“You can dive in Hong Kong?”
— This the reaction I invariably get when I am diving overseas, talking to dive tourists from other countries.
“You dive in Hong Kong?”
— I get this from Hong Kong friends, some of them scuba divers themselves!
The answer is yes and yes! I learned to dive in Hong Kong and I was hooked from my very first open water dive. I have logged some 250 dives in the past couple of years, and around half of these have been right here in my local waters. The content of this blog will be organised into two major themes: topics related to scuba diving in Hong Kong, and posts about diving experiences in other countries. In this first post, I’d like to introduce diving in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong diving community
Hong Kong is not an international diving destination by any stretch of the imagination. However, there is quite a big local diving community here, with a handful of diving operators mostly based in the Sai Kung area who take local daytrippers out for two dives (or more) and lunch during the diving season. In addition, there are some local clubs and informal groups who charter boats and organise diving trips, including spearfishing enthusiasts. Shore dives are also possible in a few places. There is no shortage of dive shops in the city to cater for all of these divers. I have dived with a number of local groups and operators and in this blog, I will be sharing my experiences. For now, take a look at this page for some local recommendations.
Hong Kong diving conditions
Aside from this core community, there are also many Hong Kong divers who would never consider setting foot (or should I say fin) in local waters, preferring to only go diving overseas. They are generally put off by the visibility, which can be challenging, and is usually unpredictable. Others claim that ‘there is nothing to see’. In my opinion, this is their loss, because diving in Hong Kong is as unique as it is fascinating.
Hong Kong diving tends to take place in the eastern waters of the territory, for several reasons. The shallow, sheltered bays and small islands off Sai Kung (see photo) make for safe conditions, sheltered from too much boat traffic. Significantly, this area has the greatest number of coral communities, as these waters are less affected by the turbidity of the Pearl River Delta, creating more favourable conditions for growth. This can also mean visibility is somewhat better in this area, although visibility in Hong Kong is very variable and is affected by many other factors.
The diving season is from about April until October, when the water is warmer (although year-round diving is perfectly possible with the right thermal protection and some groups do go diving in wintertime). Water temperatures range from 28 degrees Celsius in summer down to around 15 degrees in winter.
In terms of marine life, Hong Kong is rather unusual in that it is located at the most northerly latitude where hard corals can grow, yet it has a very wide variety of coral species, and the associated marine life which comes with it. Tropical and subtropical species coexist here, which means a great diversity of fish and other creatures. Hong Kong non-divers often think their seas must be a polluted, empty wasteland as a result of years of exploitation but a look below the surface will quickly show that this is far from the truth.
I will be going into a lot more detail about Hong Kong’s dive sites in this blog. I will also be looking at Hong Kong’s fascinating marine ecosystem and focusing on some of the underwater life that can be encountered here, along with lots of pictures.
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