Diving in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia

Diving in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia

Is this your first dive in South East Asia and Sri Lanka ?

Are you still doing the same thing? Pat the water on the overcrowded beach, stay in a few nonchalant-style Internet celebrity hotels, eat small pineapple pickled in sugar water, and send it to your friends’ circle.



Diving, known as one of the three green sports, was regarded by Westerners as a lifelong exercise that not only strengthens the body but also relaxes and decompresses as early as 50 years ago.

Now diving has become one of the three main reasons why domestic and foreign tourists choose island tours.

More than 1 million people worldwide become certified divers every year, and the attention among Americans even exceeds that of yoga and road cycling. (Worldwide Corporate Statistics 2017 Data for 2011-2016, 2017).

Photo by diving guide Pyer Ti Tek

Why are more and more people learning to dive?

  1. The cost of learning is low. With intensive training ranging from 3 to 7 days, you can become a diver certified by an international organization.
  2. Suitable for all ages, even if you are not good at swimming, anyone interested in diving and ocean exploration can find relevant courses and programs.

Basic classification of diving

If playing games can’t give you extra points for the college entrance examination,

Then diving is fine!

Do you know? In the United States, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and some middle schools, universities, and even military units in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, it is already possible to redeem sports credits with relevant learning certificates issued by the Professional Diving Agency (PADI).

Diving is mainly divided into scuba diving and free diving.

Scuba Diving (Scuba Diving) relies on a self-carried breathing system (Scuba/Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) diving activities and the use of buoyancy adjustment devices (BCD/Buoyancy Control Device) to achieve the purpose of rising and falling in the water.

Freediving (Free Diving) only by holding the breath and using only fins to complete underwater activities.

Free diving

Compared with competitive free diving, scuba diving that can be underwater for a longer time has a lower threshold and is more entertaining.

It can also meet the needs of diving enthusiasts to explore the underwater world.

Scuba diving not only includes recreational diving (Recreational Diving), which is suitable for everyone to learn, but also technical diving (Technical Diving) and commercial diving (Commercial Diving) that require more skill and difficulty.

In the learning of recreational diving, every diving enthusiast can observe or photograph various marine animals and corals in the underwater world, and can also explore the mysterious underwater shipwreck.

Scuba diving

After hearing the term “scuba diving”, some students may think that this is an extremely complex sport.

In fact, even people who are unskilled in swimming can easily amphibious waterways as long as they are not afraid of water and ensure normal body functions, and under the professional guidance of the coach.

Picture from Bali diving guide Pyer Ti Tek

Since it seems that everyone can easily master the skills of recreational diving, why do you need to take a diving license?

Considering the safety of divers and guaranteeing the diving experience, most dive sites will only be open to licensed divers based on water conditions.

Many waters require divers to have more professional knowledge and skills to deal with complex underwater situations.

The diving agency restricts unlicensed divers from participating in the experience scuba diving (DSD/Discover Scuba Diving) with a maximum dive depth of only 12 meters.

So to put it simply, the presence or absence of a diving license directly affects the diver’s activity area and diving experience.

There are many organizations that can issue diving licenses on the market. The four main organizations are CMAS, NAUI, PADI and SSI.

Among them, PADI (Professional Association of Diver Instructor) is the most recognized by the majority of divers and diving learning institutions.

As the world’s largest diving professional association, dive shops registered with PADI cover more than 150 countries worldwide, and the agency has issued more than 24 million diving licenses.

PADI requires its registered dive shops to use a unified syllabus and strictly follow the assessment process.

Even if divers change dive shops during the learning process, their courses can be seamlessly connected.

It can be said that with a PADI diving license, you can swim unimpeded in major diving sites around the world.

PADI has carried out a comprehensive and detailed classification of diving license assessment, covering it from junior divers to diver instructors and trainers.

All diver instructors must strictly follow a series of courses to obtain a license and eventually become a qualified instructor.

PADI Certified
1. Open Water Diver (OWD)
2. Advanced Open Water Diver (AOW)
3. Rescue Diver
4. Master Scuba Diver
1. Diver Master
2. Open Water Scuba Instructor
3. Master Scuba Diver Trainer
4. Development Course Staff Instructor
5. Master Instructor
6. Course Director

The open water diving (OW/Open Water) and advanced open water diving (AOW/Advanced Open Water) set up by PADI for beginners are two compulsory courses for all divers.

Whether you want to be a frequent visitor to the popular island waters or aspire to be a more professional diving instructor, you have to start with these two courses.

Open Water Diving (OW) is an entry-level course that requires divers to be proficient in the use of equipment and basic theoretical knowledge of diving.

The maximum diving depth with this certificate is 18 meters. After successfully passing the OW course, you can take the Advanced Open Water Diving (AOW) course.

The course at this stage requires that while consolidating the basic skills of OW, you can choose 5 specialties according to your own interests and development direction (two specialties are required, three optional specialties).

AOW/ Advanced Open Water
1. Deep Diving
2. Underwater Navigation
Peak Performance Buoyancy
1. Altitude Diving
2. Boat Diving
3. Digital Underwater Photography
4. Diver Propulsion Vehicle
5. Drift Diving
6. Dry Suit Diving
7. Fish Identification
8. Night Diving
9. Search and Recovery Diving
10. Underwater Naturalist
11. Underwater Videography
12.Wreck Diving

OW and AOW are the “threshold” for most dive sites. Due to the different underwater environments, some dive sites require divers to have specific expertise based on the waters’ complexity before they can dive.

For example, divers must possess a wreck diving expertise to dive into a shipwreck site.

Wreck Diving in Sri Lanka

Decided to learn to dive, how do you find the most suitable dive center?

5 principles Find your ideal dive center quickly Click on the Dive Shop column on the homepage of PADI’s official website to find registered dive shops around the world.

At the same time, use the TripAdvisor app TripAdvisor to check the messages given by previous students to dive shops and instructors, and then you can understand the relevant reviews of your favorite dive shops.

In addition, when inspecting dive shops, we can also learn about relevant information on major platforms.

Principle 1: Only choose the right ones, not the expensive ones

Due to domestic water quality problems and high course prices, it was once criticized by diving enthusiasts.

However, even if the round-trip transportation is included in the diving cost, going to Southeast Asian countries to study and verify still has a great price advantage.

In the past two years, countries such as Thailand and the Philippines have not only become the holy places for diving enthusiasts all over the world, but the diving license examination has gradually become the mainstream consumption of Asian people in addition to the traditional leisure vacation in Southeast Asia.

The price of studying OW and AOW courses in Southeast Asian countries at one time ranges from RMB 3500 to RMB 5,500, and there are more than 500 unique dive shops that can meet all customers with different budgets and learning needs.

When choosing courses within an acceptable price range, we also need to choose the most cost-effective dive shop based on the principle of not choosing the most expensive, but only the most correct.

Principle 2: Chinese? English? Choose carefully the language of instruction

Most dive shops in Southeast Asia use English as the main language of instruction. In addition, there are also dive shops opened by Chinese that offer courses taught in Chinese by Chinese diving instructors to serve domestic diving enthusiasts.

For example, as the world’s diving factory, Koh Tao, Thailand has more than 5 Chinese diving shops to welcome diving enthusiasts from China at any time.

The process of learning to dive requires reading and watching a large amount of materials, and close communication with the instructor is also required in the water and underwater.

Choosing the language that suits you can ensure the quality of teaching and direct experience in the learning process to a greater extent.

Therefore, no matter whether you are proficient in English or not, in Southeast Asia, everyone who wants to learn diving can choose the right course without barriers.

Principle 3: Finding a potential store also depends on the star rating!

As the most popular international professional diving association, PADI has not only formulated a detailed assessment system but also given strict and fair ratings to each of its registered dive shops.

Like the hotel’s star ranking, PADI divides registered dive shops into five-star instructor development centers (Five Star IDC/CDC), five-star diving centers/resorts (Five Star Dive Center/Resort), and general diving centers (PADI). Dive Center/Resort).

1.Five Star IDC / CDC
2.Five Star Dive Center / Resort
3.PADI Dive Center / Resort

The higher-rated dive shops have extremely high requirements in terms of instructors, teaching scope, supporting hardware, and certification scale.

Not only that, but PADI also requires all five-star dive shops to not allow any teaching accidents or affect the quality of teaching The incident happened.

For example, some instructors will compress teaching content for commercial purposes, resulting in students obtaining driving licenses without having sufficient skills and practical experience, or some dive shops have had a small probability of sexual harassment of students by diving instructors.

Principle 4: Look at supporting facilities and hardware equipment

Considering that you have to study in the dive shop for 3-10 days, many diving enthusiasts also hope that this trip abroad can be eaten and enjoyed in addition to the daily study in the dive shop. Generally speaking, five-star diving resorts can basically provide in-store accommodation, and other types of dive shops will also recommend nearby hotels or hostels to students.

Some dive shops are located in prosperous sightseeing areas, and there will be more choices in eating and shopping.

In addition to boarding and lodging, it is also necessary to understand whether the dive shop will provide suitable diving equipment during the inspection to avoid the situation where the equipment is not suitable or there is no equipment available.

For example, most dive shops do not provide diving masks with myopia degree, students need to prepare masks with degree or use contact lenses in advance; or students should confirm special-sized diving suits and diving boots with the instructor in advance.

In addition, it should be noted that since students cannot rely too much on receiving instructions from diving instructors to engage in underwater activities, diving computers play a key role in diving.

If the dive shop does not provide dive computer rental, it means that this is not a qualified high-quality dive shop.

Principle 5: The unique scenery and diving season of the dive site

For students who are new to diving, if they find multiple alternative dive shops that meet the above criteria for choosing a shop, they can investigate the characteristic underwater scenery of the diving shop’s teaching waters.

In addition to the more common underwater creature exploration, many dive shops offer exploration courses on underwater caves, shipwrecks, and plane crashes.

For example, on the island of Coron in the Philippines, there are eight shipwrecks waiting for shipwrecks around the small island of Coron. Of course, diving also needs to consider seasonal factors.

Not all regions are like Southeast Asia. Even in the twelfth lunar winter, the outdoor temperature can still be close to 30 degrees.

Diving also needs to avoid extreme weather such as the rainy or windy season, and be aware that the appearance of marine animals will be affected by the season, climate, and ocean currents.

Where does newbie diving go?

As mentioned repeatedly above, Southeast Asia can be said to be the best choice for beginners to learn diving.

Regarding transportation costs, prices, available teaching languages, plus the difficulty of the dive sites and the underwater scenery, here are four great diving spots that are highly praised for your reference.

*The four places recommended below have Chinese dive shops to choose from, so don’t worry about the language of instruction.

*The price of the recommended dive sites includes OW courses and AOW courses.

KOH TAO dive site

Price: Around $500

Marine life you may see:

  • Turtle
  • Whale shark
  • Jack Fish Storm (Jack Fish Storm, a school of fish resembling a storm)

Transportation: Take a plane to Bangkok by car and ship combined transportation; take a plane to Surat Thani or Samui and then take a boat to the destination.

Distribution map of the dive sites in KOH TAO

It is said that 30% of Chinese divers are here for research, and Koh Tao, which mass-produces divers for assembly line operations, can give the world’s lowest course prices.

The competition for dive shops on the island is exceptionally fierce, and many Chinese dive shops. It is recommended to check the reviews of dive shops before making a decision.

Diving sites in Sri Lanka

Underwater view of Hikkaduwa dive site

The island of Sri Lanka is a heaven for scuba divers. A-list plunge locales, agreeable individuals, and noteworthy outdoors Sri Lanka an objective deserving of any divers.

Regardless of whether you are looking for experiences with enormous fish, which in Sri Lanka can incorporate the blue whale or large scale critters, you’ll be astonished by the assorted marine life with large amounts of Sri Lanka’s tropical waters.

  • Underwater Museum in Sri Lanka 
  • Swami Rock (Taprobane Reef), Trincomalee
  • Navy Island, Trincomalee
  • Bull Dog Reef, Kalpitiya
  • Gorgonian Gardens, Colombo
  • Barracuda Reef, Colombo
  • Great Basses Reef
  • The Second and Third Reef, Negombo     
  • Cargo Wreck (AKA Pecheur Breton Wreck)

Peruse on to discover more about our preferred diving sites in exploring Sri Lanka.

PADI diving centers around Sri Lanka

Dive center/operatorLocationComments
KalpitiyaEpic Encounters
Sri Lanka Diving Tours
NegomboColombo Divers
ColomboIsland Scuba
BentotaSunShine Diving
Scuba Sri Lanka
Dive Seenigame
Poseidon Dive Station
HikkaduwaBlue Deep
HikkaduwaInternational Diving School
HikkaduwaDive for you
UnawatunaUnawatuna Diving Center

Underwater Museum in Sri Lanka 

Sri Lanka’s first underwater museum center has opened 17 th June 2020 in the Galle Coastal region, the capital city of Southern Province of Sri Lanka.

Galle is one of the top traveler destinations of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Naval Force has completed this underwater museum under the direction of the Government of Sri Lanka.

The essential goals of the Sri Lanka Underwater Museum are to build up the tourist destination towards the nation.

Most worldwide travel diaries have been proclaimed Sri Lanka as perhaps the best objective on the planet for movement. Being an island, Sri Lanka has an incredible chance to create maritime based on the travel industry advancement.

Underwater Museum in Sri Lanka

Malaysia Semporna

 Sipadan, next to the top ten dive sites in the world

Jack fish storm, the picture comes from the Internet

Sipadan, with the most beautiful underwater scenery in the world, is 36 kilometers away from Semporna Port.

Most people choose to study OW courses in Semporna. After passing the course, 120 places are restricted to enter Sipadan waters to study AOW advanced courses every day.

Distribution map of the dive sites in Sipadan

Price: Around $600

Marine life you may see:

  • Humphead parrotfish Jack Fish Storm (Jack Fish Storm, a school of fish resembling a storm)
  • Blacktip reef shark

Transportation: First take a flight to Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu, then transfer to Tawau, then take a car to Semporna.

Philippines · Bohol God’s little heaven

Underwater view of Bohol dive site

The sea area around Bohol is very pristine and has not been excessively damaged by human activities.

Most of its diving sites have stable water flow, which is very suitable for diving beginners to learn here. Moreover, Bohol Island has very rich tourism resources, so you can spend your vacation here after diving.

Distribution map of the dive sites in Bohol

Price: Around $615

Marine life you may see:

  • Devil stinger
  • School of Sardines (Sardine Storm)

Transportation: There are very few direct flights from the capital Manila to Tagbilaran Airport in Bohol; you can also fly to Manila or Cebu first and then take a boat.

Indonesia Bali Global leisure resort:

Devil fish picture from Bali diving guide Pyer Ti Tek

Bali’s dive sites are scattered throughout the island, and the underwater scenery and marine life of each dive site are quite different.

There are many marine animals that are rare in other islands in the Bali waters.

At the same time, there is also the famous USS Liberty Shipwreck in Tulamben.

Distribution map of Bali dive sites

Price: around $560

Marine life you may see:

  • Devil Fish (Manta Ray/Mobula) Mola mola
  • Sea Hare (Nudibranch/Sea slug)
  • Blue-ringed octopus

Transportation: There are more direct domestic flights; you can also choose to transfer to the capital Jakarta (Jakarta).

Underwater view of dive sites near Bali Picture from Bali diving guide Pyer Ti Tek

For beginners and even advanced divers, snorkeling is an easy, cheap, and excellent way to explore the ocean without much effort or frustration.

Almost always, one will snorkel before attempting to dive. If you don’t like snorkeling, diving is not your thing.

I am grateful to Pyer Ti Tek for the use of his photographs in this article.

Related article:


Read more :




Fast Facts: Recreational Scuba Diving and Snorkeling. (2013). Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA).

Fast Facts: Recreational Scuba Diving and Snorkeling. (2017). Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA).

Rajitha Dissanayake

Researcher in the field of Marine Mammals and Bio-acoustic

I'm a Master’s student in marine mammals and bio-acoustic laboratory, Institute of Deep-Sea Science and Engineering (IDSSE), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and focusing on the sustainable environmental application, conservation, and exploring all aspects of the ecology and behavior of marine mammals.

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