Dalmatia, the southern coastal region of Croatia is home to 79 islands, 500 islets, natural parks, secluded beaches and great food. Sometimes referred to as the “new Ibiza” because of its increasingly popular party and music festival scene, the Dalmatian Coast has seen a spike in tourism because of Game of Thrones and Star Wars VIII, which were both filmed in Dubrovnik.
Here’s a few things you should know before traveling to Dalmatia:
1. Plan on backpacking instead of carrying a suitcase
Lugging around a bulky suitcase can be bothersome, especially when wheels, zippers or handles break (we’ve all been there); opt for backpacking instead. Hvar, along with most of the islands and coastal cities (Dubrovnik, Bol, etc.) are on a hill, which immediately slopes upward from the coastline and because of this, there are many steps, making it difficult to wheel around a suitcase. Traveling with a backpack also makes getting on and off the ferry, which travels between islands much easier.
2. Almost all beaches in the area are rocky, so plan accordingly
The entire coastline of Croatia is very rocky, so don’t forget your reef walkers. Some beaches have pebble sized stones but other areas have small boulders, making it uncomfortable to lay out and suntan or get into the water. Most people either buy a foldable cushion, which are sold in most shops or bring a rolled camping mat along. Every beach is covered with lounge chairs for rent, but if you spend 40 or 50 kuna per day to rent a chair, it can really add up. I roughed it and it wasn’t horrible, but after one week of lying on the rocks, you can definitely feel it.
3. Bring along cash in Croatian kunas
Although Croatia has been part of the EU since 2013, they are not part of the Eurozone. Most places don’t accept euros and many places are cash only, even in the touristic center. If you bring along cash in another currency, you will always get the best exchange rate if you go directly to a bank (expect a line).
4. Arrive early and bring some snacks onto the ferry
There are just a few ferry companies which transport passengers and luggage throughout the region and you can purchase tickets online or onsite. Some of the main stops include, Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar, Bol, and Korčula.
Both of these companies only depart once per day, so they do fill up during high season. Even though the ferries are often late and take quite a while for disembarkation, I do recommend getting to the pier at least 15 minutes early as there will be a long line to board. And lastly, bring your own food and drinks if you want to be more comfortable. There is a small bar onboard which offers soda, water, alcohol and coffee as well as chips to snack on if you forget to bring something along.
5. Start your day at the beach early or stay until late
The main tourist beaches like Zlatni Rat on Bol get really crowded because there are taxi boats and tourist trains which bring people back and forth from the city center. In the morning before 11am, there is still space on the beach, so get there early to get a photo at the point! As the sun begins to set, the beach empties once again and even though the air is cooler, it’s still nice to take a swim and sit on the beach. There are very nice beach bars like Auro on Bol and Hula Hula Beach Bar on Hvar, where you can have a drink and then jump into the water for an evening dip (you’ll have it all to yourself).