Rising from the calm waters of the Adriatic Sea, the city walls of Dubrovnik are an evident vision of history.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the walls are considered one of the greatest fortification systems of the Middle Ages and to this day, house one of the most well preserved medieval villages in Europe.
As part of my underwater photography project of Europe’s coastline, I travelled to Croatia with the idea of photographing Dubrovnik from the sea. I had seen photos and researched online about accessible entry points to the water but nothing prepared me for visiting in person and discovering how enchanting this city really is.
Arriving through the old town on foot carrying my giant backpack of underwater camera gear, I found a small ladder near the port entry and under the Fortress of St John. The water was so refreshing on a 30 degree day and after checking my camera wasn’t leaking I looked up to see what I was swimming beneath.
Impressive is an understatement. The walls climb out of the sea with a staggering height of up to 25m at some points, still as impenetrable as they were in the 14th century.
The water clarity was perfect considering I was just beside the main port where boats were constantly cruising in and out of. Small fish were swimming up to my camera wondering what on earth it was and I was lucky enough to have a mermaid show up too.
Ashley from In Pursuit of Adventure came with me to explore beneath the walls and play mermaid for the day. Showcasing the walls without someone below the water level is possible but I always love adding a human element and find it helps to tell the story just that little bit better.
Jumping in for a dip in the Adriatic Sea is an essential experience when you’re visiting Croatia. Despite the summer heat, high humidity and glistening water, to our surprise we were joined by only a handful of other people the entire day we were shooting in Dubrovnik. If you’re not a strong swimmer and are worried about the immediate depth at the base of the walls it’s best to head over to Banje Beach where you can gradually enter the water, however from the walls it’s just a matter of taking a leap and making a splash.
If you’ve got Dubrovnik on your list of places to photograph, here are a few locations where you can swim beneath the walls to capture the city with a unique perspective…
St John Fortress
Take a walk around the port and on the sea side of the walls you’ll find a ladder to access the sea. There is a nice cordoned off swimming area and hardly anyone in the water despite the fantastic location beneath the walls.
Gate of Ploče
Just outside of the Gate of Ponte about a on the eastern side of the old town is a little staircase leading down to the seaside. This spot is perfect for taking shots across the water towards the old town with the complete skyline visible. It’s also very quiet and peaceful compared to the bustle of the old town, especially when a cruise ship is docked! Venture down here with a picnic and at sunset it’s a great place to watch the locals fish off the rocks.
Accessible by its literal of meaning of a ‘hole’ in the wall known as at the Gate of Buza, this bar by the sea is the ideal spot to spend a few hours relaxing and jumping off the rocks into the Adriatic Sea.
Gate of Pile
After crossing the drawbridge out of the old city, turn right and you’ll find a stairs that lead back under the bridge and down to the water. There you can access the sea and swim beneath Fort Bokar and look towards the mighty Fort Lovrijenac.
Nikon 14-24mm lens
Aquatech Underwater Housing
Nikon AW1 – great for split level shots when you don’t want to put together the housing!
For settings and equipment advice for underwater photography, check out my post all about ‘How to Take Split Level Underwater Photographs‘.
Stay tuned for many more Croatian adventures above and below the sea including a guide to Dubrovnik’s photography locations, accommodation reviews and sailing adventures on the Adriatic…
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Hello! I’m the founder and photographer behind The Wandering Lens.
With 17+yrs experience as a professional travel and landscape photographer, all advice found on this site is from my personal experience on the road. I hope it’s useful for your own travels and would love to hear in the comments about your trips and experiences around the world.