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 Hong is a great location for training and diving and tells us about Asia’s first sustainable dive travel platform, ZuBlu, for those seeking underwater adventures in the region.
What Lies Beneath
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!
My first response to an invitation to go diving in Hong Kong was a blunt ‘why?’ Well, I was in for a surprise. 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 – swimthroughs 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 2m marbled stingrays and schooling barracuda, these sites have more than enough to keep you entertained.
Learning the Ropes
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.
Hong Kong-based PADI Course Director and Splash owner, Darren Gilkison 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.”
How Much Does it Cost?
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.
When to Dive 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 20m, however increasing water temperatures in July and August, combined with nutrient-rich run-off, leads 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.
Exploring New Waters
Once you’ve fallen in love with diving and completed your training, you’ll probably be curious to explore new waters. So where to next? Those looking for some inspiration can check out ZuBlu and use its unique search platform to discover their ideal dive destinations. All you have to do is simply enter what you want to see and when you want to travel and away you go. Packed full of information and with a range of carefully selected eco-friendly dive resorts, the website strives to create exceptional experiences in extraordinary destinations.
If you are looking for a chance to meet more of the diving community, it is well worth visiting the trade shows that take place in the city such as the Asia Dive Expo (ADEX), which launches for the first time here on June 8 to 10, and the longer-standing Hong Kong Diving Resort Travel (DRT) show which runs from December 14 to 16.