Diving In Croatia - Dugi Otok Island
Last week, I spent a fantastic week on Dugi Otok island. I was diving with Dive DugiOtok with my dive group Subadivers.ie. Eric Šešelja runs the dive shop and did everything for us. He went above and beyond what we expected of him. Eric is Canadian born of Croatian parents and moved back to his ancestral home 15 years ago. It seems everyone on the island knows him. He is super friendly and having spent the first part of his life in Canada, his English is excellent as you might expect.
Anyway, here are my dive computer readings for the 10 dives I did last week. It was a great experience, especially because I completed deep diver while there under the watchful eye of my dive instructor.
The first dive was a nice and easy dive to get us started. The visibility around the island is ridiculously clear. Even the harbour water looks clearer than tap water. The downside to such clear water is a lack of food for fish to eat so the aquatic life isn't as good as I would like. You see a little more on the other side of the island where it faces the Adriatic. The side we were based on is sheltered with the numerous islands of Croatia. Anyway, the first dive was what Eric calls the button between Lavdara and Mrtonjak.
The second dive was a wreck dive. It was the wreck of Monar off the island of Krava. As I understand it, the Monar was a wooden ship that caught fire a few years ago. The wreck was basically the spine of the sip with bits of wood scattered all over the wreck site. Eric said that even recently, divers find wallets with money in them.
The second day was at the Brbišćica drop off for both dives. This was a sheltered little bay on the other side of the island. Eric took us out in groups on his small boat and dropped us off. He stayed about half way to shore in the boat in case we needed to be picked up but we decided to swim all the way back to shore for both dives. The first one was a nice dive along a wall with plenty of fish and plant life.
The second dive we went through a cave called through the doors. It's basically a large arch but I got one of my most impressive pictures going through that little cave. It was pretty awesome and my first cave experience. The wall on the other side was better than the cave though. It teamed with fish and interesting plant life.
The third day was at the hole in the wall at Mežanj. Both dives were basically the same. We went to the other side of the island again, but a little further out. On another of Eric's smaller boats, we were taken to a small island where there's a larger cave. This one is fun as it involves descending down a hole and then through a large cave/arch. The cave itself wasn't very impressive in terms of life. The real fun was when we got to the other side and found a wall on either side that went down between 40-50m. There was lots of things to see but this was my first real deep dive with my instructor. I got to nearly 39m for a few minutes before heading back to a more normal level. I got to experience my first taste of nitrogen narcosis and it truly is like being drunk. When I realised how deep I was I had a split between shock and non caring. My instructor indicated to come up above 30m and I did but I still felt light headed like I didn't quite care. This feeling started to dissipate the shallower I got and by the time we made 20m it was pretty much gone.
Since I went so deep, it required a few safety stops when we descended through the hole again. Safety stops are boring as hell so I decided I didn't want to go so deep on the next dive.
The second dive was the same except we went right instead of left when we went through the cave. It was pretty much the same except I stayed above 30m and didn't experience any narcosis and more importantly, less of a safety stop.
The fourth day was the Telašćica national park. We went to Garmenjak first and just had a nice sedate dive along a wall.
After a lovely lunch on one of the islands, we went to a site called Sestrica and as I recall, it was just another sedate dive down to 32m. Nothing of note to mention on either of these dives but they were very nice.
Day 5 was out last day of diving. We started off at a sunken Dry dock near Mrtonjak. As Eric tells the story, someone in the local government called him up and said they had this dry dock to dispose of and asked if he wanted it. He said yes and they sunk it off Mrtonjak. When we arrived, his bouey was missing so Eric, with his BCD sideways, fins half on and two spits in his mask, launched himself in the water to find the rope. None of us had ever seen anything like it. Eventually we got the new bouey in place and proceeded to descend along the rope. It was a pretty cool wreck and quite large at about 50m x 100m. The deepest part was 34m deep so it appears I stayed a couple of meters off the bottom. It was quite funny because on all the previous dives, Eric told us we might see octopus in certain places but never did. When we were getting in the water we asked about octopus here and he said absolutely not. Wouldn't you know it? We found an octopus curled up by the wreck. I have a bad picture of it. If you look at all the red warnings on my computer display, you will notice some issues. What happened was that we were ascending up the rope until the rope gave out and started going back down. This left us in a pickle and we were trying to do our safety stop without the rope as a reference. This was difficult for our instructor who had 7 or 8 divers to keep an eye on. There were no adverse effects but my computer didn't appreciate being ignored and beeped angrily. I swear it was sulking for the next and final dive.
The final dive was nearby between Mrtonjak and Tukoscak. It was called Sika. Basically, we anchored in the shallows for a couple of hours in between dives. This was to be a nice and sedate end to our diving trip. I got a little bored so I went snorkelling for about 40 minutes in the shallows. It was very pleasant and there were lots of fish to look at. I stayed on the surface as apart from the fact I don't think I could have gone under with all the neoprene, I shouldn't go under anyway after a deep dive.
Anyway, when we actually did the dive, I already knew some of the layout of the area but we went deeper. The idea was to swing around to the shallows where I had been snorkelling but we never did that in the end. We actually saw a ray, Eric had mentioned that we might be lucky and we were. It glided past us and I just managed to get a picture of it before it disappeared.
That was it then, our 10 dives complete. We had an early start the next day to head to the mainland and do tourist stuff before an early flight on Saturday morning.
My thanks to Eric for going above and beyond the call of duty in all cases. He looked after us both when it came to diving and in all other matters of the trip. I can't recommend him enough if you are planning a dive trip in Croatia. Dugi Otok is pretty much unspoiled. There were almost no tourists when we were there.