Croatia can capture the heart of all who love the underwater world. It is not as colourful as the Caribbean, but boasts numerous shipwrecks, stunning underwater caves and a wealth of marine life, especially in the natural parks where fishing is prohibited. So let’s dive in and explore the region together.
No matter what, you certainly won’t regret going there. The seduction of the Croatian underwater world is not through its mere beauty and colour but is of more subtle and refined distinction.
7 places for the most beautiful snorkelling in Croatia
1. Cape Kamenjak
This stunning promontory lies at the southernmost tip of Istria. It is surrounded by a system of underwater caves that are home to rare Mediterranean seals. In the crystal-clear waters you’ll feel like you’re in a giant aquarium, filled with numerous fish and animals. However, we do recommend that you get there early in the morning, before the tourists from the mainland and the enthusiastic sailors arrive.
2. Dugi Otok
The island of Dugi Otok is a paradise for those who love shipwrecks and caves, as well as diving in crystal-clear coves. So let's dive in and explore the shipwreck together, it’s well worth it.
The Michele Wreck - Vele Lagne
Beautiful wreck lies nearby on the shallow sea floor near the islands of Mali and Veli Lagan north of the Veli Rat Lighthouse. It is the wreck of the German ship Michele (originally called Osterdeich), which ran aground in a storm in 1983. It is now home to many types of fish and even some coral. The ship is 76 metres long and 10 metres wide.
It’s a guaranteed experience for all. You can drop anchor near the wreck and swim out towards it. We recommend a morning visit, when the sea is usually calmer, although sometimes there is a risk of currents. The wreck is disintegrating more and more each year and disappearing beneath the surface, so get there as soon as you can.
Be careful when snorkelling. The remains of the wreck are rusty and there are also currents to watch out for. Do not take unnecessary risks and do not enter the more enclosed parts of the wreck without the proper equipment.
Still not enough for you? On the west coast of Dugi Otok is the Brbiscica cave with its fantastic sea colour, due to the incoming sun's rays, and a multitude of fish of various sizes. In the south lies the large natural bay Telascica surrounded by high cliffs. There are 300 species of underwater plants and more than 250 sea creatures. Besides fish, you can admire fungi, crustaceans, red corals and even octopus.
3. Mljet Island
On the island of Mljet there are several popular spots - Veliko Jezero (Great Lake), Rikavica and the remarkable and mythical Odysseus Cave. Underwater life around the island is varied, you can see octopus, scorpionfish and many small fish, crabs and anemones. And of course coral reefs. We highly recommend the Odysseus Cave.
The Odysseus Cave (Odisejeva špilja)
You can find the cave on the south coast, about halfway down the island. The best time to snorkel there is between 12am and 2pm, where the sun creates the most beautiful light effects within the cave. You’ll also come across a lot of fish - colourful wrasse, groupers and even scorpionfish.
From above, the cave looks like a deep and wide hole in the ground (it was created by the collapse of the cave ceiling and the locals also named it - Jama). The bottom is flooded with water because it is connected to the sea by a natural tunnel. This tunnel, through which you will swim to the cave from the sea, is about five metres wide and about twenty metres long. It is easy to swim and the distance between the sea level and the rocky ceiling is approximately 1.5m at its lowest point. (In higher waves and windy weather, navigation can be a bit risky).
Why is it named the Odysseus Cave? According to Homer, it is here that Odysseus' ship was shipwrecked. Odysseus then swam to this cave, to this supposedly most beautiful island of all seas and oceans. The beautiful nymph, Calypso, the daughter of the giant Atlas, ruled here. She fell in love with Odysseus and unwilling to let him go, promised him immortality. Unhappy, Odysseus did not return her feelings and tried to get away. Eventually, Zeus himself had mercy on him, with the intercession of Athena, who ordered Calypso to release him. Odysseus then built a raft with her help and sailed to the open sea:
She gave him a goat skin full of black wine,
and another larger one of water;
she also gave him a wallet full of provisions,
and found him in much good meat.
Moreover, she made the wind fair and warm for him,
and gladly did Odysseus spread his sail before it,
while he sat and guided the raft skillfully by means of the rudder.
He never closed his eyes,
but kept them fixed on the Pleiads,
on late-setting Boötes, and on the Bear - which men also call the Wain,
and which turns round and round where it is, facing Orion,
and alone never dipping into the stream of Okeanos
- for Calypso had told him to keep this to his left.”
The “sailor” and the astronavigation expert sailed for eighteen days before seeing land. Then Poseidon broke his raft with his trident. But that's another story at the end of the Odyssey where a new romance and another painful journey awaited…
4. Caves around Vis
Don’t miss the three most interesting caves around Vis: the Blue, Sea Bear and Green caves.
This is a truly amazing cave, where the only daylight penetrates through an underwater tunnel. The light that emerges from the water, illuminates the walls with an intense and ever-changing blue, providing a fascinating spectacle.
You can enter the cave through an underwater tunnel. But it is necessary to dive about 2m below the surface and swim underwater for about 4m. Unfortunately, swimming around the cave is prohibited. If you still want to enjoy it, you must get there early in the morning - before the collectors and other ships get there.
You can also sail close to the cave on a narrow boat along a 30m corridor, which breaks back at the end and opens up into the Blue Cave. Entry is 50 to 70 Kun per person. The best light is between 10am and 11am, but this is also unfortunately the busiest time. It isn’t possible to anchor in front of the cave, so someone must wait for the crew to explore the cave and keep the engine running. If there is a strong jugo wind, don’t even attempt to come here at all.
In the southwestern part of Bisevo, there is another cave behind the rocky outcrop of Cape Bishop towards Balun Bay - Medvidina Spilja (Sea Bear Cave). It is not inhabited by bears, but it was once inhabited by Mediterranean seals (sea bear in Croatian). The entrance to the cave from the sea is quite wide, the space is 160m long and gradually decreases. The cave has above and below sea sections, the narrow and low end of the cave leads to a small beach.
Approximately 1 NM away is Ravnik Island. The bay at its southern end hides the remarkable zelena špilja - the Green Cave.
The cave is very nice viewed from the boat and of course when diving. It is definitely worth a visit. The sun's rays penetrate the cave through cracks in the ceiling and emerald light effects enchant the walls. The best light for the tour is around noon. But when the jugo is blowing, you are better of postponing the visit until after it has calmed.
5. Pakleni Islands
The Pakleni (Paklinski)Islands comprise of twenty-one islands, islets and reefs, with many bays to anchor at. For example, there is attractive snorkelling at Cape Stambedar (you can anchor in the cove behind the cape), where there is a beautiful cliff wall that descends 50 metres. Even just below the surface, the wall is covered in various interesting species of flora and fauna, encircled by beautiful fish.
6. Brijuni National Park
Brijuni has been a national park since 1983 and fishing around the archipelago is limited. Therefore, the underwater flora and fauna is much richer than elsewhere. The seabed is full of sea urchins, crustaceans, molluscs, sponges and fish. If you're lucky, you'll even get to see dolphins.
7. Sušac Island
There are countless fish in the waters around the island as well as underwater caves and small sea lakes. The location is stunning directly beneath the lighthouse.
What not to forget?
- Mask, snorkel, fins. Invest in quality basic equipment, it really pays off. When choosing a mask make sure it’s a good fit, each face is different, each fits a different shape.
The mask, especially a new one, must be degreased to prevent it from fogging up. Fogging is caused by grease, which adheres to the mask during production. Use a dishwashing detergent, let it stand overnight and repeat if necessary.
- Do not touch or move animals or plants. You could destroy the natural balance of the underwater world or injure them.
- Admire the underwater world as it is. And be as patient and unobtrusive as possible when you observe it. The inhabitants of the underwater world will richly reward you with their beauty. Do not disassemble and destroy underwater wrecks in any way. Leave them intact so that their captivating atmosphere may be enjoyed fully by others.
Have we made it easier for you to decide where to go next year? Escape the chilly autumn straight aboard a boat, where the sun shines and the air shimmers with heat. Wonderful places to snorkel can be found along with hundreds of boats on offer. Get a boat with an Early Bird discount and you will only pay a 15% deposit.