Image composition by Ryan Kemmery
The Makarska Riviera is one of the most popular tourist destinations along the Croatian coast – and also one of the most beautiful. Solange Hando visits its fascinating resorts and islands
Framed by dramatic mountains, the town of Makarska lies at the heart of Dalmatia, on a stunning stretch of the Croatian coast strung with pine groves and pristine beaches. It looks out across the crystal-clear sea to islands where the scent of wild flowers and herbs floats in the air. The sunsets here are spectacular, sweeping red and gold across the water and the mountains and villages scattered on the slopes.
Makarska curves around a wooded peninsula stretching out into the sea like a giant paw. On one side, pines battered by the north winds lean right over the beach, on the other church spires and sailing boats mingle their reflections in the harbour.
Walk along the palm-lined riva (waterfront) and its outdoor restaurants and you come to the stepped alleyways and winding lanes if the old town. Tall houses with green shutters are frame the church square wher market traders spread their wares under the trees. The Franciscan Monastery houses a world-famous Snail and Shell Museum and 50,000 ancient books and documents.
Meandering for almost 40 miles from Brela to Gradac, the Makarska Riviera has a resort for every day of the week, each one as lovely as the last, often a mere cluster of red roofs at the water’s edge, far below the ‘top road’ and its fabulous views.
Beaches are mostly pebble, clean and dazzling white like the mountains, backed by shaded paths and flower-draped villas where pomegranates and mandarins grow in the gardens. Tucepi has the longest beach (nearly two miles), Podgora a sprinkling of fishermen’s cottages alongside new hotels, Brela sleek yachts and scenic trails, Kravica a pretty seafront guarded by the Rock of the Old Woman’s Tooth on the hillside.
Our villa overlooked the beach in Baska Voda, a small resort named after the mountain spring which empties its water into the harbour. A mitred St Nicolas stands on the jetty, blessing travellers and sailors, while a long necklace of coves stretches along the shore. Boasting 2,700 hours of sunshine a year, it’s a place to soak up the sun, try parasailing or diving, treat yourself to a cool drink on a terrace then perhaps visit a museum or some archaeological remains.