Tag Archives: beach

Crikvenica

It was an in-flight magazine tear sheet that drew me to Croatia. A 4×6 glossy of a walled Dubrovnik planted the seed and one month later I mobilized to make the journey, starting in the country’s northern fishing village of Crikvenica.

The water of the Adriatic is lovely warm, but there’s more than long sunshine hours and gentle Mediterranean climate to entice scores of returning visitors here year after year. Crikvenica is a feel good place – not big or flashy – an easy, breezy town. Even after the throngs of summer vacationers have come and gone, festivities like those during September’s Fisherman’s Festival stir up the masses. Most everyone lounges during the day at the beach and, while the sun sets over the Adriatic, cheers on the all men’s water polo match (no doubt future champions in the midst).

Crowds then descend on the marina for the folk music of local bands and for freshly cooked seafood, such as grilled calamari drizzled with garlic and olive oil, served with a side of kale and potatoes. The boardwalk promenade is packed with vendors of ice cream, coral, sunhats and tawdry souvenirs. I take it in with a grain of salt; after all, it’s your average tourist hotspot paraphernalia. But it’s the neighbourly friendliness that I like about the town. The night is capped off with fireworks, an indicator to some holidaymakers that the party is just getting started…

I’d heard some pretty sweet things about the beaches in Croatia and my first introduction did not disappoint. The cleanliness and purity of the sea at Crikvenica consistently earns it the Blue Flag award, an international eco-label programme that rates the quality of the environment. In fact, for decades, the fresh sea air and sea bathing has given the town a reputation of climatic health resort, serving as treatment of respiratory disorders and rheumatism. Even its luxurious Palace Hotel Therapia dating back to 1895 is a traditional therapeutic oasis. Ahh, I would trust the healing powers of nature there anytime!

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Las Caletas (Puerto Vallarta)

Accessible only by sea, Las Caletas is an enchanting cove one-catamaran-hour’s ride from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The fact that American film director John Huston had kept a private home here need not be its main claim to fame. Facing the crystal blue waters of Banderas Bay, its back is to the steep, jungle-clad Sierra Madre Mountains.

The beach is now owned and operated exclusively by a tour provider. In addition to bringing visitors daily to this semi-secluded haven, Vallarta Adventures stage the ‘Rhythms of the Night’ spectacle on a nightly-basis. After dining alongside the gently lapping waves, guests are guided down torch-lit trails past re-enactments of ancient rituals and customs to a natural amphitheatre under the stars. Deep in the shadowy jungle, enveloped by pulsating drums and flutes, a pyramid is the backdrop for a contemporary dance performance.

But during the day, that haunting atmosphere isn’t quite there. The nature reserve is strewn with eager tourists and jam-packed with water and land activities: snorkelling, kayaking, clay modelling, and paella cooking lessons. There are photographers in place ready to capture you in the thrills of every moment, for a price, of course.

Overall it’s a nice outing, albeit short, though when is a beach staycation ever long enough? The boat ride back along the coastline passes quickly, probably thanks to the open bar and theatrical skits. Nothing says fun like manly Mexican men in drag…