Nackt in Kroatien
Goli u Hrvatskoj
Naked in Croatia
I have been a naturist most of my adult life – and also as a young man – as far as it was possible in the 1960s and 70s for anyone to be naked in the quiet warm backwater that Australia’s Queensland was in those days. Curiously – or perhaps not – Queensland is still the only Australian state that does not have any legal naturist beaches anywhere along its 6793 km coastline … although there are hidden places where one can be very discretely naked in the surf. If the marine stingers – and the police – don’t turn up.
Croatia, on the other hand, has many places where a person can swim and sun without too much bother – apart from a liberal slathering of SPF 30 on tender spots – in my case the forehead and the forearms are the only parts of my old body that seem to need special protection from the sun’s rays.
Unlike, say, Barcelona, where there are no laws against public nudity and where you can occasionally see naked people walking in the city, Croatia is essentially a modest Roman Catholic country, and nudity is permitted – usually – only at designated places. Indeed, at beach towns it is not unusual to see signs on footpaths warning visitors not to enter the central areas if only wearing bathing costumes.
Naturists seek places where the sea is warm, the sun is hot and the welcome is cordial – and these all seem to come together in Croatia more than almost any other place. Yes – Spain, France, Germany and Scandinavia all have traditions of naked bathing and jumping into and out of saunas into deep piles of snow. I tried this only once – diving from scorching naked sauna into the deep powder snow that lay just outside the sauna and found it like plunging into a glass of Moët et Chandon. Not that I have actually dived into a glass of champagne, but the sizzling sensation was, I guess, rather similar.
By Royal Appointment
But Croatia has perhaps one of the very few royal “By Appointment to …” tags of naturism.
In August 1936 Great Britain’s King Edward VIII and his scandalously divorced American mistress Wallis Simpson visited the Croatian island of Rab (see http://www.cronatur.com/ntkvar_rab.htm) and swam naked in the bay of Kandarole, setting the scene for all FKK (Frei Körper Kultur)(Free Body Culture) settings along the coast for years to come. I have not visited Rab, or any of the other thirty or so official naturist resorts in Croatia, but on my very first visit to the splendid central Dalmatian city of Split was pleasantly surprised to find naturists sunning and swimming on the breakwater just out of the city itself, and have since found lots of lovely places to salute the sun.
On this visit to Split I stayed in the superb Vestibul Palace Hotel, (http://www.vestibulpalace.com) a multi-award-winning boutique hotel built within the walls of Diocletian’s palace. When I arrived I asked the Marco – the tall handsome manager (all Croatian men are at least seven feet tall) – where I could swim naked. He did not know … but after I did some Internet searching and Hall memory researching, I found where I could go to bathe au naturel.
Just ten minutes by Bus 12 west from Split – with its stunning white marble footpaths, Roman Emperor Diocletian’s palace, beautiful promenade – is the Krasjuni National Park with a couple of lovely beaches – one for those clothed and one for those unclothed. At the latter a collection of middle- and older-aged bods sunned themselves and swam with the fish in the waters quite unpolluted by anything – even by the visiting sailing or motor boats that dripped anchor to allow their passengers to dive naked from the decks into the clear crisp waters. Younger sun seekers seemed to go a little further west around a rocky promontory to find secluded bays.
One hour or so by high-speed catamaran ferry from Split brings travellers to the beautiful island and city of Hvar, where my Airbnb apartment, high on the hills overlooking Jerolim Island, had a huge private terrace where I could take breakfast, and lunch, and enjoy evening cocktails quite naked, as the nearest neighbours were three kilometres away, or hidden behind – I kid ye not – a vast fig tree, whose leaves were quite ample to provide modest protection if necessary.
Death of an unwanted visitor
One afternoon I sat enjoying a G&T on my terrace, swatting off bees and hornets that in the true nature of Croatian friendship wanted to share my drink with me. One of the beasties managed to avoid all my persuasion not to land on my glass and stroll about it as if he owned the thing, and then committed ginocide.
I was about to have a sip when I saw the poor chappie’s body drifting among the ice cubes and lemon slices, and dug the dead body out and laid it reverently to rest on the sunny balcony wall. Five minutes later he peered up boozily, staggered around a bit, cleaned himself up, and flew of in erratic circular staggering aerial patterns. Tiny bee-like hiccoughs could be heard echoing down the hills.
Hvar is quite simply one of the most beautiful ports I have ever found. Ancient Venetian sculptures, horrendous modern bakeries, lovely old fish restaurants, a church or two, ferry boats, taxi boats, bars, churches, bars, and restaurants. Another ten minutes away by speedboat is Jerolim Island and its many hidden coves and pebbly beaches where “Nudists have been welcome since 1856.” Not sure what happened in 1856 – but in 20016 there were plenty of us enjoying the late summer sun on Kordovon beach and other beaches.
– I think it is cerulean
– No – it is teal
– No – perhaps azure
Whatever its actual colour – a clear clean green blue – it was good enough to bottle and market in Fifth Avenue as the latest colonic health cure … and I am sure it would do at least as much good as any Vichy water.
I understand that Hvar / Jerolim are the gay centres for Croatian island hopping, but the only people I saw were twenties and above couples and families and singles enjoying the sun beds (Kn 40 each per day) and the pebbly beaches. Perhaps there were secret coves of scorching activity I never found – or sought.
Running with the bulls … or swimming with the ferryboats?
On two previous visits to Croatian I spent several days each time in Korcula – another of my most loved places in the world. I had on each occasion a small apartment – lots of steps up and down steep alley ways, lots of steps up and down to my apartments – but a short stroll each morning down to the waterfront, where I would tear off the swimming suit, plunge into the waters and swim with the little fishes … and the HUGE ships that passed almost silently by as I did my morning 1000 m swim before a huge breakfast of this and that.
Again, it is usually necessary to jump on a speedboat and go to a more remote island for naked swimming and sunning, and the boat to Badija takes about twenty minutes from Korcula.
From Dubrovnik is a fifteen-minute boat ride to Lokrum and its nudist beaches. The island was also used as a setting for some of the scenes in television’s huge series Game of Thrones as were other locations in Split and in Dubrovnik and other parts of Croatia – and all over the superb Maltese islands.
In a bus going to the airport at the end of my time in Croatia I spied the newspaper my fellow passenger was reading and saw in bold type a sentence containing the word “nude”. Aha! Thought I. Something about naturism … only to find out later that the word “nude” in the Croatian language means “offer”. Ah well. I offer these thoughts on going nude in Croatia.
- Journey: September 2016
- Text and photographs © Christopher Hall 2016 and other images from Internet
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