Header image courtesy of Simon Lorenz (via Sai Kung Scuba)
Make the most of these last few weeks of summer while the weather is still sweltering and the water is still warm—it’s the perfect time to get out there and explore the underwater wonders that await below the surface. Hong Kong may not be your first-choice snorkelling or diving destination, but you would be surprised at just how much marine life there is to spot if you visit the right sites! Lucky for you, we’ve done the legwork to find some of the best places to go snorkelling and scuba diving in Hong Kong. Get ready to dive in and go on an underwater adventure!
P.S.: You might notice from the list below that most of the best snorkelling and diving sites in Hong Kong are situated in or around Sai Kung—the waters in the area tend to be cleaner, calmer, and clearer, and are well worth the day trip!
With pristine waters, strong currents, and vivid marine wildlife, it’s no surprise that Tai Long Wan is one of the most popular snorkel and dive spots in Hong Kong. There’s a plethora of fishes and aquatic plants around, so don’t be surprised if you suddenly find yourself swimming past an octopus or a jellyfish. And though highly unlikely, if you get tired of being in the water, you can spend the rest of the day relaxing on the fine, white sand at any of Tai Long Wan’s four picturesque beaches. Venture out to Tai Long Wan by taking a taxi from Sai Kung Town to Sai Wan Pavilion and hiking to the beach, or hitching a speedboat from one of the boat companies lining Sai Kung Promenade.
Sorry, snorkellers, this one is for scuba divers only! Situated within the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark, the Ninepin Islands are a group of interestingly shaped islands with fascinating hexagonal columns on the islands’ outer edges and large natural archways. Needless to say, its underwater view is just as scenic. Swim amongst large schools of fish and anemones in the shallow waters, and if you go deeper, you might also happen upon octopuses, eels, scorpionfish, annelid worms, and more. You’ll need a boat to reach this dive site, as it’s located about an hour away from Pak Sha Wan. Alas, most of us don’t have a boat just lying around, so do check with the local dive centres to see when the next trips are scheduled.
The locals know Sharp Island for its two beautiful beaches—Hap Mun Beach on the southern part of the island and Kiu Tsui Beach on the northern end. But what many people don’t know is that Sharp Island is home to large colonies of corals and frequented by colourful reef fish, seahorses, and butterfly rays.
The waters surrounding Sharp island are calm due to its sheltered location and range from three to four metres in depth, making it a prime spot if you’re new to snorkelling or scuba diving. It’s also relatively easy to access—you’ll see numerous boat operators on the waterfront at Sai Kung Pier offering boat rides to Hap Mun or Kiu Tsui. Once you’re on the boat, the journey takes 10 to 15 minutes depending on which beach you go to.
Breaker Reef is only accessible by boat, but has some of the best coral cover in Hong Kong and is one of the more adventurous dive spots on this list. If you’re lucky, you might spot large fish or even sharks. However, the area is popular with fishing boats so be sure to watch out for any fishing lines. To get there, you’ll need to go by boat from Pak Sha Wan or Sai Kung.
Located at High Island Reservoir, the East Dam is another popular destination amongst scuba divers in Hong Kong. The dam walls’ dolosse make for a complex underwater environment and a great diving experience. Look between them to spot the aquatic wildlife hiding out in the cracks. You’ll need to go by boat from Sai Kung Pier. We highly recommend you inquire about Sai Kung Scuba’s upcoming events as they regularly organise fun dives to the site.
Situated in the UNESCO World Geopark, Basalt Island offers a scenic view with numerous sea caves along its coastline. It’s also a haven for advanced scuba divers and free-diving enthusiasts—you can gaze for hours at the abundance of colourful corals and schools of fish. You can reach Basalt Island by charting a private boat or kaito (small, motorised Hong Kong ferry) from Sai Kung, which will allow you to access the island directly.
Last but not least, one of our favourite places for snorkelling and scuba diving in Hong Kong has to be Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park. A short bus ride away from Sai Kung, Hoi Ha is known for its calm, crystal clear waters and a diverse marine ecosystem with a wide array of maritime animals including crabs, starfish, schooling snapper, and many more creatures worthy of watching up-close.
Snorkelling equipment can be rented from the local shops in Hoi Ha Village, so don’t worry if you don’t own any of your own gear. Hoi Ha Wan also has a shipwreck, the remains of a ferro-cement barge, that divers can explore, so don’t miss out—contact your local dive centre to see if they organize any dive trips to the area!
Other than taking a taxi, the easiest way to reach Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park is by taking minibus 7 from Sai Kung Pier to Hoi Ha village or bus 94 from Sai Kung Pier to Wong Shek Pier. You can then follow the road signs through the village to get to the beach and the Hoi Ha Marine Park.