Croatia has one of the cleanest seas in the Mediterranean. However, is it safe to take a swim in Croatia? What are the potential dangers?
Yes, swimming in the Adriatic Sea in Croatia is regarded as generally safe as long as you take some precautions:
- Always gradually enter into the water
- Before jumping, make sure it’s deep enough
- Many Croatian beaches are rocky or concrete. Some areas can be very slippery
- If they’re not rocky, they are made up of pebbles. If you’re unstable, you can twist an ankle. Or worse, be ridiculed.
- Waves can be exciting, but treacherous
- Sea urchins lurk among the rocks
- Swimming too far away from the coastline or outside of the designated beach limits can be highly risky because of water scooters and speed boats
- If you fall asleep on a floating air mattress, you will need to get a ferry back from Italy. Or swim back.
The Danger Of Jumping Into Cold Water
The Adriatic Sea in relatively warm even in wintertime (12 degrees Celsius). In summer, it can be over 24 degrees Celsius. But that is not the issue. The problem may be the SHOCK your body experiences when there is an abrupt CHANGE of temperature. So if, after a long walk in scorching son, or lying on the beach for hours, you decide to jump into the water, this is what may happen:
The most dangerous consequence of diving into cold water is death for two main reasons: drowning or cardiac arrest. Sudden immersion in cold water stimulates the thermoreceptors or cold receptors in the body, leads to reflex exhalation, and then to accelerated breathing (hyperventilation), which can result in inhalation of water and drowning.
Immersion in cold water causes blood vessels to constrict at the periphery of the body, ie skin, adipose tissue, muscles. In this way, our body tries to preserve the heat in its vital organs.
By abruptly narrowing the blood vessels at the periphery, a large amount of blood is squeezed out abruptly and directed towards the heart. A large amount of blood enters the heart which begins to work faster to deliver the blood further into the body. This sudden accelerated work can result in fibrillation or uncontrolled heartbeats resulting in cardiac arrest and death.
Heart patients, those with breathing problems, obese people, people with high blood pressure, those with arrhythmia problems or irregular heartbeat, the elderly or children should be especially cautious.
Solution: Take your time. Enjoy the moment.
Is The Water Deep Enough?
Time and again, children and adults, locals and foreigners, end up being severely hurt after jumping off cliffs or piers.
Broken limbs, vertebrae and sculls, permanent disability or even death can occur after seemingly benign jumps.
Since Croatia abounds in rocky beaches and high cliffs, and mostly has rocky seabed, accidents like these are unfortunately too common.
So, before deciding to jump, first make sure that the water is deep enough simply by – swimming at the spot where you’re planning to jump. Keep in mind that the higher the cliff is, the deeper you’ll sink.
Superman jumps or Swan Dives can be really dangerous if you’re not experienced and didn’t check the depth.
Croatians don’t always believe in HEALTH AND SAFETY. So you have to use common sense when estimating danger.
Since the term “beach” has a very relative meaning in Croatia (basically, the beach are all the points from which you can access the sea), some areas conceal hidden dangers.
One of these places are BOAT RAMPS.
What a convenient access point to the sea! How inviting! – you may exclaim. But, you’re wrong. These are among the most dangerous spots in Croatia.
The smooth concrete surface gets colonised with brown algae, invisible to the untrained eye. Extremely slimy and naturally resistant to drying out. In other words. extremely slippery. And before you know it, you’re down!
To the surprise of many, Croatian beaches are usually not sandy. They are made of pebbles.
Sometimes they are all natural. In this case, the pebbles tend to be rather large.
In most cases, though, they have been semi-artificially created by unloading huge quantities of gravel on the shore. Eventually, the waves shape the sharp stones into smooth pebbles.
For most Westerners, walking barefoot is a big no no. Our feet are so unaccustomed to any uneven grounds. And pebbles are possibly the most shocking surface to walk on!
So, if you want to prevent injury (until you get accustomed to them), put on some beach shoes. And swim in them (thongs or flip-flops turn into great paddles when you put them on your hands!)
I just love waves. I have always enjoyed swimming in rough seas. However, this can, of course, be very dangerous.
Even the experienced swimmers get hurt by the wild sea. Total amateurs are at much greater risk.
It’s not so much about jumping in, is’s about GETTING OUT. Without being smashed against the cliffs.
Think twice before joining locals in this Russian Roulette.
PS. I have written an article on the beach shown above.
Why the question mark with the exclamation mark? Because it’s an unpleasant surprise.
Not once did I have to undergo the painful experience of having sea urchin needles in my heels.
Some people even have to receive professional help.
And, BTW, the female sea urchins are edible.
Sometimes it really gets nasty, and people need to be taken to hospital.
Sea urchins love rocky shores. And rocky shoreline is what Croatia is all about.
In order to avoid stepping on them, it’s not enough to be careful. In fact, you have to take as few steps as possible and start swimming. You’re safer at a public beach, because other people have already stepped on those sea urchins there. But if you decide to take a swim away from the beach, be extremely cautious.
Sea urchins are usually hiding in crevices, so aim for “white areas”.
Don’t Swimm Too Far
No, it’s not so much because of the sharks (if you want to learn more about sharks in Croatia, take a look at this article on sharks I wrote).
It’s actually HUMANS you should fear.
So many holiday makers really don’t know the rules and are quite negligent about safety of themselves and others. They rent boats and have a great time!
So many people have been seriously injured over the years by speedboats or water scooters. (an acquaintance of mine almost lost his foot as he was scuba diving).
The only safe way is to stay within the designated beach areas, surrounded by buoys.
Floating Away To Italy
I personally had a save a lady who fell asleep on a floating air mattress. And, BTW, she didn’t know how to swim!
Wind in Croatia can really be unpredictable. Even in summer. The maestral, SW wind that brings much needed refreshment in summer, can be treacherous. If you’re not aware of what’s happening, it can really blow you away.
But the most dangerous wind is BURA, the NE wind. Powerful and stormy, it takes it’s toll on sailors and windsurfers each year. One of them actually ended up in Italy couple years ago!
Again, better to be safe than sorry. Stay close to the shore. And enjoy one of the most beautiful seas in the world is safety.