Dhermi and Drymades
As I only had a brief stay in Dhermi last year, I was eager to spend some more time there. We got on the mini bus leaving Saranda at 11.30, heading towards Vlora. The trip to Dhermi takes about 2,5 hours, including a stop about half way. The buses can be quite hot, so try to get a seat close to the door or a window that can be opened.
The bus does not drive down to the beach, so you have to get off in a junction by the main road. From there it is about 1,5km downhill to get to Dhermi Beach, or about 20 min walk, depending on pace and luggage you have to carry… We had made reservations at Royal Blue Hotel, a double room with a sea view balcony, including breakfast for 70€ per night. The hotel does not have their own web site, but you can find information and book on www.booking.com, or call the hotel: +355 69 667 4992.
The beach in front of the hotel is nice, but we wanted to check out the other beach close by, and went by taxi to Drymades beach. This was very nice as well, with small cosy bars along the seaside, and restaurants along the main road just behind the beach. There were also a few hotels, some camping huts, so I think it would be just as nice to stay here as at Dhermi Beach.
As I prefer more remote beaches with less people, we went to the far end towards the north west. At the end there is a natural hole in the rocks, so continue through that. At the other side, the beach continues with some small coves, giving you the possibility to feel more alone.
Another option is to talk to the locals and ask them to take you by boat to Gjipe bay, a very nice and more deserted beach. The few people that we saw, appeared to be local. On your way to the bay you will pass by Pirate Cave. Since you are passing anyway it is worth to have a look, but I would not go without combining with Gjipe bay.
Speaking of combinations; from Gjipe bay, you can walk Gjipe canyon. Even though it was a warm and sunny day, we were lucky with a nice cooling breeze. We walked for about 45 minutes between steep, green clad mountains until we reached a point where it was advisable to use some climbing equipment to continue. At this point it was also a small pond, and when we got there, dozens of frogs jumped in it to hide from us. A nice nature experience before we had to turn and walk back. Remember to bring water and anything else you need, as nothing is sold at the beach.
If you are keen on something other than beach life, you can walk or take a taxi to the old town of Dhermi, up on the hillside by the main road. Even though we were here in the most popular tourist season, almost no other tourist had found their way to this charming small village, overlooking the ocean. In fact, the only people we saw were some local boys, and an elderly man with a donkey.
The village is built up by small stone houses, and has several churches. On the very top of the hill, there is an old monastery with many graves in the courtyard.
There were a few cafes down by the road, but we decided to walk to Panorama Café (a little longer walk then expected) to watch the sunset before taking a taxi back for dinner.