Like many better known stretches of water before it – Lake Geneva in Switzerland, Lake Garda in north Italy, Loch Lomond just north of Glasgow - the Boka Kotorska bay that surrounds the town of Tivat commands a similar feeling when you first reach it: sheer thrill.
An equally mesmerizing natural display as that which has made the formerly mentioned so popular, Montenegro’s stunning sheltered cove – which is actually made up of four bays - is surrounded by rugged mountains carpeted in emerald forests, that seem to jut straight out from the vast glistening water, and hemmed with pretty stone-walled medieval settlements with apricot-coloured roofs.
It’s a backdrop that no doubt convinced Canadian billionaire Peter Munk- along with various other partners - to purchase the town’s former Yugoslav naval shipyard in 2011, and transform it into the luxury, super-yacht marina Porto Montenegro that now defines the area.
A haven for tycoons and celebrities with upmarket bars, restaurants, clubs, spas and 490 berths designed to take some really big boats, the multi-million-dollar development is one of the most ambitious and glitziest leisure projects in Europe. Despite still being under construction, it’s considered responsible for helping what was once a small fishing town, to today teeter among the ranks of the other European millionaire playgrounds, such as Monte Carlo and St Tropez.
Situated in the central part of the Boka, at the foot of Vrmac, the ‘Tivat bay’ has a reputation for being one of the region’s sunniest spots and enjoys a year-round mild to hot Mediterranean climate. Unsurprisingly, it attracts a large crowd to the 17 beaches that line its shore as a result, with the Plavi Horizonti beach considered the most beautiful. The lush green island of Sveti Marko, located in the south of the town’s namesake bay, holds Europe’s first six-star hotel, and makes an idyllic day-trip destination.
Tivat is also a great base to venture out to charming neighbouring villages such as Lustica Peninsulas and Vrmac, or to visit the dramatically striking Bay of Kotor – Europe’s southernmost fjord and a UNESCO World Heritage site – which has long been considered the true jewel of Bokar and demands some attention.
Away from the shoreline, in the centre of Tivat, there’s a good selection of galleries, boutiques, restaurants, hotels and drinking spots that equally take advantage of an supreme landscape of natural and architectural splendor.