Your best bet for bathing opportunities in the Šibenik area is to head for the nearby islands of Zlarin and Prvić, where you stand a good chance of finding a secluded bit of rocky shoreline and crystal-clear water. There’s no mass tourism on the islands, and no cars – merely a succession of orderly and neat little villages kept alive by a trickle of independent tourists and weekending Croatians.
Thirty minutes out by boat from Šibenik, the village of ZLARIN is an attractive huddle of houses at the apex of a broad bay. Coral fishing and processing used to be the island’s main employer, until overharvesting led to a shutdown of all but one of the coral workshops in the 1950s. Nowadays the island has a winter population of around 25 souls, although the figure increases hundredfold in July and August.
Largely lacking in modern buildings, the village is an almost perfect example of what a typical Dalmatian settlement looked like in the early twentieth century. There’s a brace of coral souvenir shops in the alleyways behind the harbour, and a seasonally open coral museum that allows a glimpse of how the coral is polished and processed. Zlarin’s rarely open parish church is famous for housing the body of fourth-century Roman martyr St Fortunatus, a relic obtained for the island by a resourceful local priest in 1781. Every fifty years the remains are paraded through the village on April 23 – the next celebration is due in 2050, so there’s no need to pack your bags just yet.
Paths on the western side of the bay will take you to an abundance of rocky bathing areas backed by pines.
Prvić Luka and around
A fifteen-minute ferry journey from Zlarin, the main settlement of Prvić, PRVIĆ LUKA, is another unassuming, bay-hugging village with a charmingly soporific atmosphere. The parish church, just up from the harbour, boasts an extrovert collection of Baroque altarpieces as well as the tomb of Šibenik-born humanist and all-round brainbox Faust Vrančić.