The small town of Ražanac, Croatia was a pretty darn cute place to hang out for a week. There was one main road that led in and out of the town and only about two tiny supermarkets. It was small, quiet and most importantly it was right on the Dalmatian coast.
Never in my life have I lived so poor but felt so rich. Our accommodations were an absolute dive. We stayed in a tiny hole-in-the-wall apartment with almost no room to move around. Every day we had to schedule in a grocery run because our fridge couldn’t fit a couple of days worth of food. Our rock hard bed consisted of a pull out couch that doubled as a work/storage station by day.
In spite of it all, our lodging was only a two-minute walk to the rocky Dalmatian coast. In my eyes that trumped all the bad stuff. The roar of the Adriatic sea was music to my soul, and after our first swim in the shockingly clear blue waters, I was obsessed with spending every second of our weekday lunch break finding some new corner of the coastline to snorkel.
Words cannot describe the little pieces of beachy paradise we found on our well-deserved noontime breaks. It was the perfect combination of excellent visibility and rocky escarpments. Because of the Dalmatian coast’s topographic profile, lots of marine flora and fauna get drawn in nice and close to the shoreline.
Don’t Forget: The rocky pebbled beaches of the Dalmatian coast can be painful on bare feet. Make sure to bring or invest in a good pair of water shoes or keens for your snorkeling adventure.
I was hooked, and I logged tonnes of practice time with my underwater camera using natural lighting alone. We had our own masks and snorkels, so it was great to be in the water and even better not to be spending a dime doing it!
On our many lunchtime snorkels, Joey and I got to appreciate some of the small stuff that usually gets passed over when we scuba dive.
As we passed into a shallow area on our snorkel, I caught sight of some sizeable shrimp (Crangon crangon) with translucent bodies scampering around the rocks. These busy little shrimp were always on the move scavenging and looking for things to pick away at with their minuscule pincers. They loved to tease us, coming so close to our faces but at the same time dancing just out of our reach. At some point during the week, Joey and I started putting our hands on the bottom, laying perfectly still in the water and the shrimp would cautiously creep up and clean our hands picking away at all the dead skin. We got to enjoy our first ever underwater manicure!
I loved going on a slug hunt. One of my favorite animals we stumbled across was an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny little sea slug no bigger than a grain of rice. Looking at Elysia timida with the naked eye you will see a white slug-like creature with adorable eyestalks protruding out of its head. It wasn’t until after our snorkel when I had the chance to look at my macro pictures that we saw the Elysia timida was not only white but also covered in hundreds of petite pink speckles.
It’s always fun to be snorkeling along the rocky shallows and suddenly startle an unsuspecting crab. They look so funny when they take their defensive stance, claws erect standing perfectly still waiting for the opportune moment to strike. There was no shortage of crabs on the Dalmatian coast. On our snorkels we saw plenty of hermit crabs and marbled rock crabs (Pachygrapsus marmoratus) at every turn of the mask. Often they would scurry frantically into the shadows of a rock or plant hoping to evade being spotted. Nice try Mr. Crabby but these eagle eyes don’t miss a beat.
Unless you are swimming in a pool, you can’t go snorkeling without seeing at least one fish. As expected, Joey and I spotted tonnes of different species. The sandy bottom was ruled by the classic sit-and-wait predators patiently waiting for lunch to swim close by. The water column was filled with shiny and silvery fish that would occasionally swoop down to pick at the sand, eating the burrowing bugs hiding amid its grains.
It was an absolute joy spending our lunch breaks on the Adriatic and letting our work worries drift away on the tide. If you like to snorkel or are looking for a way to pass the time between your Croatian dives dip into the Adriatic sea; mask, snorkel and camera, it’s as simple as that!
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