We just returned from a glorious four-day weekend in Croatia where we got to go camping with our friends. We stayed in a town called Premantura, at the southern tip of the Istrian Peninsula. Croatia is known for its naturally beautiful geography and crystal clear water, which is where we spent most of our time.
Our camp ground was called Camp Stupice which was right next to the Donji Kamenjak i Medulinski Arhipelag nature preserve (it’s a mouthful, I know). To enter the preserve it costs 35 kuna (just under €5, though they only take kuna) per vehicle, and it’s good for an entire day. The nature preserve had some pretty bad roads, so be prepared to drive very slowly and carefully.
We parked at the Safari Bar and walked through the confusing place. The Safari Bar is a sprawling maze of palm leaves and bamboo with lots of weird play structures hidden within it. (Unfortunately while we were there the toys were being used mostly by naked children.) We did manage to find a nice area of shaded tables overlooking the beach, where we spent a little while before going off in search of cliffs.
We walked down the coastline for about five minutes and found an ideal spot for cliff jumping. There were higher areas for the boys to get their adrenaline fix as well as low rocks for… well, me. We spent a while on the cliffs and probably could have stayed there all day if we’d prepared better and brought lunch.
We went back to the campsite for lunch and decided to invest in goggles before heading back to Kamenjak. It ended up being one of our best ideas because we went to another area of the preserve and spent a couple hours just swimming around in our goggles. I’ve never been snorkeling before, but I totally understand it now. Just the little area where we were swimming was full of fish darting around in the gorgeous blue water.
In the rocks were countless spiky sea urchins as well as yellow anemones waving in the currents. I really really wanted to touch one. I asked Alex if they’d sting me and he said probably. I promptly decided to touch one anyway. I dove under and poked the slimy-looking tentacles with my forefinger. It felt like it was trying to catch my skin, the way that razor grass does when you rub it against the grain.
The sensation was surprising, but I was unscathed and stood up to described it to my friend. I went back under to keep looking (from a safer distance) when a wave tried to shove me into the rocks. I quickly righted myself by pulling my knees forward, and when I did so I smashed them into the rocks. A few seconds later, my knee began to prickle. I had smashed an anemone, and yes, even the little ones DO sting. Resist the temptation to touch them! (Update: two days later, my anemone sting has bubbled and is infuriatingly itchy. It’s just like poison ivy.)
Camp Stupice was good in a lot of ways – the location was great, it was right on the water, and had boats to rent as well as floating play structures in the swimming area. But to be honest, I could never recommend this place to anyone. Firstly, it was really expensive for tent camping. It ended up costing us over €120 for two measly nights. They charged us 1.) for the camp site, 2.) for each person, and 3.) for a second tent. I understand charging per person, but charging for a TENT? Tents don’t use electricity or water. It’s a ripoff. Not to mention that they also charge you for all the services they offer – even playing on the inflatable water toys. Most of the bottom-price lots were on steep hills full of sharp rocks, and the map showed roads that didn’t actually exist. Oh, and let’s not forget being woken up both nights by people zooming around on loud dune buggies and music blasting from 2 to 4AM. NOT somewhere I would ever stay again.
TIPS: Make sure you have water shoes when you go the beach. Firstly, Croatian beaches are rocky and the rocks around the cliffs can be jagged. Secondly, there are sea urchins EVERYWHERE. As someone who has kicked an urchin in the past, I can assure you that having to pick little black spikes out of your toes can quickly ruin your day.
And of course, research your campground very well. We decided that it probably would have been better to choose a place a bit further from the nature preserve, where it hopefully would have been quieter.
And lastly, avoid camping in August if you can. August is Ferragosto (or Ferie) for Italians – they take the ENTIRE month off and go on holiday to the the nearby beaches and mountains, so really it’s not an ideal time to travel.