Diving into an old, mysterious shipwreck located at the bottom of the sea? Yes, we’ve all dreamed of it at least once. And often in these fantasies, we would find an old antique vase we would later donate to a museum or a treasure chest full of golden coins and emeralds to fulfill every other wish we had in life. Those with more imagination also battled it out with giant sharks and even larger octopuses.
While one can’t guarantee that you’ll find such vases or octopuses every time you go under Adriatic waves, shipwrecks are a completely different story. With dense sea traffic since the old times, this sea is full of ships which, instead of happily reaching their destinations, hit the rocks of its bottom. And stayed there, sleeping in silence for decades, or even centuries.
While each of these drowned iron giants has its own tragic story, they are also a source of much enjoyment to scuba divers. Just the very sight of one such mysterious vessel covered with corals and sea shells evokes adventurer within. Of course, diving into shipwrecks requires skill and experience in underwater surrounding, but attendees are always safe in the company of professional scuba escorts. And you can find one in every larger settlement on the Croatian coast.
But where can you find these shipwrecks? As already mentioned, there’s quite a lot of them. For example, in the vicinity of Pula, a 90-meter long passenger ship under the name of Baron Gautsch has awaited visitors ever since it took a wrong turn and ended up in the minefield in distant 1908. A few miles away lays Giuseppe Dezza, which used to be a 65-meter military vessel with an Italian banner, until it got bombed by a British airplane in 1944. The pilot did a good job, since Dezza ended up broken into two pieces after the fight. Both halves can be accessed by scuba divers.
Just prior to the end of World War II, the Germans decided to obliterate the majority of their naval units in order to prevent them from falling into Allied hands. Such was the case with their submarines, which spread terror since the first day of the conflict. Enter Submarine 82, whose stern can be visited close to the shores near Pula.
Other Istrian shipwrecks include Remorker (a good site for diving beginners and those interested in fish species of the Adriatic) Hans Schmidt (a gargantuan 100-meter Dutch steamer), John Gilmoure (a 50-meter early casualty of the Great War) Flamingo (an Italian warship which actually managed to stumble upon its own mine in 1914) Coriolanus (A Shakespeare-class British intelligence vessel destroyed in 1945) and Varese (another Italian ship which, escaping a storm, ended up with a mine on its stern). To visit these wrecks, and many other underwater locales, contact Hippocampus Diving Center in Pula.
Close to the island of Vis lies a ship known as “Brijuni.” From the day it was first dipped into the sea in 1909, the vessel didn’t have much luck. After barely surviving the First World War, she sunk due to a strong storm in 1930. One hopes that her last voyage was a happy one, as it was transporting wine and tobacco. Brijuni is well known for its huge propeller, observable at a depth of 40 meters.
The Kvarner region is also a good spot for any wreck diver. A Greek cargo ship called Peltastis was another victim of Adriatic storms, as it sunk near Silo on the island of Krk. Its mast is only 8 meters beneath the water’s surface. The Scottish were always proud of their steamers, but unfortunately even their design couldn’t help the ship “Lena” after it struck the very island of Cres during a foggy voyage. To many people, Lena is the first wreckage they explored as divers, due to its ease of access and impressive surroundings.
To visit the aforementioned Kvarner wreckages, and many more, we suggest booking an underwater safari called “The Wreck of Kvarner,” organized by the crew of Diving Ship Agramer. A seven-day scuba experience costs 710€ during the peak season.
Ciovo and Solta are known as great tourist destinations, partly due to the wrecks of Pajo and Ribolovac. Before becoming wonderful spots for scuba diving, these two vessels were just ordinary fishing boats with the tough luck of ending up sleeping with the fishes. Literally. If you wish to visit them, contact Resnik Diving Center in Kastela.
Near the island of Kaprije the German warship of Francesca de Rimini was hiding its presence on the docks, covered in hay. Unfortunately for its crew, the partisan intelligence found and reported its location to the British Air Force, which sunk the ship with two torpedo missiles. The shores near the town of Primosten, on the other hand, hide an unnamed cargo vessel carrying coal, which still covers the bottom around the shipwreck.
Dubrovnik, in addition to its walls, features a warship sleeping on the reefs nearby. It is called Taranto, and it belonged to the Italian navy until being sunk by yet another mine during the Second World War. The locality has a charm because of two agricultural tractors which were carried by the vessel on the day of the destruction.
Many more shipwrecks await curious divers in the depths of Adriatic. Reaching them is fairly simple- just visit the diving center in the settlement of your vacation, and pick the ghost ship of your choice.