Crystal clear waters of Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes

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I never have been any place that offers so much unspoiled natural beauty than Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. The entire park from the very first step is awe inspiring and a testimony to just how amazing nature is.

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I visited Plitvice earlier this year and also last year during summer and the first thing I noticed was just how many people come to visit. It had me worried about the quality of the experience (I am not a big fan of having to dodge tourists while trekking), and there was a slight bother for the wait for the ferry to pick us up from the pier, however the scenery just draws your attention to all the great things on offer.

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From the moment you set foot on the walkway you are greeted by the clearest water you could ever imagine.. While walking over a little timber bridge just over the side of one of the lakes I actually knelt down to touch the water.. I almost fell in since my depth perception was way off, it was so still and clear I thought it was only centimeters under the bridge, turned out to be a bit more!

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The walks are quite long and there are lots of photos to be taken along the way, whether it be waterfalls, fish, wildlife, strange formations in the lime coloured water and even the lush greenery of the forest.

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When you finish the possible hours on end of walking there is a kiosk at the end which you can relax with a light meal and a beer before you jump on the free bus to take you back to where you started! There you will find more food options of typical Croatian everyday grilled meats. The walk from the main carpark to the lakes are great, with local produce being sold such as great fruits, honey and even chilli fetta cheese!

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The cost of entering the park is a quite low, being less than $20 for an adult, and driving there from the coastal city of Zadar or the capital Zagreb is only a couple of hours away, so this is great for a day trip. I and anyone that has been will highly recommend it, make an occasion for it the next time your in Croatia!

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Baška Voda, the Makarska Riviera's ideal retreat

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The Makarska Riviera. To many, a largely unheard of region on the Dalmatian Coast that offers gorgeous beaches, historic port towns, picturesque fishing villages and best of all, a breathtaking backdrop no mater the direction you gaze.

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Where is it?

 It was first in 2007 that I went there, since then I’ve been a further 3 times and will go back again! Any place in particular? Well there is astounding options available to the different demographics of travelers who venture this way! With the close to 20 towns and villages, accommodation ranges from great party locations, romantic & secluded beaches, and family friendly seaside towns; however my favorite to date is the small town of Baška Voda.

To describe Baška Voda as picturesque is way too cliché, yet it’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of this place. Situated not even 1 hours drive south from Split, it comes as no surprise that this place has hiked up in popularity significantly over the past 5 years. It offers great hotels, numerous new apartments for rent, superb restaurants, gorgeous mountains that huddle around the town and best of all, a huge blue flag beach in which there is always space.Image

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When should I go?

I’ve always traveled to this town either towards the end of June and during July before peak season really kicks in (it really is the ideal time to go). The sun is HOT the air is fresh and breezy and the cool sea completes the feeling of perfection, it is safe to say that you can spend your day just relaxing on the clean pebble beaches (and a day lasts from 5:30am till 8:30pm).

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What can I go see?

 If you enjoy exploring there is an incredible foreshore promenade which will guide you to fantastic and famous locations as in these pictures, these include Brela which has made it to the Forbes top 10 for ‘best beaches’ and made 1st place in Europe a few years back; or walk further north-west to some secluded beaches with hardly anyone in sight, needless to say, make space on your camera’s memory because the walk is amazing. You can find a video I uploaded to YouTube of the location here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gooMcN6ydE

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There are plenty of day cruises to the surrounding islands of Brač and Hvar which can be organized by many charter cruises on the foreshore. These islands are the better known ones from the over 1000 islands lining the Croatian coast, and boast an amazing history dating back to ancient Greek colonization; If boats are not your strong point then there are many bewildering locations just a scenic drive away from Baška Voda; these include an hours drive north-west to Split, Croatia’s 2nd largest and most vibrant city; Mostar (2 hours away in Bosnia & Herzegovina) which is alike a trip back in time to a medieval Ottoman town; and not even half hours drive south to the blue flag beaches of Tučepi and Podgora.

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What’s on the menu?

 You are spoilt for choice when it comes to culinary options, from traditional Croatian cuisine to the more popular seafood; there is rarely a bad choice to be made for dinner! Having been to at least 90% of the restaurants I can safely say that no corners are cut and the quality of food is superb! A hint would be to try finding ‘King Restaurant’ for a top notch dining experience or find out when the next ‘Fisherman’s Night’ will be on, where the daily catch of fish and squid is cooked up on the pier and served for next to nothing whilst Dalmatian folklore bands play through the night!

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How do I get there?

 Options of travel range from driving (which I find most preferable due to the network of new motorways), buses which leave daily from Split and I cannot see why you couldn’t just sail there should you be on a private cruise! Most tourist based information is readily available on the official tourism webpage and in a variety of languages (most of which are spoken in Baška Voda by the way!).

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And finally..

 All in all, Baška Voda is a destination to recommend and remember, mostly it’s a place offering magnificent views, amazing feasts and relaxing accommodation which won’t blow out your budget. I just hope that when you go there it is as the way I left it, perfect.

What’s Next?

 In the coming few days I will share with you a place that has not left my mind for the past few years, is a perfectly balanced mix of culture from the east and modernism of the west, yet its not in the middle east or Turkey. Where you might ask? Here’s a photo, should you recognize it, leave a comment! Until then take care and Sağolun!

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Image by David Messie

Link to the towns webpage: http://baskavoda.hr/en/