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Winding up the precious since 2009
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Issa Diving Centre, Vis

When we set off on our little roadtrip to Croatia via a friend in Munich the plan was to go to Croatia Divers as recommended on here to finish of my buddies OW as it was a PADI centre (then maybe head to Vis if time allowed). Unfortunately despite advertising on their website that they were open “from Easter” when I phoned them from Slovenia to find out which is the best ferry to take to get to them it turned out they would only be open the day before we were due back in the UK(29/4)! They suggested we try one of the mainland centres in the north as they maybe open, they had not heard of Issa but thought as Vis was so small it was unlikely to be open. I had the number for Issa anyway so I gave them a call, luckily they were open (they had been open since the middle of March, it seems because they mainly catered for the techy crowd) so off we set.
The Centre

Fills/Tanks

Being a tech diving centre they are fully setup for Nitrox, Trimx and O2 clean fills, they don't have any twinsets (although they said they may be able to make up one for hire), but they had single steel 15's and 18's with modular valves so all you Hog Loopers out there can use 2 x 1st Stages, they also have 5/6 Ali stages (with O2 clean regs) and said they would be getting more.
Their compressor can't do 300 bar, and so you usually only get 200bar, 210bar if you are lucky, even with cold tops.
They charge 5 euro extra for Nitrox and whilst they ask what sort of fill you want I never got better than 33% despite gas blending using pure O2 rather than a membrane system, techy divers wanting deco gases etc. should have more luck.
With some warning they should be able to get some Lime for RB's but I got the impression that because of the difficulties inherent in mixing OC and CCR divers they would prefer if RB came as a group (although I'm sure they wouldn't turn anyone away), they obviously have He and O2 if need be, plus can lend stages for BO.
Boats

They have 2x Hard Boats although the will only usually use them with groups larger than 4 divers, no lift's.
They also have 2 RIB's one small one large, I think they probably only use the larger RIB as even with just me and a dive guide diving we used the large one.
For all the boats the procedure is to swim out to them from the (pebbly and quite hard to walk up/down in full kit) beach before passing up your rig and climbing up the ladder or if you are man/women enough, (I wasn't, well I did it once but life is too short), climb the ladder in full kit. And the same in reverse at the other end. After trying 2 approaches of carry rig in arms up the beach and walk up wearing it I can say it's a lot easier to do it wearing it but still take care,.
Instructors/DM's/Dive Guides

The owner doesn't speak much English, I never dived with him and he only came out on the boat nce or twice, me and my buddies check dive was carried out by the 2nd in command Ivan Urosevic an SDI/TDI instructor who is a good guy very understanding of new divers (I was only on my 28th and my buddy was on his 3rd OW dive), help full and laid back. After that we were mostly diving with Packy, a ex-commie, SDI/TDI instructor, who seems to have somewhat forgotten what new divers are like getting quite annoyed at me and my buddies poor rate of air consumption at times, I'm sure he is a great tech instructor but I wouldn't want him for my OW one (unfortunately as implied above my buddy was just finishing off his OW in Croatia, having found February UK temps to be far too cold) and don't get me wrong he was a good diver + guide just had a bit of short fuse (some of which maybe down to frustrations due to his relative lack of English) but by the end of the week we were getting on OK. We only dived with 2 other staff, one an older guy was quite a good laugh (although his jokes were awful) and the younger one didn't really get to know.



The Diving

It's a bit hard for me to judge the diving having only ever dived a) India, b) Muddly Puddles and c) UK seas with 1-2m vis (none of which were wrecks), so I'll try and stick with the facts.
Vis was on average 10m which apparently is very poor for area so hopefully you will get better but compared to the UK it's fantastic. Water tempratures were 14 by my DC but that reads about 2 degress low and most people agreed that it was about 16 degrees, virtually all the divers used drysuits, although some used semi-dry's.



The Reefs are seem somewhat less colurful compared with India (the Andaman Islands) with no “large” fish bigger than a meter or two (although my buddy saw what he thinks was a dolphin on the surface), but a lot more life/colour than what I have seen in the UK, but again I have nothing to compare it too.



I saw 2 wrecks in the Rec. range the Teti, 72m Long @ 10-34m and the Vasilios 104m Long @ 25-55m, although they have apparently found a new aircraft wreck at approx. 35m that they will be opening up soon. There are surposed to be a lot more as well but the weather was against us. In the tech range there are a lot including a B-17 @ 70'ish and a Sub at 120'ish, so plenty for all. Both wrecks had plenty f squishy stuff as well.



In summary most of the diving was wrecks or walls, although there are supposed to be some caves, neither myself or buddy are experienced enough so didn't dive any. The prices are on the website so you can look for yourself, my may be able to pay by card although probably by prior arrangement.
Komiza

Komiza itself is a very small village which apparently survives on the tourist trade (we were there in low season) and some fishing (although we only ever saw 4 boats out and about, it feels like there are very few women although that maybe because it was always the blokes in the bars whilst the women stayed at home. The area around the harbour has proper has 5-6 bars and restaurants, most of the restaurants seem t only serve pizza (beware the seafood ones: fishsticks, mussels and what would appear to be frozen north sea prawns, quite nice but you want something a little more “local” when you have driven 1500 miles to get there!) There are as far as we can tell 2 “proper” restaurants one next to the dive centre very nice (we have grilled Red Snapper) but very expensive (for that one course x2 + 2 soft drinks = £55'ish) and one on the harbour, especially amusing is the Black Spaghetti or Risotto, very nice and if you are of a childish disposition (which me and my buddy are) then the sight in the toilet bowl for the next couple of days is sure to raise a laugh! We eat in the this place 3 times in all and it was always good, apart from the black XXXXX, the “Dalmatian” style ribseak and the stuffed beefsteak both come recommended.
Vis Town

We drove the 10 mins. one lunch time but apart from the supermarket and a lot of bars we couldn't find anywhere serving food (apart from one place that had a couple of scabby looking bits of pizza) so we returned to Komiza to eat, bit of a waste of time really.



Accommodation

We asked for the cheapest accommodation which was to be a twin room with private bath in private accommodation, in the end however we were put into a self catering apartment for the same price as it's pretty quiet at this time of year. The flat was clean and pretty well equipped with fridge/freezer, hob and all the utensils you would need, we however were lazy and apart from breakfast always eat out, we paid about £20 for the room a night but again this was low season and we were “upgraded”. There is also a 2 star hotel (the only one in the village) which is right next to the diving centre were most of the other divers were staying, apparently about £20-30 per person per night. Whilst there is plenty of private accommodation we were told it could be quite hard to get a room high season, so it is probably worth booking ahead. The dive centre handeled all the booking and paying the bill so that is easy.
Getting There

We caught the ferry from Split which cost about £60 for the two of us + the Van, at the moment there are 2 sailings a day, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, the crossing takes 2-3 hours, I'd plan on eating before/after getting on the boat as from what we saw the fare is pretty rubbish on board, loading/unloading was pretty fast/efficient so not to bad. There are 2 roads on the Island, both of which run between Vis Town and Komiza so it is hard to get lost. Once in Komiza follow the signs to the hotel (you can leave your car in their car park even if you are not staying there) then walk through the hotel and the dive centre is in front of the hotel on the beach (you should be able to see the boats).



One suggestion if there are a number of you travelling and you absolutely must dive twins or RB is to send a van ahead with all the heavy stuff whilst the rest fly, there is an airport at Split is quite cheap flights I am told. You should be able to do the trip from the Channel ports in 2 days of not too hard driving, although the van we had struggled to do 80 on the flat and 30 up hill so with a newer/more powerfully vehicle it should be easy.



Other DIvers

All the time we were there there was a large PADI contingent from Poland consisting of Instructors being taught how to teach the PADI Tech courses, slightly annoying as they were always there first in then morning (it's not lazyiness on my part we were told to turn up after them) and they proceeded to occupy virtually every available space for kitting up, although they were always ready to lend a hand, and helped sign off my Buddy's OW so can't complain. It was quite amusing to watch some of these PADI Pro's struggling with (some very new and shiny) OPH's and me on 20 dives offering them advice on how to get in/out of it with my vast store of knowledge (although as anyone who has seen me in mine can attest I should probably have kept my consul) . I also didn't feel too much of a Halycon nobber as there was plenty of Blue H's on display (although even they drew the line at Halcyon Regs – most using Apeks). For 2 Days we were joined by 2 Finish guys whose flights had been delayed for 2 days by some dust cloud or something (dunno what that was about) so they spent it diving.
Conclusion

(See I did remember something from science class at school)
So would I go back, probably but I'd fly if there was just of us but then I'm only diving singles at the moment anyway, if I wanted in the future to dive twins and/or a YD trip was being organised there, I'd be happy to share driving a van over with another if there was a large group going (and the group paid fuel/hotel costs for the drive there and back) and they wanted to bring their kit.



Erm anything else?
 

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Cool trip report and glad you had a good time over there! I know what you mean with the lack of english, though Peter (was he there? young guy, long blond hair, got the depth bug real bad?) spoke good english. The most frustrating thing we found was the lack of comunication. We'd have dived a reef and come back to find the other boat had gone of to dive one of the cool wrecks, no one would think to tell us or offer us a choice, we were just told what boat we were on. Doh! The main reason i went out there was to dive the B17 but it didn't end up happening because of the weather, any idea what the newly found aircraft wreck is or what the sub is?
When i was out there i asked about bringing a rebreather out and they said to bring your own lime. They come across as being very anti CCR but the owner apparently
had a close friend die on one which would put you off abit...

George
 

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What a great report, absolutely packed with information! (maybe TMI in one particular instance though, I'm sure you know which bit I mean :D ) I can see this being really useful for anyone who wants to dive over there, especially all the info about fills, kit etc.

Glad you enjoyed the diving and that Jack got his OW finished -- now you can bring him along on our adventures too :) Yes, 10m is very poor for Croatia AFAIUI; I reckon we had 20-30m when I dived there on my second visit, and though I wasn't in the habit of assessing visibility the first time I was there (not being a diver yet) the water was similarly clear. But it sounds like you had a good time anyway!

I'm sorry again about Croatia Divers not being open -- very disappointed that they let you down, especially with the wrong info being on the website.

Oh, and is Komiza/Vis where the Blue Grotto is? did you get to see that at all?
 

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Winding up the precious since 2009
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Discussion Starter #4
Cool trip report and glad you had a good time over there! I know what you mean with the lack of english, though Peter (was he there? young guy, long blond hair, got the depth bug real bad?) spoke good english. The most frustrating thing we found was the lack of comunication. We'd have dived a reef and come back to find the other boat had gone of to dive one of the cool wrecks, no one would think to tell us or offer us a choice, we were just told what boat we were on. Doh! The main reason i went out there was to dive the B17 but it didn't end up happening because of the weather, any idea what the newly found aircraft wreck is or what the sub is?
When i was out there i asked about bringing a rebreather out and they said to bring your own lime. They come across as being very anti CCR but the owner apparently
had a close friend die on one which would put you off abit...

George
No young guys with long blonde hair when we were there, when we were there they were only using one of the large hardboats for the PADI guys and the RIB, a towards then end (when Jack´s back was too bad to dive) we tagged along with the PADI group (although their dive times were obviously longer). Re: CCR given I knew I´d be writting the trip report I asked about them, as you say they were failry anti them but they said this was more due to the problems (real or percieved)mixing them with OC and they didn´t mentoin the death thing.

Apparantly the new aircraft wreck is a B-24 Liberator (all though they said it was a flying fortress so maybe a B-29).

Foxe:
Dunno about the Blue Grotto sorry
 

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Winding up the precious since 2009
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Discussion Starter #6
Cheers for such an excellent report. We're staying in Vis town in the summer so will probably dive with one of the operators based there.
The towns are only 10 mins apart, you could easily try them all (there is another operator in Komiza which is aparantly not much good but this was a somewhat biased opinion), as I said we didn´t spend much time in Vis town and struggeled to find anywhere to eat, hopefully you will have more luck/it is high season.
 

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Unfortunately we've only 4 full days on Vis - so will need to arrange probably the diving beforehand or we'll lose at least one day diving looking around. I think there's a choice of 2 operators in Vis town looking at the Internet. At the moment probably not going to hire a car - was hoping to just hire some bikes/ walking in the evening to do some exploring. Or would you think we'd struggle without a car?? Cheers Sandie
 

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Winding up the precious since 2009
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Discussion Starter #8
Standard day @ Issa is to meet at the dive centre for dives at 9:00 and 3:00, dunno about the other places, but you could always organise a night dive with one of the other dive centres. I guess it probably depends on what sort of diving you want/can do, Issa seem to be very well setup for the deeper longer stuff, they managed to fit us in OK but on their part it was low season so they had the capacity and on our part they were the only game in town.
Pushbike may be somewhat of an effort given the switchbacks (for me at least), but they had scooters for hire as I recall in Vis town, more than enough to see the whole Island, I understand there are Taxi´s as well dunno how much they charge. Whilst the resteraunt next to Issa is very expensive, it´s setting is very, very nice/interesting (our first check dive we dived "under" the resteraunt and surfaced for a quick chat in the dinning room) so would make a nice "romantic" night out if you too feel all lovey dovey.
 
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