The Ultimate Guide to Scuba Diving in Croatia

Scuba diving in Croatia is perfect – you have the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic, sunken shipwrecks and various other important underwater landmarks and historical sites, as well as beautiful fish and other underwater life forms that every diver would enjoy.

Today, I’m going to go more in depth about scuba diving in Croatia, sharing with you the top spots for divers, but also a bit of history and everything else you should know before starting your adventure.

So let’s get this started!

A Dive into History: Croatia’s Rich Diving Tradition

Croatia flag

Did you know that Croatia has a long tradition of diving? Well, it does, and it all dates back from 1893 when the brave spongers from the tiny island of Krapanj, donning helmets and using the first diving apparatus went on to gather sponges from the Adriatic sea.

Sure, they weren’t doing this for the thrill of exploring the underwater worlds, but because those sponges were a great source of income – and they still are today.

Fast forward to 1943, and the first scuba diving course was introduced on Vis island. That’s an amazing place to visit, so make sure to read my full travel guide to Vis Island in Croatia.

By the 1950s, the first diving clubs were founded in Pula and Split and the rest is, as it’s used to say: history. Diving has become part of Croatia, with plenty of amazing spots that we’re going to talk about next.

The Best Sites for Diving in Croatia: My Personal Favorites

With 3700 miles of coast and over 1000 islands, Croatia is a diver’s paradise and there are tons of spots to choose from, as I already told you.

From Istria to Dubrovnik, I’ve handpicked some of the top scuba diving destinations that have left me in awe and I am sure you will appreciate them too.

If you don’t want to go in depth with all my recommendations, here are the top 10 Scuba Diving sites in Croatia, in my opinion. Expect calm waters, no sharks and perfect experiences!

Top 10 Scuba Diving Sites in Croatia

  1. Baron Gautsch in Rovinj (40m depth)
  2. Mali Cutin in Kampor (48m depth)
  3. Katedrala in Mali Losinj (30m depth)
  4. Kampanel in Sali (56m depth)
  5. Vodnjak Kampanel in Hvar (57m depth)
  6. Vrulja in Brela (50m depth)
  7. Blitvenica Lighthouse (up to 200m depth)
  8. Lenga in Pomena (86m depth)
  9. Mrkanjac in Cavtat (50m depth)
  10. Kaiser Franz Josef in Molunat (48m depth)

Now, let’s get a bit more in depth (no pun intended!) and find out more about some of these top diving spots in Croatia that you shouldn’t miss.

Croatia’s Underwater Treasures: Exploring the Wrecks and Reefs

Scuba diving spot in Croatia

I’ve had the privilege of exploring some of the most breathtaking underwater landscapes in the world during my travels, but there’s always something magical about diving in Croatia.

So trust me when I say that if you too enjoy diving, you won’t be disappointed here, even though it’s not the ocean that we’re talking about.

Now, let’s find out more about my top recommendations above and see why I consider them must visit!

Istria: The Baron Gautsch Wreck in Rovinj

The Baron Gautsch, a passenger ship that met its fate in 1914, is one of Istria’s most popular wreck diving destinations.

It was on its route from Kotor, Croatia to Trieste, Italy when it struck an underwater mine and unfortunately it sank. You can read the entire history of the Baron Gautsch ship on Wikipedia.

Today, it rests between 28 and 42 meters below the surface, its structure remarkably well-preserved and providing a real adventure to divers in the area. Here are a few quick notes to have in mind:

  • Depth: 28-42 meters
  • Experience required: Advanced level
  • Location: West of the Brijuni Islands
  • Access: Only by boat (the diving location is in the open sea).

Kvarner: The Lina Wreck

The Lina, an iron steamship built in 1879 in Great Britain, has a history as rich as the waters it sailed.

It transported oil and wine from the Italian province of Puglia to northern Europe, returning with coal from Cardiff.

However, on a fateful night in January 1914, poor visibility led to the ship striking an underwater reef and sinking close to the Kvarner area in Croatia.

Today, the ship lies on a sandy bottom, its bow at 22 meters and the stern at 55 meters deep. The wreck is well-preserved, and entrance inside the ship is possible, which is always an added bonus as you probably know already.

  • Depth: 22-55 meters
  • Experience required: Advanced to expert level
  • Note: This is a challenging scuba diving destination!
  • Access: Only by boat
  • Visibility: Mostly good
  • Wreck location: Cape Pecen, Cres Island

Susak Island: Margarina Reef

scuba diving in Croatia

Margarina Reef, located near the west coast of the small island of Susak (near Mali Losinj), offers an exciting exploration of a reef and a canyon.

Here, divers can discover fragments of an ancient ship and broken amphora. The best conditions for diving are from May to September, and this site is suitable for all levels of divers, from novice to advanced.

It’s not very deep, with a maximum depth of 17 meters – but as low as 5 meters.

Kornati Islands: Rasip Reef

The Kornati islands are a diver’s paradise, and Rasip Reef is a must-visit spot, in my opinion.

Located near the Island of Rasip in the north-western part of the Kornati National Park, this site offers a diving depth ranging from 3 to 65 meters.

The sea is crystal clear, with visibility over 40 meters. The wall is overgrown with corals, sponges, mosses, and you’ll see schools of various species of fish swimming about.

I’ve marked the island on the map here, in case you want to check out the area beforehand.

  • Access: Only by boat, organized by several authorized diving centers.
  • Diving depth: 3-65 meters
  • Suitable for: All diving experience levels, from beginners to expert.

There are several clubs in this area, all 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.

I used to recommend a few, but since 2020 things changed a lot and unfortunately, most of those I had direct experience with no longer exist. But it’s easy to find at least one trustworthy center when in the area, don’t worry about it!

Bisevo: Modra Spilja (Blue Cave)

Blue Cave Croatia

The Blue Cave, located on the southeast side of Bisevo island, is a sight to behold. This island, situated about 3.5 nautical miles southwest of Komiza town on Vis island, is known for its many caves, but the Blue Cave is the star of the show and definitely the must visit one, even if you’re not passionate about diving.

The easiest way to get here to see the Blue cave, as well as other islands in the area, is booking the recommended day tour below, from either Split or Trogir:

Click here to check it out (my recommendation)

The best time to visit is in the summer months, in the afternoon, when the light breaks and creates a miraculous blue effect within the cave. Apart from the cave, diving towards the next cove is a beautiful experience.

  • Diving depth: 3-40 meters
  • Suitable for: Novice divers and advanced level divers that can dive even over 50 meters.

Konavle: The Kaiser Franz Joseph Shipwreck

For those seeking a thrilling adventure, the Kaiser Franz Joseph shipwreck is one of the most challenging diving sites in Croatia.

This famous cruiser rests off Prevlaka, the southernmost municipality of Konavle, south of the Dubrovnik region. I’ve marked it on a Google Maps map here.

The ship, which sailed for only 27 years, sank on a stormy night on October 17, 1919, armed with explosives that still lie near the anchor at the ship’s bow. Almost a century has passed, yet the Kaiser Franz Joseph remains an appealing beauty.

The site where the wreck lies isn’t easy to find, depending a lot on visibility on that given day. 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.

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 the wreck. A beautiful experience indeed!

Blitvenica Lighthouse: A Beacon in the Deep

scuba divers in Croatia

Diving near the Blitvenica Lighthouse is like being in a suspense novel. The lighthouse, standing tall and solitary, adds an element of mystery to the dive which is like an abyss, as there are depths of up to 200 meters here!

The surrounding waters are teeming with marine life, their vibrant colors contrasting beautifully against the stark, white lighthouse.

As you dive deeper, the lighthouse serves as a constant beacon, guiding you through your underwater adventure. It’s a unique blend of suspense and serenity, a dive that will keep you on your toes while offering moments of tranquil beauty.

Wrapping up

These would be my top diving spots in Croatia – there are plenty more to choose from, but I am sure that if you go for any of my recommendations, you will be extremely pleased.

In the end, diving in Croatia is an experience like no other and you will be surprised with the quality of the spots here, no matter if you only want to see the colorful marine life or explore the shipwrecks that I recommended above.

If you have additional favorites that I haven’t mentioned, don’t hesitate to share them with us all by commenting below!

Thanks for sharing this article!

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