By Preeda Harish Kumar & Susie Hall de Silva
When Anastasiya first talked about organising a dive trip to Dubrovnik (Croatia), Susie and I were the first to put our names down and wow, what an incredible adventure! Anastasiya is a fantastic organiser and this trip report is a very brief account of our trip:-
The turquoise blue Adriatic Sea is squeezed between Italy and Croatia. The seabed is dotted with wrecks from ancient to modern wars, coral reefs, hidden caves, caverns, tunnels, a plethora of fish / marine animals / flora / fauna and remnants of past civilisations. Finding used ammunitions, broken bits of mine casings all gave us a glimpse into Croatia’s turbulent past…
The Blue Planet Dive Centre is located in the 5 star “Dubrovnik Palace” hotel. Built into the rocks at the bottom of the peninsula where the hotel faces the Adriatic sea, we were given 5 star treatment. The facilities were superb; Blue Planet have excellent, well maintained equipment, knowledgeable, professional instructors and staff. They have 3 modern ribs, one of which is large enough to take 20 divers and their equipment for 2 dives. The dive centre has its own house reefs and is close to some outstanding dive sites, very rich in marine life. Water temperature is fine for 5mm wetsuit for up to 35 metres; though colder thermoclines do hit you throughout the dive. Surface temperatures were in the 30s. Each morning we were picked up by the dive centre and also dropped off back at the pickup point in the afternoon. We did a total of 10 dives with cylinder / air, weights & guide included in the price.
Dive 1 – Zaton – the most interesting part of this dive was the fantastic caves. One in particular, we surfaced in an underwater cavern to some remarkable stalactites. The colourful sponges all over this site were spectacular in size and colour – bright oranges, yellow, reds and purples. The caves leading to the cavern had more of the yellow sponges than any other part of the site. Dive 2 – The Abyss (Wreck), is a fishing vessel with guns which operated as a transport vessel (food, fuel, etc. for their countryman) during the most recent civil war, which was sunk by enemy fire. Marine life was abundant around the fragments of this poignant wreckage.
Dive 1 – Lokrum Island/Dead Sea Lagoon – Lokrum Island is the closest island to Dubrovnik. The rib dropped us off near a cliff, we dived along the cliff wall. Every turn was a photo opportunity; the underwater topology was breathtaking with tall seagrass everywhere, tropical fish surrounding us as we swam along this idyllic rocky slope. Our guide Đivo took us along some interesting shaped rock formations before we reached a rocky slope to a canyon, then a submerged tunnel through the cliffs to a sheltered lagoon, murky with a strong halocline. It is a popular swimming spot, and as we surfaced there was much hilarity as the unsuspecting bathers got scared and fled back to shore: much to the amusement of sunbathers who saw the whole scene unfold. We said a quick hello to the relieved swimmers, took the all-important photos with our gopros before descending back the way we came. Dive 2 – Gebreni Islands – There is a cluster of small islands in front of the dive centre known as Gebreni Islands. We dived around one of the smaller islands. Dive 3 – Night dive house reefs – Each dive was better than the last, but this night dive with Marko will last in Preeda and Anastasiya’s memory as one of their all-time favourites, there was sooo much life at one point we did feel like we were in octopus heaven, there were soo many! Octopus, eels, cuttlefish were some of the highlights whilst Susie was enchanted by the giant camouflaged hermit crabs.
It had become a little windy on the 3rd day and hence we did 2 shore dives from the many we could have chosen and the last one was a boat dive to a different Gegreni Island than the one we dived on day 2. Each dive was as exciting and interesting as the last, as were the speedboat rides! We navigated our way through a savannah of seagrass to reach naturally formed rocky bridges, caves (one formed a heart shape which we swam through) and more seagrass. We saw nudibranchs, small scorpionfish, hermit crabs and huge shoals of tropical fish everywhere. The amount of life just a very short distance from the dive centre was very impressive. Highlight was the red coral tucked in the nooks of the cave, which is used to make jewellery.
The wind unfortunately had picked up and for safety reasons the dive centre decided to take us away to another Island where it was not so windy. We had to swim to the boat in very choppy waters first! The diving after that ‘fun’ swim was well worth it. Instructor Orsat expertly located the fascinating wreck of the German U Boat “i-boot-1-48”, which lies at 30 metres; it is home to abundant fish, lobsters, crabs, eels and squid. The 2nd dive was off Lopud Island where the marine life blew us away, larger shoals of fish, barracuda, Tonna galea (giant marine gastropod mollusc), giant nudibranch….
This trip has been an amazing adventure for us, we filled every moment with laughter, fun, exploring with a few cocktails along the way. A few things we will miss most about this timeless Adriatic city:-
- The fantastic diving, worth a 2nd and 3rd visit!
- The scent of the pine trees surrounding our hilltop apartment and our breath-taking views from our balcony.
- Our sunset cocktails in bars carved out of caves and hidden bars jutting out of the cliffs facing the aqua blue waters of the Adriatic.
- Hiking, exploring & discovering the hidden gems of the old city and islands of Croatia. Thanks to Anastasiya’s inside knowledge we found cheaper, less touristy places to eat & drink. The Bosnian village we walked a mile to find the traditional Bosnian family restaurant was our favourite – the walk was through picturesque forest with remnants of the recent Balkan war.
- A day’s sea kayaking around Croatia’s hidden islands.
- Taking the Croatian uber with the only female uber driver was super entertaining, next time we gotta try the uber boat!
- The people: we felt so welcomed by the dive centre staff; we arrived as guests and departed as friends.
- The amazing speedboat rides!
- Finally, taking our rightful place on the Iron Throne: we truly are mothers of dragons… ;-)