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Scuba Diving in Vietnam – Top places for Scuba Diving In Vietnam

December 23, 2023

Vietnam is quickly becoming one of the top scuba diving destinations in Asia. With a coastline stretching over 3,400 km, Vietnam boasts clear blue waters, remote tropical islands, vibrant coral reefs, and rich marine biodiversity. From Nha Trang to Phu Quoc Island, there are numerous fantastic scuba spots catering to divers of all levels. Read on for an in-depth guide on scuba diving in Vietnam.


Scuba Diving in Vietnam

Scuba Diving in Vietnam

The best time to go scuba diving in Vietnam

Vietnam enjoys a tropical climate with warm weather year-round. However, there are two distinct monsoon seasons that affect visibility and diving conditions in certain regions.

Dry Season (December – April)

The dry northeast monsoon runs from December to April. With very little rainfall, visibility can reach up to 30 meters during this time. Water temperatures hover around 24-28°C.

Places like Nha Trang and Phu Quoc offer exceptional diving at this time of year. The best visibility and calmer seas make it ideal for beginner divers too.

Rainy Season (May – November)

From May to November, southwest monsoons bring heavy rain. While visibility drops slightly, it is still possible to have good dives when there are breaks between rainstorms.

More advanced divers can take advantage of blooming coral and higher chances of seeing whale sharks during this season. However, rough seas limit where it is safe to dive. Popular spots like Con Dao Islands and Cham Island (near Hoi An) are best avoided.

Typhoon Season (July – November)

Typhoons affecting Vietnam typically occur between July and November. During active storms, most dive centers temporarily close for safety reasons. While visibility takes a dip overall, the days following a typhoon can offer surprisingly good diving.

Necessary equipment for scuba diving in Vietnam

From wetsuits and regulators to dive computers and cameras, having the right scuba equipment is essential for safe and enjoyable diving in Vietnam.

Basic Gear

At a minimum, you will need mask, snorkel, fins, booties, buoyancy control device (BCD) and regulator. These items make up vital personal diving equipment.

If you don’t want to travel with all your gear, reputable dive centers in Vietnam rent out quality equipment for reasonable rates. However, you should always bring your own mask, snorkel, booties and fins as these require proper personal fitting.

Exposure Suits

Water temperature dictates what type of wetsuit or exposure suit is needed. In Vietnam, temperatures vary from 25°C to 31°C, so 3mm shorty wetsuits are suitable year-round for most divers.

In the winter months (December and January), some prefer a 5mm wetsuit for warmth during longer dives. Make sure your wetsuit has flexible panels to ensure ease of motion and comfort when diving.

Safety Add-Ons

Dive computers help you monitor depth, no-decompression limits and ascent rates – critical safety factors for scuba diving. A good quality dive computer suitable for the recreational diving depths in Vietnam costs around $300 USD.

While not mandatory, a small safety sausage (inflatable surface marker buoy) is highly recommended. It makes you more visible in busy shipping areas when doing boat dives.

For navigating underwater, bring an underwater compass. Lastly, don’t forget to pack reef-safe sunscreen to protect against harsh tropical rays before and after diving.

Cost of Scuba Diving In Vietnam

The good news is scuba diving in Vietnam won’t break the bank. Dive trips are very economical compared to popular spots like the Great Barrier Reef or the Caribbean.

Day Trips

Single day dive trips cost approximately $80-100 USD on average. This usually includes 2-3 dives, all gear rental, light meals/snacks, drinking water, taxes and marine park fees.

Nha Trang and Phu Quoc Islands offer full day dive trips at budget-friendly rates for small groups. Private, customized charters with dive masters cost more.

Multi-day Liveaboards

For multi-day liveaboard cruises, expect to pay around $200-300 USD per day when split between 8-12 divers.

The longer 3-5 day cruises to more remote, biodiverse diving tend to cost slightly less per day than overnight trips. Liveaboards typically cover all diving, certifications, equipment, meals, taxes and national park fees.

Courses & Certifications

Getting PADI certified or taking specialty courses in Vietnam costs less than most destinations too.

  • Open water certification – $250-400
  • Advanced open water certification – $250-350
  • Specialty courses – $150-250

When comparing, look for centers offering small instructor-student ratios for personalized training.

Top places for Scuba Diving In Vietnam

Moray Beach, Nha Trang

Scuba diving in Nha Trang

Scuba diving in Nha Trang

Famed for its crystal clear waters, colorful coral and radiant aquatic life, Moray Beach offers spectacular scuba diving for all levels off Vietnam’s south central coast.

Why Go There

Moray Beach lies by the Vinpearl Resorts ferry terminal, just 15 minutes by boat from Nha Trang City. Renowned for its sloping reefs from 5 to 20 meters in depth, the area provides excellent snorkeling and diving.

The contoured rocky bottom and swaying sea grass act as a magnet for macro life like pipefish, ghost pipefish and blue-ringed octopus. Patient divers might also spot wonderpus or mimic octopus while exploring the mini estuaries beneath the waves.

What You Can See

From vibrant reefs and critters galore to turtles and sharks, Moray Beach serves up stunning biodiversity for scuba enthusiasts.

Common sightings when diving here include:

  • Blacktip reef sharks
  • Hawksbill and green sea turtles
  • Lionfish, scorpionfish, stonefish
  • Snappers, sweetlips, batfish, pufferfish
  • Nudibranchs, shrimps, crabs, lobsters
  • Anemones with clownfish
  • Coral gardens

The deeper reefs off Hon Rom, Hon Pet and Hon Mun promise lionfish hovered over table coral and clouds of chromis fish. Early morning dives (or night dives) increase the chance of shark sightings too.

Whale Island, Nha Trang

Sitting just off the coast from Nha Trang beach, Whale Island lives up to its moniker with incredible whale shark sightings in spring and summer.

Why Go There

Officially called Hon Mieu, Whale Island provides world-class reef diving and snorkeling less than 30 minutes from Nha Trang port.

The pristine reefs surrounding the island feature steep drop-offs and swim-through tunnels bursting with reef fish and macro life. Schools of barracuda hide in the deeper waters where green turtles are also spotted feeding on the coral.

But Whale Island earns its nickname for predictable whale shark appearances. Though an elusive, migratory species, the nutrient-rich waters attract the gentle giants to feed from April to July each year. Local fishermen alert dive boats when the world’s biggest fish arrive.

What You Can See

From manta rays to whale sharks, a mind-boggling array of marine life congregates around Whale Island:

  • Whale sharks!
  • Huge schools of chevron barracuda
  • Green and hawksbill sea turtles
  • Giant moray eels and octopus
  • Reef sharks and stingrays
  • Multicolored coral gardens

The vertical walls and swim-through caverns host harlequin ghost pipefish, stonefish and an incredible array of nudibranchs too.

Madonna Rock, Nha Trang

Rising up like an aquatic cathedral in the middle of the ocean, Madonna Rock captivates visiting divers with its sheer size and the spectacular marine life lurking beneath the waves.

Why Go There

A submerged seamount covered in vibrant corals, sponges and swaying sea whips, Madonna Rock lies around 45 minutes off the coast of Nha Trang City by speedboat.

Shaped like the Virgin Mary (hence its name), the underwater rock mountain plunges to depths exceeding 40 meters while the summit lies just shy of the surface. Strong currents whip up nutrients to feed the diverse ecosystems.

Dropping down the deeper sides, divers enter an alien world to explore caves adorned with black coral trees. Shoals of snappers and sweetlips hang motionless far below while reef sharks patrol even darker waters hunting for prey.

What You Can See

Teeming with nourishment, Madonna Rock acts like an underwater oasis for large marine life including pelagic fish, sharks and rays:

  • Schooling barracudas
  • White tip & grey reef sharks
  • Giant moray eels
  • Napoleon wrasse
  • Bumphead parrotfish
  • Spiny lobsters, crabs & shrimp
  • Sea fans, sponges & coral
  • Anemones with clownfish

Currents sway black coral gardens sprouting with brittle stars and crinoids. Look closely to spot pygmy seahorse, ghost pipefish and mandarinfish too on night dives.

Cham Island, Hoi An

A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve brimming with 84 species of coral and over 200 types of fish, Cham Island Marine Park promises unspoiled reefs with exceptional biodiversity perfect for diving.

Why Go There

Cham Island sits around 20km from Hoi An off central Vietnam’s coast. Designated a protected marine park in 2010, fishing is restricted allowing coral reefs to flourish.

Diverse topography including rocky ridges, sloping reefs and small islets creates specialized ecosystems and strong upwelling currents. As a result, diving and snorkeling sites around Cham Island abound with vibrant, healthy corals and clouds of tropical fish.

Visiting scuba enthusiasts can easily arrange day trips from Hoi An to dive or snorkel the rich reefs of Cham Island. Overnight stays are also possible for multiple days of aquatic adventure. Most trips include meals, gear rental and entrance fees.

What You Can See

Cham Island Marine Park bubbles with a colorful collection of Indo-Pacific fish species. Just some of the highlights when diving here include:

  • Reef sharks and sea turtles
  • Parrotfish, angelfish, batfish
  • Moray eels, stonefish & scorpionfish
  • Colorful nudibranch sea slugs
  • Large sea fans and soft corals
  • Anemones with resident clownfish

Rare finds for keen-eyed divers include the psychedelic frogfish and pygmy seahorse hiding in feathery sea fans.

Hon Ko, Phu Quoc Island

The crystal waters surrounding Hon Ko islet off southern Phu Quoc Island offer spectacular wreck diving along with sea grass beds teeming with marine critters.

Why Go There

Hon Ko (“Dry Island” in Vietnamese) is a tiny islet perched 5km northeast of Phu Quoc in the Gulf of Thailand. Uninhabited and undeveloped, the island sits inside Phu Quoc UNESCO Biosphere Reserve giving excellent protection for local reefs and sea grass habitats.

In 2007, the freight ship Hai Yen 01 sank in 15 meters of water just off Hon Ko with its hull fully intact. The easily accessible wreck diving provides ample excitement for novice to advanced divers. Reef dives around Hon Ko reveal seagrass meadows rippling with pipefish, seahorses, pufferfish and more.

What You Can See

The submerged wreck and sea grass beds around Hon Ko deliver delightful diving:

  • Coral-encrusted wreck with visibility up to 20 meters
  • Schools of snappers swarm the old cargo hold
  • Triplefin blennies, gobies & dragonets hide in the grass
  • Seahorses, pipefish & boxfish camouflage perfectly
  • Green turtles, blue-spotted rays, cuttlefish
  • Featherstars, sea cucumbers & nudibranchs

Best of all, the wreck acts like an artificial reef attracting giant groupers, lionfish and even small blacktip sharks at times.

Con Dao Islands

A colossal coral column in the waters off Con Dao Island

A colossal coral column in the waters off Con Dao Island

Isolated from Vietnam’s mainland, the pristine Con Dao archipelago sets the stage for world-class scuba diving with healthy coral reefs sheltering green sea turtles, reef sharks and even dugongs.

Why Go There

Sitting around 230km from the Mekong Delta, Con Dao encompasses 16 islands and islets ringed by coral reefs. Designated a national park in 1993, fishing is restricted allowing marine habitats to thrive.

Con Dao offers diving for all levels across a range of habitats. Shallow reefs burst with damselfish, clownfish, unicornfish and other small tropical specimens. Wall dives reveal lionfish hovering above table corals, clouds of snapper and grouper hiding in crevices.

The park’s crowning glory are its healthy seagrass meadows – prime dugong habitat! A highly endangered species, catching sight of these shy “sea cows” grazing on grass makes for an unforgettable memory.

What You Can See

Con Dao National Park serves a mouth-watering buffet of Indo-Pacific marine creatures:

  • Dugongs!
  • Black tip, white tip & grey reef sharks
  • Green and hawksbill turtles
  • Giant moray eels, octopus, cuttlefish
  • Napoleon wrasse, parrotfish, grouper
  • Seahorses, pipefish, shrimp, crabs
  • Sponges, soft corals, gorgonian fans

The helpful tips for your scuba diving Vietnam experience

To help you make the most of your scuba diving trip in Vietnam, keep these tips in mind:

  • Bring motion sickness remedies if prone to seasickness – boat rides to islands can get bumpy
  • Pack lightweight, quick-drying clothing for comfort on dive boats
  • Leave valuables secure at your hotel – small boat diving means limited secured storage
  • Bring cash for any extra purchases like memory cards or snacks/drinks
  • Don’t fly within 24 hours of your last dive to allow safe off-gassing of nitrogen
  • Consider trip insurance in case of injury, lost gear, or inclement weather
  • Ask your doctor about prophylactic antibiotics to avoid ear infections
  • Hydrate constantly to avoid cramps, fatigue and dehydration in tropical temperatures
  • Apply reef-safe sunscreen liberally and reapply often
  • Capture photos but don’t touch or collect any marine species while diving
  • Pick operators using proper dive flags and safety gear for reassurance
  • Tip divemasters and boat captains if you received exceptional service
  • Have a backup plan if unable to dive due to medical issues

Properly preparing for your specific diving needs ensures you can relax and fully embrace the adventure of scuba diving Vietnam!

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifications do I need to scuba dive in Vietnam?

No prior certification is required to take beginner “discover diving” tours. However, an Open Water Diver certification from PADI, SSI or similar is needed to dive independently without an instructor.

Which places have the best scuba diving in Vietnam?

Top spots include Nha Trang, Phu Quoc Island, Con Dao Islands, Cham Island and Cu Lao Cau (Ly Son Island).

What can I see while scuba diving in Vietnam?

From small critters like clownfish and seahorses to larger species like green sea turtles, reef sharks and octopus, Vietnam hosts incredible marine biodiversity for diving.

Do I need a wetsuit for diving in Vietnam?

The warm tropical waters of Vietnam range 25-30°C depending on season and region so most divers only require a lightweight 3mm wetsuit year-round.

Can I get PADI certified while traveling in Vietnam?

Yes, taking PADI open water and advanced certification courses with qualified dive centers in Vietnam is quite popular. Prices are very reasonable too.


Boasting thousands of exotic islands, vibrant coral reefs and crystal clear visibility, Vietnam ranks as one of the top scuba diving destinations in South East Asia. With an affordable cost of living and exceptional nightlife, Nha Trang stands out for its spectacular reefs swarming with marine critters. Yet remote archipelagos like Phu Quoc and Con Dao beckon adventurous divers with pristine ecosystems unchanged for centuries. Whether you’re a novice or seasoned pro, scuba diving Vietnam offers thrills and memories to last a lifetime.