Discover & Escape 07.09.2015

“The deep blue” treasures of Cavtat

…a jewel surrounded by city walls and the unbroken blue of the sea...

For scuba diving enthusiasts visiting Dubrovnik, it is worth the short drive to Cavtat, where they can explore one of the biggest underwater amphora sites protected by the Ministry of Culture. This diving location is remarkable and worth the experience.


Dalmatia itself is located on the so-called karst terrain, full of crevices, caves, sink holes and channels. Based on the number of caves that have been found on the mainland, it is assumed that at least 1,500 underwater caves still lie undiscovered in the Adriatic. The oldest sites contain the remains of sunken ships dating from ancient times, to the ancient trading routes leading from Greece towards northern Italy and their colonies on the Adriatic coast.

One of those sites can be found in Cavtat, a small historic town located 20 km southeast of Dubrovnik. Numerous remains of sunken ships have been found In the area of Cavtat, so we can rightly say that this area is the number one underwater archaeological park in Croatia and offers great possibilities for both day and night dives at a pleasant sea temperatures in the summer months is from 21 to 26°C. 

If you are an experienced diver, or you have acquired basic diving skills in a diving school, we suggest a few sites that are definitely worth visiting when exploring the Cavtat deep blue:

The AMPHORA SITE is situated in the submarine zone of the Big Shallows (pličina Velika), north-west of the entrance to the Bay of Cavtat, at a depth of 27 metres. This is the largest and best preserved antique shipwreck with a cargo of amphora on the Eastern Adriatic coast.

The wood of the ship is gone of course, only an anchor was found close to the site. More than 600 undamaged amphorae from North Africa and the Aegean region have been documented on the surface layer, whereas the three site layers are assumed to contain more than 1800 pieces. According to the amphora type the locality dates back to the 2nd century A.D. The vases (amphorae), that originally contained olive oil and wine, are still tightly packed into the cargo hold in three rows as they were centuries ago. This is one of the best preserved forms of an ancient wreck and has a great historical significance.  The site has been preserved with the assistance of the Croatian Ministry of Culture, and the main site has been fenced in by a metal cage to guard against thefts as the amphorae are worth quite some money. Its estimated value on the black market is approximately 5 million £.

Only one diving centre has concession from the Croatian Ministry of Culture and the exclusive right to take tourists to this amazing “underwater museum” and that is Epidaurum Diving Centre whose owner of the company discovered this remarkable historical finding in 1996.

If we got you interested, check out below video of the amphorae site. 

The PYTHOS SITE is situated near the Islet of Supetar, at a depth of 30 metres, where eight huge Ancient Greek pitchers called pythos or dollyas (containers for storing grain) can be seen, of which each has a capacity of approx. 2000 litres.

Eight of those are completely preserved and two are broken. Archaeologists believe that they sank in a shipwreck in the cca 2nd century A.D. The site is unique on the eastern Adriatic coast and among the rare sites on the Mediterranean. Findings of giant pythos are very rare in the Mediterranean.

The LOOSE AMPHORA SITE is situated west of the entrance to Cavtat Harbour at a depth of 25 – 27 metres. This is the oldest shipwreck in the area, which dates back to the 1st century B.C. according to the remains of the amphora type Lamboglia 2. A small number of undamaged amphorae have been taken out of the sea, while numerous broken pieces still lie on the sea bottom in a petrified pile.

A MORE RECENT SHIPWRECK is located west of the entrance to the bay of Cavtat, at a depth of 27 – 31 metres. On the sea bed one can see the remains of 6 iron cannons, 2 anchors, a number of cannon-balls, rifles and other objects from a smaller war ship from the time of Napoleon.

Besides the ancient pottery and shipwrecks, it is possible to find some marine life hiding between the amphorae, including morays, lion fish, stone fish and other small fish and organisms.. In addition you can explore other extraordinary diving locations near the small islands of Mrkan, Bobara and Supetar, amazing underwater walls that reach up to 100 m in depth, fascinating underwater caves and much more!

At the end, what archaeological finding can be more beautiful and memorable to visit than the one in the silence of the blue depths of Cavtat.

Diving tips
The local diving centres offer complete service including the organization of diving excursions in these locations, and high quality equipment rental. Diving is permitted only with a valid diving card issued by the Croatian Diving Union (HRS), which is valid one year after the date of issue. Individual diving in archaeological sites is strictly forbidden in Croatia.

In other words, you can dive anywhere in the Adriatic given that you are accompanied by a professional guide (diving or scuba diving instructor), so visit the diving centre “Epidaurum” and take an adventure in the Cavtat deep blue.

All images are courtesy of Epidaurum Diving Centre. For more images please check out our gallery.


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