Courtesy: Croatia Naturally, Guide to Naturism in Croatia. For more information on Croatia Naturism, visit: cronatur.com
Published in Internaturally’s “Naturally” magazine
The history of organized naturist vacations in Croatia goes back to the 1930s. The island of Rab is rightly referred to as the pioneer of naturism on the Adriatic. The month of August 1936 is frequently mentioned as the official beginning of naturism in Rab (i.e., when the English king Edward VIII stayed there and the Rab authorities allowed him and his wife to take a nude swim in the bay of Kandarola). Thats why this bay is nowadays sometimes called English Beach or Engleska plaza.However, it is certain that naturism on the island started long before then. The article Trade in nakedness, published in the Austrian economic journal Trend No. 11/83, reports that the naturist beach in Rab was officially opened as early as the transition to this century and that 50 beds in the hotels were reserved for naturists. The same article mentions that the first naturist beach in Rab was opened personally by Richard Ehrman, the president of the International Naturist Federation from Vienna in 1934. Naturism in Rab is also mentioned in the article of the Czech Josef Herman, in 1907 and of professor Gnther in 1912, which proves that the Rab people had understood long ago the bright prospects of this movement which, at that time, was a very bold attitude.
Croatia was the first country in Europe to start with the concept of commercial naturist resorts, when in other European countries naturism was limited to member clubs only. Real naturist expansion started in the 1960s when the first naturist camps were opened in Istra and Dalmatia. In those days more than 100,000 naturists spent their vacation in Croatia each year. The oldest naturist resort in Croatia is Koversada and in 2001 celebrated its 40th anniversary. Koversada is in fact a small islet and today it is connected by a small bridge with the mainland. The story says that famous adventurer Giacomo Casanova was the first one who took a nude swim in Koversada. But it was Rudolf Halbig from Germany, owner of Miramare travel agency, who, 200 years later in 1953 recognized Koversada as a perfect naturist destination. At the beginning naturists put up in the village of Vrsar and went to Koversada islet for swimming and sunbathing. In 1961 Koversada became officially opened for naturist tourists. As Koversada was becoming more popular, the islet became too small and in 1965 the resort spread out to the nearby shore. In 1972 Koversada hosted the Naturist World Congress, and in the course of years, Koversada grew to a modern complex and one of the largest and most popular naturist resorts in Europe. Soon after Koversada, other resorts opened their doors to naturists as well: Valalta naturist resort opened in 1968; Monsena in 1988 hosted Naturist World Congress; Solaris, and many others.
Today Croatia is offering a wide range of naturist facilities beaches, camping, hotels, apartment and bungalow villages. There are more than 20 official naturist resorts that spread on 8,220,000 sq. meters. Naturist resorts offer 46,100 camping units, 5,300 beds in apartments, bungalows or hotels. In addition to that, official naturist beaches (outside of naturist resorts) offer a place under the sun for 20,000 sunbathers. In addition to official naturist resorts and beaches, there are also many so called free beaches. Those are unofficial naturist beaches, sometimes controlled and maintained by local tourist authorities and sometimes not, that can be found everywhere on the coast. Naturist beaches in Croatia are marked as FKK. This is abbreviation for German word Freikrperkultur (Free Body Culture). The FKK sign is ubiquitous all along the Croatian coast.
Naturism represents an important factor in Croatian tourism industry. To estimate how many percent of all tourists are naturists is not an easy task, because many stay in textile resorts and visit naturist beaches or resorts just for swimming and sunbathing. Some estimates say about 15% of all tourists in Croatia are naturists or nudists. That means more than 1,000,000 naturists visit Croatia each year. Most of them come from Germany, then Austria, The Netherlands, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, etc. Considering the countrys liberal tradition toward naturism and a large number of naturist resorts and beaches, Croats are surprisingly still a bit shy when it comes to naturism and make up less than 5% of all guests in naturist resorts. Compared to the situation in the 1980s, the number of organized naturists in Croatia has significantly decreased in the last decade. Many agree the reason is the stronger influence of the Catholic Church in society.
Today many Croats prefer unofficial or secluded beaches to throw away their clothes. But still, naturism is strongly supported by the Croatian government. Take a look what the official Croatian tourism site says about it. Naturism is even mentioned on tourism sites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.