Nature in full colour
Croatia is one of the ecologically best preserved parts of Europe. It is a land where the hues of the sunny and warm Mediterranean happily blend with the tranquillity and freshness of mountains and the gentle sway of the golden plains of Pannonia. A land of truly divine inspiration that has delighted many of the world’s prominent men of letters. A rare European landscape which boasts as many as eight national parks in so small an area!
With Risnjak, Paklenica, the Plitvice Lakes and Northern Velebit in the mountainous area, and with the Kornati Archipelago, the island of Mljet, the Brijuni Archipelago and the Krka waterfalls in the coastal area, Croatia is indeed a jewel of the primeval beauty of nature. Adding to that two arboretums, one in Trsteno, near Dubrovnik, and Opeka, near Vinica, numerous historical parks and protected nature parks, it is indeed a green land, with as many as 4300 plant and as many animal species.
Do not delay: sail the azure blue waters of the Adriatic and discover the island which is one of the last habitats of the griffon vulture in Europe. For dedicated nature lovers in Croatia you can put to sea with an adopted dolphin or, if you are particularly lucky, encounter the mysterious and rare Mediterranean monk seal. Whatever you decide to do, you will find that this is a place where the colours of nature are at their warmest and fullest.
Due to its specific geographical position, located on the cusp of a number of bio geographical regions, Croatia is an area with an above average number of land, sea and underwater species. With 8 National Parks and 11 Nature Parks, some of which are Kopački Rit near Osijek, Lonjsko polje in Posavina, Vransko jezero near Pakoštane and other carefully looked after and supervised zoological and botanical reserves, Croatia is home to protected species such as the brown bear in Kuterevo, dolphins and Mediterranean monk seal in the Kvarner waters, the griffon vulture on the craggy rocks of Cres or even the white stork in Čigoč and the herd of wild horses in Posavina. It is in these areas that these species are able to roam around in the last free areas.
In terms of the number and variety of species of flora, Croatia is one of the richest countries in Europe. There is a huge diversity, which in some locations reaches up to 3000 plant varieties on Velebit and the Kvarner islands. This is extremely rare, especially on the surface area of such a small country like Croatia. The untouched green areas of Gorski Kotar and Lika, or even the Istrian south with their exceptional ecological values and concentration of protected natural parks are true conserved treasure troves of endemic species. A special mention should be made here for orchid lovers. In the most southern part of Istria, amongst the many types of orchid growing here, there is the unique endemic Istrian Serapias (serapias istriaca), which up until now has never been found anywhere else.
If you want to experience totally different climates in the space of a few hours, or swim in the sea in one moment and enjoy the snowy joys of the hinterland in the next, then you are in the right place! There are only a few countries that can claim to have three different climate zones on such a small surface area. Mainly known as a Mediterranean destination with an extremely comfortable climate on a coastal area with an above average number of sunny days, and dry, hot summers and a gentle damp climate, Croatia has two more climate zones: in the interior it is warm and wet and on the highest peaks there is a snowy forest climate. Finally, if you want evidence that the climate here is truly gentle and has a beneficial effect on a whole series of chronic illnesses, then visit the Opatija Riviera or even Lovran and it will be clear to you why already in the 19th century the health resorts of the Austro-Hungarian rulers were founded here.
The big blue of the small Adriatic sea is 783 km long, and if one includes the islands then the coastline is 7868 km, from which the Croatian part is 74% or 5385 km and truly epitomises the best qualities of the Mediterranean. If you want the precise figures: the clarity and transparency of the open sea reaches depths of 56 m whilst on the shore it is 5m deep. The depth of the sea in the north that runs along the Istrian coast is the shallowest at about 50m, whilst at Palagruža it reaches up to 250m and around the most distant island of Jabuka it reaches 1300m in depth. The average temperature of the sea surface in the summer months is between 22-27 oC, whilst it is at its lowest in winter at around 7 oC and in the spring it is a comfortable 18 degrees.
Croatia offers absolutely all types of beach. There are family beaches with gentle coves that are made from pebbles or gentle rocks, which can be found almost everywhere on the Adriatic coast, tidy town beaches and modern beaches for walking and having fun such as the crazy beach of Zrće on Pag, naturist beaches such as Koversada and Valalta in Istria, Punat and Baška on Krk or Lokrum beach near Dubrovnik, there are those that are deserted and difficult to get to on the islands, as well as pretty sandy beaches such as those on the island of Susak, the so called Saharun on Dugi Otok, Lumbarda on Korčula, and Orebić and Kukljica on the island of Ugljan. A large number of beaches in Croatia are crowned with a fluttering blue ecological flag ,where asides from having a sea and coastline that is totally clean, they also offer complete safety as well as numerous accompanying facilities.