Time in Croatia, This Happened…
Hanging Out with Locals at a Hidden Croatia Beach
It is a law in travel I’ve decided that the one time you really, really, really want to take a picture of something, you’ve inevitably left your camera back in the hotel room.
Like the time I spur of the moment went to the Barcelona FC soccer game, followed by a tour of the Barcelona magic fountain of Montjuïc.
But mostly the time I went to my favorite beach ever. Not only do I not have a picture of it, I don’t even know where it is. Somewhere in Croatia, near Bacina Lakes.
On a “travel back to our family roots” trip with my grandparents, mom, and sister through Croatia, Italy, and Serbia we ended up staying at a small family-run agritourism in the village of Peracko Blato called Villa Solo – literally because it was the only place we could find within a couple miles of Bacina, the small town where my great-grandma was born and lived until she was 14. This turned out to be a stroke of luck, as Villa Solo is still to this day my favorite accommodations experience I’ve ever had. The reason for that was the hospitality of the family who owned the house – a sweet older couple with their 20-something son and adorable grandchild.
The third morning we were there, Pero, the son, asked my sister and me if we wanted to go to the beach in Gradac, a touristy area not far from Bacina Lakes. We quickly said yes, excited to go to the beach with a local and grabbed our sunscreen and towels. Now here is a key point of the story: We both left our cameras behind. We’d already been to the beach in Gradac and taken plenty of pictures so didn’t see the point of bringing it again and the risk of losing it or damaging the camera.
So off we went. On the way there, Pero looked over from the driver’s seat of his ancient BMW at Ang in the front seat.
“Actually, are you guys fine with a nude beach?” he asked in his rhythmic accent and near perfect English.
“Ummm,” Ang and I both stuttered, unsure where this conversation was leading us to. Pero’s 5-year old son was with us so I imagined he wasn’t taking us anywhere that racy – probably somewhere completely acceptable to Europeans and shocking to us politically correct Americans.
“Sure?” I ventured. Ang nodded in agreement.
“Not everyone will be naked,” he assured us. “But there may be some. It’s more of a local beach.”
We were fine with anything local when it came to Croatia so agreed and soon Pero turned off of the main coastal highway and began heading along a bumpy road through thick wooded areas. Glimpses of the ocean still shone through the trees now and then, but we were driving along a bend curving away from where I knew Gradac to be. Or at least where I thought Gradac to be – I don’t tend to have a very good sense of direction; hence me having no idea where this beach is located to this day.
After 15 minutes or so, we came to an area of the road that had a few cars parked alongside it. Pero pulled over behind the last car and parked.
“We’re here!” he announced.
Ang and I scrambled out of the car and looked around. We were surrounded by woods. Pero laughed at our puzzled expressions and pointed to the left. “There!” he said.
We turned toward where he was pointing and down the steep, heavily wooded hill, we could just make out some turquoise colors that were definitely not the sky. Pero lead us down through the woods via a small, barely visible trail.
We reached the bottom and landed on a Croatia beach…and paradise.
The sea was calm and waved gently at us in varying degrees of turquoise and teal. The nearly empty beach splayed around the water in a crescent shape, the rustic greenery of the woods shooting up from the edge of the sand in a dazzling array of rocks and trees. Ang and I were in awe; staring around us without even thinking of spreading our towels out. Pero and his son, used to this beauty, quickly set up a spot on the beach and once Ang and I were done gaping at our surrounding, we went and laid out our towels next to them.
The day progressed in lazy bliss. The water was salty and warm, making floating on it a breeze and I drifted on my back around the calm water for much of the afternoon.
Oh yes, it was a nude beach though. While our little foursome kept our clothes on, the few ladies who were there were topless in typical Mediterranean fashion. I was a bit envious of their lack of tan lines, but there was no way my top was coming off. The men – much to our surprise – were even more blasé about keeping their clothes on. One old man in particular stood out. This was partly because Pero’s son kept pointing at his…um…”manhood” and giggling and saying what I could only assume was “penis” in Croatian to his amused dad. Apparently not everyone in Croatia is used to nudity. The old man also stood out because of his love of snorkeling – naked – which resulted in two flesh colored bumps bobbing on top of the water. We all found that quite comical.
Too soon, it was time to leave and head back to the house to get ready for dinner. Ang and I bid a sad farewell to the most beautiful beach in all of the land and took one last mental picture.
What have you missed out on getting a picture of during your travels?