Diving

by Peter Baxter  

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The crystal clear waters of the pollution-free Adriatic Sea and a variety of fish and wildlife have put diving at the top of Croatia’s long list of outdoor activities.

Croatia’s diving industry is thriving because of the beauty and variety of its underwater sights and the clarity of the water. Besides a lack of pollution, several factors cause the water of the Adriatic to be so clear. Like the fuzz of mirages in the desert, when hot and cool water meets, light is distorted by convection currents. Croatia’s stable, consistent climate causes a uniform thermal gradient within the water, leaving it undistorted and clear. Also, the Adriatic’s sea floor is generally stony instead of sandy. With larger rocks on the bottom, there is less silt and sand for tides and currents to kick up off the sea floor.

Diving is now very firmly established along the all of Croatia’s coast, from Istria to Dubrovnik as a way to enjoy another level of Croatia’s beauty. All divers must be certified with a Croatian diving card, but if you are not certified, classes are readily available and are often at discounted rates. Check with the Croatia diving federation and enjoy your certification—valid for a full year after issue.

Cave diving is a Croatian specialty, and the cave at Sv Andrija is among the best the sea has to offer. Surrounded by red coral, the cave is a beautiful underwater sight and accessible by all certified divers.

Historically a seafaring region, Croatia also has shipwrecks to explore from all through the country’s long history. Because exploring shipwrecks can be more dangerous, many shipwrecks are recommended for advanced divers only. The Baron Gautsch, near Rovinj, is one of Croatia’s most popular shipwrecks to dive to and ten dive centers offer trips and tours of the underwater ship. The Baron Gautsch offers the unique opportunity to dive wear no one has explored before. The lower sections of the ship have not yet been fully explored, but because of the unpredictable nature of unexplored ships, the trip is recommended for advanced divers only.

Although scuba diving is not allowed in the freshwater national parks like Krka and Plitvice, there are organized dives at both Kornati and Mljet national parks. Kornati was designated a national park based partly on the exquisite beauty of the ocean floor in that region, its coral harboring an abundant and colorful display of fish and rays and reef life.
The park has designated seven approved diving zones, throughout its 89 islands, each one offering different sea-life and geologic formations. Contact a dive-center near the ferry terminal for information about a trip.

Mljet park also offers organized dives in the saltwater lake that makes up much of the parks area. Because of the weak tidal pull and low currents of the saltwater lakes, the wildlife and natural beauty of Mljet park is beyond all others. Like Kornati, only divers with an organized group are able to dive.

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