Who knew there was so much to see at sea? Jovy Lai dives into Sai Kung’s underwater world with help from three local scuba experts.
Why is Sai Kung a good dive spot in Hong Kong?
D: While fish stocks have been decimated over the years, there is still a huge range of marine life in Sai Kung but it is generally smaller than it should be. Most of the good diving is to the east of Sai Kung and north of the Sai Kung Country Park. Even Sharp Island, a common dive site for training and only 15-20 minutes from Sai Kung Pier, has lots to see. Hong Kong is also a good place to learn to dive. Learning underwater navigation here rather than in clearer waters is far more challenging and a real test of your skills. [And if you qualify here] you don’t have to study while on holiday.
S: The water in Sai Kung is more oceanic and further from the Pearl River. It offers some beautiful sights, such as special rock formations and unique species of aquatic life.
C: Sai Kung has a lot to offer as a dive location. There are some nice areas with developing coral reefs and an interesting array of fish. The sites generally lack strong currents, which makes them perfect for a relaxing, stress-free dive.
What kind of marine creatures have you found in Sai Kung?
D: We always see clown fish, sweetlips, groupers, goat fish, damson fish, moray eels, lizard fish, cuttlefish, pipe fish, nudibranchs, cardinal fish and many more. We occasionally glimpse octopus, lion fish and snake eels, and I recently spotted stingrays near Clearwater Bay. At Nine Pins, off the east coast of Clearwater Bay, there are huge anemone beds with some very aggressive clown fish. “Nemo” is by far the most hostile creature I have come across in Hong Kong but in fairness the fish are only defending their homes and young ones so they impress me the most for their bravery in facing off all comers.
S: Scientists have found 84 species of reef-building corals in Hong Kong, most of them in the Sai Kung area. We mainly see little invertebrates such as sea slugs, nudibranchs, octopus and crabs but occasionally we spot VIPs like marble rays, butterfly rays, eagle rays, turtles, frogfishes and seahorses. I saw an eagle ray once while teaching at Tsim Chau (尖洲) – that impressed me the most.
C: I am not a coral expert but I love the colourful, soft corals you get here. The marine creatures are generally juvenile or small fish but on several occasions I’ve seen stingrays, octopus and eels.
Tell us about your best diving experience at Sai Kung?
D: Night diving is a favourite of mine. The marine life comes out at night and it is much easier to see things such as cuttlefish and octopus. As a dive instructor, my most memorable moments are generally when I help students overcome their fears and learn new skills.
S: On a reef check in Long Kei Wan, we found more than seven different species of nudibranches and sea slugs within the 100m transect area.
C: My best Sai Kung diving experience is split between Trio Island and Victor’s Rock (just off Port Shelter). I love Trio Island for its underwater topography and lovely fish. I had an amazing experience at Victor’s Rock one Easter when the water was blue and clear down to 25m. I enjoyed the dive around the submerged rock surrounded by soft, colourful corals; I started deep and spiralled around the rock to the safety stop at 5m.
Darren Gilkison from Splash Diving (D)
Unit 5, 1/F Ko Fu House, 58-72 Fuk Man Road, Sai Kung, New Territories, Hong Kong.
2792 4495; www.splashhk.com
Shuen Kau from Diving Adventure (S)
2/F, Island Building, 439-445 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.
2572 2138; www.divinghk.com
Cyril Kwan from Mandarin Divers (C)
3/F, Unit 305, Technology Plaza, 651 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong.
2554 7110; www.mandarin-divers.com