The Adventurer's Guide
A Guide to Scuba Diving in Croatia
Since the 1950’s, Croatia has had its fair share of scuba divers explore its diverse and colorful coast. But, in the past ten years, what was once the domain of a niche group of adventurers has started to attract increasing numbers of tourists. Now that the secret is out, we tell you all you need to know about scuba diving in Croatia, whether you’re a dive master looking for an unforgettable experience, or a tepid student curious to learn more. Let’s dive in!
Not only does Croatia have nearly 1,800 kilometers of mainland coast, but it also boasts over 1,200 individual islands (that’s an additional 4,000 kilometers of coastline!). Add to this the fact that the Adriatic is one of the cleanest seas in the world, and home to some 7,000 unique species of flora and fauna. Oh, and did I mention that the summertime water temperature ranges between 21°C and 25°C? To all you seasoned divers out there, I know I just gave you goosebumps!
So, the question remains: why should I scuba dive at all? Well, simply put, most of us will never have the chance to go to space and experience zero-G; however, scuba diving offers us a window to enjoy that same sense of weightlessness — without leaving planet Earth behind! There’s also the element of the absolute peace and quiet that is ubiquitous to diving: The immersive silence of being underwater, with only the sound of your breathing apparatus to fill your ears, is active meditation at its very best. Plus, there’s all the unbelievable lifeforms you’ll get to see firsthand.
As a rule of thumb, the Adriatic Sea tends to become deeper the further south you go. Many fascinating species can be found in the deeper waters, but it’s recommended that beginners get their feet wet in the shallower regions. But don’t worry — everywhere you go is filled with crystal clear waters, caves, and coral reef waiting to be discovered! And, thanks to the country’s incredible history, diving in shallow waters just off the coast still offers many opportunities to uncover sunken shipwrecks!
- Shallowest Waters: Istrian peninsula (~50m)
- Deepest Waters: Jabuka island (~1300m)
Croatia’s diving season spans some six months, from the beginning of May to the end of October. As stated above, the average water temperature tends to remain in the low-20s°. Bear in mind that the temperature drops to ~19°C below a depth of 12 m (and colder still further down). That being said, a standard wetsuit should be enough to keep you pretty comfortable during your dives.
Even though the sea is still warm in October, it begins to drop noticeably in December, making your dives potentially unpleasant. But, if you do plan on diving in the winter months, make sure to prepare arrangements and get permission ahead of time. You’ll also want to bring a well-insulated dry suit, as the sea’s surface temperature can drop to as low as 11°C.
If you don’t already have your PADI Open Water certification (or other recognized equivalent certification), skip this section for now. If you do possess a valid scuba license, you’ll need to present it along with your passport to a registered dive school or dive club. The venue will provide you with a Croatia diving permit, without which you cannot legally scuba dive in the country. The permit will run you about 100 kn (~13.5 €), and is valid for one year.
Certain regions in Croatia require an additional special diving permit, most notably Mljet National Park and Kornati Islands National Park. If you want to dive in these parks, you will have to sign up for an excursion with a dive school. The venue will cover the 100 kn cost and complete the required paperwork on your behalf.
Whether you’re looking to obtain your Open Water certification or your Master Scuba Diver certification, Croatia is rife with dive schools that can accommodate your needs. You’ll find both PADI and CMAS courses offered; it doesn’t matter which license you decide to go with, as both entitle you to the same benefits. The differences are mostly in the teaching styles.
HOW TO CHOOSE A DIVE SCHOOL
When searching for a good dive school, make sure to do your due diligence: Read reviews on Google My Business, TripAdvisor, and Facebook. Speak with locals to find out if they have any leads, warnings, or recommendations. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few schools, pay them an in-person visit; speak with the staff and any current or former students you may encounter. Scuba diving inherently comes with its own set of dangers, so it’s of utmost importance that you feel as comfortable as possible with the school you select.
Jacques Cousteau once said, “the sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” He wasn’t exaggerating. Here’s wishing you an unforgettable experience! To book your Croatian vacation rental by sea, check out THE STELLA’s curated collection today!