Croatia has reopened its borders to international travellers post-COVID-19, so now is the time to discover the best spots for scuba and wreck diving in Croatia on a superyacht holiday.
Rachael Steele of Charterworld.com shares her favourite scuba diving sites for beginners and advanced divers alike while exploring Croatia and the Dalmatian Islands of the Adriatic.
Tomislav, Lorkum Island
The island of Lorkum is only 10 minutes away from Dubrovnik and the sunken shipwreck dive site of SS Tomislav is almost fully intact. Swimming through the surrounding area, divers can hope to see dogfish and tuna hunting, the latter putting on impressive displays as their scales glint in the sunlight.
Bol, Brač Island
Bol is renowned for the friendly dolphins that frequent the area, meaning divers can hope for a close encounter with these playful creatures. In addition to great diving, the Dalmatian Island of Brač will prove a hit with nature lovers and history buffs alike. Ancient sites such as Roman quarries and monasteries carpet the coast, where the quintessentially Mediterranean experience of gourmet dining and fine sand beaches is never more than a short walk away.
Cave Lučice, Brač Island
An opening at three metres leads to a cave with two chambers, the larger of which reaches a depth of 37 metres and the smaller one a depth of 42 metres. Within these chambers, divers will discover stalagmites and stalactites from a time when the caves were above sea level. The walls are covered in red coral while vibrant orange sea plants offer camouflage for the marine life living at these depths.
If you haven't already visited this UNESCO World Heritage Site, your next charter holiday presents the perfect opportunity to round off a dive amongst a shipwreck with a stroll around the historic streets of this walled city.
Just a short distance off the coast, the wreck of transport ship Taranto, which sank after hitting a mine in 1943 while carrying flour and tractors, will prove an interesting site for advanced divers who will discover that octopuses, lobsters, and cardinal fish have taken up residence inside. The wreck lies at 10 metres in the shallows to 52 metres at its deepest.
Modra Špilja (Blue Grotto), Biševo
Home to Benedictine monks in the 11th century, Biševo is known for the Church of St Silvester and its ten grottoes hidden within its coastline. The best and most famous of these is Modra Špilja — the Blue Grotto. Similar to Capri's attraction of the same name, the midday sun reflects off the limestone bottom on calm days and creates a brilliant blue hue emanating from underwater.
Modra Špilja receives the most visitors between July and August and it is advisable to visit the grotto out of the peak season for the best experience.
Te Vega, Sušac Island (near Korčula)
There is a wide variety of sea life only a few metres below the surface in Korčula, making for an easy and rewarding dive with young and inexperienced members of your group. Octopuses and moray eels hide within the shaded crevices of the coral reefs, while crayfish traverse the ocean floor, passing by sedentary starfish and vivid sea slugs.
In Sušac, drop into a small hole above the water level and follow the tunnel to the Te Vega sea lake. Parrotfish and goby swim along the bottom and high sea walls reach more than 30 metres above sea level, making for an impressive sight.
Underwater Museum, Mali Lošinj
Croatia was once a part of the Roman Empire and today, its Archaeological Park contains extraordinary amphorae and a Venetian cannon as well as many other pieces. The replica Apoxyomenos statue is the main attraction, which will one day form an artificial reef. The original 2000-year-old statue was discovered in 1996 and has since been restored to its former glory for exhibition on dry land.
At only 12 metres below the surface, the underwater museum is an entertaining day out for beginner-level divers and those looking for an easy dive and an opportunity to learn about Croatia’s history.
Baron Gautsch Shipwreck, Rovinj
Rovinj has a large number of dive sites and historical artefacts litter the sea floor. Beginners will find plenty of treasures in the shallow waters, while the more experienced can explore the caves.
Intermediate and advanced divers should make the time to visit Baron Gautsch, which is one of the most popular wrecks in the Adriatic. After the Austro-Hungarian navy laid a minefield to protect the main port of Pula during World War II, the _Baron Gautsch _ploughed into the mines and sank, killing 147 passengers. Coral now covers this century-old wreck and schools of fish swim among the sponges along the hull. The upper deck is at a depth of 28 metres and the lower deck rests at 42 metres, presenting a challenge for those who want more than rest and relaxation on their holiday.
An excellent spot for divers of all abilities, Fraskeric has four beautiful tunnels that start at three metres deep and descend to 16 metres. Rays of light break through gaps in the tunnels, adding to the dreamlike ambience beneath the waves. The location is also well-known for snorkelling and night diving and a full moon gives the tunnels a silvery glow. Seahorses may also be spotted at dive sites around Istria.
Tunnel of Prvić, Prvić
One of Croatia's most famous must-do scuba dives, the tunnel is also considered one of the best dives in Croatia and stretches under the island for 25 metres. With a depth starting at 18 metres and rising to eight metres, the exit is a burst of colour where divers will see gorgonians, sponges and shoals of fish.
The peak summer season during July and August is best to be avoided due to the crowds and warmer water temperatures. The surface can reach 25°C, which can be uncomfortable for inexperienced divers wearing full equipment for the first time.
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