(This initial entry is from our first visit to Makarska from 2013 – we’ve continued to go each summer, and just had our third trip there. I have new updated info in italics after certain sections below – so you all have the most up-to-date information!)
At the very end of July 2013, Miloš and I flew to Croatia (on the same day,) to spend his three week vacation together. I left straight from Amsterdam, where I had finished the cruise with my family, and got into Zagreb six hours before Miloš was due. (To kill time, I took an awkward airport nap, fiddled a bit on my computer, ate some munchies…) I was SO insanely excited when I could see on the monitor that his plane had landed! Talk about happy reunions – three and a half months was way too long to be apart!
His mom picked us up at the airport, and we had that evening and the whole rest of the next day in his hometown of Crikvenica. After freshening up from the airport, we pulled an all-nighter as we hit the town to celebrate being together – and more specifically, being together in Croatia! The next evening, we took an overnight bus down to Makarska, further south down the Croatian coastline. It was about an eight hour bus ride. (During our second year, we took the bus again, but our third summer there, we borrowed the car to drive down. By doing so, we saved a TON of time, as we could take the highway, as opposed to the sea road that the buses take. We also had the ability to take day trips and go different places when needed.)
(We loved Makarska so much that we returned again in July 2014 & 2015! I’ll write more about that in detail later, but here’s a link to my post showing pics from 2014’s summer’s trip: CLICK HERE.)
Coming home from the airport:
Hanging out at the bar our first night back in Croatia:
On our overnight bus to Makarska:
We got into town super early in the morning and were picked up by the owners of the apartment building where we’d be staying. They were so nice, so helpful, and so accommodating! (I highly recommend Apartments Alagić if you ever stay in Makarska! The family that owns the place is truly wonderful, and they have a fabulous location near the old town. They are great!)
Makarska is a fun beach town about 45 minutes south of Split. It has a lively promenade area, several beaches, and an open-air market section with lots of vendors, bars, and restaurants. Because of its location – right between the Biokovo mountains and the crystal clear Adriatic Sea, you have splendid views no matter where you go. There are also TONS of restaurants all along the stretch of the family beach portion of town, and lots of night life all over the city.
Here’s an overhead look at Makarska itself:
(If you want to read more about our dining experiences, *CLICK HERE* )
First, let’s talk about beaches. In Makarska itself, you essentially have three different options.
Beach option #1: The main town beach/family beach.
The family beach in Makarska is a long stretch of coast. It is on the north western part of town, starting just above the peninsula – and it keeps on going. We visited this beach on our first day (after taking a nap from that long overnight bus ride.) We only went here that one time – this beach was really crowded, with lots and lots of kids. (LOTS of kids.) It was just a bit too crowded for our tastes. However, the location makes it easy to quick grab a drink, ice cream cone, or snack.
My handsome man on the beach our first day:
A look at the main beach from above:
Beach option #2: The peninsula.
Sticking out of the middle of the town itself, is a big hammer-head shaped peninsula with rocky edges. The peninsula is considered a nude beach area, but like all beaches with that designation, there are people in all states of bathing-suit dress and un-dress. (I stuck with the topless thing here, and did not go nude – I only did the nude thing at the more secluded real nude beach.) We spent the majority of our “beach time” on a spot we found on the southern side of the peninsula. There was a nice area for sunning, along with a good jumping off spot, and a slightly challenging spot where we could climb back out of the water. It was only a few more minutes walk out to our spot on the peninsula once you left the bottom edge of the main family beach. (During our second and third summers in Makarska, we just visited the nude beach daily as our regular beach spot and did not revisit the peninsula.)
Posing on the wall at the very top of the peninsula, the southern/eastern part of town behind me:
Along our “regular” spot on the rocks on the peninsula:
Our towels on the rocks:
Beach option #3: The secluded nude beach. (Nugal Beach)
As I wrote about in my Post about Nude Beaches, we also visited the official nude beach just below town. Actually, it was quite a hike below town. (This was the “real deal” nude beach.) We were told it was about a twenty minute walk. Wrong. It was about a half hour. And when the temps are around 100ºF outside, that extra ten minutes is indeed significant. Our first time hiking out there, we felt like we’d never arrive! The trail that takes you to the beach starts above the location for the Deep Night Club and wraps along the coastline. Just keep following that trail! There is also a dirt/stone service road that runs a bit further inland through the woods that we used part of the way a couple times. The beach itself is nestled along majestic cliffs on all sides, except for the path that brings you down to the beach itself. There is a bit of a wooded area just behind the beach with picnic tables for those that need a break from the sun. Because of its remote location, it wasn’t ever really crowded. We really enjoyed our time here and we were able to just really relax and enjoy what the beach had to offer. We had lots of time to work on our tans, swim, snuggle on the towels, and lounge in the shallow area of the sea. PLUS, you have the added benefit of the amazing views along the hiking trail to and from town. A little hint – bring extra water! There was a guy selling beverages our very first time there, but we never saw him again. (This beach became our regular beach on our second and third summers in Makarska. We prefer to visit nude beaches when we can, although strangely, there were many swimmers in bathing suits there this summer. Not sure if they were there just to look at naked people or to enjoy a more secluded beach.)
View of the nude beach from the path approaching:
(An even better view as we make our way home from the beach…):
Along the trail coming home from the nude beach:
Old Navy flip flops aren’t the ideal footwear for a hike through the woods. (I’d recommend better flip flops or hiking sandals even)…
Another lovely view along the trail:
As to nightlife, there was a decent amount to keep us night owls busy each evening. Along the promenade, there were lots of cafes and bars that always had people filling the seats. It was, however, a bit tricky finding places that weren’t playing the same dance music night after night after night. We made a couple visits to Ivana Bar – just because it was close to the beach and we wandered there after dinner a couple times. We even took advantage of their special: ten Vodka-Red Bulls for 100 Kuna. (Which is about $17 US dollars.) We spent several evenings at a place just off the old town square called Rockatansky. It was tucked down some stairs off of a narrow alleyway. They played more of a good mix of classic rock n roll. (Although a few nights, they veered more towards the super mellow side.) The one night, we listened to some live music out on the street, next to a cafe, just off another part of the old town square. Actually, there were several opportunities to catch live music during our stay, and we quite enjoyed it.
Most nights though, we ended up at Deep. (It’s where we went when almost everything else closed for the night.) Basically, it’s a nightclub built into a real actual cave right along the sea. The music here is your standard American club music with a few other things thrown in. I had read about this club on some tourism sites, so I knew to be warned about how hot it got in there. At least we could take some fresh-air-breaks just outside the cave walls when it got too hot inside. But we usually found our spot along the bar where we danced and had a fabulous time together into the wee morning hours. The bartenders here were really nice too – we consistently got good customer service.
(By our third year’s visit, we got into a bit of a routine of visiting Ivana Bar for a couple hours, then making our way to Deep. We occasionally visited Rockatansky a few times, but the music was usually SO mellow. Think really chill stoner music. We usually wanted something with a little more energy. Sometimes we visited the bar at Bounty, because of its nice open sea-side ambiance.
By this year, we noticed a real increase in the coastal cruise ships that take young – mostly Australians – up and down the Croatian coastline, stopping in several ports for them to drink and party. I’m guessing it’s another country’s version of spring break, in the way lots of American college students head to Mexico for spring break – to drink and party. As a result, there were a few nights we left Deep earlier than usual because there were just too many hoards of dangerously stupid young drunk guys. And unlike in the USA, there aren’t cops patrolling the busy bar areas to keep fights at bay – it’s just left up to bouncers. Keep your wits about you if you are up late at the clubs, for your own safety.)
Live music in old town:
Pink glowing bar at Deep:
Rockin’ my pink hair chalk look at Rockatansky:
Enjoying live music at Mirakul:
The actual old town section of Makarska is not especially large, but it’s really pretty and gives you that authentic feel of an ancient Mediterranean village. Walking along the sea side by the promenade is a fun relaxing way to spend part of your evening. Plus, there are some really lovely places to see great views all over town. Makarska is also a convenient location for those who want to take side trips to the various nearby islands, or visit some of the smaller towns along the Makarska Riviera region. (This past year, we took a day trip to Krka National Park, followed by an evening in Skradin.)
Overall, we really loved our stays here. If you’re looking for a beach trip to Croatia that also provides lots of activities all day and into the evening (as much or as little as you want), Makarska is a wonderful choice!
Here’s some more pics of what Makarska has to offer: