Where to dive in Istria
There are numerous diving sites in Istria that might be of interest to you. Just keep in mind that there are about 23 different wreck sites, and over 40 other diving locations of different structure and type. Embark on an adventure of a life time and explore Istria's underwater riches. The abundance and diversity of well preserved flora and fauna together with the multitude of walls and reefs, as well as enormous number of shipwrecks will leave you speechless.
Scuba diving in Croatian Adriatic is a rather ancient tradition. Sponge divers from Krapanj (in Dalmatia) used a soft scuba diving suit in 1893. On the Vis Island the first scuba diving military team was gathered right after the capitulation in 1943, and armature scuba diving started in 1937 when two brothers Kuscer scuba dived with the equipment they made themselves. Imagine that! First scuba diving centres were established in the fifties. Today, there are quite a number of them all over Croatia with the head organization called Croatian Scuba-diving Federation. This is also the body that issues the permits. Scuba diving in the Adriatic is optimal May, June, July, August and September, and although April and October are not bad, the visibility might be a bit of a problem and you will need a thicker suit (7mm or more) as the surface temperature is max 15 degrees Celsius. Croatia is up to date with all the novelties and the world renowned scuba diving schools are present, but most of the centers are either CMAS, SSI or PADI approved. Scuba diving locations down Croatia's coast line is quite diverse, offering locations for different proficiency divers. But, keeping in mind safety and regulations, majority of sites are available to Open Water Divers to Advanced Open Water Divers (SSI scale) with some specialties required for deeper ones. Here is our Istria selection, and keep in mind safety comes first, never dive alone and never ever underestimate the sea or overestimate your own skills and physical capabilities. Have a safe dive!
#1 Krnica - Cape Crna Punta/ Wall before Skvaranska Bay
When you leave Krnica port, heading right towards Koromacno, the Black Point Cape is just a couple of miles away. The depth in the location varies from 5 to 50m, and this is a great spot for beginners, as well as advanced divers, even nitrox options. The visibility should be 30m or more due to crystal clear water, you dive parallel to the shore, following the rocks towards the east at the depth of about 20m, maybe a bit less. At 25m, there is a tunnel full of soft corals and cnidarians. From there to the left you can find a small cave inhabited by lobsters and tube worms, and when you turn after the rock you can rise to the shallow. At the depth of three meters there is a crevice that leads towards the land, ending at a beautiful pebble beach. To expand this dive, or if you are not going out in a boat, you can find a wall near this location, but bear in mind if coming by foot that the car (with the gear) is a long way up, and you will be carrying your gear both ways. Mark that this dive requires a bit more experience as the wall goes steep down to 50+ meters. You begin by jumping into the water and diving along the crag on the right in a southerly direction. The crag rises above you vertically curving very gently and creating underwater coves. Although the site has an average depth of 25m, the rocky extensions go down to fifty. The wall richly covered by algae, corals, and a lot of fish who do not seem to be disturbed at all by the visiting divers.
About 9 nautical miles from Pula in the direction SW, lays the wreck of the Austrian torpedo boat. The boat was built in 1888, but unfortunately ran into its own mine in 1914, just before the war started. The wreck is about 40m long and 5m wide. The upper deck begins at 41m depth; the bottom is at 46m. The bottom is quite sediment so as with any wreck diving try going in when visibility is substantial. The wreck can be distantly seen from 15m depth. The body is fully covered with sponges, algae, and shells, all together representing live artificial reef. Flocks of fish are lingering around, and there is a lobster living under the ship's bow. Not rarely, a grouper may surprise you on the upper deck, barely moving even when divers come closer. This dive is definitely better with an underwater lamp. A rainbow of color will hypnotize you under rays of light. This dive is for more experienced divers or nitrox divers, carefully with time and decompression.
#3 Banjole – Bumbiste
Banjole is a village a couple of miles away from Pula, oriented towards the sea with a cape called Bumbiste, quite known for the waterway marks visible on the north side. This lovely site with a long wall over 220m in length, is following the shore towards Fraskeric on one side, and ending in Banjole bay on the other. The side ending in Banjole divides into two, one ends in shallow in Banjole and the other into the deep towards the Monte Cope peninsula. The most beautiful is the shallow one, up to 20m. You can start the dive from the shore, if coming by car. The other, simpler idea is to go out by boat to the cape. The dive should begin in the middle of the cape right from the shore as this is where the wall begins. From the surface to about 18m the wall creates a sort of vault, quite a flat one, full of sponges and algae. After 30m the vault converts into the real wall. Right on that spot, there is a passage that goes from 5m to about 12m, but watch out, as it can barely fit one diver. This site is perfect for beginners in shallow, and even for those with more hours, deeper down the wall. For the best possible experience go with Istradiving.
#4 Fraskeric – Pula
Fraskeric is a small islet just outside the Veruda port in Pula. The only inhabitants of the island above the surface are seagulls, and during summer season, visitors come for a swim in the sand beach. The most valuable diving site is on the outer side of the island towards the open sea. Full of underwater passages, crevices, half caves, and the beauty of the underwater world is just fascinating. The best possible position for anchoring is in the canal, close to the shore, at not more than 6m. From the top of the cape down to plateau and over to the rocks, at the approximate depth of 11m there is a hole through which you can get on the other side of the wall, exiting to the other side at the depth of 18m. Right at the exit you will see two huge rocks, carefully look under to find a conger. If you turn to the left you will find that the rocky bottom goes down to 25m, full of different species and at the deepest the habitants are just spectacular: amberjacks with stone bass and hauls of other fish. Not far from the first passage there is another one, and an entry to a cave where you can dive about 30m deep. Going back you can pass through a passage that will exit to the shallows where you left the boat.
#5 Baron Gautsch
Austrian Lloyd's ship was sunk with most of the passengers in 1914 by the underwater mine. It is considered to be the greatest catastrophe that befell upon Austro-Hungarian trade navy. Today the wreck is buried into the sediment bottom about 6 nautical miles southwest of the St. John beacon, 40 meters under the surface. The upper deck begins on 28m, the down one at 36m. The wreck is about 85m long and 12m wide. The entry inside the wreck is allowed only for divers with the right license and specialty license with the adequate gear. The wreck is overgrown with algae, sponges, all in different colors. The inside is a home to pickerels and congers. The biggest of the latter is used to divers so feeding is a regular attraction. To dive in this site you need a special permit and not all the diving centers have it. Due to safety reasons diving is allowed only through first two decks. To get the best experience, check out Dive Rubin.
#6 Banjole Island – Rovinj
Banjole (besides the village Banjole near Pula) is a small islet right in front of Rovinj. It is attractive to divers because of the abundance of the underwater world and accessibility. Bright sponge colors, from yellow sulfur sponge to red Spirastrellae, and pale blue sponge. Scarlet and brown anemones on the rocks are just some of the species that make this site so diverse and interesting. Lively colors of flora and fauna interact with sun rays to create a wonderful masterpiece of underwater art. In the middle of the island, five meters under surface you enter into a cave. After the hallway you will enter the main hall illuminated from the top where the sun modestly sneaks in. Besides the red starfish, there are shoals of seaperches. After the exit, continuing to the left there are two smaller caves completely safe for diving. Be prepared to join shoals of seabreams and smaller blue fish. The maximum depth is 18 meters, so it is safe for those with less experience.
Besides the ones I have mentioned here, there are numerous other diving sites in Istria that might be of interest to you. Just keep in mind that there are about 23 different wreck sites, and over 40 other diving locations of different structure and type. Embark on an adventure of a life time and explore Istria's underwater riches. The abundance and diversity of the well preserved flora and fauna together with the multitude of walls and reefs, as well as the enormous number of shipwrecks will leave you speechless. Diving centres throughout Istria provide courses that can open a whole new world for you. At the same place you will be able to rent some of the top quality safe gear or maybe even buy a new one. To add up on the safety, the hyperbaric chamber is located in Pula, and another one in Rijeka, in case of any emergency.
Immerse into the depth and discover the beautiful underwater Istria!