Looking for a crowd-free family beach holiday this summer? Croatian island Brac could be your best bet, says Hannah Stephenson.
It’s the school summer holidays, when families flock to popular Mediterranean hotspots, vie for towel space on beaches and jostle for swimming space in seas teeming with inflatables.
No such jostling on the Croatian island of Brac (pronounced ‘Bratch’), separated from the mainland by the Adriatic, a 45-minute ferry ride away from the heat and madness of Split.
It’s one of the unspoilt gems of the archipelago, a glorious mixture of limestone hills, ravines and gorges, whose beaches in the capital Supetar have recently been recognised under the White Flag programme for ecologically clean sea water.
There are crystal clear bays, coves and immaculately clean pebble beaches all along the quiet coastline of the island, the largest of the central Dalmatian group of islands and the third largest in the Adriatic at 24 miles long and eight miles wide. And the vast majority of them are quiet. You can island hop, taking day excursions to the party island of Hvar and to sleepy Solta, but there’s plenty on Brac to keep the family amused for at least a week.
Here’s a selection of the island’s top quiet coastal spots which the whole family can enjoy...
Splitska: Around 15 minutes’ drive from Supetar is the sleepy harbour town of Splitska, where small motor craft and yachts share space with families swimming and fishing on neighbouring rocks.
It’s the port from which stone was used to construct the Diocletian Palace in Split, the White House in Washington and important buildings in Europe. Culture vultures should head to the 13th century Church of St Mary.
Murvica: On the south side of the island, around 38km (a 50-minute drive) from Supetar, this stunning white pebble beach is a short stroll from the busier and more famous Bol, but give me Murvica any day.
When you see the azure sea as you approach, you’ll know it’s worth it.
Take respite in the Seven Olives, the only bar on a nearby terrace, where you can sit in a deck chair enjoying a plate of calamari under the olive trees overlooking the stunning bay.
Boboviska: This gorgeous hidden harbour on the west coast, around 20 minutes’ drive from Supetar on the main road, has a population of only 450 and has become a haven for rich Russians with serious yachts who buy or rent the stylish hillside houses.
Its name is derived from ‘Bob’, which means broad bean in Croatian and is one of the main crops grown there, along with artichokes.
Lovrecina: Perfect for families with young children, Lovrecina on the north coast, 10 minutes east of Postira, is the only sandy beach on the island, a haven for those who love making sandcastles and paddling in the shallow waters. It’s accessible by road but much more fun by boat. Hire a six-seater traditional Dalmatian boat from Supertar and you can be there in half an hour. Enjoy a drink in the modern bar on a terrace above the beach, bordered by local limestone walls.
Zlatni Rat: The island’s most famous beach, a long triangular spit of pebbled land sticking out into the sea like an enormous wishbone, is featured in virtually every Croatian tourist brochure. Adrenalin junkies can get their fix of watersports, from pedalos to parasailing.
There’s an air of sophisticated cool, where beachside shacks sell smoothies and crepes, and couples enjoy cocktails on decked bars adorned with wicker sofas under cream-coloured parasols.
Hannah Stephenson was a guest of Thomas Cook (0844 412 5970, thomascook.com/holidays/croatia) which offers seven nights at the four-star Sentido Kaktus in Supetar from £1,090 for a family of four, on an all-inclusive basis. Includes return flights from London Gatwick on October 6, 2016. Regional departures also available.
Skyscanner (skyscanner.net/carhire) offers car hire in Croatia from £6 per day in May.