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Scuba diving in Hong Kong, you say? Yes, it’s a thing. You don’t need to whizz off to tropical destinations to discover amazing marine life when you can find it right here on your doorstep. Diving pro and photographer Adam Broadbent explains why Hong Kong is such a great location for training and scuba diving for those seeking underwater adventures in the region.
Few people realise that Hong Kong is an ideal location to start your adventures beneath the waves. It is both an easy classroom for beginners, and great for those with some experience, but who would like to get a few more dives under their belt. And with more than 80 types of coral and almost 6,000 recorded species, the city boasts 25 percent of China’s marine biodiversity — all the more reason to get in the water!
For all my expectations of old shoes and tyres, the diving sites around Hong Kong are surprisingly prolific and filled with diverse and interesting marine life. The best are found around the islands of the Sai Kung Country Parks—swim-throughs at Bluff Island, anemones and morays at Nine Pins, wrecks in Hoi Ha, and some nice corals and structures around Ping Chau in the north. From interesting “critters” including frogfish, nudibranchs, and seahorses, to large, two-metre marbled stingrays and schooling barracuda, these sites have more than enough to keep you entertained.
For those who would like to learn to dive, Hong Kong is a great location to start. The PADI Open Water course consists of five confined water lessons in a pool, followed by four open water dives in or around Sai Kung, along with theory in the classroom. By completing your training in Hong Kong, you can maximise your time spent underwater when you eventually head off on a dive holiday. And more importantly, many of the operators in Hong Kong focus on training and with that comes great quality.
Darren Gilkison, Hong Kong-based PADI course director and Splash owner, is quick to point out that if people need more time to learn, they get it. “With no pressures of return flights home, courses are flexible around each person and we ensure training is completed effectively, not as quickly as possible,” he explains. “This gives our students a much more solid foundation from which to head off on their future diving adventures and further training.”
With their lovely wooden dive boat, wonderful team, and award-winning instructors, Splash in Sai Kung is great for training and well-placed to guide guests to the best diving spots around Hong Kong. The cost of the PADI open-water course with Splash is $4,800, and this includes all materials and certification. They also offer two boat dives around Sai Kung and lunch for an affordable $620, plus $250 for equipment rental for the day. Those who wish to extend their experience can also opt for an exclusive Dive & Camp weekend where they head off for two days of diving with an overnight stay on one of the remote beaches around the Sai Kung Country Parks. With beach barbecues, good company, and fun diving, this is a great option for a “staycation” in Hong Kong.
You can dive in Hong Kong all year round, but operators generally only run scheduled trips from March to November. Visibility in the early season can be as good as 15 to 20 metres. However, increasing water temperatures in July and August combined with nutrient-rich run-off have led to algae blooms and a dramatic reduction in visibility, so it’s best to avoid these two months. As the winds change in September, the visibility improves once again and with cooler weather and water temperatures, diving is at its best through to the end of the season in October. As with all tropical locations, weather can rear its ugly head at any time, but the beauty of diving in Hong Kong is that you can just go diving next weekend instead, so there are no wasted flights or hotel costs.