Pasjaca Beach in Konavle is one of those hidden gems of the Dubrovnik region. Well at least it used to be hidden but in recent years it seems that the spotlight has fallen on it and turned it into an attraction.
Located in the small village of Popovici in pretty much the heart of the Konavle wilderness the beach looks like it has especially created by Hollywood as a set for From Here to Eternity. With unbelievable translucent seas, sky scraping cliffs and a bright white beach edged in between you have the feeling that if you ever dreamt of the perfect beach it would probably look something like Pasjaca.
Hidden gem in Konavle - Photo Ivana Smilovic
Getting to the beach is relatively straight forward, although tough if you were thinking of using public transport. Use your GPS and then your nose. And when you get close follow all the signs that private houses have put up pointing you towards the beach and away from their driveways. There is ample parking at the top of the beach, although it can get crowded in the height of summer, and then comes a walk. Now when we said park at the top of the beach we should probably have said TOP. You’ll need a good pair of thighs and a head for heights.
Did we mention the cleans seas? - Photo Mark Thomas
The beach is at the bottom of a 250 metre cliff and you have just parked at the top. OK, the walk down goes smoothly with plenty of horizon views to take your mind off the climb down. However always in the back of your mind should be, “blimey I have to walk up this later,” for what goes up also goes down.
There are a few steps to the beach...well more than a few - Photo Mark Thomas
It looks just as nature had intended. There are no bars, no loud music, no sun beds and no shops, just you – the beach and an endless Adriatic Sea. In places it is sandy but it’s pebbles are soft underfoot and the sea water is so clean you’ll see every toe as you wade ever deeper. And all the time on your horizon is the shades of blue where the sky meets the sea.
Perfection of Pasjaca Beach
Now when we said just as nature had intended that isn’t actually completely true. Believe it or not this vision of perfection had the help of man. In fact the history of the beach is just as fascinating as the beach itself. And it is all connected to water, or rather too much water.
So the fields of Konavle, the valley that runs through the middle of the southernmost part of Croatia, are extremely fertile and a vital source of fresh fruit, vegetables, wine and food for livestock. These fields, due to their position, had a problem with flooding and quite clearly a solution was required.
The solution was to dig a tunnel 2,000 metres from the fields to the sea, yes that is around 1.2 miles underground. In 1955 the construction began, the first time the hills of Konavle were dug under, until they reached the sea at Pasjaca some 100 metres above sea level. It took a marathon four years to finish but in 1959 it was complete. A total of 1,300 metres were dug from the field side and just under 700 metres from the sea side until the two sections met and were joined.
If you are still wondering where the man made side of the Pasjaca beach comes in - here it is. The excess rock from the land side was used to make the main road (that’s the one you drive down to Montenegro on) whilst the rock from the sea side was thrown into the sea which, with the help of Mother Nature, helped form the first Pasjaca beach.
From these early beginnings the word soon spread that there was a new beach in town. It took around ten years for the sea to shape the tunnel rock into pebbles but slowly but surely a perfect beach was being made.
In 1972 a path was cut into the stone cliffs so that tourists and locals could get down to the “new” beach. Pretty soon the Konavle beach was a hit, but Mother Nature had other plans. The sea started to carry the pebbles, well out to sea and the beach slowly disappeared. The rocks that the sea had broke into pebbles were then broken into sand and then whisked out to the depths.
From the early heydays in the late 1970’s the beach was “shrunk” to a few metres squared. But man also had other plans. Seeing that their favourite beach was disappearing the people of Popovici took lorry loads of stone down to the beach for the sea to do its work again.
This is a never ending story. The beach gets smaller and then artificially larger every few years. In fact the Pasjaca beach is currently at its smallest for years and will need a little help soon.
In the meantime make the most of this special place. Bring your own picnic, water and plenty of sun cream and make a day of it. There is little, or no, shade on the beach so if you want to lie in the cool shade you’ll have to make it yourself. Pasjaca beach is a gem, not so hidden anymore, but still a magical spot that will stay in your dreams forever. Make your own memories on Pasjaca beach.
Photos - Mark Thomas and Ivana Smilovic