Diving in Croatia

photos of scuba diving in CroatiaThe Croatian Adriatic Sea is an attractive destination for scuba diving enthusiasts. It attracts many lovers of the underwater world.

Recreational diving in Croatia is regulated by the Ordinance on carrying out underwater activities issued by the Ministry of the Sea, Transport, Tourism and Development.

Every diver must have a diving card issued by the Croatian Diving Association (http://www.diving-hrs.hr/) which may be purchased through diving clubs and centres and through authorised tourist agencies along the entire Adriatic.

The diving card is valid for 365 days from the date of issue. It costs 100.00 HRK and is issued only to individuals with diving qualifications from a recreational diving school or diving associations.

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Diving may also be carried out in protected zones but only if accompanied by the diving centre which holds a concession from the Ministry of Culture or National park for the current year. ( Directory of Scuba Diving in Croatia )

Organised and Individual Diving in Croatia

  • Organised diving is diving carried out exclusively in the accompaniment of a leader or diving instructor verified by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport of the Republic of Croatia and organised by a diving centre or diving club registered in the Republic of Croatia.
  • Individual diving is carried out on the basis of Permission for individual diving. Permission is issued by port authorities. Permission is issued to the person holding a valid diving card of the Croatian Diving Association for the period of one year from the date of issue. Fees for issuing Permission amount to 2,400.00 HRK.

The Diving Tourism Group PRO DIVING CROATIA, an expert association of diving companies involved in providing diving tourism services, founded and operating at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, is active in organising the diving tourism market in Croatia.

The association pools and coordinates the efforts of over 120 diving centres on the Adriatic sea and, in cooperation with the Croatian National Tourist Board, promotes diving in Croatia at international tourism fairs.

Changes to legislation related to providing services in tourism are expected in 2007, in particular related to “adventure” tourism services, which include recreational diving. The latest information on changes to legal regulations and other useful diving information can be found at the Croatian diving website www.croatia-diving.hr.

No diving zones in Croatia:

No diving zones include the National Parks Brijuni, Krka, Kornati and Mljet, sections of internal waterways which encompass ports, port entry areas, port anchorages, areas with dense traffic, special reserves and nature parks (Malostonski Bay, Lim channel, Nature Park Telašćica) and the sea in a circumference of 100 metres around anchored warships and guarded military facilities on the coast.

Permission for the organisation of diving activities in these areas is issued by the competent state administrations (competent Ministry) to authorised diving centres which operate in the aforementioned areas.

  • All additional information can be obtained on the following numbers:Ministry of Culture, Department of ArchaeologyTel: 01 61 16 848, Fax 01 61 16 849.
  • Conservation department Split, Porinova 2, SplitTel: 021 305 430
  • Conservation department DubrovnikTel: 020 411 075

Controlled diving zones in Croatia :

Diving is permitted in the following areas upon prior consent of the Ministry of Culture and regional offices: islands of Vis, Biševo, Svetac, Brusnik, Sušac, Kopište, Lastovo, Donji Škoji, Vrhovnjaci, Palagruža, sea belt 300 m around the island of Mljet and island Jabuka, region in the circumference of 300 m around sunken ships Szent Istvan, Premuda, Coriolanus Novigrad, Baron Gautsch, St. Ivan at sea, S-57 on Pelješac, and sites near Žirje and Cavtat.

Underwater filming, photographing and research of archaeological localities may only be carried out with special consent of the Ministry of Culture.

In the event of a diving accident contact the following:

  • National centre for search and rescue at sea – Mobile Telephone 24hrs: 9155 112
  • VHF channels 16, 10, 7

Diving Holidays and Diving Lessons:

Along the coast you will find numerous diving clubs offering lessons, guided tours and rental equipment. To dive in Croatia, you need to hold a valid diver’s card issued by the Hrvatski Ronilacki Savez (Croatian Diving Federation). These can be obtained from all recognized Croatian diving clubs, are valid for one year as of the date of issue. For a full list of recognized diving clubs in Croatia, contact either Hrvatski Ronilacki Savez, Dalmatinska 12, Zagreb, T01 4848765, www.diving-hrs.hr, or Pro Diving Croatia, Bulevar Oslobodjenja 23, Rijeka, T051 219111, www.diving.hr

Ten of the best scuba dive sites in Croatia:

  • Baron Gautsch (near Rovinj) A passenger ferry wreck from 1914, suitable for advanced divers only, depth 28-42 m.
  • Lina (island of Cres) A merchant shipwreck, suitable for advanced divers only, depth 22-55 m.
  • Margarina (island of Susak, close to the island of Mali Lošinj) An underwater reef and canyon with amphorae and a shipwreck, beginner to advanced levels, depth 5-40 m.
  • Rasip (Kornati islands) An underwater cliff with corals, sponges and schools of fish, excellent visibility up to 40 m, beginner to advanced levels, depth 3-65 m.
  • Stambedar (Pakleni otoci, near Hvar Town) A sea wall with red and violet gorgonians (type of coral), beginner to advanced levels, depth 5-45 m.
  • Te Vega (island of Sušac, between Korcula and Lastovo)
    A small sea lake entered through a 2-m-long tunnel at a depth of 5 m, beginner to advanced levels, depth 5-35 m.
  • Modra Spilja (island of Biševo, close to the island of Vis) A sea cave, beginner to advanced levels, depth 3-40 m.
  • S57 (Pelješac peninsula) A well-preserved German torpedo shipwreck from 1944, suitable for advanced divers only, depth 25-39 m.
  • Taranto (Dubrovnik) A merchant shipwreck from 1943, suitable for advanced divers only, depth 23-55 m. More about Diving in Dubrovnik
  • Sv Andrija (Elafiti islands, near Dubrovnik) A sea wall with red coral and a cave at a depth of 26 m, beginner
    to advanced levels, depth 3-78 m. (as advised by Footprint Guides)

Visit Vertigo Diving Centre +Korcula Diving Centre + Links to various diving centres along the coast of Croatia: click for more diving Croatia links

Three new hyperbaric chambers in Zadar, Dubrovnik and Crikvenica

In addition to Zagreb, Split and Pula, new hyperbaric chambers, essential for treatment of decompression disease, were provided to Zadar and Dubrovnik in late 2007 and Crikvenica in 2008. Around 70 thousand registered dives a year require thirty such interventions and the figure is expected grow year after year. The hyperbaric chamber in Zadar can treat six patients at a time and it benefits from an antechamber. In case of complications in a treated patient, a physician enters the antechamber where the pressure equalizes with that in the chamber and helps the patient. The hyperbaric chamber is situated in a special container on a trailer and may be dislocated as needed. Zadar has already established the International Center for Underwater Architecture and they are working on establishing diving technique study programs.

1,500 undiscovered caves and underwater pits and 15,000 wrecks

Thanks to the exceptional clearness and wealth of the submarine world, underwater pits and reefs, diving tourism in the Adriatic is going through a major expansion. The Adriatic is among the richest seas in the world in the number of wrecks. At least 1,500 caves and underwater pits are assumed to be yet undiscovered in the Adriatic. Its bottom contains as many as 15,000 sunken ships – stranded ships, submarines, airplanes and torpedo ships. Encounters with such wrecks are a unique experience. Each ship has its own story, and each story is a monument to someone’s courage or tragedy. Over the past ten years, diving tourism recorded a growth of 15 to 20 percent. At the same time, professional diving centers have grown in number, organized next to the most attractive locations in the Adriatic. There are over a hundred registered and licensed diving centers, most of them in Istria, Kvarner and Central Dalmatia.

Legal regulations  

Regarding the legal regulations, the current legislation define that diving is permitted in Croatia subject to possession of valid approvals. A diving card costs 100.00 HRK (14.00 €) for 365 days, and an individual Approval for Independent Underwater Activities costs 2,400.00 HRK (335.00 €) for 365 days. A trip to a wreck costs between 25 and 40 euros. An annual license for diving to sunken ships granted by the Ministry of Culture costs 20,000.00 to 30,000.00 HRK (2,800.00 € to 4,200.00 €). Such individual approval is not required in case of tourist diving in registered diving centers. Diving in special zones is not permitted even with an individual approval. These are zones under special protection of the Ministry of Culture and diving is only possible with a guide from a certified diving center.

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