Diving tourism in Croatia has been increasing in popularity since 1996. Annual growth in the number of tourists has been between 15 and 20%, and with it grew the number of professional diving centres organized in the near vicinity ofthe most attractive locations along the coastline, in order to enable divers from all over the world to abandon themselves to enjoying the Croatian submarine world, while at the same time being able to feel secure under professional supervision and with all the necessary safety easures in place.
Today, the number of registered and licensed diving centres exceeds 100, with the largest number being located in
Istria and Kvarner, and in the area of Central Dalmatia. Undoubtedly the most attractive diving locations in the Adriatic are underwater cliff faces and reefs, caves and the wrecks of ships and aeroplanes. The Croatian land mass ranks among the most specific in the world: Dalmatia itself lies on karst, full of crevices, caves, sink holes and channels. Based on the number of caves so far discovered on land it is estimated that there are at least 1500 underwater caves and holes still undiscovered in the Adriatic. In addition to plant and animal species endemic to the Adriatic, which are a highly sought-after target for photo and video safaris, the most attractive locations are those which conceal traces of times gone by: archaeological localities and underwater wrecks. The oldest localities containing the remains of sunken ships date from the times of Antiquity, and are to be found on the ancient trading routes leading from Greece towards northern Italy, and all the colonies founded along that route on the shores of the Adriatic: Cavtat (Epidaurus), Mljet (Meleda), Korčula ( Kokira), Hvar ( Pharos), Vis (Issa), Split (Asphalatos / Spalatum), Solin (Salona), Trogir (Tragurium), Rogoznica (Heracleia), anchorage sites in the Kornati archipelago (Žirje, Lavsa, Murter), the wider area of Šibenik and Zadar (Liburnia / Jadera), Pula (Pola), Roman villas on the Brijuni islands, and many other micro-locations once used by ancient mariners as refuges and anchorages.
In the Middle Ages trades links between Italy and the Middle East intensified, Venice became a booming trading metropolis, towns along the Croatian littoral experience strong development (Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Pula); naval battles of the 19th and 20th centuries leave their traces on the sea bed. Since WWII many wrecks have been lifted from the bottom of the sea (particularly along the Istrian coast), but there remains a considerable number of wrecks available to sports divers.
Those at greater depths are still biding their time, waiting to be discovered and researched. It is our desire to present all those special qualities to the world tourist market, particularly at nautical and diving fairs. This is why the Croatian National Tourist Board believes that a readily identifiable, attractive and exclusive approach to the promotion of diving tourism as a very young and promising, and highly specific branch of tourism, is very important indeed.
Legislative regulation regarding underwater activities in Croatia is still in the phase of defining the final legal provisions, the aim being to regulate development of diving tourism in the most effective way, based on practice and application, while at the same time preserving the wealth of the Adriatic underwater world and to increase diving safety. According to current regulations it is possible to dive in Croatian waters if one has a valid permission (annual diving identity card at a cost of 100 HRK per annum, and individual Permission for independent underwater activities, costing 2400 HRK per annum.
Should tourist diving activity be planned in the registered diving centres (presented in this catalogue), then individual permission is not necessary. There are zones where diving is prohibited even with individual permission. These are those zones under special protection by the Ministry of Culture, and diving in those areas may be allowed but only when accompanied by a diving guide from an authorized diving centre. In other words, you can dive anywhere in the Adriatic provided that you are accompanied by a professional guide (diving guide or diving instructor) whose job is to ensure your safety and to show you diving locations in a direct and informed way. Every professionally organized diving centre fulfils all the conditions required to make your diving trip a safe, interesting and unforgettable experience.