“It’s impossible to scuba dive in Hong Kong” My student, age 9, three days ago.
I hadn’t told him I’d been scuba diving, nor where we discussing it. We were talking about the difference between a factual statement, and a prediction. The above, he said, was a fact.
HA! (Is it frowned upon to be so happy getting one up on your student?)
So, I told him I went diving in Sai Kung a few days before. His eyes turned to saucers ‘WHAT?!’ He’s rather ‘enthusiastic’ and it was one of those OTT comedy cartoon eyes out of head moments.
About 15 years ago I looked into scuba diving in Hong Kong with much the same thought; not really something you do. I found one company, but the website was so rubbish and I thought ‘maybe some other time…’
I wanted to see Hong Kong underwater, but just the once, you know, because there would be nothing really to see, but it’s always good being underwater and it’s my home turf. But when I looked into diving here a few weeks ago I came across a totally different scenario. A bubbling recommendation online led to me to a very professional website in which weekly fun dive trips had been arranged throughout the next month. I even watched a video diary from Sarah at Girls That Scuba on her day of diving here last year.
Still, the weather forecast predicted thunderstorms (again, as it turns out they are consistently pessimistic) and due to the water being unusually warm, visibility wouldn’t be very good, so despite looking forward to it, I wasn’t expecting much.
I had to be in Sai Kung at 8:30am. Sai Kung, I remember from my childhood, was SO far away. It’s the place we went to each year for schools camps. The buses to get there would take FOR-EV-ER. So, I was a little shocked when CityMapper told me it would take just over an hour door to door. Still not able to shake how far, far away it was I left early and so predictably, arrived early.
I spent time walking up and down the pier caffeinating myself, looking at all the excursions available; fishing, snorkelling, hiking, kayaking amongst them. I was surprised to see a golf rental shop on the pier, and later found out the reason is that there is a public golf course on one of the islands near by! Kau Sai Chau Golf Course
I walked past the cotching cows and headed to the dive shop. Forms signed and we were off. The boat was a traditional Hong Kong style leisure junk and all the equipments (including wetsuits, fins, mask, etc) were already on board. We had a quick initial boat safety briefing, met the crew, staff and other guests.. and then just chilled until we got closer to the site.
As mentioned in another post, Hong Kong is 75% countryside, made up of 261 Islands. Sat on the upstairs deck of the boat, in the sunshine, cooled by a sea breeze, heading out to get underwater, with these views? Absolutely incredible!
Hong Kong has dramatic rock formations, but I was too busy just enjoying the scenery to be taking many pictures. You can find out more about this area and Hong Kong’s other Marine and Ecological Hotspots here: WWF Marine Ecological Hotspots Map
Once the crew had decided on the site (Pak Lap Tsai) we had our scuba briefing and got kitted up. I was expecting about a metre of visibility when I took a giant stride entry into the green, green water. I was even a little nervous, as I tend to be on my first dive in a while, but as always 3 metres down that feeling kicks in and I remember I got this, and this, is my favourite thing to do. Ever.
So, when, I started spotting fish only a few meters down; colourful interesting fish at that, I was more than pleasantly surprised. I did manage to lose my group at one point after being transfixed by my DM’s pink flippers… then realised my female DM didn’t have pink flippers… AND the person I was following was a man… he pointed me in the right direction and I was quickly and happily with my group again. Not one to stray, I think I got a bit complacent due to how utterly peaceful it was. That blissful weightless feeling when you don’t have a care in the world and after the crazy (yet wonderful) 10 days I’d had since landing back in Hong Kong this sensation of peace was just magical.
Over the two dives I spotted or saw two types of eels, pufferfish, butterfly fish, schools of damsel fish (and more… I need to work on my fish ID) and even a stone fish (I do love finding these grumpy ol’ men.) I had clownfish hurriedly swimming up to my mask, inquisitively giving me that old ‘what you doing here? who are you?’ and then darting back away routine that they are so famous for, but it was what I later found out to be a file fish that excited me the most, with its funny expandable unicorn type horn on it’s head with a leopard-zebra print body. I also now know that the Hong Kong waters are home to boxfish, frog fish and even seahorses.. so the quest is on my friends!
A hearty buffet lunch was served on board (none for me as a pesky vegan – the Captain seemed a little horrified he hadn’t been told though, as half the dishes were veggie and would have been vegan had it not been for a sprinkling of cheese) but I of course had a packed lunch with me, which I’d mentioned to the organiser, so all was well in my belly!
(update – the second time I went diving I requested a vegan lunch, and was given my own very tasty pasta lunch box!)
I was in a long 3mm wetsuit and as someone that tends to get cold easily underwater, I was actually on the warm side.. not uncomfortably so, but it was 29*C down there. ‘Down there’ had been a max depth of 12m, with an average of 9m and hardly any currents. I wouldn’t come here just for the diving, it’s no Zanzibar (which you can read about here) but if you are visiting between May – Oct, it’s a great way to spend a day out on, in and under the sea ❤
Already I plan to do another dive this month, and after getting some more fun dives under my belt (Similans & Malapascua) I plan to take my Rescue Diver here. For me, it’s the perfect place to do it, rather than spending dive days in a class room or pool, and studying when I want to be exploring. I’ll be in a known environment and on my weekends. I was also told of an overnight camping trip which involves some wreck diving. I. Am. In.
If you also want in, check out Splash Hong Kong!
Below is my failed attempt at taking a panorama on the (small) waves… The boat is actually in pristine condition.
For actual footage during a dive check out GirlsThatScuba Sarah’s YouTube video.