When I saw the large, free-standing hammock gently swaying in front of my safari tent, I knew I was in the right place.
Istria, a heart-shaped peninsula on Croatia’s west coast, is packed with huge campsites with pools and water parks.
But Arena One 99 Glamping was a step ahead of the rest.
This was grown-up, hassle-free camping on a more intimate scale.
Imagine luxury safari tents, equipped with en-suite bathrooms, well-equipped kitchens, air conditioning and wooden decking, inviting you to spend hours lounging and looking out over the Adriatic Sea.
Stepping out of your tent, you’ll be immersed in the pine forests, whose delightfully soothing scent fills the campsite’s air, along with hints of rosemary and lavender from the scattered shrubs.
If the intention was to put me in a relaxed mood right away, it worked.
And that’s before I even made my way into the heart of the glamping site, the wellness area with its five outdoor jacuzzis, treatment rooms in tipi tents and the yoga platform.
There are also sun loungers among the weaver trees and on the beach, as well as a sauna with tranquil forest views.
Less than 13km south of Pula Airport, Arena One 99 is just outside the small village of Pomer and overlooks the southernmost part of Istria, Cape Kamenjak, which is home to rocky coves and a large nature reserve.
The footbridge takes you across the bay to the cape and a small beach just opposite the glamping site.
But Arena One 99 also had its own pebble beach, so I didn’t have to go far to settle down on a sun lounger under the pine trees and swim in the clear waters.
There was even a dedicated area for dogs who can join in the fun from the comfort of their own kennel with water bowl next to the sun loungers. That’s what I call a dog friendly beach.
Guests can also use the on-site bicycles, which are great for exploring the area.
The attractive town of Medulin is just a few kilometers away and has even more stunning beaches, as well as ancient Roman ruins in the Vizula Archaeological Park.
A little further afield and just a short drive away is one of Croatia’s most compelling sights, the magnificent Roman Amphitheater of Pula.
Considering that it was built in the first century AD – around the same time as the Colosseum in Rome – it is in remarkably good condition.
With its magnificent stone arches and sweeping steps overlooking a massive arena, it’s not hard to see why concerts and film screenings are still held here.
Be sure to visit the exhibitions in the underground gallery.
There the Romans kept wild animals used in gladiator fights and sheds a fascinating light on Croatia’s ancient past.
Another six miles north of Pula is the pretty fishing village of Fazana, where I boarded a boat for the 15-minute crossing to Brijuni National Park.
It is an archipelago made up of 14 islands, although there is only one you can visit, Veliki Brijun – but what an island it is!
In the late 19th century, the Austrian industrialist Paul Kupelwieser transformed it into an exclusive resort for the elite of European society.
Then, after World War II, former Yugoslav President Tito created his own summer playground where he entertained world leaders, Hollywood stars and even our own Queen Elizabeth.
In this protected area, which is just over three square kilometers, you can take a guided tour on a small train, or rent an electric buggy or bike to explore on your own.
I’ve traveled through the centuries on my buggy tour, past Roman and Byzantine ruins, a safari park with an adorable baby zebra, and even a golf course.
If you have 750 euros to spare, you can even take a ride in Tito’s 1950s Cadillac.
There are also two hotels and three villas on the island for those looking to extend their stay, but for me nothing beats the hammock that awaits me at Arena One 99.
It was hard to find a more relaxed place.
People pedaled leisurely on their free bikes, while others learned to windsurf or paddleboard, and some simply watched the world go by from their decks.
The place is also super family-friendly, with two large tents set up specifically for children on the beach – one for teenagers, the other for younger children – and there are three on-site restaurants.
Beach Bar Green has a pizza oven until 6pm, while Beach Bar Blue, closer to my tent, has a more upscale vibe with grilled fish on the menu.
The camp’s largest restaurant, The One, is the place where you can enjoy the widest variety of dishes. The menu features grilled meats, seafood and pizza.
And just outside the camp, just off the footbridge that spans the bay, was the rustic waterfront restaurant, Scuza, which served a bowl of mussels and watched the sunset from the stands.
I couldn’t have picked a better place for my first try at glamping.
GET THEREE: Ryanair flies from UK to Pula from £21.49 each way. See ryanair.com
STAY THERE: Mini-lodges for two at Arena One 99 Glamping start from €181 (£156) per night with a minimum stay of three nights. See arenaglamping.com.
ON THE GO: Excursions to Brijuni National Park cost €40 (£35) for adults, €15 (£13) for children aged 7-17 and are free for children under seven. See np-brijuni.hr.