A Day At the Beach – Dubrovnik: The Forbidding Coast (Traveling The Croatian Coastline #64)

Covid free and only twenty-four hours away from departure, it was now time to visit the beach. For many visitors, a day at the beach would be a needed respite from trekking around the Old Town. I saw it quite differently. It was something that I felt compelled to do in the interest of being beside the Adriatic. My idea of a good day at the beach is to spend time reading guidebooks in search of intriguing information. Sure enough, I made sure a guidebook was in my backpack before heading to the beach. I had very little time left in Croatia, but that would not stop me from dreaming of future adventures. What I failed to realize was that a day at the beach in Dubrovnik was also an adventure, one that I would not soon forget no matter how hard I tried.

Shingle by the sea – Bellevue Beach in Dubrovnik

Coming Ashore – Photogenic & Problematic
Anyone searching for a beach along the Croatian coastline will most likely have to settle for a strip of shingle rather than smooth sand. Croatia’s coast may have been blessed with spectacular beauty, but it has a paucity of sandy shoreline. Pebble strewn shingles are usually typical. Coastal areas are often jagged and rocky, inhospitable in some places and downright dangerous in others. Cliffs are as likely to be found as coves. And while the Adriatic Sea during the summertime is rather tame, the shoreline which touches it could not be much wilder. In some ways the Croatian coast reminds me of the coastal areas in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

While the climate along the Pacific Northwest coastline is much different than that of Croatia’s, both shorelines are spectacular and forbidding. One minute you are standing on a cliff, the next you are plunging down to the shoreline. The scenery is breathtaking, but a day at the beach is not easy to come by. In the Pacific Northwest the topography is both stunning and problematic. The same holds true for the Croatian coast. The area around Dubrovnik is typical. There are quiet nooks and coves, many of which are difficult to access because they are surrounded by cliffs. Finding a beach that offers sand can be difficult to find at the best of times. The Croatian coastline may be photogenic, but the spectacular nature does not lend itself to those who enjoy lounging by the seaside.

The forbidding coast – Miramare cove close to Bellevue Beach

A Deep Dive – Finding The Way
A search through the listings of nearby beaches in and around Dubrovnik to find the best one available yielded a number of options. There was only one drawback, all the reviews mentioned problems with overcrowding. The beaches closest to the Old Town were the worst for this chronic problem. Overcrowding and Dubrovnik have become synonymous in the 21st century as visitor numbers have soared. Discussion of this problem is usually confined to the Old Town. This overlooks the fact that the beaches are, if anything, even more crowded. The Old Town is much more spacious than any of the nearby beaches. It is one thing to rub shoulders with masses of tourists while walking along the Stradun. It is quite another to sit elbow to elbow with half naked strangers while attempting to sun themselves by the seaside.

A combination of proximity to the Old Town and excellent reviews led to Bellevue Beach as the best option for spending a final, few hours by the seaside. The beach is tucked away in Miramare Cove, only a 20 minute walk from the Old Town. On this day, walking to the beach was out of the question due to the ferocious heat. Any kind of physical exertion was an ordeal. Thus, taking the bus turned out to be the only sensible option. It took less than five minutes to get to the stop, but still no sign of the beach. As I would learn, you could be only a few minutes on foot away from it and still have no idea where it was located. Standing atop a hill, I knew the sea had to be somewhere down below. The search for Bellevue Beach was intriguing. I had never seen nor heard of it before. It did not take me long to realize why.

Though the beach is closest to the Bellevue Hotel (hence the name), getting there required walking toward the Hotel Rixos. The beach was hidden from view by a combination of development and rugged terrain. It would have been almost impossible to stumble upon Bellevue Beach unless you stayed at one of the nearby resorts. Getting to the beach required navigating a series of steep steps that plunged down to a shingle of pebbly shoreline. Without the aid of stairs even the fittest person would have had trouble accessing the beach on foot. Fortunately, the stairs helped prospective beachgoers make their way down the cliffside.

Going off the deep end – View of the Adriatic Sea from Bellevue Beach

Aesthetic Asymmetry – Bellevue Beach
The secluded nature of Bellevue Beach could not keep the crowds away. On the contrary, the beach was packed to the point of overflowing. Finding a place to spread out a towel and soak up the sun was not easy. The best spots had already been taken. Late comers were relegated to a tenuous hold on a small, pebbly portion of real estate. I ended up not far from a stone wall, behind which were clumps of unsightly bushes. Further up was a resort with rooms that looked out to the sea. Flanked by this combination of natural and manmade features, the beach had an odd, aesthetic asymmetry that added to its unsightliness. Despite the lack of aesthetics, Bellevue Beach was a magnet for sea lovers and swimmers because of the emerald water which fronted it. The Adriatic’s color was of a hue that only nature in its purest form could possibly conjure. It had a magical effect on the eye and a trance inducing effect upon the mind.

It was a good thing that staring at the water was so enchanting, because the rest of my time at the beach was miserable. It was witheringly hot, to the point that even the water could only provide a brief respite. I spent most of the time crouched in what little shade I could find. While others took to the waters, I took to counting the minutes before making the climb out of this infernal setting. Bellevue Beach would have been wonderful on a late spring or early autumn day when the sun was less intense and there were fewer visitors. Sadly, this day was the complete opposite. My lasting memory was not of this cliffside oasis or its sparkling seawater, instead it was of the lung bursting climb back up the stairs. This day at the beach in Dubrovnik had been memorable and that was why I wanted to forget it.

Click here for: A Place Called Home – Dubrovnik: Comfort Food (Traveling The Croatian Coastline #65)

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