The city beach, Banje, is a short walk from the Ploče Gate. It’s good for kids, pebbly and at times sandy, depending on the waves. It has showers, plus jet skis and inflatables. Most of the beach is administered by the East-West restaurant-club and bathers who want a deckchair or sun-lounger will have to pay pretty steep rates – as a result, Banje has become a tourist beach.
Locals head instead for Sveti Jakov, down the coast past the Villa Dubrovnik, a 20-minute walk along quiet, tree-lined Vlaha Bukovca. Buses Nos.5 and 8 run most of the way from north of the Old Town. Although this is everyone’s favourite beach, it’s rarely crowded. The sun stays warm until late in the evening, bathing the Old Town in a golden light. It’s part shingle, part pebble, with showers, sun shades, and a bar and restaurant at beach level. It is accessed via a long stairway you’ll be reluctant to climb back up.
Between Banje and Sv Jakov are the hotel beaches, either exclusive or hired by the day. Each can offer a pool, a terrace and a fine Martini. Just east of the Grand Villa Argentina is Betina Špilja, a cave with a fine white pebble beach, only accessible from the sea. Rent a taxi boat at the old harbour, arrange a pick-up time and get the captain’s number. Take provisions.
Pile is not known for its beaches – but Šulići is one of Dubrovnik’s cleanest, a short walk from the Pile Gate. On the other side of the promontory, the rocky beach of Danče stretches to an open, clear sea. The bay here isn’t so sheltered, so waves can be rough.
Lapad (bus no. 6 from Pile) has a family-friendly public beach complete with showers, sunloungers and shallow waters overseen by lifeguards. Behind, the pedestrianised shade of Šetalište kralja Tomislava has a bouncy play area and tennis courts are nearby. Immediately to the west, the rocks beside the Niki i Meda Pucića promenade allow for nude sunbathing.
Further northwest, the Babin kuk peninsula (also served by bus no. 6 or reached via the Niki i Meda Pucića promenade) is covered with hotels, each of which has access to a beach of some sort. The best equipped is the Copacabana, a half-moon of pebbles and gravel set in Seka Bay. Although the water here isn’t as pristine as elsewhere – Seka Bay also faces the Daksa Canal, through which ferries pass en route to Gruž – the Copacabana is fun. Parachute boat rides, water chutes, canoes, jet skis, pedalos and banana rides provide high-action entertainment. Nearby is a signposted path down to a naturist beach, Cava. There is also nude bathing at Lokrum, 15 minutes by taxi boat from the Old Town.
Outdoor adventure firm Adriatic Kayak Tours (Zrinsko-Frankopanska 6 (020 312 770, www.adriatickayaktours.com) offer sea-kayaking jaunts to Lokrum and the Elafiti islands, white-water rafting in Montenegro’s Tara River Canyon, mountain biking in Konavle, and winter sea kayaking in the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro.
Diving is also popular. Clubs such as Blue Planet Diving (Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, Masarykov put 20, +385 91 899 0973 mobile, http://blueplanet-diving.com) and Navis Underwater Explorers (Copacabana beach, +385 20 356 501, +385 98 919 7402 mobile) offer both trips and a range of different diving courses for all levels and ages.