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Liveaboard Diving in Croatia
Croatia is home to some of the best diving in Europe, with a coastline featuring over 1185 islands and rich history. There is something for every diver in the water off Croatia.
Often overlooked as a European diving destination, Croatia is home to some genuinely stunning diving. The waters off the Adriatic are teeming with marine life and spectacular topography.
Due to its location in the heart of Europe, Croatia has a rich history, which is reflected by the sheer number and diversity of wrecks in its water. Divers who are into wrecks will love nothing more than spending hours exploring the waters of Croatia.
On January 1, 2023, Croatia became part of the Schengen visa-free travel area. This means that border and customs checks were abolished at the borders between Croatia and other Schengen member states for people crossing the borders by road, rail, or water. From March 26, 2023, there will be no airport border checks when flying into Croatia from other Schengen member states - this includes most European Union countries. Also, Croatia has officially adopted the Euro as its currency, replacing the Croatian Kuna.
Dive Sites and Areas of Croatia
There are virtually no diving liveaboards operating in Croatia; however, almost all the country’s dive sites can be accessed from shore or daily boat. Some of the best locations to dive in Croatia are;
The Dalmatian coast is the most popular and well-known destination in Croatia. It is home to some of the best diving and wrecks in the country and is also home to some of the country's best tourist destinations, like Dubrovnik. Wrecks Galore, along with great marine life and caves, can be found on the dalmatian coast. Exploring the Dalmatian coast, you can find many gorgonians, canyons, drop-offs, and wrecks. Makarska even features a stunning cave dive that has often been named one of the 50 most beautiful dives in the world.
Dive Sites and Areas of the Dalmatian Coast
Exploring the Dalmatian coast, you are spoiled for choice. There are plenty of dive sites to explore, with something for every diver. Top dive sites on the Dalmatian coast include;
A truly breathtaking cave dive that is only suitable for advanced divers. Once inside, divers can explore a vertical cave system that features multiple tunnels for you to explore. Aside from the stunning geography, marine life is abundant, including lobster, octopus sponges, and more.
A macro paradise in the Adriatic, seahorse bay is the perfect dive for keen macro spotters and photographers. A shallow shore dive, it is the perfect spot to take your time and slowly look for the large number of nudibranchs that inhabit the area. As its name suggests, you should keep your eyes out for the resident seahorses.
Diving on the Dalmatian coast is predominantly land-based. Depending on the specific dive site you want to explore, you have the option to both stay and dive out of Dubrovnik, Hvar, Marakasa, Murter, and Split.
Lying in the country's northeast, the Istrian peninsula is home to interesting, varied diving conditions. Like most of the Adriatic, the geography is stunning in the region, with steep walls and drop-offs coupled with patches of colorful reefs. The location also features some shallower sites that are perfect for less experienced divers. The star of the show in Istria is the huge number of wrecks that litter the area. By far the most famous and popular is the Austro-Hungarian steamship the Baron Gautsch, which sank in 1914 and is now an enormous artificial reef.
Dive Sites and Areas of Istria
Diving in the Istria peninsula gives you the best of both worlds. The area is rich with marine life, and due to its location and history, the area has many wrecks for divers to explore. The best dives on the peninsula include:
The most famous wreck in the area, if not the whole of Croatia, the Baron Gautsch, has been in the water for over 100 years after it hit a mine in 1914 and sank. The former Austro-Hungarian steamship not only presents a fascinating glimpse into history but, over the years, has become a perfect artificial reef teeming with life. The wreck is only suitable for advanced divers since it lies at a depth of 28 to 40 meters.
Banjole Island is a popular diving destination in Istria that is suitable for all levels of divers. The island lies outside Rovinj and offers divers some stunningly colorful dives thanks to the wide array of sponges and coral. The site is also home to 3 shallow caves that are ideal for divers to explore and get a little taste of cave diving. Exploring the reef, you can find a wide range of critters, including octopus, sea slugs, nudibranchs, and more.
Most of the diving on the Istrian Peninsula is conducted from the main town of Pula. The majority of dive shops are located in the city, and all the peninsula's dive sites can be reached from a base in Pula.
Located in between the Istrian peninsula and the Croatian mainland, the gulf of Kvarner features a large number of islands and sheltered diving conditions. Due to its sheltered location, the conditions are generally calm, making the location ideal for inexperienced and novice divers. The location offers a little of everything typically found in the water off Croatia. There are shipwrecks and the usual canyons dropoffs and spectacular topography. The marine life is rich and colorful, with lots of gorgonians, sponges, and nudibranchs.
Dive Sites and Areas of Kvarner
Kvarner is home to some spectacular diving in Croatia. The sheltered waters are home to a wide range of marine life and some wrecks and are known for mild diving conditions. There are multiple dive sites amongst the many islands that dot the coastline. Due to the variety, Kvarner makes for the perfect destination for diving groups of mixed experiences.
Lošinj Historical Underwater Park
The Lošinj Historical Underwater Park is something a little different and unique. The underwater park is suitable for all levels of divers, with the main attractions ranging in depth from 5 to 15 meters. The park features many historical artefacts, from Amphora to anchors and cannons. The 11 sunken artefacts represent a unique experience and a real dive into history.
A favorite with technical divers, this fascinating wreck lies between 45 and 65 meters, making it an excellent exploration opportunity for both open circuit and rebreather divers. The escort destroyer was built in 1943 and sank in 1944 after hitting a mine. Over the years, this wreck is now home to a rich and diverse marine life ecosystem. Highlights of the dive include the ship's torpedo tubes which still have torpedoes positioned in them in the firing position.
Most dive operators in Kvarner are not located on the mainland of the Croatian coast. Instead, they can be found on the island of Krk, which can be reached by car from the mainland over a bridge. The island of Kron features the other biggest concentration of dive shops in the area. Diving in Kvarner is either shore or day boat excursions.