Today, Rabac is a well-known tourist resort. However, in the middle of the 19th century, it was a small fishing village with hardly ten houses. Because of its beautiful bay and splendid surroundings, it soon attracted visitors. In 1876, Richard Francis Burton, an English writer and passionate traveller, was among the first tourists to stay in Rabac. Having seen Rabac and other places on the Istrian coast, he wrote a book called 'The Istrian coast', describing, among other things, the beauties and charm of Rabac.
At this time, Rabac witnessed the building of the first villas. The most well-known was the villa belonging to the Prohaska family, Czechs by origin, who were distinguished tradesmen from Rijeka. Unfortunately, the villa was destroyed during the Second World War. However, one of the most attractive locations in Rabac still bears the name Prohaska.
The Quarnaro, the first hotel in Rabac, was opened on 11 June 1889 in the house of the Višković family. It was situated close to the present Orlando atelier. The hotel only had a few rooms and a bar on the ground floor.
Kaiser, an Austrian officer who was a regular client of this first hotel, later bought Dubrova, an estate close to Labin. Today, Dubrova is host to the Mediterranean Sculptors Symposium and has becoming increasingly famous for its magnificent park of sculptures.
The chronicle writers would point out yet another curiosity: at the beginning of the last century, in 1907, Prince Ferdinand, the Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne, visited Rabac and was saluted by people who had gathered in the harbour.
The inhabitants of Rabac were skilled fishermen and seamen. They were the owners of some ten sailing boats. However, these were either destroyed in the maelstrom of the Second World War or replaced by modern ships. The first larger hotel was built in the period of Italian rule in 1925 in the very centre of Rabac. It was called the Trieste, though its name today is the Primorje. The capacity of the hotel could not meet the ever growing demand of tourists, who came mainly from the northern parts of Italy. As a result, the more intensive development of private accommodation took place. Ten years after the Trieste, the Dopolavoro hotel was built. This is the present-day Jadran restaurant.
Tourism in Istria, as well as in Rabac, began to develop during the sixties, when this small resort, because of its natural beauty, received the flattering name of 'The Pearl of Kvarner Bay'. Since then, all the existing hotels, apartments, camping sites and the majority of private houses have been built.
For years now, the most numerous visitors have been Germans and Austrians, followed by the English and Italians. Rabac can accommodate as many as 11,000 visitors a day, mainly from abroad, but also several thousand bathers from Labin and its surroundings.