Lonely Planet, famous travel book publisher, and its staff have picked Croatia to be the hottest destination for the year 2005. Croatian appeal is in the combination of miraculous nature, Mediterranean climate, colorful sea with breathtaking beaches and islands, rich history and culture, cuisine, accessibility and affordability with an excellent tourism infrastructure to suit all tastes. Although quite popular in the past few years, it has not yet been over-touristed and crashed by the mass tourism hysteria.
The country ranges over the furthest eastern edges of the Alps in the north-west to the Pannonian lowlands and the Danube banks in the east with its central region being covered by the Dinara mountain range and reaching the coast of the Adriatic Sea with its southern parts.
With its position on crucial communication routes, making the country easily accessible even today, Croatia set on the crossroads of great civilizations, each leaving their own marks. This is why today this country abounds with monuments from ancient Greece and Rome, medieval architecture, the Mediterranean Renaissance, Central European Baroque and the New Age Secession heritage.
Istria, the largest peninsula of the entire Croatian Riviera, is the most diverse tourism region due to the vicinity of the Mediterranean Sea, snowless winters and long, sunny summers. When this exquisite climate gets combined with picturesque landscapes, indented shore, medieval towns, you indeed get one of the hottest destinations in the Mediterranean.
In the high north of the Istria, not far from Italy and Slovenia lies Rovinj, a charming, old fishing town with narrow cobbled stone streets and alleys and many little nearby islands. Rovinj is also called Venice’s little brother by some people.
Rovinj is easy to reach as there has been a huge development of a new motorway and local road networks in Croatia and Istria. The town is well connected by road, air and the sea. There are 4 airports in area of 100 miles; Airport of Pula, Krk Airport, Trieste Airport and Venice Airport. You can even travel on a low budget with Ryanair and Easyjet. Rovinj is also an active fishing port, easily accessible from the sea, and close enough to all major roads. Rovinj archipelago, rich in green and local flora and fauna, is composed of 22 islets, three of them populated with tourists while the rest uninhabited. They are perfect for daily side trips to the beaches.
Reaching Rovinj Archipelago, we are finally getting to our destination – Crveni Otok (The Red Island). This most renowned tourist location, surrounded by the sea, put together two tied islets – St. Andrew’s Island (Otok Sv. Andrije) and Maškin Island (Otok Maškin).
The Red Island is only 15 minutes sail away from Rovinj with approximately two taxi boats per hour running from a small pier on the main town square and from Delfin pier. The taxi boat ride is quite pleasant and soothing for the eyes due to passing by Katarina Island, Lona and Zlatni rt bays that will fascinate you with their beauty.
The Red Island is covered with lush pinewoods, it has over 180 kinds of various plants growing there, 217 bird species inhabiting the area, making it suitable for the “bird watching” safari. The numerous beaches are stony with typical coves covered with pebbles. The most visited beaches are those on the St. Andrews Island close to the island’s only hotel and the annex. On the west side of St. Andrew’s Island a few high rocks rise above the sea giving the visitors an opportunity to engage in activities such as diving and finding their own calm spot to lie in the sun and relax avoiding crowds and noise. Being only accessible by boat, the number of visitors on the island is somewhat lower than on regular urban beaches in the city center. However, since many of the guests as well as local swimmers have yachts and boats, diving or swimming toward the open sea should be done with care. The beaches do have life-guards along with life-saving equipment, first-aid, recyclable waste facilities, etc
Maškin Island is known as a nudist mecca. The island abounds with stony and rocky beaches, small bays and gentle rifts.
Also called the wellness island, The Red Island, like the nickname says, offers numerous wellness treatments, relaxing baths, massages as well as activities such as the Nordic walks, tasting of the unique Istrian wines, asparagus gathering, bird watching safaris, etc. It is a real sanctuary from the every day’s responsibilities and the intense rhythm of the modern lifestyle. By spending time on this astonishingly beautiful island, you will fulfill even your undreamt expectations and realize that the beauty of reality sometimes goes beyond imagination.
Back in 2002, a violent storm, denuded the island of its mature trees and the natural shade but the problem has been surpassed by the usage of sunshades and stands. In terms of sports activities, the island has three tennis courts, renting services for windsurfing boards, pedal and motor boats, a mini golf court, table-tennis tables, a windsurfing and diving school, a bit of something for everybody.
Hotel Istra has recently been renovated and it offers a wide range of facilities and programs free of extra charge for everyone’s taste. There is a snack-bar, a restaurant, a pizza-place, a fitness-center, indoor and outdoor swimming pools with sea water, a hairdresser, sauna, massage, whirlpool, a fitness club, mini-golf, table tennis, playgrounds for basketball and volleyball, etc. The former Huetterott castle was made an annex of the Istra hotel. It offers a restaurant, a bar and a nautical museum that opens on request.
The rooms are air-conditioned, with shower and toilet; they have balconies, TV, telephone and a mini bar. There are daily animations for children aged 0 to 17 in mini-clubs and also rich daily and evening animations for adults.
Additionally, there is a small air-conditioned congress and meeting hall to meet the needs of the business people.
But you can’t take your pets along.
The Hotel Istra opened a wellness center, the first wellness centre in the Mediterranean theme. It offers a natural wooden ambient, colours and scents of Mediterranean vegetation, with the sounds of the sea and waves helping you release the tension and help you get in touch with your inner self.
The hotel offers luxury weekend packages to indulge those looking for a quick getaway from the every day’s hustle. The package includes 2 overnight stays with meals and a variety of wellness treatments.
When you get tired of lying in the sun, you can always decide to do some sightseeing and visit the Rovinj city center or why not Venice?
Rovinj offers visits to numerous bars, restaurants and a wild night life. You should not miss tasting the typical Mediterranean cuisine including fresh made seafood salads, risotto with shrimps, prawns and other sea goodies and the Istrian wines.
Rovinj’s nightlife can be a standalone traveling motive. Fancy late night parties, live performances, DJs, at the Monvi Centre, a nightclub that besides rape parties has an open-air theatre, a Mexican restaurant, a cocktail bar, a wine restaurant, Internet café, and much more.
If you miss booking accommodation at The Hotel Istra, rest assure you will find private accommodation somewhere in Rovinj. Private accommodation is offered on every corner by the locals that open their homes to accommodate you. Choosing private accommodation will give you an opportunity to get in touch with the locals and learn more about their culture and their customs, taste traditional foods or even engage in their everyday activities if this is what you wish from your holiday.
Croatian currency is kuna, one kuna being 100 lipa. You can have your money exchanged
in banks, exchange offices, post offices, travel agencies, hotels, camps, marinas and you can have your traveler’s cheques cashed in banks.