To be honest, I had never expected to experience such a variety of underwater creatures in the Mediterranean. I've done most of my dives over the last few years on the island of Cozumel in Mexico, but as it's just too far away for a long weekend or even a week, I looked for alternatives. Where do Austrians prefer to dive without boarding a plane? The answer was very clear: Croatia! With its more than 6000 kilometres of coastline, there should be some stretches that can be dived and enjoyed, right? And one of the more than 1200 islands should also be suitable for us, right? Right! And after some research and a hot tip from underwater photographer Heinz Toperczer, we landed on Murter.
Scuba Diving in Murter | Kornati National Park
The underwater world of Murter, in particular, that of the Kornati National Park, is just magnificent. Murter does not have to hide from Caribbean dream destinations like Bonaire or Mexico. Each day is different and if you want to see some wrecks you are definitely in the right place.
Most dives are deep and usually take place at 15-35m, which requires experience in the area (Advanced Open Water Diver, Deep Speciality or similar). If you want to try out as deep as possible or even Tec, you will find enough dive sites in the Kornati.
What makes Kornati so special for Scuba Divers?
The combination of varied dive spots, ship and aircraft wrecks, huge schools of fish, multi-coloured Gorgonians and colourful corals turns the islands around Murter into a true paradise and Mecca for divers. It is a playground for underwater photographers and those who wish to take it up. With an attentive look, you can also discover some nudibranchs. There is no swarm of them here, but I found at least a few on every dive.
From June to October, the water temperatures are pleasant and warm enough to dive in wetsuits, but especially Tec divers and passionate deep divers still prefer to dive in dry suits.[irp posts=”17552″ name=”Road Trip Croatia: Scuba Diving, National Parks & More”]
Amazing dive spots in Murter and the Kornati
To be honest, I haven't found a dive site here yet that I don't like at all. They are all different and they all have their unique characteristics. Some of the highlights I gladly reveal to you:
The dive site Dome already fascinated me during our first trip to the Kornati. It's the colourfully overgrown steep wall, which breaks away and forms an overhang – the dome. For this reason, there is no or very little natural light in many parts. The sponges and different kinds of corals are only really recognizable in the light of the flashlight and the colours are overwhelming!
For several years I wanted to dive an airplane wreck and after I didn't get the chance to dive one in Aruba and Canada, it had to be done in Croatia.
The Stuka is a relatively small German fighter jet, which was shot down in 1941 and was only rediscovered by fishermen in 2014.
The wreck is now well overgrown and fireworms are everywhere. The engine lies a few meters away and during my visit, a moray eel lived there and had its teeth cleaned by cleaner shrimps.
To descend and ascend a rope was placed to help with orientation.
Depth: mast at 28m, deck at 40m and deepest point in the sand next to the wreck: 52m
The Francesca shipwreck is probably the best preserved in the Adriatic Sea. Especially Tec divers come to Murter to dive it. And since I was curious, I went into the depths as well. Francesca is definitely a dive site for experienced divers. Normally I dive in Croatia with a 12l tank, but for this dive, a 15l tank was required. Better safe than sorry.
On a rope, it goes down into the depth and one cannot recognize the wreck at all from the water surface, because it lies so deep. During our dive, there were two boats and about 15 divers wanted to go down almost at the same time. Since big wrecks in the water always make me a bit restless, and my head says “that shouldn't be there at all”, the many divers didn't bother me at all and I found it pleasant to always have divers in my field of vision.
This wreck is also colourfully covered with corals and sponges, fish seem to guard their treasure in schools and on closer inspection you can also find nudibranchs here!
More Dive Spots
The dive school website has descriptions of the dive sites with helpful maps for orientation. Based on this information, owner Anna and her husband have also published a book about dive sites that you can buy at the dive centre.
Dive Centre Najada Diving
The diving school Najada Diving is located a little outside of Murter's city centre but is also easy to reach on foot. Since the dive centre is usually quite busy, I highly recommend to book the dives in advance with the owner Anna and to coordinate them with her. There is also some equipment for rent and if you want to try out a dry suit, you can organise it here on certain days. Training courses and Tec-courses are offered here also after arrangement.
The dives are generally not supervised by guides, but there is a detailed briefing for the respective dive site and if necessary a guide will, of course, be provided. I have always enjoyed exploring the dive sites alone with my buddy and not having to chase after a guide.
Diving with Najada Diving is generally very relaxed and comfortable – it is not without reason that I have been there twice this year and will definitely dive with them again in 2019.
Tips Scuba Diving in Murter and the Kornati
Equipment: whether you prefer to dive wet or dry, you can choose here in the warmer months (about June-October). With my semi-dry 7mm suit from Camaro, an ice vest with hood and gloves I was never cold in the water.
Gloves and hood or ice vest are generally a wonderful tip for the Adriatic Sea!
In addition, a good underwater flashlight is a real must.[irp posts=”17908″ name=”Avoid getting Cold while Scuba Diving | 7 Tips to Stay Warm in the Water”]
Qualification/Experience: most dive sites are rather deep, so an AOWD or similar level of qualification is required or advisable. In terms of experience, I would say that the Kornati are more suitable for advanced divers due to the depth of most dive sites.
Restaurant Tips for Murter
During the high season, Murter itself has a wide selection of restaurants with a large variety of menus to suit everyone. But the food in Murter is not very cheap compared to other islands and cities in Croatia.
This restaurant simply tops everything! The Konoba Boba belongs to the upper-level restaurants and has been awarded several times. No wonder! We were completely thrilled by the large selection of different dishes.
We especially enjoyed the appetizer fish platter for two with octopus salad, oysters and other delicacies. I will probably rave about this excellent tuna steak forever because it was by far the best I have ever eaten. Konoba Boba also stands out from the other restaurants when it comes to desserts: creative and especially tasty!
The Tic Tac is another more upscale restaurant directly by the sea. On warm evenings it is especially beautiful when the sun goes down and you can listen to the sound of the waves. The octopus salad is super good here, as is the Kalamari stew!
The restaurant Boskin Skver is a cosy and good place to eat. We passed it a few times and after people always enjoyed their meals in the shady garden we had to eat there too. On the menu are many good fish dishes and the waiters are very attentive.
In the evening we were most often in the restaurant Mate. I like the cosy atmosphere, the family business, and the food tastes great. Value for money is also great.
Tip: Pre-order monkfish goulash – it's delicious!
We also went to the restaurant Mareta more than once. It is probably one of the less expensive restaurants in Murter and that with a fantastic location at the town square and directly at the water.
As with the dive sites, we didn't find a restaurant we didn't like at all.
Accommodation in Murter
On Murter, there are hardly any large hotels and most divers and other visitors choose an apartment. Depending on what you have in mind, there are several options. However, they are not quite modern and you can see that not much has been invested here in recent years to get the apartments back in shape. Depending on the season you have to take what you can get. Most of the apartments are within walking distance of the small city centre and have (narrow) parking spaces.
Like the first time we visited Murter, we had an apartment organized by the diving centre. Anna knows most of the owners and is happy to take care of the task. This time we stayed in a very spacious and bright apartment in the house Coronata within walking distance to the diving school, which cost about 60€ per night incl. taxes and tourism tax off-season.
Day Trips from Murter
Murter is very conveniently located and relatively central in Croatia, which is why there are also great day trips on non-diving days. Here are some that are really worthwhile:
Krka National Park & Skradin
Distance from Murter: 41km | Drive time: approx. 40 minutes
The Krka National Park and the small town of Skradin are ideal for planning a day on land. In the national park, you can go for simple hikes and walks and also refresh yourself in the cool water during the summer months.
Distance from Murter: 34km | Driving time: approx. 36 minutes
The white city of Sibenik is a dreamy place where you can relax and unwind. The many small restaurants and cafés are just the right place. Walks through Sibenik are a must and also the promenade is especially beautiful on sunny days.
Distance from Murter: 123km | Driving time: approx. 1.5 hours
What a magical city Split is! The Diocletian's Palace in today's Old Town is spacious and resembles a maze with many wonderful surprises behind almost every corner.
Distance from Murter: 86km | Driving time: approx. 70 minutes
Zadar can be optimally planned as a stopover on arrival or departure. The old town is inviting and the sea organ is indeed a masterpiece to be enjoyed.
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