With over 1000 islands surrounded by the beautifully clear waters of the Adriatic Sea, it’s no wonder that Croatia has much to offer scuba divers. Diving in Croatia presents a unique underwater world to discover, with tunnels, caves, caverns and rock formations as well as wrecks that are all worth exploring. Some of Croatia’s shipwrecks age back to around the time of the World Wars, while others are at least 150 years old. These wreck sites have become artificial reefs in their own right, teeming with activity and providing shelter to a variety of marine life such as tuna, sea horses, eels, nudibranchs and octopus.
It is possible to dive at any time of year in Croatia, although summer is by far the most popular season for both tourists and scuba divers. The water temperature in Croatia fluctuates some based on the depth as well as how close the freshwater spring entrances are, with these bringing cooler waters into Croatia’s Adriatic Sea. During the summer, Croatia’s water temperatures are in the region of 27°C with air temperatures ranging from 17°C – 35°C. Divers should plan to wear a 5mm wetsuit, preferably with gloves and a hood in summer months to avoid being affected by the cold thermoclines. In winter, the air temperatures can be between 5°C and 15°C, with water temperatures dropping to as low as 11°C, where a drysuit would be required. . In fact, Croatia is a great place to get certified to dive with a drysuit. Croatia’s rainy months are in the months of May and June as well as October and November.
Visibility is very good in both the southern and northern parts of the Adriatic, and usually measures in the range of 5 to 30 meters in the summer months. The current is mild and often non-existent in Croatia and there are always shallow and deep dives to suit all diving levels.
Croatia is a Central European and Mediterranean country, bordering Slovenia in the west, Hungary in the north, Serbia in the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina in the south, and has a long maritime border with Italy in the Adriatic Sea.
Croatia has an amazing 5,835km of coastline, 4,057km of which belongs to islands, cliffs and reefs. There are 1,185 islands in the Adriatic, but only about 50 are populated. The largest island is Krk (near Rijeka) which has a land area of 462 square km.
Diving and sailing are very popular activities here as the sea is calm and beautifully clear. There are also quite a few ancient artifacts to be found underwater – both Greek and Roman. There are also quite a few shipwrecks to be found in the Adriatic sea!
Diving in Croatia is permitted only to those who possess a valid diving license issued by the Croatian Diving Association. The license costs 100 KN and can be purchased at authorized diving centers. The license is valid for the period of one year and is issued on the basis of diving qualifications acquired in internationally recognized diving schools. Diving locations must be marked by buoys or flags and the maximum allowed diving depth, when using a compressed-air cylinder, is 40m.
Best Dive Sites in Croatia
Croatia presents an array of underwater topography that makes each dive an interesting one. Divers will encounter rock formations that jut from the sea floor and teem with fish and have the chance to swim through tunnels and caverns of all shapes and sizes covered with sponges and corals. Wreck diving in Croatia is a popular choice, with many wreck sites dating back to the World Wars.
Croatia has very little current to speak of, and with most sites measuring less than 30 meters in depth, all diving levels are welcome. As a mostly isolated sea, the Adriatic offers a host of endemic plant life and animal life that is unique to the region. To-date there have been more than 7000 species recorded in the Adriatic, with at least 500 species of algae being endemic, 4 endemic seagrass types and more than 45 fish species that are endemic too.
Diving in Croatia is focused on the 1000+ islands, with some of the most popular island diving sites being Hvar, Vis, Biševo, Sušac and Svetac to name just a few.
Hvar is an island popular with both above ground and under water tourists and offers steep walls, intricate caves and plenty to see. The nearby islands of Pakleni are well-known for being the hosts of the Paulina Wreck, aged at over 150 years old. Here divers will find underwater canyons filled with pink and yellow sponges and giant gorgonian fans.
Vis is one of Croatia’s largest islands located on the central coast. Divers will encounter a number of ship wrecks around the island of Vis as well as underground caves well worth exploring. One of Croatia’s most popular cave dives is the Blue Cave located at Biševo, where divers enter by boat and then descend below the water’s surface. The island of Sušac is also a favorite amongst divers, where there are masses of fish, colorful anthias and deep cliffs.
Svetac is another top choice for scuba divers, especially for those hoping to catch a glimpse of the highly endangered Mediterranean monk seal, as well as black coral. While most Mediterranean monk seals are now found closer to Italy, it is still possible to see them around Svetac Island.
ISLAND OF VIS
This island is famous for its beautiful, intact nature. The underwater world offers perfect visibility, clear sea and great colors. There are six sunken ships from different historic periods, from the ancient times to the World War II in the Vis sea basin. There are four diving centers on Vis.
A beautiful dive on the islet called Bishevo, close to the village of Komiza (5km away from Vis). On beautiful days you’ll find a natural, astounishingly blue light.
By the island of Ravnik, also near Vis. Daily light makes green reflection in the cave – easy dive.
An Austrian liner sunk in 1932. Depth 38-60m – advanced divers only.
A Greek cargo ship, impressive size of 103m., depth 25- 40 m – easy dive.
Shipwreck FISHING SHIP
Drunk seamen returning from Vis to Komiza clashed into the cliff, the ship went down about 40 m. An astonishig dive, the nets are still waving beside the ship and shoals of fish are swimming by, all “wrapped up” in Deep blue.
A picturesque fishing village near Trogir protruding from the coastline.
Named after a Belgian who was quite lousy diver but so enthusiastic that after this dive he kept repeating
“I will never forget this!” The cliff goes from a plateau on 7 m down to 117 m. Sliding into the blue! Magic!
Romanian ship that sank after being hit by an airplane or a submarine torpedo in W.W. II. It was transporting sugar and chocolate. Lobsters live in the wreckage. Depth: 24m. Wreckage consists of 3 parts.
Diving around a small island with a beautiful lighthouse on it. Depth: 35m.
In order to dive in Croatia, scuba divers will need to purchase a permit from the Croatian Diving Federation. This costs in the region of 15 Euros and is valid for a full year. Divers simply need to present their passport and diving certification details in order to obtain a diving permit.
Diving operators are plentiful in Croatia and most will offer many services such as classes and training, arranging dive tours and non-diving tours, equipment rental and even accommodation booking. Nitrox training and Nitrox refills are possible at most of the major dive shops located in both the north and south of Croatia.
Getting to Croatia
Most visitors to Croatia come by car and are usually from the neighboring countries of Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Germany and so on. From northern Europe, the easiest way to get to Croatia would be by driving to Munich and then entering Austria, down to Graz, crossing into Slovenia, and then heading for Croatia which is signposted as soon as you leave Maribor.
Croatia is easily reachable by air, rail, road and sea. With a number of international and major airports scattered around the country, Croatia is well-connected with Europe and the rest of the world. Zagreb International is the main airport, but there are also well-connected airports in Dubrovnik and in Rijeka. It is also possible to travel by train from cities in Hungary, Austria, Serbia, Italy or Slovenia, and the added option of coming by ferry from Slovenia or Italy. Once in Croatia, internal travel is easily arranged using a rental car company, the bus system or rail options.
For those coming by plane, the main airports are Zagreb, Pula, Split, Dubrovnik and Rijeka Airport (which is in fact on the nearby island of Krk).
Foreign visitors do not normally require visas to enter Croatia – to check if you require a visa, visit the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ web page which lists the countries whose citizens do require entry visas. If you do need one, please contact the Croatian Embassy in your country for more information on how to obtain a visa.
When to Visit Croatia
The climate is Mediterranean along the Adriatic coast, meaning warm dry summers and mild winters, with 2,600 hours of sunlight on average yearly – it is one of the sunniest coastlines in Europe! The water temperature is still 20C in October, making the diving season quite long.