Croatia’s hot: not just on the travel circuit, but during this time of year the temperatures rise, too. That means when visiting Dubrovnik, finding some space to chill on the gorgeous local beaches can be somewhat of a challenge. Foreign and domestic travelers alike have also discovered “the jewel of the Eastern Adriatic”; and as many of the swimming holes are little more than narrow rocky outcroppings or sandy coves tucked into cliffside corners, tanning real estate fills up quickly.

All photos courtesy of Manuela S. Zoninsein

Yet worry your little head not (lest wrinkles form — let’s leave that to the sun), for with so many inlets and islands to appreciate, a beautiful beachy alternative always lies right around the cove. I’ve put together a list of Dubrovnik’s seaside gems to whet your body’s appetite for sea, sand and stone.

Cliffside Beach

1) Banje Beach: This is the most visible and obvious beach in Dubrovnik — you’ll notice it from the old harbour and along the ancient city walls — which is perhaps why it’s also the most commercial. A sandy strip just before the Excelsior Hotel, it’s also called East-West beach because of its cardinal layout, allowing beach-goers a morning-to-night view of the old town. Its sand is interlaced with about as many cigarette butts as pebbles, so while this is an easy solution it’s not nearly as pleasurable as the other options.

Banje Beach

2) Saint Jacob’s Beach: Here’s a more pristine option. In the same same bay as Banje and also facing Lokrum Island across the strait, St. Jacob’s has a longer, cleaner strip of sand. As it takes 25 minutes to walk here from the Old City, compounded by a 70-meter vertical stairway down to the beach, fewer people come this way. Those who do, though, will be rewarded with the longest direct light of these beaches, even as the last rays of the sun set over Dubrovnik.

St. Jacob's Beach

3) President Beach: The farther one goes from Dubrovnik’s Old City, the more surface space one’s towel will enjoy. From outside the Pile Gates (pronounced pee-lay), take bus #6 until its final stop, about a 10-minute ride. As the waters here are more open, expect slightly bigger (and colder) waves. This long, sandy beach is also aligned along the east-west axis, so where you lay will determine the rays you receive.

4) Copacabana Beach: Taking its name from the world-famous and extensive Brazilian beach, this is one of the longest (and cleanest) beaches in Dubrovnik proper. The #6 bus will also bring you out this way, but expect a longer walk from the final bus stop. Once you drop your stuff onto the sand, keep on walking: the clear blue waters remain shallower much longer here than at most other beaches.

5) Lopud Island: For those willing to trek a bit farther afield, consider day-tripping out to the Elafite Islands, of which Lopud is the second nearest to the city. If Copacabana’s water walks were nice, you’ll be more than pleased by the 80-meter-long stroll you can take in the ocean from here. Hire a boat from the Old Harbour for the 30-minute ride.

Originally published on September 21, 2010 in TabletTalk.

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