Technical Diving in Croatia

Technical Diving in Croatia

I write this just a few days after returning from what I can only explain as one epic trip and a newfound place in my heart. After arriving at London-Luton airport at 4 am to find the queue for bag drop out the front doors, I thought, what are you doing here? Ninety minutes later, we had 13 people all ready for a coffee and breakfast when our gate was called, and boarding had started commencing (who would have thought 3 hours wasn't enough time to check in anymore).

A pleasant flight of only 2hrs 30minutes and we had touched down in Split, Croatia, reunited with 28 bags and the gigantic taxi driver found, our diving holiday had started! Having never been to Croatia, we were soaking in all the surroundings and ambience it had to offer as we got to the ferry and boarded the little island of Viz. However, boarding with this much luggage was defiantly an exciting way to work out - and who does that on holiday anyway.

We arrived on the island of viz and instantly noticed the lack of cars and people bustling through the streets (this was a stark difference from Malta). Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at the dive centre and were greeted by Andi, the owner of Manta Dive Centre. Very welcoming and just told us to leave all our dive kits in the shop and come back tomorrow after a long day of travelling "it can wait till tomorrow; you're in Viz now", and so we did just that. Bag dropped, accommodation checked in, and a restaurant found; this was the life we had to look forward to all week.


Day 1 - Arrived, kit set up and loaded onto the perfect Technical diving boat we had used. Seven twinsets, Six Rebreathers, and a Sidemount diver and off we went for our check-out dive; the wreck Tetti was just a 10-minute ride out, not even time to don the dry suits before arriving on site, quick Briefing and in we jumped off the bow and the water beneath greeted us with warm, crystal clear visibility and the wreck just sitting there waiting to be explored.



Day 2 - Saw us visit two wrecks on the North side of the island, Vasilios T, a Greek. Cargo ship and B24 Liberator at a depth of 38m - 52m make for a great technical dive for OC and CCR as they give duration and depth options. With the landing carriage upright in the water and one engine sitting proudly on the sea bed, we were blessed with 30 minutes of bottom time with minimal deco.  


Day 3 - It was just EPIC. We visited the Brioni Wreck, and we were not disappointed. All wrecks we visited had permanently shot-lined, so we had no problem getting on to the wrecks, and the sheer size of the Brioni just left us in ore. It is laid on its side with a depth range of 40m-58m, and up to 25m or so; we could explore and explore. Giant propeller sitting just off the seabed, a spare anchor on the bridge section and lots of holes to go off digging into, we all spent different run times here. When the "dreaded deco" was due off, we went to the wall, which quickly passed decompression, looking at all the critters and fish life.


Day 4 - After discussions at the dinner table, we got gassed up for the legendary. B-17 "Flying Fortress" not all of us could make the dive due to certification limits, and the group was happy for some of us to go dive it, and they would visit the Brioni once again. Descending the shot, we saw the beast come into view around 35m and still had another 30m to go; this meant one thing... EPIC viz. With four engines all intact, twin machine guns on the roof and shell casings all over, what more do we want as divers? Well, the helmet of the co-piolet was just the icing on the cake. Peaking through the window, I just lay there for all to see, along with the steering column and instruments.


Day 5 - The weather turned slightly windy for us, so we revisited the Vasilios T in the morning and decided to go and explore the island and what it had to offer. With submarine pens from WWII, watch towers and artillery positions to protect the island's runway back in the second world war. It is full of history both above and below the water. Hopping on and off the mopeds we hired for coffee, some cake and a few tourist pics and we headed back for dinner - kindly laid on by Andi and his mum at the dive centre, chilling and talking over a glass of wine, homemade sushi and grilled swordfish. This was so kind and generous of them as they work all day and then go and cook for us too. But we shouldn't have been surprised as their hospitality all week was top-notch.


Day 6 - The last day :( - all gassed up, kit ready and team ready to roll, we went to a small fishing vessel that crashed into the rocks when the guy fell asleep... OOPS. The wreck was pleasant enough but what awaited us was a little cave, maybe 80m, and in just 5m of water; it was a perfect way to end the week.

As we docked for the last time, this one the first time, we had to take any kit off the boat. The whole week we were able to leave everything on the ship (even the heavy twinsets) as they filled directly on the boat; it was all your kit with fresh water, and it was ready for the next day's diving. This was just luxury!

Andi had organised a local winery to collect us and experience the local Dalmatia Peka. Meat and fish are cooked in hot coals for 4 hours, marinating the potatoes, rice, and vegetables. You undoubtedly didn't need a knife; it was so tender a spoon would do, and with some very smooth red wine to accompany, we all enjoyed the last evening together and talked about the best dives of the holiday. 

With six days of diving, 12 wrecks, three new CCR mod, two divers and 2 Advanced Nitrox & Decompression Divers along with the pleasure divers, I can honestly say that Croatia and especially Manta Dive Center can be a place for all levels of divers, both pleasure and under instruction on some amazing wreck, making accurate word dives in warm, clear water. 

The hospitality from Andi and his team was apparent from minute one all the way through; he even ferried us back directly to the airport - THANK GOD, no heavy lifting on the return leg of the trip. 

This is a place we will be returning to next year 110% and also make it an annual trip for the club. Get in touch if you wish to join us for some great diving.

Credit: Dave Gration captured all images at Rebreather-Pro Training.