[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]So we have talked about why you should muck diving a try in the last post. If I have convinced you to give it a try, then the question next will be: where? I’ve combed some destinations out below. You might have heard of some, some maybe not. All destinations are in Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines, usually only requiring a short flight away. Recommend that you at least stay there for a minimum of 5 days, 4 nights at each destination, at least you get to dive the highlights of the destination. They are all really good for a stay for a week and above though if you are a macro enthusiast. And Nitrox recommended for the trip. An hour dives long dives are absolutely possible here as most will not go too deep.
Situated in Maluku Province, Ambon is one of the up and rising new star in muck diving and is starting to gain quite a bit of attention all over the world. It is actually a famed spot for muck and macro diving, but usually accessible by liveaboards for many years as Ambon was one of the diving spot in the “Ring of Fire”, where the liveaboard will usually head to Banda Islands next in search of the Hammerheads. There might be small-scale dive centres that have already started to operate there for some time, but if you talk about the ones with more presence, currently, there are two, both operated by Caucasians, namely, Dive Into Ambon and Maluku Divers. Maluku Divers is probably the first guy to establish themselves in Ambon, followed by Dive Into Ambon. And there is also Blue Motion Dive, which is a more budget option, where the accommodation is at a homestay.
Now, what’s there in Ambon? Other than the usual macro creatures and critters, there are two creatures that are pretty much native to the area – Halimeda Ghost pipefish and Rhinopia. Other than muck diving, Ambon actually has plenty of sites for you to see the big stuff like Dog-toothed Tuna, Trevally etc. So perhaps in between the muck dives, you could relax your eyes a bit from the squinting and hunting. The sites here have much better visibility as compared to Lembeh, and you could find here everything you can see in Lembeh, but it is a little less accessible since you need to fly in to Jakarta and then to Ambon. The great thing is, because Ambon has not yet been largely commercialized as a diving area, you will probably be the only boat at the dive site. Unlike some of the other famous muck diving sites.
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Lembeh Strait, Indonesia
Lembeh Strait is a world-famous muck diving destination in the world. Macro-photographers flock here to this place deemed as the Mecca of Macro Diving. There are tons of diving resorts and set-ups in Lembeh. You’d have to spend a relatively long time looking through their website to determine which one to go with. Lembeh is diveable year round. The Strait is filled with volcanic black sand and visibility is usually low. And you can expect really well-trained dive guides at almost all the resorts. Night dives when doing macro dives are unlike any other. You’d find nocturnal critters that you would not have seen in the day that would totally blow your mind. Diving in Lembeh, to sum it up in one sentence, is finding treasures amongst the trash. December and February are the rainy months, but oh well, visibility is already not great. And it might be a better idea since the site will be less crowded for sure. Travelling there is made easy with direct flights to Manado with SilkAir. I recommend that you plan well ahead if you plan to visit during or over Public Holidays in Singapore. As the air ticket gets really expensive.
Most come to Bali for the Mola Molas and the Manta Rays , and of course, Tulamben’s famed USS Liberty Wreck. But not many come to Bali for a muck diving dive safari. In the Gilimanuk area, lies Secret Bay, well, not exactly a secret anymore, but this is one of the best places in Bali for muck diving. The bottom is black volcanic sand with almost no coral at all. You do a shore entry into the shallow bay, where it is only 3 -12m, it is a reef that lies at the mouth of a river bay, there are pretty strong tidal currents at times. Hence, the fish and invertebrates are extremely healthy, colourful and well-fed. The water temperature here gets pretty low too, from 20 – 25 Degree Celsius. Tulamben Seraya, Tulamben River Bed, Amed, Padang Bai’s Blue Lagoon are all pretty good for macro diving. At Blue Lagoon, the Ambon Scorpionfish can be found here too!
This is one place that I want to rave about. Direct flight via Cebu Pacific, great resorts and diving at great value, with the only minor downside being a little cold, with temperatures at 22 to 24 Degree Celsius. Anilao, situated in Batangas, is a must-visit place for macro and muck lovers. You get the same bang for less bucks in Anilao when you count in Pesos. Alcohol, goes without saying, is dirt cheap. Another great thing about Anilao is, you gain one more day of diving without spending another extra day, so usually I recommend that you take the midnight flight, you will reach Manila in the morning, land transfer takes about three hours, once you get settled in, you could do a dive or two and then retire for the night. So that is a couple dives more without spending an extra day in Anilao. November to May is the best time to go. Try to avoid July and August as those are the monsoon months.
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Mabul and Kapalai Island, Malaysia
We all know Sipadan to be one of the top ten dive destinations in the world. Mabul Island and Kapalai Island are two of the islands that are nearby Sipadan Island, only fifteen minutes away from each other. Sipadan has limited diving traffic per day, so most divers feel that Mabul and Kapalai are there for just filler dives before Sipadan Island, the fact that they are one of the world’s best macro sites is unbeknownst to most. The big stuff are at Sipadan Island, but Mabul and Kapalai are great for macro dives. The diving here is mostly sand and coral rubbles in algae, where visibility may be limited to only 3 metres at times. All types of creatures seem to reside here, Mandarinfish, Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Ghost Pipefish, gobies, shrimps and all sorts of sea snakes. So the next time when you are in Sipadan, you can look forward to add macro adventures to your wish list. What’s more, the temperature here averages from 26 to 30 degree celsius through the year, with the best time to visit from March to October. The biggest grab? Air ticket is dirt cheap at SGD100plus via Airasia, from JB to Tawau.