If you’re on the hunt for a dive spot with a difference, Philippines’ best kept secret, Malapascua Island is more than worth the journey. Residing in the centre of the Coral Triangle (named for its 600 different species of reef-building corals) divers can expect to embark on wreck, wall and muck dives, explore insane coral reefs and book on to incredible night dives.
How to get there: Fly direct from Hong Kong to Cebu (2 hours 50 minutes). You’ll also need to factor in a 4-hour transfer to Malapascua Island
Best time to go: February to May
Don’t miss: Thresher sharks, mantas, devil rays, sea snakes, blue ringed octopus
It comes as no surprise that Raja Ampat is at the top of every diver’s bucket list, its glistening oceans and plethora of marine life is hard to skip. Notoriously tricky to get to, this one might take slightly more planning than just hopping on a plane, but we promise it will be worth the effort. Don’t miss diving at these surreal spots: Mioskun, Blue Magic and Sardine Reef and the famous Arborek jetty, where you’ll be engulfed by millions of schools of fish. If you have the time, jump on a liveaboard and get in as many dives as you possibly can before swapping sea for sky and heading back to Honkers.
How to get there: It can be quite the journey to get to Raya Ampat, but you’ll thank yourself as you start to submerge. Fly from Hong Kong to either Jakarta (4 hours 50 minutes), Makassar, Ambon or Manado and then transfer to Sorong (roughly 4 hours). If you have time to play with, why not look in to liveaboard options?
Best time to go: Between October and April
Don’t miss: Sharks, mantas, seahorse, barracudas, angelfish, goatfish, pale-tailed surgeonfish
We can only cross our fingers for crystal clear visibility as we (wet)suit up and jump fin-first into the water, and Sipadan not only delivers, it promises visibility of up to 50m in peak season (March-October). Visits to Sipadan are limited, and restricted to just 120 diving permits per day, so if you can, be sure to book in for at least four nights to try and maximise your diving time on the island, as the longer you stay the greater your chances of scoring move dives. Dive site depth vary, but to truly soak up all that Sipadan has to offer (wall dives, drop offs and more) it’s recommended to have a few dives under your belt to make the most of this underwater oasis.
How to get there: Fly from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur (3 hours 50 minutes) and take a connecting flight to Tawau (2 hours 55 minutes)
Best time to go: Between March and October
Don’t miss: Hammerhead, big pelagic, barracudas, angelfish, trigger fish, sea turtles
If it’s big schools of fish, lots of sharks and healthy, colourful reefs that you’re after (with World War II wrecks to boot) then look no further than the pacific paradise that is Palau. It’s world-famous Jellyfish Lake and Blue Corner dive spot brings in hundreds of enthusiastic divers seeking an unforgettable experience. You can expect excellent visibility and consistent water temperatures throughout the year, however we’d definitely recommend booking between December and March, when sightings of whale sharks and manta rays are more likely.
How to get there: Fly from Hong Kong to Palau via Taipei, Manila, or Seoul (between 3-5 hours, depending on your option)
Best time to go: December to March
Don’t miss: WWII Shipwrecks, barracuda, jacks, grey reef sharks… and of course swimming with the jellyfish at the Jellyfish Lake… they won’t sting you!
Often overlooked (although we have no idea why!), Ishigaki and Okinawa has some of the best diving in the world and ranked the top diving destination in Japan for almost 20 years! If meeting mantas is on your list then you’re in luck, as these spots boasts one of the highest encounter rates in the world.
How to get there: Fly direct from Hong Kong to Okinawa (2 hours 45 minutes)
Best time to go: Year-round
Don’t miss: Marine life varies from season to season, but you can expect to see mantas, sharks, whales and manatees
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