Laguna Stella Maris beach

TRAIN RIDE TO THE BEACH

I ride the kids’ train three kilometres from the centre of Umag. I’m going to Laguna by myself. This train always brings me straight back to my childhood, because everything here is for kids – starting with the big, crazy rubber floating island where kids can jump, slide, and have fun.

I get off the train near the green resort of Stella Maris, where Laguna beach is located. For those who prefer cars to trains, there is a parking lot right next to the beach. It is free out of the high season.

ALWAYS A STEP AHEAD

The artificial lagoon is perfectly incorporated into the foot of Goran Ivanišević ATP Stadium, which is home to the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in Croatia. A belt of fragrant pines shield the beach from the road. For the umpteenth time, I conclude that the Istrians know how it’s done. They’re always a step ahead of the rest.

EVERYONE IS WELCOME

A towel on my shoulder and a book in my hand, I stroll along the sunny shore. I decide to rent a lounge chair – and why not? Comfort is essential if you want to enjoy the view, which is 360 degrees of pure beauty.

A bridge separates the mouth of the lagoon from the open sea. An inflatable island with slides and jumping pillows floats in the middle. Lifeguards and first aid staff keep a close eye on the beach, although there’s no real danger.

Laguna beach is first and foremost a family beach. The water is shallow, and the beach is covered mostly in pebbles with a few paved plateaus for sunbathing. The water is clear, just like on the open sea, and a prestigious Blue Flag flaps proudly on the flagpole.

DELICIOUS COFFEE AND COCKTAILS

This morning, the relaxation begins in the shade with a coffee and a book. The espresso is the best for miles around. After a few long laps, I decide to treat myself to a juicy burger. There is plenty more delicious food on offer – crêpes, fresh fruit and vegetables, ice cream. The afternoon hours are perfect for cocktails, and they’re absolutely spot-on.

PIRATE SHIP

Within the resort, you can rent bikes, banana boats, equipment for diving, sailing, para-sailing and surfing, jet-skis, and much more. They’ve got it all, from tennis and volleyball courts to trampolines and mini-golf. If you’re in the mood to discover a secret tour of Istria, you can head to the Istria Experience info point.

Out of this huge selection, in the end I opted for a stroll north from the beach to the salt-water swimming pool with a view of the open sea. A pirate ship straight out of the Caribbean is anchored in the pool, surrounded by screams, laughter and the joyous pitter-patter of little feet. The army of little pirates can’t get enough of the ship’s slide. Even the bigger pirates can’t complain.

LIVE MUSIC

Towards the evening, the western decks turn reddish in the sunset. After the sun sets, the moonlight will soon fill the bars. Live music plays every night.

To head back to Umag, I grab a bike from the Park and Ride service. They’re the perfect choice to explore the town and its surroundings. However, I have to return the bike to one of the available stations before midnight, so I can’t stay out late partying. I begin pedalling, and I’m already dreaming of being in bed. After an entire day at the beach, I can’t wait to drift off to sleep.

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