In terms of scuba diving opportunities, Hong Kong offers a great deal for those interested in shallow macro diving which involves finding the small and strange creatures that hide between the cracks of the reef. Hong Kong also boasts striking underwater topography and more than 80 hard and soft coral species. The rocky reefs of Hong Kong are teeming with more than 300 reef fish species and during the warmer summer months it is possible to see various shark species too.
Hong Kong is an autonomous territory located in south east China. Officially, its title is the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Hong Kong is located on the Pearl River Delta and is surrounded by over 700km of coastline.
Diving in Hong Kong does not always offer perfect visibility, and sometimes wind conditions will worsen the visibility of sites that have sandy bottoms, making it near impossible to spot any macro life. The wind and weather conditions certainly play a role in whether diving is possible on certain days as boats may not be able to reach the dive sites during very rough weather.
Weather and Water temperature
Hong Kong’s climate is a sub-tropical one that features cool, windy winters and hot, humid summers from June to September. The summer months of June to September also coincide with the typhoon season. In the summer, air temperatures range between 25 and 32°C with water temperatures as warm as 30°C in some places.
Due to the warm water temperature, it is only necessary to wear a 3mm wetsuit in the summer. During the winter, divers can expect air temperatures of 18-22°C with night time temperatures dropping to around 10°C. Winter water temperatures are a chilly 15°C and would require a semi-dry suit or a 5mm wetsuit.
Marine Environment & Dive Sites
Scuba diving in Hong Kong consists of mostly shallow dives on coral reefs and a few slow-paced current drift dives. The visibility can vary greatly depending on the wind and surface conditions, but 30 meter visibility is considered a very good day.
It is unfortunate but important to note that Hong Kong has a number of issues preventing it from being a highly sought-after diving destination. These issues have been caused by humans over the years with overfishing, pollution and even continued illegal dynamite fishing in places. Divers need to be aware of underwater hazards such as discarded fishing lines, abandoned fishing nets and heavy boat traffic. It is promising to note that Hong Kong has recognized the deterioration of its reefs and in 1995 began the Artificial Reef Project which saw the sinking of many wooden and steel vessels to encourage fish aggregation and coral growth. The areas that form part of the Artificial Reef Project are now official marine park areas where no fishing or anchoring is allowed. It is the hope of the diving world that even more marine conservation projects will be put in place in the coming years.
That being said, the sites and areas below are still definitely worth visiting if you’re considering scuba diving in Hong Kong:
East Ping Chau Island around Mirs Bay is a great area for turtle spotting, anemone fish and a wide variety of soft and hard corals. Drift diving is popular in this area due to the ever-present current.
Port Island is also nearby which offers a rocky bottom and hard coral patches.
Shek Ngau Chau
In the center of Mirs Bay is an area known as Shek Ngau Chau or Breaker Reef which boasts some great coral patches. Many large fish species and sharks are often seen at this site, however it is also popular with fishermen so divers need to be aware of fishing lines and nets whilst underwater. Hoi Ha Wan is a pleasant shore dive that is perfect for training dives. Easily accessible if driving by car, this area also features a wreck site where anemones and nudibranchs have made their homes.
Ninepins is one of the best diving sites in all of Hong Kong. Located to the east of Clearwater Bay, this site is a uniquely shaped rock formation where divers can spot all sorts of marine life such as frogfish, seahorses, cuttlefish, nudibranchs and scorpionfish.
Pedro Blanco is a fantastic and worthwhile pinnacle dive about 2 hours by boat from Hong Kong Island. Here divers can spot some of the ever-popular pelagic species such as rays, blue marlins and even whale sharks if visiting between April and July. Pedro Blanco is often used as a training site for technical and deep divers. As with many of the great sites in Hong Kong, Pedro Blanco is subject to illegal dynamite fishing. Due to its remote location it is difficult for authorities to monitor the illegal fishing activity going on here.
In the south west between Hong Kong Island and Ap Lei Chau is another good diving spot known as Aberdeen. This relatively shallow site is popular with macro diving enthusiasts but it should be noted that on the western side lies a shipping lane which can be hazardous to divers not paying attention. The site lies at a depth of between 8 and 18 meters and divers can spot crustaceans, nudibranchs and other odd-looking critters.
How to get to Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s International Airport makes it easy to travel to and from Hong Kong, with daily flights coming from every corner of the globe. It is easiest to fly into Hong Kong International Airport, however there is also the option of Shenzhen Airport or Macau International Airport. You can also get to Hong Kong via ferry or ground public transportation from Macau and mainland China.
How to move around in Hong Kong
Within Hong Kong there are plenty of transportation options including taxis, busses and mass rapid transit (MRT). Rental cars are not advised for visitors as the road systems are complicated, traffic congestion is always heavy and parking is limited and expensive.
Hong Kong has 2 official languages: English and Cantonese, so it is relatively easy for internationals to communicate and travel around.
The currency is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD).
It is important to note for divers that there are luggage limits on many of the public transportation systems in Hong Kong including taxis which might refuse to carry wet gear. For this reason, divers are advised to travel to and from diving spots by arranging transport with dive shops or diving clubs.
Hong Kong Dive Centers
There are many dive shops able to offer transportation and dive training locally and abroad.
A popular option is Mandarin Divers which provides PADI training from beginner to technical level and also training on IANTD circuit re-breathers. Diving excursions including night dives are organized for most holidays and weekends and Mandarin Divers also offer international diving trips. It is also possible to rent, buy and service your diving equipment t Mandarin Divers.
There are a number of BSAC clubs remaining in Hong Kong thanks to the United Kingdom’s prevalent role in the area’s history. Marine Divers is one such BSAC club that offers courses all the way up to technical diving level. Diving trips and trainings are available throughout Hong Kong itself as well as internationally. The South China Diving Club and Hong Kong Underwater Club are all part of the BSAC.
Dive Express is another popular dive shop that can offer PADI courses, local Hong Kong trips and international diving excursions. There’s also Splash Hong Kong and Froggy Divers which can offer a variety of local and international trips, boat dives during the week and on weekends and PADI courses.