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The serenity and privacy destination: Exploring Karpen Beach in Kavaje, Albania [Jun 2024]

Accommodation, camping area, restaurants and things to do

Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360
Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360

By Deli Muçollari

It’s mid July, almost 8pm and I’m looking at these electrifying colors while the sun is setting behind the smallest island I’ve seen. I take a deep breath and ask myself when did I last see such a great scenery. Then I rush to take a picture, to freeze this moment in my camera roll, but when I look at the shot, I feel some kind of disappointment for not being able to capture it as it really is. A camera will never do justice to this wonderful creation, I think. And I’m at peace. I am here, I am living it and I’m happy.

Sunset in Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360
Sunset in Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360

This is my first day in Karpen Beach area, in Kavaje and I’m already excited for the next ones. Exploring the village beach side won’t be a hard work I assume as I can see the beginning and the end of it with bare eyes. It’s as peaceful as I read earlier about it and I’m not sure it’s because of the fact that is Thursday, not a weekend, or it is always like this. Well, there’s nothing better than doubts before exploring a new place, knowing you will have an answer very soon.

Karpen Beach, Kavaje ©Albania360
Karpen Beach, Kavaje ©Albania360

So, I’m about to find out in first hand everything you need to know about Karpen Beach as a visitor, so you don’t have to. As I’m trying to do discover a bit about the other travellers and the reasons they have chosen this destination, I make a funny realisation: I might be the only Albanian visitor at the moment. It’s funny because Karpen is not far from the main cities like Tirana or Durres. On the contrary, it’s less than one hour far from the capital and about 20 minutes from Durres. However I only spoke to Germans, Polish, Ukrainian and Swiss visitors. The only Albanians I’ve met so far are the owners of the hotels, the staff and that cute couple at the small village market where I went to buy a spray against the annoying mosquitos. They come alive after the sunset and can be really mean if you let them.

Accommodation in Karpen Beach

Aria Beach Resort, Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360
Aria Beach Resort, Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360

The first accommodation I get in touch is Aria Beach Resort, which probably has the largest swimming pool in the area, if not the only one. The resort is opened for the guests recently, just on June 2023 and you can feel it in the cleanliness of the whole resort. It has more than 100 rooms and can accommodate couples and whole families too in sea view and balcony rooms. Besides the nice pool, the resort offers a beach bar and many sun beds for its guests, included in the room price, along the breakfast(7:00-10:30am). The resort is mostly dedicated to families and offers every facility like the gym and the spa area for fitness and relax. There is a private parking lot and for the little kids, they have a playground located near the beach bar.

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Aria Beach Resort, Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360
Aria Beach Resort, Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360

But that’s not the only resort in this small beach. Vila Barbaut is a great destination if you’re into great food, great views and impeccable service. It’s easily distinguished by the palm trees and the greenery around it which makes it a fresher place any time of the day. I’m very curious about the story behind the name of the vila, since it doesn’t sound as a common Albanian last name, and the very owner tells me that this was the coastal site old name, before it was considered as Karpen Beach, due to the village behind it. I also discover that the owner has lived in Italy for many years and has put into practice in this hotel everything he learned about Italian hospitality. He has surely found the secret to offer the best of Albanian hospitality in a European style.

Vila Barbaut, Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360
Vila Barbaut, Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360

The owner’s father, a very kind man around the 70s, remembers how this place was during the communism period, when all the coastal side was used for a military base and a military school called “Skanderbeg”, whose students were called “Scanderbegas”. After the death of the dictator Enver Hoxha and the end of the cooperative system, the locals started to find new ways to use the beautiful coast and here we are now, to this beautiful beach, reachable by any traveler or beach lover.

Karpen Beach, Kavaje ©Albania360
Karpen Beach, Kavaje ©Albania360

Before going down to the beach of Vila Barbaut, let me share a food moment with you. The table looks a bit messy as I’m rushing to take the picture and start eating, for the seafood looks so tasty and the sunset is about to end. I highly recommend you to try the fresh fish and seafood of Vila barbaut restaurant, but don’t forget the grilled meat as it is very delicious too. The most important thing is that they use local products, they take the vegetables from the farmers of Karpen, as well as that amazing white cheese I can’t seem to have enough.

Vila Barbaut, Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360
Vila Barbaut, Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360

Beach please! This private beach area is mostly dedicated to the hotels’ guests, but anyone else can use it towards a daily fee. You can recognise it from any point of the Karpen Beach, for it beautiful palm trees, that create the needed shadow over the sunbeds. I like the fact the sunbeds are not close to each other, allowing each guest or family to have their own space and privacy. There’s no loud music in this area, just the sound of the wind dancing through the palms and the sound of the waves washing the castline.

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Vila Barbaut Beach, ©Albania360
Vila Barbaut Beach, ©Albania360

Umami Beach Resort is another accommodation option in Karpen, Kavaje. There is plenty to do in this resort as they offer a bar and restaurant by the sea, a wide beach area and of course comfy rooms for your good night sleep. At Umami Beach Resort you can enjoy an Italian breakfast and a Mediterranean menu throughout the day. The resort offers a children’s playground too.The welcoming staff at the 24-hour front desk speak English and Italian.

BOOK YOUR ROOM NOW!

*By booking through this link, you are supporting the work of Albania360 and its future blogs
Umami beach Resort
Umami Beach Resort

Camping in Karpen

What if you bring your own hotel with you? What if you are travelling with a camper? Karpen is the best place. As I walk around the area in a lazy afternoon, I see all the time caravans going towards the “No Name Camping” site or “Sunset Camping“.

Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360
Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360

The vehicles seem to be from any part of the world. The travellers wave their hand to me in a greeting way, as I probably look like a lost tourist exploring a new place. A bridge connecting the two camping areas seems like a beautiful path to take in an early morning or late afternoon, when the color of the sky changes the colors of all the plants and flowers makings them prettier.

Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360
Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360

The artificial island in Karpen

This path takes you to the artificial island too, reserved for the camping site guests, where they can enjoy a drink at the bar while watching the sunset or use the beach area for the whole day. This island, once used for military purposes, now it’s an interesting tourist attraction for everyone. There is always a boat by its dock, taking the visitors to daily sea tours and adventures. Every Sunday at 4pm they offer a tour around the Durres Bay to the Turra Castle (Kalaja e Turres).

The Island of Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360
The Island of Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360

Restaurants in Karpen

As you can enjoy your meal at your hotel or camping site, you will want to try the fresh fish at Voka Restaurant, just a few meters behind the camping area. As I go there, I see a simple place, a few tables and chairs and I immediately feel the smell of the grilled fish. The owner and the same time the cook, is very welcoming inviting me to see the catch of the day in the fridge, in order to choose better what I will eat for tonight’s dinner. I ask for his recommendation and it doesn’t dissapoint.

 Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360
Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360

Guesthouses in Karpen

For anyone traveling in a budget, without a camper, I would suggest the village guesthouses as their price varies from 2000 to 2500 Leke per night per room. One of the options is the guesthouse of the village market owners, a lovely couple who work all day from 6 am to 10 pm to serve every tourist as there are not many options to buy food, snacks or even a mosquito spray in an emergency!

 Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360
Karpen, Kavaje ©Albania360

Overall I loved the serenity I found in this place, as I stayed fresh and safe in this hot July, away from the city crowds and fast food. I would definitely go back to Karpen, to enjoy the privacy and the hospitality of the locals that always impresses me.

Probably there is more to say about Karpen Beach, its busy weekends and private parties but this is all you need to know in order to decide if this is going to be your next destination!