Croatia, it is important to remember, is still an emerging country, with an emerging country's problems. The massive construction sites, the subtle dinge of poverty, is masked just enough by the citizens' intense nationalistic pride. Walking around, or even just driving around, the city, it's easy to be disappointed by the amount of dirt piles and orange construction cones that have replaced the trees in many places. But to venture out onto the sea, though, is breathtaking.
I went sea kayaking when I went to Split this past summer, and it was amazing. The depressing lean-tos become shantys by the shore, the sand dunes become distant hills that one can barely see beyond the pirate-looking ships docked everywhere.
See Croatia, by sea, not by land.