The clear water of the Ionian Sea and the surrounding white rocks make the southern Albanian beach a nice getaway.
Text and photos by Sami Neza for Southeast European Times in Tirana -- 07/07/09
A local restaurant, overlooking the beach, has a wide seafood menu.
"Close your eyes and imagine being amidst the green of olives, lemon and orange trees and their coolness, while the magic of the blue sea spreads before your eyes; the scent fills your lungs. Now, open your eyes, you are in Drymades [oak tree] Beach," reads a guidebook.
Leaving Tirana at about 8am, I packed the car and headed towards the Ionian Sea.
After driving for about two hours, I made a pit stop in Orikum, a small coastal town near the city of Vlora. Orikum, which took its name from the ancient city of Oricum located on its outskirts, was an important military base for Julius Caesar and the Roman Army.
Leaving Orikum, I made my way up to Llogara, the national park located about 1,100m above sea level.
There are spots up in the pine forests of Llogara where tourists can scope out the beautiful Dhermi coast below, and what seems like an endless blue sea.
After about a three-hour drive, I pulled into the village of Dhermi, chock-full of white houses and citrus shrubs.
The shore is surrounded by cottages.
A bus line runs from Tirana to Dhermi, and a ticket costs about 7 euros. I spent about 30 euros driving, so the bus is a cheap mode of transportation.
The quiet Drymades Beach is about 5km-long, and is usually pretty empty, even during the peak tourist season. Past the white rocks and thick sand, the sea is clear. The shore is surrounded by cottages, and a luxury hotel, which costs about 25 euros per night.
A local restaurant, nestled close to the cottages, has a wide seafood menu -- bass, octopus, cuttlefish and squid.
Restaurant owner Lorenc Gjukuria captured the spirit of Drymades by reciting an old Albanian adage "Close to the sea, close to the king".
There is a beach bar between the sand and the surrounding woods, built above an old communist bunker and appropriately called "Ekzotic" (exotic). Drinks at the bar can be pricey, about six euros.
There is plenty to do at the resort, such as jet skiing, parasailing and fishing.
For those searching for night life, there is a village not far off, about 3km, which offers a slew of pubs and dance clubs, and where beachgoers let loose until the early morning hours.