The Albanian Riviera has no shortage of stunning beaches. In recent years, some have become more developed, while others remain wild and unspoiled.
Jale beach and Aquarium beach are two of the most beautiful beaches in Albania and are located a mere 1.5 kilometres apart. Both offer calm, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and breathtaking views.
But in most other ways, they are incredibly different.
Due to their close proximity, you can easily visit both beaches in one day. This is a fantastic way to experience two very different sides of the area, and it’s something I’d really recommend doing.
In this blog post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting these two great Albanian beaches.
Where is Jale Beach (Jala Beach)?
Jale beach (sometimes spelled Jala beach) is located on the Albanian Riviera, in southern Albania, a few kilometers northwest of Himarë. It’s easily accessible by car from Himarë, Dhërmi, or any of the other towns and villages in the area.
The beach itself is situated in a gently-curving bay, flanked on all sides by rugged cliffs and steeply sloping hills covered in olive groves.
This section of the Riviera is approximately 4 hours by car south of the Albanian capital, Tirana. It’s a little under 2 hours northwest of the town of Sarandë in the far south.
Where is Aquarium Beach?
Aquarium beach lies only 1.5 kilometres southeast of Jale, in the direction of Himarë, along a dirt track that follows the coast.
It’s a tiny, stunning beach tucked away in a secluded crescent-shaped cove.
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- Guide to visiting Borsh Beach (another fantastic beach in the area)
How to get to Jale Beach and Aquarium Beach, Albania
Albania is a truly awesome place for a road trip, and the easiest way to get to Jale beach is by car.
The road to Jale beach is paved all the way so it’s accessible in any type of vehicle. The same can’t be said for all beaches in Albania!
If driving from Himarë to Jale beach, make sure you take the main coastal highway (SH-8). If left to its own devices, Google Maps sometimes attempts to route you along the coastal hiking trail, which is very rocky in places and impassable unless you have a sturdy 4×4.
Approximate driving times to Jale beach from the following places are:
- Himarë: 25 minutes
- Dhërmi: 25 minutes
- Sarandë: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Vlorë: 2 hours
- Tirana: 4 hours
To get to Aquarium beach, the closest place you can park a regular 2WD car is either at Jale beach, or the right-hand side of Livadhi beach. Both are about 1.5 kilometers from Aquarium, and you’ll need to walk the last bit.
The hike is flatter and easier from Jale, but prettier from Livahdi.
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There are no buses that go all the way to Jale beach.
However, all buses and furgons (Albanian shared minibuses) that run between Dhërmi and Himarë will pass along the main SH-8 coastal highway. This includes those that go from Vlorë to Himarë, and most of the ones that go from Vlorë to Sarandë.
You can ask the driver to let you out at the turnoff to Jale beach, which is just past the village of Vuno (on the Himarë side) – see here for the exact location (Google Maps).
From here it’s a 5-kilometre walk to Jale beach, mostly downhill. You might be able to hitch a lift in a passing car (hitchhiking is common in Albania), although be prepared to walk just in case.
Getting back by bus is likelier to be trickier, as bus times in Albania are often a bit erratic, so you might find yourself waiting by the side of the main road for quite a while. It’s totally possible, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you need to get anywhere in a hurry that day!
Again, hitching a lift to somewhere like Himarë might be your best bet.
My favourite way to get to Jale beach is to hike, either from Himarë, Livadhi, or Dhërmi.
There is an amazing hiking trail that runs all the way from Himarë to Jale beach, via Livadhi beach and Aquarium beach. Along the way, you’ll enjoy beautiful sea views and panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains.
This trail actually continues all the way to Dhërmi, via Gjipe beach, so you can get there on foot from either place.
If you’re coming from the centre of Himarë, the hike to Jale beach is about 6 kilometres and takes between 1.5-2 hours. From Livadhi (another place you can park if you have a car), it’s 3 kilometres.
As mentioned above, you’ll get to Aquarium beach about 1.5 kilometres before you reach Jale.
From Dhërmi, you can also hike to Jale, via Gjipe beach, which is about 10 kilometres and takes 3 hours, not including stops (you’ll want to stop at Gjipe beach, it’s absolutely amazing!). The trail from Dhërmi starts just outside of the village, here (Google Maps).
The main coastal path that runs through Jale beach is marked with red and white stripes painted onto the rocks, and the odd sign board. It’s fairly easy to follow but, as a backup, I’d strongly recommend downloading the offline maps app Maps.me, which knows about most of the hiking trails in the area.
Don’t forget to pack plenty of water.
By boat/water taxi
In the summer season, there is a water taxi service that operates from Himarë, connecting several of the beaches in the area, including Jale beach and Gjipe beach. Expect to pay about €20 for a return journey.
You can also contact Himara Seas The Day, another well-reviewed local operator, and arrange a day boat trip. The advantage of this option is that you’ll get to see Jale beach as well as a number of other beaches and hidden coves that are only accessible by water.
Another option is to arrange a private transfer with one of the many local people who own boats in Himarë, Dhërmi, or wherever you are. You can either head to a harbour and ask someone directly, or inquire at your hotel/guesthouse and see if they can put you in touch with someone.
Be sure to agree on a price in advance. I wouldn’t pay any more than 2,000 Lek (€17) from Himarë.
Bear in mind that most boat operators shut down over the winter months, so this is only likely to be an option between May and early October.
When the sea is calm, another fun way to get to Jale and/or Aquarium beach is to rent a sea kayak in either Himarë or Dhërmi beach and paddle along the coast.
From Himarë it’s a little under 6 kilometres of paddling in each direction. From Dhërmi, it’s about 9 kilometres and the roundtrip (18 kilometres) would take the best part of a day.
Coming from either direction, you can stop off at some of the tiny inaccessible beaches and coves along the way.
If you come from Dhërmi, there are some amazing sea caves just past Gjipe beach that are definitely worth exploring too.
For those without a car, hitchhiking is a fairly common way to get around rural Albania. It’s usually very easy to hitch a ride.
Of course, the usual rules apply. It’s safer to hitchhike with at least one other person, and always use your judgment.
What to do at Jale Beach & nearby attractions
Jali beach is one of the most developed beaches in the area and there are many fun things to do here.
Swimming and snorkelling
The crystal clear water is a stunning azure colour, practically begging you to jump in and swim!
If you don’t have your own, you can rent snorkel sets from several places on the beach. There are some large, partially-submerged rocks around the edge of the bay which are teeming with marine life.
Kayaking and paddleboarding
You can also rent kayaks and paddleboards (or even old-fashioned pedal boats if you prefer) for about 500 Lek per hour throughout the summer.
This is a great way to explore more of the stunning coast on either side of the bay. Highly recommended!
Lounge on the beach
Of course, you don’t have to do anything at all. Sun beds can be rented from various vendors for around 500 Lek (€4), and it’s a beautiful spot to lounge, read, and just chill out.
In the summer, you’ll see signs advertising a range of boat trips departing from here. Many of these visit the stunning Pirate’s Cave (Shpella e pirateve), a large sea cavern with a natural skylight in the ceiling, which is only accessible from the water.
Beach bars & restaurants
There are several beach bars and restaurants at Jali beach serving beer, wine, cocktails, fresh fish, seafood, pizza, salads, and a range of traditional Albanian food. As you’d expect, prices are a little inflated here, but overall it’s still fairly affordable.
What to do at Aquarium Beach (one of the most beautiful beaches in Albania)
The thing that makes Aquarium such a wonderful beach is the fact that it’s not developed at all. In fact, it’s totally natural, with no facilities.
No sun beds, no umbrellas, there’s nothing there other than a small beach, hidden inside a tiny sheltered cove.
The water here is absolutely amazing – calm, incredibly clean and clear, with huge numbers of fish, especially if you head out to the rocks around the entrance of the small bay. It gets deep quickly but there’s virtually no current.
It’s easy to see why the locals call this place Gjiri i Akuariumit (Bay of the Aquarium).
Where to stay at Jale Beach
Jale, Albania is becoming increasingly popular and every year new accommodation options appear.
When I was there last (October 2022), a fairly large construction project was underway, which looked like a series of smart apartments and condos being built.
There are a few different places to stay here, ranging from campsites to luxury hotels.
For budget travellers, I can wholeheartedly recommend Kamping ne Jale. This excellent campsite is right by the beach and offers tent pitches (you can also rent a tent from them) as well as little wooden cabins with beds. They can help you organise boat trips, and the whole place has a really lovely, friendly vibe.
If you’re looking to stay somewhere smarter, check out Folie Marine Beach Hotel Club, an upmarket hotel with a private beach on the other side of the bay.
See here for my pick of the best hotels in Dhermi.
Camping at Aquarium Beach
If you have your own tent, you can camp at Aquarium beach. Falling asleep to the sound of the waves is one of my favourite things to do, and the stars here are incredible.
However, if other people have already snagged a perfect spot there (a distinct possibility during the summer), there are several other fantastic places to camp just off the coastal hiking trail.
Best time to visit Jale Beach and Aquarium Beach, Albania
The most popular time to visit Jale and Aquarium beaches is during the summer (May to September), when the weather is hot and sunny almost every day.
If you can, I would try to avoid July and August though, as this is peak season and the place can feel a little overcrowded with tourists, especially at the weekends when the beach is completely covered with sun beds and parasols.
If you have to travel during these months, I think the best beach to visit is Gjipe or some of the other more remote beaches. Due to their relative inaccessibility, they are normally much less busy.
My favourite time of year to visit Jale beach, Albania is in late September or October. The sea is warm, the weather is usually good (but not too hot to enjoy the many nearby attractions), and this nice beach is much quieter.
What to bring to Aquarium Beach
There are no facilities whatsoever at Aquarium Beach, so you’ll need to bring everything you need with you.
Don’t forget the following:
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat
- Dry bag (so you can take valuables with you when swimming/kayaking)
- Cash (there is an ATM at Jale but it charges high fees for withdrawals)
- Bags to take away your rubbish (some people think it’s ok to dump their trash on the side of the path leading down to the beach. Don’t be one of those people.)
Final thoughts on visiting Jale Beach and Aquarium Beach
Jale and Aquarium beaches are very different, but definitely both worth visiting during your time on the Albanian Riviera.
Personally, I prefer Aquarium, due to its secluded location and peaceful, unspoiled feel. However, if you prefer a beach with facilities, Jale might be your favourite.
Either way, given how close they are together, it’s really easy to visit both beaches in one day. I hope you enjoy your time there! 🙂
And if you’re heading further south along the Riviera, check out this post on the 10 best hotels in Ksamil.