Croatia has some of the finest beaches in the world, so let us show you the best snorkeling and diving in Croatia so you can really enjoy them.
Croatia has some of the finest beaches in the world. Granted, a lot of our coast may be craggy and filled with pebbles that could be unpleasant for some (not me; I love it), but if you know where to look, you can find some of the most gorgeous sandy beaches on the planet. Furthermore, there are also some magnificent places for diving and snorkeling in Croatia.
Below is a look at a few areas you need to check out during your stay in Croatia if you are looking for some offshore adventure or sandy relaxation. And who isn’t?
Best Diving And Snorkeling In Croatia
I’ll be frank: you won’t find the most amazing sea life on the planet in Croatia, as it’s certainly not a place that is full of Finding Nemo-esque creatures and massive reefs. Sorry.
What makes diving and snorkeling in the waters off the coast of Croatia so enticing are a few simple facts:
- First, there is fantastic underwater visibility. This makes it very easy actually to see what you are looking at.
- Second, you won’t find any sharks, barracuda, or other dangerous types of sea life. You will have a very relaxed diving experience.
Many of Croatia’s top spots for diving and snorkeling are the shipwrecks along the coast that have turned into underwater museums. Let’s check out a few of them in more detail.
So, while Nemo might not be gracing you with his presence, you will be able to see dolphins, squid, crabs, jellyfish, octopi, starfish, cuttlefish, fan mussels, sea bream, and sea bass, moray eels, sardines, scorpionfish, sponges, and many sea cucumbers.
Of course, much of Croatia’s marine life is protected, so never be tempted to catch or remove anything to take home.
Anyone who wants to fish in these waters needs to get a permit from the authorities beforehand, and there are many rules about what you can and can’t catch. Instead, view the beauty of the underwater world and let them be.
What Lies Beneath The Sea In Croatia
We know the types of marine life you’ll find in Croatia’s waters, but it’s not just about that, as you’ll discover abundant underwater caves, shipwrecks, and ruins.
If you want to check out the best sites, you’ll need to be able to scuba dive, but there are also some shallow wrecks available throughout the country that you can see without having to venture too far down. We’ve covered some of those later in this article.
You’ll also see sea caves, and many are accessible.
Is Diving & Snorkelling In Croatia Safe?
The clear visibility around Croatia’s waters means that it’s a relatively safe activity to enjoy, and it’s rare to encounter any animal attack.
It’s possible that you may see the odd jellyfish towards the shoreline. Still, these don’t tend to sting, and it’s further into deeper water where you may visit the more dangerous types, including the mauve stinger or Pelagia noctiluca.
This type of jellyfish is quite large and purple in color with long tentacles. This jellyfish sting isn’t fatal or particularly serious, but it will cause considerable pain.
Sea urchins are the only other type of sea animal to be aware of. They won’t hurt you, but it won’t be pleasant if you stand on one. For that reason, always wear sea shoes.
The Adriatic isn’t a particularly ‘wavy’ sea, but if there has been a storm or one brewing, you might notice it is choppy than usual. In that case, keep an eye on weather reports; Croatia is known for being quite windy, and while it doesn’t often ‘whip up’ large waves, it’s best to head out at a calmer time.
The final point? Rocks. Most of Croatia’s beaches are rocky, meaning underwater, you may come across some quite sharp-edged rocks. Simply be aware of your surroundings at all times.
When is The Best Time to go Snorkeling or Diving in Croatia?
It’s possible to snorkel and dive at any time of the year if you have the right equipment, but the optimal conditions are between June and the first week of October. This is when the sea is warmest and at its calmest.
The sea will be extremely warm between July and August, which is the best time for snorkeling in shallow waters. However, this is also when other people want to snorkel and dive, so that you may notice crowds.
September is an enjoyable time of year, with slightly cooler temperatures, fewer crowds, and more chilled-out snorkeling and diving.
Shipwreck Diving & Snorkeling
Baron Gautsch Shipwreck
This passenger ship is some 90 meters long and is located close to Pula. The ship met its watery fate when it hit a minefield in 1908 and is now a favorite among both tourists and veteran divers.
Giuseppe Dezza Shipwreck
This former Italian military vessel was bombed by a British plane in 1944. Both halves of this ship are accessible thanks to the bomb that split her in two. It is located near Pula.
Shipwrecks Of The Reformer, Hans Schmidt, John Gilmore, Flamingo, Coriolanus, And Varse
These ships are all accessible through the Hippocampus Diving Centre located in Pula. These ships contain everything from Italian warships to Shakespeare-class British Navy vessels. They are great spots to view local fish and other underwater sea creatures, and their accessibility makes them popular with first-time divers. Because of the abundant species of aquatic life, they’re a hotspot for diving pros, too.
Brijuni Steamship Wreck
A strong storm in 1930 ended the marine life of this World War One vessel. Experienced divers should be sure to view the enormous propeller. You can find her sleeping on the seafloor off the south coast of the island of Vis.
Pajo And Ribolovac
Accessible through a bunch of diving centers, these two former fishing vessels are great underwater relics. They are located near the fantastic tourist destinations of Čiovo and Šolta and are the perfect way to spend a sunny, cloudless afternoon.
Another Italian navy ship sunk by a mine during World War II, Taranto, lies near Dubrovnik and sits on the nearby reefs. As such, many schools of fish are found continuously swimming in and around this massive structure.
Marine Life Diving & Snorkeling
Rasip, Kornati Islands
The Kornati Islands themselves are stunningly beautiful, but as you head to the south, you will find the diving site of Rasip. This deep wall drops to around 65 meters and is packed with various brightly colored sponges, corals, and a huge range of different types of fish.
Raznjic, Korcula Island
You’ll see huge cliffs and an impossibly blue sea in the easternmost part of the island. This is an excellent spot for diving and snorkeling; however, be careful during shoulder seasons, as the wind can whip up out of nowhere and be a little dangerous. This area is unsheltered, so checking the weather is a must.
Proizd, Korcula Island
This spot is excellent for beginner snorkellers because the waters aren’t too deep here. The water currents can be strong, but this doesn’t happen often. Visibility is perfect here, no matter what the month.
Sveta Marija, Mljet
Located in the Mljet National Park, this spot has plenty of vibrant and varied marine life. The park is protected, so there is excellent visibility and lots to see. It’s also very easy to get to, with regular ferries from Dubrovnik, followed by a small boat to the park.
If you don’t want to venture too far away from your base and happen to be in Dubrovnik, this is a convenient place to head. The water visibility is excellent, and plenty of fish species can be spotted.
Right at the end of the Peljesac peninsula, you’ll find this beautifully natural place, isolated from any crowds. You may experience strong currents here, so be wary, but staying close to the land should solve that problem. This is really only a snorkeling spot for the experienced who don’t mind venturing a little off-track, but it is gratifying.
This is a sheltered, clean, and beautiful place to snorkel and relatively easy to get to from Kampor and then a short walk. Visibility here is always good, and many species of marine life are available.
Tarsce, Sveti Klement, Hvar
This is a small bay that sits close to Hvar. It’s a quiet spot, and you’ll need to take a taxi boat and walk a little way to reach it, but it’s worthwhile. Winds can be pretty strong, so check the weather beforehand, but it’s possible to snorkel here all year round with excellent visibility.
Margarina Reef, Susak
Less experienced divers will find this the place to be. Located close to Losinj, the reef is very shallow, at just 5 meters of the sea. However, a deeper canyon goes down to 17 meters, so don’t venture too far out if you’re not the best swimmer.
Underwater Cave Diving & Snorkeling
Do you want to find something a bit more adventurous to explore? Let’s find a dark cave to get you in, huh?
Just west of Pag lies the island of Premuda, with its underwater ‘cathedral.’ As the light shimmers into the holes and the inner cave, some say it appears like a stained-glass window and a deeper wreck (at 67 meters).
Bisevo Grotto/Blue Grotto
Located close to Vis Island, you will find the Blue Grotto, one of the most popular sites. You will enter the chamber and dive down further, taking you to a wall lined with sponges, small caves, and countless varieties of fish.
Lucice Bay, Brac
Here, you will find a huge underwater cave packed with stalagmites, stalactites, and various corals and sponges. One cave is 37 meters long, and the other is 42 meters long, so take your pick!
Odisej Cave, Mljet Island
Just outside the protected park, you’ll find Odisej Cave, an ideal place for those who are pretty experienced in snorkeling. You can go into the cave if you want to or stay outside. The water here is deep, and you’ll see some amazing marine life as a result.
Best Islands For A Diving & Snorkeling Holiday
One of the most popular dive centers is located in Krk, with around 30 different dive spots to explore. This is why Krk is a very popular location for avid scuba divers and snorkelers.
You need to have basic scuba certification and should check what requirements or regulations are required by the dive center, but beyond that, be prepared to have a day of fun! Here, you can explore some of Croatia’s oldest underwater artifacts, and with so many dive sites, it might be hard to choose!
The island of Hvar is both a popular dive site and a tourist hotspot on land. Here, you can explore many of Croatia’s natural wonders, as well as the 15 marked diving spots that are less than an hour’s ride from the diving base itself. This means you get a full day of scuba activity and underwater exploration.
Best Sandy Beaches In Croatia
Aside from popular Dubrovnik, the Adriatic coastline is teeming with fantastic beaches to enjoy, no matter who you’re traveling with when you’re going, and what you’re going for. But, if you’re traveling with kids in Croatia, there’s no denying that building a sandcastle or two is the ideal pastime; for that, you need sand; pebbles don’t do the job!
If you’re looking for fun sandy beaches in Croatia, here is a complete list. But below are a few to get you started.
Lopar Beach, Island Of Rab
Situated on Rab’s beautiful island, just off the north coast of the mainland, you will find Lopar Beach. This is a popular choice, especially during the peak summer months of July and August, when you will find crowds in abundance. This shouldn’t put you off; you will find your spot on the fine, white sand if you get there early enough.
Bačvice Beach, Split
One of Croatia’s most well-known beaches is in Split’s city center.
Grebisce Beach, Hvar Island
Hvar’s best sandy beach for families is Grebisce, located on the Jelsa Harbor’s north side.
Vela Przina Beach, Korčula
The only problem with famous beaches is that they tend to get a little crowded during the peak months. The answer? Simple, really, get there early enough and make a day of it.
Sakarun Beach, Dugi Otok
If you’re looking for a beach that looks like paradise, your search is now over! Clear, calm water without major crowds all makes a perfect family choice. The smaller beaches and bays around Sakarun are fun to explore with the family. This is one of the most famous beaches on Dugi Otok and in the Zadar Region.
Saplunara Beach, Mljet
Velika Plaza, Omiš
Omiš is a large town with several sandy beaches to choose from, yet Velika Plaza is the main beach in the city, making it the easiest to get to and the largest.
Bay Lovrečina, Brač
Tucked along the island of Brač’s northern shores, you will find a little cove known as Bay Lovrečina. Here, waters are shallow, azure, and clear, the sun is plentiful, and nearby pines provide shade. We suggest you try your hand at Picigin. It’s an ideal location for this traditional Croatian water game!
Queens Beach, Nin
There are many sandy beaches in the Zadar-Nin area, but this one is probably the best. The waters around this beach change regularly, depending on the wind and weather, which makes for a fantastic sandcastle building! There is also plenty of room for running free in total safety, which is always a must when you’re having a family beach day.
Best Hidden Beach Gems In Croatia
For Camping Lovers: Camping Sumini
This area on the island of Pag is lined with oleander, oak, and laurel trees and lies right on the Adriatic coast. It is a decidedly unique Mediterranean experience, where you can pitch your tent (camper or caravan) among the 35 hectares of trees and spend a night listening to the sound of the waves rolling in. Heaven indeed!
The scenery here is breathtaking, making it one of the best places to catch some rays or hide in the shade if the sun gets too hot.
For Sports Lovers: Nin
Nin is home to soft sand that stretches as far as the eye can see and many great spots for SUP and kite surfing, including a kite surfing school.
You’ll also find people smearing themselves with a thick black sludge located close to the water. You might wonder why, but this area is home to magical mud! Yes, you read that correctly. Ideal for curing sore joints and muscles, the mud typical of this area is an effective alternative remedy for muscle pain. Try it yourself if your arms get sore from a day of SUPing.
For Families: Spiaza, Susak
This tiny island is composed of sand. By that, I mean it looks like it is almost entirely nothing but sand. Spiaza is a short ferry ride from the nearest town, and the main beach is crescent-shaped and stretches out from the village.
The beach boasts a very shallow bay; you must walk out just over 500 meters to find water deep enough to swim in. This makes it a perfect location for children.
You will have no worries as your kids splash around in the bay’s shallow waters. Also, if you travel a little further to the east, it is much less crowded. The only drawback is walking around some rocks to get there. However, if you are up for the challenge, you can have a beach that is almost all yours.
What do you think? Can you find a place for snorkeling in Croatia or a kick-ass spot to dive in Croatia to enjoy?