Thailand, Japan, and Seychelles: World’s most spectacular scuba destinations | The Financial Express

Thailand, Japan, and Seychelles: World’s most spectacular scuba destinations

There are diving sites all around the world, but here are some of the best ones a diving enthusiast should explore and experience in and around Asia.

Thailand, Japan, and Seychelles: World’s most spectacular scuba destinations
A look at the best scuba diving sites

A journey to the earth’s sea bed’s rich flora and fauna is an experience that one will never forget. There is no doubt that memorable adventures are in store down under because of its balmy oceans and high visibility. There are diving sites all around the world, but here are some of the best ones a diving enthusiast should explore and experience in and around Asia.

THAILAND

Thailand is a tropical paradise loved by divers across the globe. This is because of its exceptional underwater visibility and reefs filled with some of the finest coral and marine life on the planet.

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Ao Nang Islands – Krabi 

Considered to be a haven for scuba divers from around the world, divers of all levels can find a vast variety of marine life here, the spectacular scenery that makes Ao Nang Local Islands famous contributes to the area’s reputation. It is a land of sheer limestone cliffs that rise out of the sea to create beauty like no other on earth and it is here one can expect to have some of the best diving experiences. The prime time to go scuba diving in Ao Nang is considered to be between November to May when the water is considerably calm and flat. 

Koh Tao 

Koh Tao’s waters are home to a diverse array of aquatic life, including colorful fish cruising the reefs and green and hawksbill turtles. Of course, the ultimate highlight for any diver is swimming with a whale shark. In Koh Tao, these amazing animals can often be seen swimming with our diving visitors at our dive sites. Whether you want to try it out for the first time, get your certification, or join a fun dive trip, scuba diving on Koh Tao is a spectacular experience. Dive sites are generally no more than a one-hour boat journey away and boast calm conditions for most of the year.

Scuba diving on Koh Tao is safe and fun! All Koh Tao dive centers offer ‘Try Scuba Diving’ experiences where you can take your first breaths underwater under the careful supervision of a professional instructor. This one-day program starts with a safety briefing and a gentle introduction to all the basic information you’ll need to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Once you are eligible to progress to a swimming pool or shallow, sandy bay to master a few beginner skills, you can dive into one of the stunning coral reefs to explore the wonders of the marine world. Hin Wong Pinnacle, Aow Leuk, Japanese Gardens, White Rock, and Shark Island make for some of the best diving spots. February to April makes for an ideal time to explore the depths of the ocean here.

Maya Corner 

There’s a beautiful bay on the west coast of Koh Phi Phi Lei named Maya Bay, which was featured in the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo Di Caprio in the lead role. The dive site of Maya Corner begins at Maya Bay’s northern entrance and follows the coastline northward. There are intermittent sections of wall on this steep, shelved reef. The chances of seeing turtles, both green and hawksbill, are great, and it is not uncommon to see up to three turtles per dive. Occasionally, black-tip reef sharks and stingrays can be seen here.

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Koh Phi Phi 

A biodiversity hotspot, the Phi Phi Islands are located within the famous “Coral Triangle” which supports over 75 percent of all known coral species. Great wall diving is possible underwater due to the stunning rock formations as well as the nooks and crevices that keep critters tucked away. Several underwater excursions integrate the Marine Discovery Centre’s activities, including coral propagation and clownfish breeding programs, where guests can experience its environmental initiatives firsthand at SAii Phi Phi island village, which is a five-star resort with a free-spirited attitude. Phi Phi offers scuba diving year-round, with optimum conditions from February to May. There are no waves during this time of year and the water is calm, warm (84-86F/29-30°C), and clear.

Phuket 

The rich marine habitat of Phuket in Thailand offers ample opportunity for immersion and experience. Some of this region’s best dive spots are – Phi Phi Islands, Racha Noi Islands, and Racha Yai Islands. To experience the pelagic ecosystem, one requires to comply with some rules before diving into the sea. Many companies provide courses for scuba diving in Phuket to guide individuals on this journey. Several resorts have expert dive teams to cater to all needs of guests that are keen to explore waters such as The Slate in Phuket. It can be dived all year round, but the most fitting season is from November to April. 

JAPAN

With islands extending from the subtropics to the subarctic zone, Japan has an array of diving opportunities. Some of Japan’s most popular dive sites include coral reefs, shipwrecks, manta rays, sharks, volcanic terrain, as well as drift ice diving. The diversity of Japanese waters will leave divers in awe and the dive sites are very easy to access from the city. The dive shops are incredibly efficient and the diving is very well organised to ensure the dives are safe and enjoyable. No matter what kind of diving you’re looking for, whether you want to see big animals or small marine life or if you’re looking for a quick couple of days of diving in the shallow coral reef off the coast in the summer or a full-on expedition, Japan has it all.

Chichijima Island 

Makes for one of the most sought-after places to visit in the summertime. Visitors to the island can still explore luscious green forests and deep blue waters, unlike the city. There is a good chance of encountering fish like Duboisi and Takaiwa at one of the dive sites on the island. Chichijima is home to both spinner dolphins and bottlenose dolphins, so there is a good chance of seeing a pod of them underwater. The most ideal season to dive here is around the warmer months of April through September. 

Chiba 

In addition to being easily accessible from Tokyo, Chiba also offers an array of wonderful dive sites. The Kuroshio Current arises from the south, bringing warm, clear, and nutrient-rich water to Chiba’s dive sites on the southern side of the peninsula. One can expect to spot red string rays, bulgy head wrasse, long tooth grouper, and banded hound shark to name a few.  This is suitable to dive all year round, however, if diving in the months of January to March, look out for Japanese cormorants (underwater birdwatching) and if diving between September to December, then one can also spot species that are brought by the Kuroshio current from the southern area. 

Hokkaido Island

Divers in Hokkaido can enjoy a unique scuba experience on the Shiretoko peninsula as well as at Lake Shikotsu, which is one of the world’s largest lakes. This is one of the best diving sites in Japan for those who want to experience ice diving. Penetrating the ice caps on this clearest lake leads the divers into the world of clients. Though there are several dive sites dotted around the coastline of Hokkaido, there is an exclusive dive site that offers boat diving during the winter months known as Shakotan Peninsula.  The winter months witness the temperatures dropping below zero and regular snowfall, even so, this appeals to many spirited divers who chose to explore the underwater world during this time.  

Ishigaki island

Anyone who has never dived before should try this for a fun dive. This island has one of the largest numbers of coral reefs, each named after a species of fish found in the region. This spot has various marine creatures, but manta rays are the most abundant. Scuba-guiding companies on the island provide insurance, lunch, tanks, and other necessities.

Shiraho Reef, on the south-eastern shore of Ishigaki Island, is home to the largest community of blue coral in the Northern Hemisphere, and there are glass-bottom boat tours to the reef. Maesato Beach in the south has lifeguards and an array of facilities and activities. It is one of the closest beaches to Ishigaki Port.

The underwater scenery is beautiful while diving with manta rays and other marine life, such as sea turtles, anemonefish, damselfish, and nudibranchs. Manta rays can be seen off the coast of Ishigaki throughout the year, with the best chance of seeing them occurring from July to mid-October. 

Seychelles

Seychelles offers exceptional diving opportunities year-round, both for experienced and novice divers, in pristine waters and protected from the elements. The ‘Inner Islands’ provide granite swim-throughs, channels, hideouts, and spectacular wrecks home to as many as 800 different marine species. Granite reefs support Soldierfish, Squirrel fish, and Sweepers as well as Rays, Octopi, and, of course, Turtles. The remoter, coralline, ‘Outer Islands’ offer spectacular cave, canyon, and wall dives amid glorious corals where larger marine species inhabit waters where few have ventured. Land-based, live aboard and island resort dive centres make diving a pleasure. April to May is a favourable time to go scuba diving in Seychelles along with October to November. 

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First published on: 09-12-2022 at 10:30 IST