Croatia Holiday Destinations

The exciting underwater world of the Dalmatian islands Vis and Bisevo

Vis and the small neighboring island Bisevo are at a distance of approx. 60km the furthest populated islands of the Dalmatian mainland. The island of Vis is about 90km² and quite hilly. The highest point is Mount Hum with 587 meters and a great view of the city of Komiza.

An approximately 18 km wide inlet separates it from Hvar, the nearest island in the east.

Vis is only accessible by boat, so it’s a great location for a sailing holiday. The only two port cities are Komiza in the west and Vis in the north of the island. However, there are a variety of beautiful bays that invite you to anchor and linger.

The island of Vis has a fascinating history. It was already inhabited in the Neolithic period. In the 4th century BC, the Greek tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysius, founded the colony of Issa on the island, which then became an independent polis. This even coined their own money and established their own territories, of which the current city of Split was the best known.

Until the end of the 18th century, the island was under the rule of the Republic of Venice. During this time, large settlements developed along the coast, which, today, have the names Komiza and Vis. The Venetian influence is still recognizable in the architecture of the island, and part of the local Croatian language has a Venetian dialect.

Vis was once the seat of Marshal Josip Broz Tito, the leader of the Yugoslav partisan resistance movement. Tito is said to have hidden on the top of Mount Hum. The island was occupied by Italy between 1941 and 1943 and later held by a British fleet. During World War II, Allied fighters were standing there and served for emergency landings.

The underwater world

Underwater picture in Bisevo

The underwater world was influenced several times by the remote location of the island world. The weather and wind have had their effect on the coastline. For centuries it was creating a variety of small coves (Uvalas) and more than 20 caves have formed. The geographical location of the island and its strategic importance made the waters of the island a battleground in World War II. The fighting left a considerable number of shipwrecks, crashed aircraft, and military tunnel systems.

The following attractions are located directly in front of or in the immediate vicinity of the remote island:

Ex-Yugoslav submarine garage

Broz Tito, the leader of the Yugoslav partisans, recognized the strategic importance of the island and the usefulness of its many caves and bays. He kept Vis firmly under control as he fought against the Germans and turned the island into a military camp, making it the main base of the Yugoslav People’s Army. The entire island was designated a closed military zone, which was inaccessible to mainland Yugoslav civilians as well as foreigners. The inhabitants had no permission to go to many areas of the island.

The Yugoslav Navy spent decades preparing for World War II, turning the island into a maze of caves, underground tunnels, bunkers, and submarine hiding places. Vis has a network of several underground tunnels, caves, and facilities that are about 20 km long in total.

Many of the tunnels are suitable now for civilian purposes, some serve as wine cellars. The main entrance to the main tunnel is right in front of the city of Vis on the northern side of the island, opposite Rogačić beach.

Length: about 120 meters, you can swim to the end. Depth: about 12 meters.

Medvedina (Sea Monk) Cave

At the southern tip of the island Bisevo, there is a cave of monk seals, Medvedina Spilja, as it is called in Croatian. The cave gets the name of the seals of the Mediterranean, which stayed in these waters until the middle of the last century.

Monk seals are today one of the most endangered mammals of the earth and unfortunately, you can not find them in these waters. The seals almost extinguished because of the fishermen, as they nibbled the fishing nets to steal the fish. Bisevos island, which consists mainly of limestone, has the blessing of a variety of caves. These served as a rest and spawning place for the seals mainly.

Blue Cave (Modra špilja)

The Blue Grotto, Modra špilja, is a sea cave in a small bay with the name Balun on the east side of the island of Biševo and about 4.5 nautical miles from Komiža. The grotto is one of the best natural beauties on the Adriatic, due to the blue light sparkling at certain times of the day.

The island of Biševo consists almost entirely of limestone. The swell eroded the stone over the years and that’s how the cave formed. The cave itself is 24 meters long, 10 to 12 meters deep and up to 15 meters high.

Initially described and painted by Baron Eugen of Ransonet, the cave was originally only accessible to divers. The natural entrance was below sea level. In 1884, an artificial entrance was built, which is big enough for small boats. The natural entrance of the cave on its southern side resembles a vault on the ceiling of a grotto. Through this undersea opening, sunlight falls in and creates a blue shimmering effect throughout the cave.

Depending on the season, the ideal time to visit the cave is between 11 and 12 noon. At this time of day, the sunlight shines through the water, reflecting off the white ground and illuminating the interior in the aquamarine light.

Blue Cave (Modra špilja)

Uvala Porat and Little Cove

The small Porat Bay is on the west side of the island Bisevo and is the most beautiful of its kind. With its isolation from civilization, it is attracting the sailors and the social distance seekers. The seabed is sandy and the water crystal clear. The bay is perfect for a swim stop and you can even swim to a small cave (Little Cove). The Irish Times named Porat one of the seven most beautiful beaches in the world in 2011. This beach is a hidden gem, shielded from overcrowding and covered in pine forests.

Green Cove (Zelena špilja)

The green cave (Zelena Špilja) on the island of Ravnik near the larger island of Vis is a natural attraction in the southwest of the small island. During the day, sunlight falls through a circular hole in the ceiling of the cave, illuminating the cave by the fascinating green colour of the sea. The light beam is completely visible from the top of the cave vault to the seabed. This unique beam of light provides fascinating lighting effects in the cave.

SS-Teti Shipwreck

Teti was a cargo steamer on the journey from Venice to Palermo, which ran aground near the island of Vis due to a navigation error. The ship landed on May 23, 1930, on the cliffs of Cape Mali Barjak near Komiza. The crew was completely rescued by Komiza’s fishermen. However, it was not possible to recover the ship. The abandoned ship slowly flooded by winter storms.

Numerous aircraft and ships are in the waters around Vis Island, but Teti is the only wreck that rests in shallow waters 8 to 30 meters deep. Simple diving conditions and low depth make it an excellent choice for beginners. The ship is home to many moray eels and large eels, which have become accustomed to divers and seek their proximity.

B-17 Flying Fortress

The Boeing B-17 is a 4-engine heavy bomber and its creation dates back to the 1930s for the US Air Force. The huge plane looks like it has landed as planned and untouched on the seabed at 60m, even the engine and propellers are still intact. It is one of the best-preserved World War II aircraft wrecks worldwide. The great depth and difficult diving conditions allow only the most experienced of divers a glimpse of the impressive war machine.

The brand new bomber Boeing B-17G with the serial number 44-6630 arrived on November 3, 1944, at the military base Amendonla in Italy. The plane was so new it did not even have the time to paint the ID before the first use.

On the 6th of November, it set off for Austria to drop its deadly load via Vienna. On the way, it was easily hit by a German flag gun and it lost oil, which led to a machine failure. The plane lost altitude and should no longer make it over the Alps to Switzerland. For this reason, the pilot asked for permission to head for the secret bomber runway on Vis. The team got instructions to throw any unnecessary weight off-board to increase range. A few minutes before reaching the island, the crew ran out of fuel and the bomber touched the water surface just 100 meters off the island. The plane sank only after 10 minutes and almost the entire crew except for the co-pilot survived the crash.

Rent a boat and start your adventure!

Did we awaken your thirst for adventure? That was not all the adventures Vis holds for you. If you want to explore this exciting island world, talk to our charter experts now. In the summer of 2019, we will organize a flotilla that will take you on the trail of these sights. There is no requirement for sailing skills! For the fur seals among you, we can also offer a large number of yachts in the area.