Scuba Diving in Croatia: Everything You Need to Know
In last decade scuba diving in Croatia and snorkeling holidays have become significantly more attractive to diver lovers from all over the world. This small Mediterranean country has a long diving tradition.
Since 1893 spongers from small Krapanj island using helmets started to use the first diving apparatus to gathered sponges along the Croatia Adriatic coast. The first scuba diving course was introduced in 1943 on Vis island and the first diving club was founded in Pula and Split in the 1950s.
Typically Mediterranean climate with mild and rainy winters, dry and hot summers with average temperature up to 34° C in north (Istria, Kvarner and Northern Dalmatia) to 38° C in Central and Southern Dalmatia and islands, makes Croatia one of the world’s most popular destinations for scuba divers and snorkeling.
Water temperatures range from 22° C to 25° C during the summer season at the surface while the temperatures at a depth of 12 meters is about 19° C.
Diving in Croatia is ideal for everyone from professional divers to amateur enthusiasts of the sea depths or ordinary snorkeling explorers. If you are not for deep sea diving, kids snorkeling will enhance your holiday by enjoying undersea life. Bring your own gear or rent it at your vacation spot in Croatia.
The Best Sites For Diving In Croatia
I’ve chosen some of top scuba diving destinations in Croatia starting from Istria to Dubrovnik. With 3700 miles of coast and over 1000 islands, there are many opportunities to engage in your favorite sport of diving in the Adriatic Sea, in the heart of Europe.
The Adriatic Sea is rich in underwater landscapes, coral reefs and caves. Discover sunken ships wrecks, amazing plants and sea life, through the crystal clear blue water where there are no sharks and where the sea is usually very calm.
Top Ten Scuba Diving Sites
Baron Gautsch in Rovinj (40m depth)
Mali Cutin in Kampor (48m depth)
Katedrala in Mali Lisinj (30m depth)
Kampanel in Sali (56m depth)
Vodnjak Kampanel in Hvar (57m depth)
Vrulja in Brela (50m depth)
Bijelac in Zaklopatica (60m depth)
Lenga in Pomena (86m depth)
Mrkanjac in Kavtat (50m depth)
Kaiser Franz Josef in Molunat (48m depth)
If you decide to visit one or few scuba diving locations, your visit must be organized by authorized diving club or diving center. You will find many diving clubs on Croatia Adriatic coast. I have selected clubs near the best scuba diving destinations and locations. Clubs are divided by regions and largest islands.
According some diving resources, there are over 120 diving sites along the Croatia’s Adriatic coast which differ by type of diving locations – archaeological, cave diving, coral reef, hole diving, gorgonian garden, shipwreck, wall diving and locations for kind’s diving.
The coast keeps many beautiful ship wrecks, underwater walls, caves and canyons with beautiful corals of surprising colors. Diving in Croatia will surprise you with more than 300 archaeological sites and many more so far undiscovered.
Diving in Croatia – Istria, Baron Gautsch wreck
Baron Gautsch, is considered the one of the most popular diving destinations for wreck diving in Istria. Read more about this ship!
The Baron Gautsch sank in 1914 when it struck an underwater mine. It served as a passenger ship on the route from Kotor to Trieste. The upper deck is at 28, and the lower at 36 meters. The bottom is at 42 meters. The wreck is well preserved.
- Depth: 28-42 meters
- Experience required: advanced level
- Location: West of the Brijuni Islands
- Access: Only by boat (diving location is in the open sea).
Diving in Croatia – Kvarner, Lina wreck
Lina, an iron steamship built in 1879 in Great Britain, sailed the entire Mediterranean and up to northern Europe transporting oil and wine from the Italian province of Puglia, and bringing back coal from Cardiff on the return voyage.
On the night of January 14th 1914, because of the poor visibility the ship struck an underwater reef and sank. The wreck is well preserved. It lies on a sandy bottom. The ship bow is at 22 meters and the stern is at 55 meters. Entrance inside the ship is possible.
- Depth: 22-55 meters
- Experience required: advanced level
- Note: difficult scuba diving destination
- Access: Only by boat
- Visibility: mostly good
- Wreck location: Cape Pecen, Cres Island
Margarina Reef – Susak island
Margarina Reef is located near the west coast of the small island of Susak, which near the bigger island of Mali Losinj. There is an interesting canyon in the middle of the reef, which starts at the depth from 5 to 17 meters.
The dive site offers an interesting exploration of the reef and a canyon, where divers can see the fragments of an ancient ship and broken amphora. Diving at Margarina reef is possible all year round, but the best conditions for diving are from May to September. This diving site for all levels from novice to advanced divers.
Kornati island – Rasip reef
Kornati islands are one of the most beautiful destinations for diving in Croatia. This reef is located near the Island of Rasip situated in the north-western part of the Kornati National Park. Find this island on Google map!
The diving depth starts from 3 to 65 meters. This diving site is for all diving experience levels, from beginners to advanced. This site can be visited only by boat organized by several authorized diving centers.
On the outer side of the island there is a cliff, which descends from a depth of 3 to 65 meters. The sea is crystal clear and visibility is over 40 meters. The wall is overgrown with corals, sponges, mosses and many schools of various species of fish swimming about.
There are several clubs in this area located on Dugi otok (Long Island) and from Murter island, considered the starting point for all diving in Croatia tours that covers Kornati National Park.
- Dugi Otok diving center located in Zaglav, Dugi otok (Long island) – Website
- The diving center in Betina, between marina Hramina in Murter and marina in Betina – Website
- Najada diving center, address Put Jersan 17 22243 Murter – Website
Diving in Croatia – Bisevo, Modra Spilja (Blue Cave)
Located on the southeast side of the island Bisevo, about 3,5 Nautical miles southwest of Komiza town, on Vis island. This island is known for many caves but this one is the most famous.
It is possible to enter underwater or by boat through the narrow corridor, which broadens into large area which is partly sunk, found partly below and partly above the surface of the sea. It is best to visit the cave in the summer months, in the afternoon, when the light breaks and creates the miraculous blue effect within the cave. Apart from the cave, diving towards the next cove is beautiful.
Diving depth is from 3 to 40 meters and it’s suitable for novice divers and for advanced level divers that can dive even over 50 meters.
The Kaiser Franz Joseph shipwreck
For diving in Croatia for adventure-seeker sunken ships, this shipwreck is one of the most challenging. The Kaiser Franz Joseph rests off Prevlaka, the southernmost municipality of Konavle (south of Dubrovnik region).
This famous cruiser sailed for only 27 years. It sank one stormy night, on 17 October 1919, armed with explosives that still lie near the anchor at the ship’s bow. Almost 90 years have passed, yet the Kaiser Franz Joseph is still an appealing beauty.
The site where the wreck lies isn’t easy to find which depends of visibility. If the visibility is good, the wreck is detectable at 15 m. The best way to explore the wreck is by starting from its mid-section, between the two masts. Divers can explore the ship’s interior and then the bow where explosives still lie near its anchor.
Although the wreck is in a state of decompose, the ship is surrounded by various kinds of fish. The second mast is a habitat of yellow sponges and the most beautiful sight of all are cardinal fish creating a contrast to the grey color of wreck.