On the flight home from last years club trip to Corfu we flew over some lovely looking coastline and a great looking Island. Some time on Google Earth and we discovered it was called Viz off the coast of Croatia. Unfortunately we could only find villas on the island rather then hotels (we are on holiday) so moved the trip to the mainland.
As usual we went and spoke to Emma at Holsworthy Travel (http://www.holsworthytravel.co.uk) who gave us some excellent advice on where was good to stay and our flight options. An All-inclusive hotel was booked and 6 of us were off via Bristol.
Two of the group thought they could save a few pounds and booked the same hotel via low cost holidays. A few weeks before we were due to travel the reason why we use a local travel agent, over an internet site, once again was proven. Let’s just say only 6 of us went in the end!!
A local dive centre was identified and initial emails exchanged – they confirmed they were open, could accommodate us and the good news is they were on the same site as the hotel – so no early morning pick ups - http://www.epidaurum.com
Initial check in at Bristol was a very sensible 0900 on a Sunday morning so a half decent night’s sleep followed by an easy drive on a quiet motorway and we arrived at a dead quiet Silver Parking. We find the Silver zone the easiest parking option at Bristol, it’s a 5 minutes bus ride into the terminal, you get dropped off and picked up right outside the entrance and using the BSAC Plus discount it’s as cheap as the local off airport options.
Due to the sensible flight times some of us booked into the Airport lounge too. Bacon rolls, tea or coffee, pastries and a nice bar was open. We decided gin with breakfast was a bit excessive – so we plumped for the port. Lunch soon arrived as well and a mixed soup, cheese and biscuits, scones and cake made sure we were filled up before the easy jet flight. Again by using the BSAC Plus deals it was a great way to start the holiday.
The flight passed smoothly, the baggage recovery was quick and efficient and once through Customs the man stood there with our names on a clipboard. He took one of the ladies bags and we were off on our private transfer to the hotel, which was no more than 10 minutes away.
We were staying at the Epidaurus hotel in Cavtat which was a short hop from Dubrovnik; http://www.remisens.com/en/hotel-epidaurus. Most of the group checked in OK. We were told they had no reservation in our names, but after we showed them our hotel booking forms that Holsworthy Travel had provided a room key was supplied and we were in. The hotel was light and airy with a good sea view. It does need a bit of paint here and there but there was nothing wrong that we could find. The rooms were clean and large as were the beds.
Over the week there was a really good selection of meals with a range of starters, main courses and sweets. I did find the sweets better looking then they were tasting. Most were sponge cake based and that really isn’t to my taste – but the cheese and biscuits or fruit made up for that.
Most meal times had the same range of salads, cold meats, veg and hot meals. They changed the main dish each day but by the end of the week I’d had enough of the pork fillet, pork stew, pork chops, pork ribs……..The only down side was for our vegetarian – she got fed up with the rice and salad as the only other option was fish which was sometimes rather oddly cooked. To be fair to the hotel there was a number of pasta options, but when I tried them they all tasted the same – minestrone soup! The only thing we avoided was the packed lunches as these seem to be made the evening before for an 0800 pick up. They were happy to produce these for us and we did see some people with them , instead we made our own at breakfast as the fresh bread was superb along with a choice of eggs, hams, cheese etc.
There was a varied entertainment program, mainly aimed at the French tour groups in the hotel, but the hotel itself also ran some activities such as boules and shooting. These gave the non divers something to do when they didn’t go shopping or swimming.
Upon arrival we popped into the dive centre, said hello and agreed to a sensible 0930 start time the first dive day. We had a good look at the showers, drying room and hire kit and all looked good. One of our guys needed to hire some kit (suit and BCD) and the kit supplied fitted well and looked well maintained in the main. We did need to switch out the BCD part way through the week as it lost air through the dive and had to constantly be played with but the replacement worked fine and the jacket was put into the repair area so it wasn’t used again – it is the end of a long season.
We arrived at the prescribed 0930 to find the dive master / instructor wasn’t available till after lunch so we agreed to carry out our own check dive in the area outside the dive centre. There is an old sewage / water pipe that runs straight out from the hotel. This gave us a great check out side, diving slowly along the pipe with sea grass either side to a depth of 12m or so. There was plenty to see along the pipe with grouper, oysters and a whole range of little fish and filer feeders. We drifted off the pipe and soon got bored in the sea grass beds so returned to the pipe for the home ward swim. A lovely 65 minute dive soon put us in the holiday mood.
This was helped as we surfaced and was met by the dive guide for the week who helped us out of the water and asked that magic question “ would anyone like a beer?” The wind was getting up and there was no afternoon boat planned so most of the group excepted the cold beer from the tap in the dive centre, where as the rest enjoyed the best coffee of the week, so much nicer than the instant machine in the hotel.
Tuesday saw the arrival of the centres boat, a decent sized catamaran with twin 140 hp Suzuki engines, loads of room, benches and a very, very good stereo and speakers. Diving was out the side gates or off the rear platform and two ladders on the rear allowed for an easy egress – with or without kit.
We dropped down the first shot of the cage onto the top of a metal cage, which has been placed to protect the 1000 (ish) year old Amphora wreck. Not from boats or divers but looters and antique dealers. It made for an interesting dive, dropping to 23m we had a 40 minute bimble around the 100s of bottle along with congers, morey and a range of fish. After 20 minutes or so it was time to leave the cage to get every one out and on the way back up – but to be fair we’d seen it all by then and with 7 of us in the space the 20m viz we started with was down to about 5. There is a 10 Euro supplement to dive this site which gets paid to the local government to assist with preservation of this and other local historical sites.
A short boat drive off to Mrkahjac saw us on a reverse profile diving a lovely wall with morey, octopus, grouper and the first nudi branch of the trip. Each hole seemed to have a different colour or style of life within it – a good torch is a must. A simple wall with around 15m of viz. This was quite a short dive due to the 27m depth at just 30 minutes but a good first day and back in time for the hotel’s AI lunch, after a beer was served, along with coffee, whilst the kit was washed, stowed and plans sorted for day 3.
Wednesday was another sensible start with a 10 am start plan, so we arrived early to ensure coffee was enjoyed whilst the kit was sorted. The 4 compressors heat the drying room, and what wasn’t dry, was nice and warm. 12 or 15l cylinders were sorted and we were off on the boat to a site called Croatia Skoj. This is one of the sites just around the headland toward Cavtat harbour and was a lovely drop off down to 31m and 22 degrees of watmth coupled with 20m of viz. As it was based around a reef / rock then a nice free fall down the wall and a simple climb back up gave us a 63 minute dive time looking at a range of life and lovey rock formations.
Again a short surface interval was had (25 mins) whilst we moved to the island in the bay and had a 52 minute dive at Bobara Cave, my favourite site of the week. We didn’t visit the cave on the dive but after dropping off the boat in 10 meters of water and 20ms of viz we moved over a short ledge to a canyon that dropped 30m to the canyon floor before climbing the other side on a gradual slope over a boulder garden full of life and colour. A decent amount of time can be spent under the boat once out of the canyon to fizzle off and hunt for the nudis, octo, clams and fan mussels that can be found in the shallows (7m).
Kit was again washed, hung and cylinders placed for filling before the obligatory coffee machine or beer tap was put to good use. Washing the kit with a hot water hose pipe certainly ensured it kept the sweet smell rather than the dive centre one!!
As we’d missed the hotel lunch and didn’t fancy the AI burger that was the afternoon snack a wonder into Cavtat and a beer and mixed plate of cheese, meats and breads was taken over watching the harbour – there are worse ways to spend an afternoon.
Day four followed the same process diving Bobara Kahjoh and Bobara Cave, heading in different directions to the day before, this time heading South around the island. Yet again a lovely days diving with 15 m of viz and a combined dive time of 2 hours with depths of 32 and 33m.
The final day’s diving saw a 30m square profile to some very large urns that went down at the time the bible was written. They were huge and had plenty of live within them. Trying to stay just outside of deco a bottom time of 25 minutes gave plenty of time to explore each urn and the area around them. How they ever made, carried and transported these things is beyond me. As one of the centres signature dives it was great to see something that old – and big.
Our final dive was the cave at Bobara. However my battery charger had died during the week and the torch gave up the ghost on the way in, 20 seconds later and the dive guide’s did the same. The thought of heading into a cave at 20m with one light between us wasn’t one that we fancied so a little look and a turn around gave us more time to explore the canyon floor before heading up to the rock garden. Boarding the boat after an hour underwater we headed back for final kit wash and beer – but no coffee, they’d run out
After a good wash and hang bills were paid, kit taken back to rooms and tee shirts exchanged. The centre also hire jet skies, power boats and offer a number of thrill rides so once diving is over there is plenty to do if you don’t fancy the hotel entertainment or a trip around town.
Local buses run into Dubrovnik and we did take a trip around the old city. If you like steps then the wall walk is the place to be with suburb views and loads of history. The old walled city is a lovely way to spend time either on or off the wall. The harbour area has some great eateries, plenty of knick nacs and souvenir shops and the best pint I’d found all week – Westons Vinatge
To sum up the week was great. The hotel was simple and easy with good food and interesting entertainment. The diving was varied with plenty to see without the hustle and bustle of some of the more preferred diving locations. The dive centre was welcoming and friendly with good kit and a lovely boat
Would we go again? Oh yes, in fact for the first time in a long number of years we’re planning on going back next year to see what else the area has to offer.