Montenegro is one of the fastest-growing travel destinations in the world and offers a breathtaking landscape, dramatic fjord views and some of the best swimming locations. This former Yugoslavian country also offers several fantastic open water swimming locations. You can swim in the beautiful Adriatic sea inside the Bay of Kotor and Tivat (known as The Fjords) or in the open sea along the Adriatic coastline. If you head inland there are five national parks (Skadar, Lovcen, Durmitor, Prokletije, Biogradska Gora) with dramatic mountainous landscapes and stunning lakes and rivers where you can explore further swimming adventures. In this article, we will focus on sea swimming in the fjords and in the open Adriatic. We have been operating our swimming holidays in Montenegro for many years.
1. Bay of Kotor (Boka Bay)
Due to its protected mountainous location, this bay offers several swimming locations all year around. The sea temperatures in the summer months of June-September vary from 22-26C. Many locals also swim in May and October. See our map where we believe it is best and safest to swim. The Bay of Kotor can get busy with boat traffic during the peak daily hours and especially during the summer months, so it is important to follow safety advice if you swim on your own in an open area. Many beaches will have a marked swimming zone with a lifeguard on duty.
2. Bay of Tivat
Tivat bay is sheltered by the Lustica peninsula on the western side (Adriatic) and Vrmac mountain on the north-eastern side (Kotor Bay). This bay also has two boat marinas (Porto Montenegro and Porto Novi) which means that boats often come and go in the middle of the bay towards Kumbor channel. However, swimming in Tivat bay is fairly sheltered and safe along the 3 islands on the southern side (Sveti Marko, Lady of Mercy Island and Miholjska Prevlaka – Island of Flowers). Sveti Marko is the largest and it offers the longest venue to swim along on either side. The island has a natural and cultural heritage and it is due to be developed into a new elite location with a high-end hotel and villas. See our map below for the best swimming location.
3. Submarine tunnels
Montenegro used to be part of Yugoslavia and there are several submarine tunnels in the Kumbor straight (channel leading to open Adriatic sea) completely open and available to enter and have a swim. If you decide to swim there we strongly recommend having someone in a boat with you locals tend to drive in and out with their speed boats. It is fairly dark inside and this lowers your visibility to outside boats. See our map below for the best tunnel swimming adventure!
Blue caves in the Adriatic sea
The entire Adriatic coastline in the Balkans from Croatia to Albania (including Montenegro) has several caves and coves where you can enjoy a great sea swimming adventure, snorkelling, kayaking or just being on a boat and enjoying the experience.
4. Blue cave or Blue Grotto
The most popular blue cave in Montenegro (local name: Plava Spilja) is located on Lustica peninsula on the open Adriatic side. Most daily boats bring tourists from Herceg Novi and Kotor bay. The cave is about 15 -20m wide, 5m deep below sea level and the height from the sea level to the top is about 9 – 10 metres. Inside you can often hear bats flying above you. The crystal clear blue colours come from the reflection of the sunbeams entering the cave from the outside. There are specific hours during the day where the colours are the best.
We recommend to go there with a daily boat, but please be aware that smaller local boats do enter into the cave and this can cause a bit of an unpleasant experience if you swim there. Best is to wait until daily boats are gone. We hope the local authorities will soon impose a ban on local boats entering the cave and let people only enjoy it for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking or scuba diving. So far there is no entry fee to enter.
One good piece of advice if the blue cave is very busy is that you can go to the opposite side (500 m away south towards Bigova direction) and swim in the other caves and smaller coves. They are also stunning and usually, there are no people there.
5. Mamula island (local name as Lastavica island)
Mamula island, with its fort, is strategically located at the mouth of Bay of Kotor between the Croatian fort Prevlaka and Montenegrin fort Azra. All three forts were built during 1850-1853 by Austro-Hungarians. Mamula is currently undergoing new development. The distance around the island is about 950m if you swim circa 10-20 m away from the island. We do this island swimming loop adventure as part of our Montenegro trips, but always with our escort boats alongside. You need a boat to get to this island, but you can swim around if you like. Local boats pass by going to either Zanjice beach or Blue cave, so you need to have some escort while swimming around, otherwise, it is completely safe. Some currents are around, but nothing dangerous.
6. Bigova Bay (Lustica bay)
Bigova village (200 population) is a small and secluded place at the beginning of Lustica peninsula and it as accessible by car from Tivat or Kotor or by the sea with a boat (there are buoys for moorings). The bay itself is sheltered from the open sea and offers great sea swimming opportunities at any time. In recent years there has been a new marina built (Lustica Bay) on the other side, however, the bay is big enough to have plenty of space for a relaxing activity. We prefer swimming at Bigova village on either side of the bay with an optional trip (based on sea conditions) to the open sea towards Budva where you can swim along the dramatic cliffs.
7. Trsteno and Jaz beach
These two beaches are close to Budva town and both have a stunning coastline to swim along. Both venues are car-friendly to enter and in the summer they charge for car-parking around 5 Eur per day. Other months, apart from July-August, you can enter for free and have the entire beach for yourself. We prefer Trsteno bay for a proper sea swimming location as it is more scenic and offers a great route on either side of the bay plus there are usually fewer people and boats around. “Next door” Jaz sandy beach is bigger with wider space and it has closer access from the main road, so more people stop there. It also has rental options for water sports and is kids friendly.
8. Sveti Nikola island – Budva
If you want to swim at the Hawaii of Montenegro, the Sveti Nikola island at Budva Riviera is the place to go. You can access the island from Budva town with daily boats taking tourists across for 5 Euro. On the island there are 3 beaches with facilities such as toilets, restaurants and sun loungers. Most of them are only open May-October season. You can swim all around the island (360 loop) and it comes just over 4 km. Be aware of potential boat traffic coming in and out of Budva to the main beaches or go for a swim off the main summer season months.
9. Sveti Stefan – Budva
Sveti Stefan is an exclusive place in Montenegro close to the main road going south and many people stop there to take a photo. The beach leads to the island with a luxury resort called Aman Sveti Stefan. You can swim on either side of the beach, but the left side is free of charge (you only pay for sun loungers) while the right side is private and it costs 50 Eur per person. The sea is the same on both sides 😊. We recommend that you go for a swim on the left side and swim to the island and back. Usually, there is a safe swim zone area in the summer months. Car parking is available, however, it costs around 2 Euros per hour. Budva is not only busy during July and August, but also during other months of the year.
10. Ada Bojana island – Ulcinj
Ada Bojana island is located at the very south of Montenegro border with Albania at the town of Ulcinj. The island was formed by the river Bojana that flows into the Adriatic sea creating a river delta. Several kilometres of long sandy beach is a popular tourist destination for camping and daily visitors. You can enjoy a great combination of river and sea swimming experiences at once. Depending on the river flow and level, you are advised to check the currents on both sides to see where it is safer to get in. At most times the river is shallow and safe to swim and in the summer months there will be lifeguards around, but not during off-season months.
Part of this place is also a naturist camp, so please bear this in mind. The whole venue has several restaurants, bars, all the facilities to park, etc. Due to its location, it is also a popular place for kite and windsurfers.
This article has been put together based on almost 10 years of running our swimming holiday trips in Montenegro. During this time Montenegro has changed a lot in terms of new developments (marinas, hotels, cruise liners, etc.) and this has reflected the sea and coastal conditions as well. We have considered factors such as spot access, boat traffic, channel route, dangerous objects and any mussels or fish farms in the bays. We strongly discourage people swimming across the bay (ships channel) as it is dangerous and legally not allowed and the local coast guard could penalise you for such an act.
Video Clip of Swimming in Montenegro
Written in February 2020