Zadar beaches are clean, well-appointed and easy to access from almost anywhere. Although the beaches are predominantly narrow and with shingles, not sand, the sparkling clear water and tranquil views of Ugljan island compensate for a lot. For a quick dip, there's nothing wrong with plunging into the sea from Riva, Zadar's southern promenade near the Sea Organ. Plenty of people do, but to stretch out for a while check out these suggestions.
Kolovare is the town beach, near the bus station and the Hotel Kolovare. With a number of beachside cafes and restaurants, Kolovare beach is a popular hangout in the summer. Beach shoes make the Kolovare experience much more enjoyable.
The Borik neighbourhood is about 5km northwest of central Zadar and accessible by coastal path or by bus. With a wealth of hotels, apartments, a hostel and a campsite, Borik beach is always buzzing with tourists. An aquapark and a gentle slope into shallow water make Borik a great family beach. There are beach showers, plenty of cafes and it's possible to rent an umbrella and lounge chair.
Continue north on the coastal path a couple of kilometres from Borik and you'll come to Diklo beach. Although narrow as well, Diklo has a calmer vibe. It's even more sedate further on in Kozino, a prosperous residential neighbourhood.
A quick ferry ride out to Ugljan island for a day at the beach is a popular alternative to busy Zadar. For even more solitude take the daily ferry out to Osljak (above) where there are no beaches, so to speak, but there are flat rocks along the coastline to sunbathe.