Croatia has become “the” Balkan tourist destination for the summers with clear waters, clean beaches, an abundance of waterfalls and a series of trance music festivals. Parks with tiered waterfalls, one flowing into the next are tempting you to jump in. Unlike the UNESCO protected waterfalls of Plivitce these are intended for swimming. Locals and herds of tourists alike come to this popular watering hole to cool down in the hot summer days. A legit set up with lifeguards and ropes, the swarms gather in the shallows and you are left navigating the prodding selfie sticks and uneven rocky floor.
The four of us decided to go for a bit of a walk and found a worn dirt path alongside the lower falls to explore and find some space. We may have come across a small dirt path with a small barrier (we’ll call it a run down fence with the possibility of a faded sign). I love travelling with Kiwis and Aussies for boundaries are suggestive and together we decided that the path leads up and we want to go there. We scrambled to the top of the falls easily enough and jumped into the refreshingly, spacious and empty pool.
After about 30 minutes, a young guy in the park’s logo-ed shirt appears from around the corner of that very path and asks if the others swimming were my friends. I apprehensively replied, “Kind of” (I mean we just met the other day) and he takes off his shirt, swims to where my “friends” are. I watched waiting for consequences, he pulls himself up onto a rock without saying a word, and does a back flip down the waterfall into the next pool. Again and again he flipped down the series of cascading falls. With the showmanship dives we figured it was cool for us to continue our secret swim.
The performer caught us off guard again while we were sitting on the shady rocks and asked for a light. Providing him with both a cigarette and a light, we softened him up with some conversation asking what he did at the park. He said he ran the boats. As we were in no apparent trouble, I did not hesitate to ask, “Want to take us on a boat ride?” No problem, he was off work anyways. He spent the rest of the afternoon taking us around his favorite cliff jumping and giving us turns to drive the boat. By evening we exited the park with the remaining lifeguards, treated our man with a beer and gave our taxi driver an extra tip for waiting the entire day.