Exploring the Adriatic Sea in Croatia: Scuba Diving on Hvar
Rated among the world's top 10 islands above water, there is plenty to discover below the waterline on Hvar. A brief overview of scuba diving options.
With its pristine sea, clean beaches, hidden coves and numerous small islands nearby, Hvar is the perfect base for a water-based holiday, but what is on offer for tourists who want to go a little deeper into the Adriatic and spend a day or two scuba-diving?
Although diving centres have been in existence for more than 50 years in Croatia, there has been an explosion of interest in the last 10 years, and there are several dive centres on the island.
One of the best is Viking Dive Centre which operates out of Hvar Town and whose experienced local team has years of diving experience, both internationally and around the island. The main diving attractions in the Adriatic are wrecks, caves, some coral reefs an unlimited selection of interesting fish. Here is a brief overview of the diving highlights near Hvar.
Vodnjak – one of the most popular diving points is Vodnjak, the last of the Pakleni Islands opposite Hvar Town. Vodnjak was in the news recently as the town's mayor offered to rename it Facebook Island, but divers will be more interested in the canyon with red gorgons at 15-40m and the 5m long tunnel at 35m underneath the Campanile, a tower rising from nowhere to about 10m below the surface.
Vela Garska – a good place for beginners, there is a 70m long wall at a depth of 30m, which masks a 20m cave just 5m from the surface. There is some very colourful sea-life to enjoy.
The Wreck – the English trading ship, Paulina was sunk 150 years ago in a lagoon a half-hour boat ride from Hvar. Small sea creatures and a sandy sea bed give way to the wooden boat at a depth of 30m.
Poseidon Pile – a good dive to see scorpion fish, moray eels and sometimes a lobster is the Poseidon Pile, a chimney dive starting at 30m and exiting at 11m. Cracks in the ceiling allow sunlight to create some spectacular effects.
Anchor Wall – a drop of at 35-40m ending with an Admiral anchor hanging on the edge of the cliff, this dive is a great place to spot lobster, seabream and sleeping spotted dogfish.
Scuba Diving Courses and Safety Regulationa
In addition to organising excursions for experienced divers, beginner's courses are available to enthusiasts as young as ten. While all courses are taken with professional instructors, there are certain diving rules which need to be adhered to when scuba diving in Croatia.
A permit must be purchased to dive from a registered centre and all instructors must have a Government licence. Experienced divers are required to present proof of their qualifications and to sign a liability release. Written permission is required from parents for divers under 18, while anyone over 45 requires a doctor's certificate.