The Croatian Adriatic is known for its crystal clear, clean water and high water temperatures. Both have contributed to more and more people going to Croatia for diving. Dive centers can be found all along the Adriatic coast, with the Kvarner Bay between the Istrian peninsula and the Croatian mainland scoring particularly highly for its wealth of species and marine life. But further south, on the Makarska Riviera and around Dubrovnik, you will also find some fantastic diving spots.
Where can you dive in Croatia?
The Croatian coast can be roughly divided into two sections: Istria in the north and Dalmatia in the south. Sometimes Istria and the Kvarner Bay with the islands of Cres, Krk and Rab are treated separately. Of course, it is no problem to book diving trips to the Kvarner Bay from your hotel on the Istrian peninsula. The decisive factor here is whether you want to go to Croatia exclusively for scuba diving and therefore there should be as many different diving destinations as possible in the vicinity, or whether diving is only one element of a varied holiday.
Further south, you’ll find more great diving destinations around the Dalmatian islands like Brač, Hvar and Korčula. You can combine diving trips with a beach holiday on the picturesque Makarska Riviera, or combine days of sporting activities with the city hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik and relaxing beach days.
A real tip for diving in Croatia is the island of Korčula, which lies further from the mainland than the relatively busy neighbouring islands of Brač and Hvar. No less than 35 different dive sites await you in the immediate vicinity, including impressive underwater caves such as the Blue Hole and Big Cave, as well as several shipwrecks.
Pula and the surrounding resorts such as Medulin on the southern tip of Istria are the ideal base for diving trips to the Kvarner Bay and the open Adriatic off the west coast. Here you will find, among other things, the Brijuni archipelago (another national park) with corals, gorgons and countless species of fish. The many conflicts in the region are told by the beautiful wrecks you can explore while diving in Croatia today, for example the passenger ship Baron Gautsch, which was sunk by a mine in 1914, or the German submarine U-81, which was hit by British bombs in 1944.
The Kornati Islands
Slightly further north off Zadar lies the archipelago of the sparsely populated Kornati islands in the Adriatic Sea. With its incomparable wealth of species, it has been declared a national park and is one of the most beautiful diving spots in Europe. To protect it, however, only organised diving excursions are allowed here. Most of them start on the islands of Dugi Otok and Murter. With a bit of luck, you’ll get to see cat sharks, stingrays, seahorses, many schools of fish and even coral.
Good to know: English is spoken in most diving centres along the Croatian coast, otherwise German and Croatian. If you want to be absolutely sure that you are working with English-speaking diving instructors as a beginner, you can ask the staff at your TUI BLUE hotel in Istria or Dalmatia for advice. They will be happy to give you appropriate tips.
How much does it cost to scuba dive in Croatia?
Generally, you should expect prices for diving in Croatia to be the same as other European dive hotspots. For a day trip with a qualified diving school with an escort and two dives, you can expect to pay around 50 to 100 euros, depending on the location, duration and provider. Tank, air and weights are included in the price.
If you want to learn to dive while on holiday in Croatia, you will of course have to dig deeper into your pocket. The Basic Diver PADI course costs around 270 euros, the Open Water Diver around 400 euros.
Simply diving on your own is not possible. You need a diving permit (about 330 euros) and a diving card (13 euros). With both, you can dive wherever and whenever you want in Croatia for a year (except for some special protected areas like the Kornati Islands).
Tips: Combining diving in Croatia with other activities
As fascinating as the underwater world is, every now and then you’ll want to stay dry or experience other things. Here are some great tips for every temperament:
Back in time: experience Roman times in Split
From the Makarska Riviera, it’s worth taking a road trip along the coast to the worthwhile city of Split. Here you can not only shop extensively or stroll along the beautiful Riva promenade. The city has one of the largest and most unusual sights in the country, the Diocletian’s Palace, which is a World Heritage Site. A complete city quarter has been created within the walls of the Roman emperor’s extensive palace. At the heart of the complex, however, you will be immersed in a different way: Deep into ancient Rome, which comes to life here in an impressive way.
Now it’s getting wild: adrenaline rush rafting
While you glide silently through the underwater world while diving in Croatia, sometimes you need a little more action. The Cetina is the right place for this. The river rises in the Dinaric Alps and meanders through the Croatian mountains before flowing into the Adriatic Sea near Omiš. In the last section between Šestanovac and Omiš, you will encounter steep gorges and the 40-metre-high Gubavica waterfall, raging rapids and untouched nature. Ideal for a day of adventure, for example rafting on the river itself or canyoning in the gorges.
Croatia: diving and more on the Adriatic
You can dive in Croatia from the beginning of May until the end of September. Then, with the end of the summer season, most diving centres close. During this time, countless beautiful dive sites await you in the crystal-clear, warm waters of the Adriatic Sea – and only a short flight or longer drive away.
Hotels in Croatia
FAQ about diving in Croatia
Are there coral reefs in Croatia?
Yes, there are. There is a lot of them and they are very beautiful. They are not as famous as the ones in Indonesia or Australia but they are still worth to visit. The best way to see them is by diving. You can also do snorkeling if you want. You can find them around Trogit, Krk and Mljet for example.
Are there sharks in Croatia?
There are no known shark species in the Adriatic Sea. There is, however, a small population of basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus) off the coast of Dalmatia and Istria. The most likely explanation for this is that they have been transported from the North Atlantic by currents or ship ballast water. They were first reported in the Mediterranean in 2001.