Stiniva Bay: The Madness, The Reality

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Stiniva Bay in Vis was voted the best beach in Europe in 2016, one year later see the madness that it has become.

The image in the header is quite misleading, but if you google ‘Stiniva Bay’ or search it on Instagram, you will get inundated with similar images – a stunning beach hidden behind towering cliffs, with deep azure blues, through to the most vivid turquoise waters… you will also note, that every photo shows an empty bay or maybe one boat at best (false advertising).

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Now, what do you see when you look at this picture, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

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If you think, “Wow, what a beautiful location, no wonder everybody wants to be there”, then please read on a little longer because you and I need to have a chat.

Slobodna Dalmacija published this image, with the heading “Is this proof we’re living in the most beautiful corner of the Universe?” It’s true, but to me, it kinda misses the point. Honestly, my first emotions were anger and went something like – ‘gah, humans are ridiculous!’

Last year there was a media frenzy over an inconspicuous ‘hidden’ bay which was voted the best beach in Europe. On May 18, 2016, The Telegraph, along with many other international news portals, reported on the news. The Telegraph said:

“Its inaccessibility is part of the allure…. The beach itself can only be reached by hiking down a steep and narrow path or by taking a taxi boat from the nearby cove at Rukavac.”

Let’s focus on five of those words – ‘its inaccessibility is part of the allure’.

Yes, inaccessibility was part of the allure, but so too was the peace and tranquility one could find there. This is why it was voted ‘Best Beach in Europe 2016’. Fast forward one year and this tiny piece of paradise is now overrun with hundreds of bodies fighting for a space on the white pebble beach, just as many bodies in the water and boats queuing up to get a spot as if their lives depended on it.

Simply put, it is madness.

I am a writer, I write for a tourism-based website and news portal, it is our job to share the latest news and to keep people informed about the ‘best locations’ along the Adriatic. But if this is the result, it breaks my heart and almost makes me question what I am doing with my life.

Surely, we all have to take some responsibility in this though (now I am speaking as a local and tourist)?

From the tourist perspective

I get it, I really do. You are traveling with family or friends or doing your big OE (overseas expedition), you saw photos all over social media about the best beach in Europe, you are coming to Croatia where that beach is located, so it only makes sense that you want to see it, right?

What I don’t get, is, how is this appealing in the slightest? The Croatian coast has over a thousand islands and islets, each island, its own treasure trove of nature, beaches and bays to be discovered. I have to travel on the bus 40 mins – 1.5 hours in and out of Split most days and on that bus, I am shoulder-to-shoulder with a hundred-other people, it is awful. This, is basically what is happening in Stiniva; a beach swarmed with tourists and a tiny bay filled with however many flailing bodies and floaties. Why would you choose this instead of a gorgeous beach that has no one else around? Trust me, they do still exist.

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Credit: Gulet Linda – finding a beautiful ‘hidden treasure’ for their guests.

I understand that a lot of tourists and travellers have a bucket list, you hop from place to place and want to tick off as many highlight attractions as possible. It makes sense to queue for hours to see the Sistine Chapel or Michelangelo’s David or go to the top of the Eiffel tower (if this is your thing), but I just can’t place visiting a beach in the same category. Not because I don’t value nature, quite the contrary; I do value and appreciate time spent in nature, which is exactly why I would never succumb to lining up to get into one small piece of the Adriatic with my pink swan float. And, unlike appreciating art or history, I doubt many people are visiting Stiniva bay to witness the geological formations and marvel at just how freakin’ brilliant mother nature is.

Let’s be real, 99% of you are doing it to tick it off the list and get a photo for Instagram.

From the local perspective

“Give the people what they want”. People come to see Stiniva bay, so take them to Stiniva bay, no questions asked, right? Or not… I am gonna throw it out there – sometimes people don’t have a clue what they want; this goes for most of us in our day-to-day lives.  We think we do, then we try it and it turns out, it’s not what we wanted at all. Or, someone gives us sound advice and leads us in a much better direction – isn’t this what we could be doing as locals and particularly charter and tour companies?

Give people information, tell them of other options, explain the reality of what going to Stiniva Bay really looks like and if they still want to go, ok. At least you have tried.

I know a lot of charter Captains, who do know all of the ‘secret spots’ and yet, their guests still want to visit Stiniva, many times these captains and crew will get there early or find a way to beat the crowds – which is a wonderful thing for their guests. But in July and August, it is near impossible.

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Credit: Gulet Linda; taken in June with guests aboard Gulet Linda – before the madness.

Madness

I knew Stiniva had gotten worse by reports from Captains (I have been many times over the last few years, but haven’t been this year yet), but I guess the idiocy of it all just hadn’t hit me completely.

There is much more important news going on around the world, but things like this, still make me question what direction the human race is heading in…

Can we be better?

As tourists, don’t give in to every social media trend or fad, take a moment to think about the experience you want and, trust your captain, crew, and locals if they want to show you ‘their’ Croatia.

As for those providing a service, can we do our best to educate people? We should never outright impose our views on others, but looking at Stiniva bay, it is fairly easy to explain that this isn’t how it should be.

Can we just try to be better?

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