on the trail or on Beriknica Beach. (Nor on Ručica Beach for that matter.) So we put up our beach tent and spent as much time in the water as we could. And we didn’t even mind the dildo commercial anymore.

Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of: Beriknica Beach, Pag Island, Croatia

And it turned out, the shooting was over by the afternoon, so we could spend some time on Ručica Beach, too. We liked both, but Beriknica was our favorite, because it’s so picturesque! There was hardly anyone there, and the rock formations towering above the beach are stunning. Even if you don’t like swimming, photographing this beach is a pure joy. 😀

Essential beach info:
  • Type: pebbly beach
  • Parking: free (in Ručica Beach parking lot)
  • Walking required? yes, it’s about 20-30 minutes from Ručica Beach parking lot
  • Services: nothing (Ručica Beach has a bar and toilets though)

Nugal Beach, Makarska

Hiking to Nugal Beach, Makarska, Croatia

When it comes to Makarska Riviera, it’s hard to find a hidden beach. Even hidden beaches are popular and crowded there these days, especially in high season. So we have a special one for you: Nugal Beach. Even though it’s located in Makarska, it doesn’t feel like a city beach. And it isn’t. We walked about 45 minutes to this beach from Makarska’s harbor, and we didn’t walk in the city but in the coastal pine forest.

And then out of nowhere, there it was: a pebbly bay in the shade of huge rock walls. Nugal Beach. Earlier it was a nudist beach. Because it’s out of town, remote and hidden. Well, not anymore. Tourists have found it and love it, so it’s only partly a nudist beach.

Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of: Nugal Beach, Makarska, Croatia

Yes, you read it right. Do you wonder what a partly nudist beach looks like? There’s a separator sign in the middle of the beach, the left half of the bay is for everyone who wears swimsuits, the right half is for everyone who’s naked. It didn’t feel as weird as it might sound. But maybe that’s because it was our third week in Croatia, and by that time we got used to the fact that nudism is popular in the country. If we found any bays that were just a little bit out of sight, we surely saw some nudists there, as well.

As for Nugal Beach, there’s plenty to see above and under the water that has nothing to do with naked people: the giant rock walls, the surrounding evergreen forest, all the shades of blue and countless fish. In the evening we hiked above the beach for this view:

Nugal Beach, Makarska, Croatia

We didn’t take pictures on Nugal Beach, only a few of the bay from further. But no matter the number of pictures we’d have taken, this view from above would have been the best. It was simply magical.

Essential beach info:
  • Type: pebbly beach
  • Parking: paid parking in Makarska
  • Walking required? yes, about 45 minutes walk from Makarska’s harbor
  • Services: nothing

Velika Duba Beach, Živogošće

Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of: Velika Duba, Makarska Riviera, Croatia

Okay, we might have found a lesser-known beach on the Makarska Riviera. Or maybe it was just after the high season. Third week of an unusually hot September, after all. Anyway, we shared this out-of-town, unspoilt beach with only a handful of people on that Sunday.

There are several ways to access Velika Duba Beach. You can walk from Mala Duba or Živogošće, both are nice coastal paths that take about 15 minutes to walk all the way to the beach. We walked them all in the evening while waiting for sunset. But we arrived at Velika Duba Beach by car. That’s the third way to access: taking a dirt road that leads directly to the beach. The parking is paid, but honestly, it’s the same in Živogošće or anywhere else. We haven’t found free public parking on the Makarska Riviera anywhere.

Velika Duba, Makarska Riviera, Croatia

Velika Duba is a large, pebbly bay with some shade provided by large pine trees. It’s completely in the shade in the morning hours, but it’s sunny later until sunset. There’s not much to see under the water, but above it the bay is quite scenic. It has a remote atmosphere that’s rare to find in such a popular holiday region.

Essential beach info:
  • Type: pebbly beach
  • Parking: paid parking (hourly or daily rate)
  • Walking required? no
  • Services: toilets and a bar

Coves and bays of Mljet National Park, Mljet Island

Mljet, Croatia

This last one is an earlier discovery. We haven’t been to Mljet Island this year. Still we wanted to include the bays and hidden coves along the coastal trail in Mljet National Park. Because they’re wonderful, yet not too busy compared to the famous salt lakes or sandy beaches of the island.

To be fair, these coves are not even real beaches. Technically, there’s no beach, just the rocks. We simply jumped into the deep and crystal clear water. We were alone. Snorkeling was great. Then we continued on the coastal trail until we found another cove that was too tempting…

Essential beach info:
  • Type: rocky coves
  • Parking: free
  • Walking required? yes, we found them while hiking on the coastal trails of Mljet National Park
  • Services: nothing

Any of your favorite Croatian beaches? Tell us in the comments!

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10 Stunning Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of
10 Stunning Croatian Beaches You’ve Never Heard Of

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2 Responses

  1. Klara says:

    Great article! Thank you for showing us some really beautiful beaches in Croatia!

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