While South Korea is not world renowned for its scuba diving, there are certainly some great diving opportunities here if you find yourself in this part of the world.
The best dive sites in South Korea are scattered around the country but tend to be on the east and south coasts.
The west coast of South Korea does not offer ideal diving conditions as the visibility tends to be bad in these highly salty waters. The scuba diving conditions are highly dependent on the season in South Korea, but the warmest water temperatures are found in the south where the temperatures are usually in the range of 18-23°C.
On the south coast is Jeju Island, offering an interesting mix and warm and cold water species in one location.
Described as a mix between the Red Sea and Norway, scuba diving in Jeju Island presents massive forests of kelp as well as colorful soft corals. The dive sites are varied at Jeju Island with rock formations, walls and caves waiting for be explored. Jeju Island is a short one-hour flight from Seoul and is highly recommended for anyone considering diving in South Korea.
For a fantastic night dive, divers should head south to Busan for the site known as Taejongdae. This spot has a sandy ocean floor and rocky borders with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. If visited during the day, scuba divers might see sea horses, schooling fish, sea cucumbers and flat fish, however if visited at night you’re more likely to see cuttlefish, crabs, octopus and flying gurnards.
If you’re interested in seeing an underwater Buddha, Pohang is a worthwhile stop for its Buddha Dive. Here you’ll find a statue of Buddha sitting in a rock at a depth of 17 meters. There are many rock formations around this sandy-bottomed site which only reaches 20 meters in depth. Divers are likely to see brightly-colored sun starfish and squid in addition to the Buddha statue.
Nearby Jeju Island are the islets of Little Munsom and Munsom, also known as Mosquito Island. There are at least 3 worthwhile dive sites in this area including a vertical wall that offers great excitement and depths of 40 meters for those trained to dive that deep. Soft corals and an abundance of fish can be seen around these islets.
Another great scuba diving location in South Korea is at Supsom, otherwise known as Forest Island near Jeju Island. Forest Island offers fantastic above-water views with dramatic rock cliffs and pine trees everywhere you look. Underwater, divers can often spot nudibranchs in all shapes and sizes, squid and even dolphins.
Although there are not an abundance of dive shops that coordinate dives in South Korea for English speakers, there are some dive shops dotted around some main locations. These diving operations are run by foreign nationals for the purpose of helping tourists and expats see the underwater sights that South Korea has to offer.
There are some dive centers located in the capital, Seoul, who are also able to conduct dive training in English from beginner level right through to professional level including internship opportunities for assistant instructors and dive masters.
Other dive centers are located in Osan which is about 45km away from Seoul to the south. In the diving hub to the south, Busan and Jeju Island offer a number of dive centers and clubs that make it possible to dive in these magnificent areas. It is also possible to arrange diving trips abroad, equipment hire and dive training. Some clubs in these areas are very active within the community and perform regular beach cleanups and eco projects that expats can get involved in.