- Vietnam Scuba Diving Essentials
- Nha Trang: the Best Spot for Scuba Diving & Snorkeling in Vietnam
- Snorkeling & Scuba Diving Undiscovered Reef in Phu Quoc Island
- Finding Nemo Scuba Diving the Cham Islands in Hoi An
- Honorable Mentions for Diving in Vietnam
Scuba diving and snorkeling are becoming top favorite ways to enjoy the beauteous ocean splendor of Vietnam. Brimming with potential for further exploration, the most idyllic diving spots are scattered along the central coastline and the Southern tip of Vietnam.
Vietnam has a tropical climate suitable more for macro-diving so don’t expect to see pelagic sea creatures like large sharks, rays, and turtles. Highlights of the dives include smaller species, shimmering corals, nudibranch, and reef fish.
Vietnam Scuba Diving Essentials
Most of the good dive sites in Vietnam are in the waters surrounding islands — đảo or hòn in Vietnamese. For hassle-free and safety-guaranteed diving, it’s best to choose a PADI-certified dive center such as those we mention for each location. They also provide courses for PADI certification.
Nonetheless, there are a few things you should note for yourself if you already have diving experience:
- Make sure with dive operators that your dive buddies on the same trip are at the same level;
- Check dive-master to students ratio – the ideal is one to two;
- Inspect your equipment: oxygen regulator, buoyancy compensator, dive computer, dive mask, scuba fins, wetsuit, and snorkel.
View the Best Scuba Diving Spots in Vietnam
Nha Trang: the Best Spot for Scuba Diving & Snorkeling in Vietnam
Nha Trang isn’t only the third-best surfing spot but also the number one scuba diving spot in Vietnam. The three key diving locations out of the five main islands are Hon Mun Island (Hòn Mun), Bamboo Island (Hòn Tre), and Whale Island (Hòn Ông).
Hon Mun Island is Vietnam’s first marine reserve and Bamboo Island has the popular Vinpearl Land Amusement Park.
Boat tours to these main islands include not only snorkeling stop-offs but also onboard fishing. You can also enjoy a seafood BBQ and take time out to visit fishing villages.
Another main one is Hon Tam Island (Hòn Tằm), but it’s only good for shallow snorkeling. It’s great for other watersports like windsurfing, paragliding, canoeing, and kayaking though.
Best Time for Scuba Diving in Nha Trang
The scuba diving and snorkeling season in Nha Trang begins in April. July to August is ideal but it’s also peak holiday months so it can get very crowded and prices may go up.
Earlier in the year is not so bad and it’s more than enough to get your PADI diving licenses. Watch out for the rainy and stormy season from October to mid-January. During these months you can do diving in Phu Quy or Phu Quoc Islands instead.
Recommended Diving Schools in Nha Trang
As a top diving spot in Vietnam, Nha Trang has a number of excellent diving schools. Depending on your diving package, they’ll generally take you to one of the 5 dive sites detailed further below.
- Nha Trang Fun Divers
- Sailing Club Divers
- Rainbow Divers – Nha Trang
- Rainbow Divers – Whale Island
Best Diving Spots in Nha Trang
Moray Beach on Hon Mun Island is a very popular diving spot so it’s quite busy often due to the dive courses held there. With an average depth of 18 m and a shallow, sandy bottom, it’s ideal for all certification levels.
Moray Beach’s excellent visibility and vast coral reef make for amazing ocean photography. Common sightings include species of nudibranch and moray eels as the name suggests.
You may also see clownfish, lionfish, flying gurnard, black frogfish, and seahorses. If you’re an advanced diver, you can swim to and explore the caves. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the rarer pipefish, razorfish, and scorpionfish.
Mama Hanh Beach
Mama Hanh Beach is a shallower dive site not too far from Moray Beach. It’s usually used for Open Water courses due to the large sandy area. In the reef, you may see triggerfish, butterflyfish, and surgeonfish.
Madonna Rock is an offshore islet from Hon Mun Island. The name was given by foreigners because of the two large triangular rocks sticking out from the water. The buoyancy dives here can go down to 25 m.
The highlights lie within the crevices and caves at various depths. Keep your eyes peeled for small glassfish and flatworms. Also, don’t forget the ghostfish, unicornfish, surgeonfish, cobia, rays, and octopus.
Electric Nose is a pinnacle rising from 50 m below right up to the surface. The current can be a little strong so it’s recommended only to advanced divers. It’s just offshore Hon Tre Island and you need professional help to get here. Our map does pinpoint its location even though it’s not on the map.
The reef is covered by yellow sunflower corals providing a rich macro life. Over 50 different species of nudibranch and also mantis shrimps, flatworms, crabs, and shrimps have been spotted here.
Whale Island is surrounded by the beautiful and sheltered Van Phong Bay (vịnh Vân Phong) 100 km North of Nha Trang. The name comes from whales and whale sharks swimming to the area to feed on krill and plankton between April and July.
Whale Island is an upcoming popular dive site with depths ranging from 12 all the way to 50 m. The mesmerizing Spanish dancer nudibranch is one of the best highlights here.
Just having fun at the shallow levels you can see anemones homing clownfish and seahorses. The rocky formations are where groupers, snappers, and trevally like to hang around.
Snorkeling & Scuba Diving Undiscovered Reef in Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc Island (đảo Phú Quốc) doesn’t lose to Nha Trang when it comes to beautiful coral reefs despite the run-off waters from the Mekong Delta.
North of the island is generally more sheltered. The highlighted scuba diving spots in the North are Turtle Island (Hòn Đồi Mồi) and Fingernail Island (Hòn Móng Tay).
The South is more exposed and subjected to current change or rough surfaces.
Around An Thoi Archipelago, there’s Pineapple Island (Hòn Thơm), May Rut Island (Hòn Mây Rút), Roi Island (Hòn Rỏi), Dry Island (Hòn Khô), and Coconut Island (Hòn Dừa). A fun try on Pineapple Island is the more recent underwater sea-walking and other watersports.
Best Time for Scuba Diving in Phu Quoc
From November to April, the water temperature is around 28 – 31oC and the current is calm. For the rest of the year, the tides can abruptly change. Phu Quoc is ideal for when Nha Trang and Cham Islands are out of season.
Recommended Diving Schools in Phu Quoc
Flipper Diving Club is the only running PADI-certified school in Phu Quoc as of March 2021. They’ve explored a number of dive sites around the island, namely the ones mentioned above. In addition, they know the way to the Nudibranch Garden in the North which is covered in bright purple Godiva nudibranch.
Best Diving Spots in Phu Quoc
Turtle Island is one of the top favorite dive sites in Phu Quoc Island. The reef from below the surface down to 12 m is home to damselfish and fusilier fish. The dives can be separated into three directions with easy depths reaching 20 m.
In the North, there are large rocks covered in corals, home to butterflyfish. You can spot angelfish in the East. The South boasts the widest variety with barracuda, snappers, and tuna to name a few.
Fingernail Island has a shallow reef down to 10 m. Barracuda and pufferfish like to hide in the nooks of big rocks here. If you pay close attention to the sandy bottom, you may see small mantis shrimp, octopus, toadfish, and more.
Hon Kho or Dry Island
From above the surface, Dry Island is just rock pillars with no vegetation but below are corals brimming with life. The reef system is where butterflyfish and parrotfish flock to get food.
Finding Nemo Scuba Diving the Cham Islands in Hoi An
Cham Islands (Cù lao Chàm) are the much-adored getaway from the attractive historical urban Hoi An. On the main Hon Lao Island (Hòn Lao), you can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and fishing at the idyllic tropical beaches.
However, to get the best out of scuba diving and snorkeling in Hoi An, you need to set out for islands like Hon Tai (Hòn Tai), Hon Mo (Hòn Mồ), and Hon Nhan (Hòn Nhàn).
Best Time for Diving in the Cham Islands
The ideal scuba diving season in the Cham Islands lasts from June to late August. Make sure to wear a bathing vest to avoid sunburn and jellyfish stings.
From mid-September to February, is the stormy season and marks the end of the tourist season. The weather is a bit unsettled but not too bad from April to June.
Recommended Diving Schools in the Cham Islands
Make sure to choose a good tour operator for your trip or you may get rushed to destinations and be poorly serviced. Hoi An Diving Center – Blue Coral Diving and also the Cham Island Diving are two PADI-certified schools. They only open during the diving season and are recommended for your diving experience.
Best Diving Spots in Cham Islands
Hon Tai Island
Hon Tai Island has a beautiful shallow reef with the occasional light current. In addition, the depths can go to 30 m so divers of all levels can get something out of it. Keep an eye for clownfish, scorpionfish, frogfish, stonefish, purple firefish, and blenny fish.
Hon Mo Island
The island of Hon Mo has coral reef sloping to 25 m housing nudibranch, trumpetfish, seahorses, and clownfish.
Hon Nhan Island
If you’re an experienced diver, you can head to the uncharted Hon Nhan Island. Challenging rock formations go down 40 meters and you can hang out with barracuda, triggerfish, pipefish, sea horses, and ribbon eels.
Honorable Mentions for Diving in Vietnam
Our two honorable mentions require a few more steps to get to but offer some additional delightful ocean experiences. Diving at Con Dao Island (Côn Đảo) and Phu Quy Island (Đảo Phú Quý) is not yet well-developed and their dive spots are waiting to be explored.
Coral Diving on Con Dao Island
Con Dao Island is the closest scuba diving and snorkeling spot from Ho Chi Minh City and you can get there by plane.
Join the PADI-licensed Con Dao Dive Center to explore the channel between Hon Trung Island (Hòn Trứng) and the main island. The dives are best enjoyed around 15 to 20 m and you can see mackerel, barracuda, and tuna swimming by.
Do some coral diving at Hon Tai Island (Hòn Tai) and you may see green sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtles, dolphins, and dugongs. The diving season is March to October — much the same as Nha Trang.
Float and Observe Corals at Phu Quy Island
Phu Quy Island (đảo Phú Quý) is an underwater paradise still waiting to be fully discovered. You need to take a boat from Phan Thiet which is 200 km from Ho Chi Minh City.
The favorable months are from October to February, which are the months you don’t want to be diving in Nha Trang or Cham Islands. The untouched emerald waters allow you to simply put on your floaties and goggles and observe the coral below.
Lazing around at the natural miniature sea pools can result in some really nice photos. The local market sells cheap freshly cooked seafood.