Croatian Isle with beaches and bell towers that are fit for a king… and his lover

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POOLS are taboo on the island of Rab.

With 30 sandy beaches to explore — a novelty in the Adriatic — my tour guide, Marin was not impressed that I’d “wasted” my first day in Croatia pool-side.

 Stunning view over the old town, harbour, and the promenade on right hand side
Stunning view over the old town, harbour, and the promenade on right hand side

The coastline here is captivating and the locals are fiercely proud of their little slice of paradise.

It was Rab’s sandy shores that lured Edward VIII and his American lover Wallis Simpson here when they “discovered” the island while searching for a nudist beach.

For a landmass of just 38 square miles Rab has a huge variety of terrain.

The harbour in the Old Town on the south side of the island has a quirky beach promenade, adored by the locals.

 Paradise Beach at Lopar on the isle’s northern coast
Paradise Beach at Lopar on the isle’s northern coast

Further north, in Lopar, there are 22 beaches with restaurants lining the shore, serving fresh fish.

While the northern flanks, are a dried-up wasteland, torn apart by “Bora” — a salty wind of up to 150mph that batters the face of the island.

But venture across the stunning hills — acting as a barrier to the blasts — and it’s as green as the Amazon.

Palm trees, olive groves and vineyards flanked by the crystal-clear ocean hint at the award-winning olive oil and delicious local wines.

Rab is almost Italian in its laidback way of life.

 Staying at the Arbiana Hotel, I had gorgeous views of the harbour and neighbouring islands
Staying at the Arbiana Hotel, I had gorgeous views of the harbour and neighbouring islands

With Roman roots, followed by Venetian rule for the best part of 600 years.

Staying at the Arbiana Hotel, I had gorgeous views of the harbour and neighbouring islands.

Room 302 in particular comes with a gorgeous double balcony and giant windows along the entire wall, providing jaw-dropping vistas of the harbour and beyond.

The narrow backstreets will look familiar to fans of Games Of Thrones — the town was used to film scenes for the hit fantasy drama.

 One of the town’s four bell towers picked out in purple
One of the town’s four bell towers picked out in purple

After exploring the old town — including the four bell-towers — it was time to grab some food.

I dined like a local on novel dishes — moreish scrambled egg with dried octopus, accompanied by a spicy lobster gnocchi. While Agatini Vrtovi (Agatha’s Gardens) at the Hotel Arbiana, offers an intimate garden setting by candlelight.

My favourite delicacy was Rabska Torta, or Rab Cake, a spiral-shaped, pastry filled with almonds, lemon and maraschino. Served with a glass of flavoured liqueur it was dreamt up by local nuns for Pope Alexander III in 1177.

 The narrow backstreets will look familiar to fans of Games Of Thrones — the town was used to film scenes for the hit fantasy drama
The narrow backstreets will look familiar to fans of Games Of Thrones — the town was used to film scenes for the hit fantasy drama

Visitors can venture further afield — by car, boat or even bike.

Head north to Lopar, where Marin gave me a tour of the sandy beaches and spectacular viewpoints — including the mile-long “Paradise Beach” down the eastern side of the peninsula.

To the south I found myself engulfed in forests flanked by ocean.

At a shade over 400m high, Kamenjak — the highest point on the island — was hardly taxing, but the views were simply breathtaking.

 Locals are fiercely proud of their little slice of paradise
Locals are fiercely proud of their little slice of paradise

And at the top is a cute restaurant where you can recharge the batteries with a hearty local stew or a swift pint of Croatian beer.

To the west I could just make out Kandarola Nude Beach, where Wallis Simpson allegedly took a skinny dip back in 1936.

Sadly, despite the sunny weather there wasn’t a starkers celeb in sight.

GO:  RAB, CROATIA

GETTING/STAYING THERE: Seven nights’ B&B at the Hotel Arbiana on Rab Island is from £926pp based on two sharing including Stansted flights to Rijeka and private transfers. This includes an early booking offer of £44pp when booked by March 31. See prestigeholidays.co.uk or call 01425 480 400.

MORE INFO:  For more on Rab  see kvarner.hr







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