Muck diving takes you into an exciting new world, with weird and wonderful critters and a staggering array of life. It’s a great way to test your observation and buoyancy skills; hovering above black sands in search of impossibly small life.
If you want to see what whacky creatures’ nature can truly come up with, muck diving is for you.
Where can you go muck diving?
There are some great muck diving destinations to choose from, usually found at volcanic areas and seagrass beds. Here’s our pick of some of the best hotspots to try:
The ‘muck diving capital of the world’, Lembeh Strait has over 60 dive sites to explore and is perfect for muck diving photography, thanks to the black sands found there.
Alor is another Indonesia diving highlight, with black volcanic sands, vibrant reefs, and underwater lava flows.
In contrast, Ambon has white sands and coral bommies teeming with muck critters. Whichever area you choose, you’ll be surrounded by diverse marine life.
If you’re more into coral reefs but want to give muck diving a go, Wakatobi is a good choice. A group of 4 remote islands and UNESCO Marine Biosphere Reserve, this stunning area has plenty of macro life amongst the corals and seagrass beds.
The Ondina liveaboard is a good choice for muck divers. This traditional phinisi cruises Lembeh, Alor and Ambon (plus other Indonesia dive areas), visiting a variety of muck and non-muck diving sites.
Philippines diving offers plenty of muck diving and is an increasingly popular choice, thanks to its diverse macro life and thousands of islands dotted in turquoise waters.
Dauin is known for its exceptional water visibility, perfect for finding critters, and coral reef diving. Cabilao Island at Bohol has vibrant reefs and numerous critters, plus big pelagics and drift dives.
Whilst Moalboal may be known for its sardine run, it’s also great for muck diving and night diving at Pescador Island. If you want to find spooky-looking Bobbitt worms, be sure to dive at Puerto Galera.
Other Philippines muck diving highlights include Southern Leyte and Romblon. Romblon is becoming famous thanks to the abundance of ghost nudibranchs found there, as well as other rare nudibranchs and four types of pygmy seahorses.
The Philippine Siren liveaboard is a popular choice, offering luxurious cruises to Dauin, Cabilao, Pescador and more.
Papua New Guinea
Milne Bay, the iconic home of muck diving, has it all; black sands, coral beds and old tree branches that host diverse and plentiful macro life. There are numerous muck diving sites to explore, including Dinah’s Beach – where muck diving began in the 1980s.
The surrounding coastline and islands don’t just offer black sands. There are also coral dives, wall dives, World War II wrecks and vibrant coral gardens.
If you’re going Papua New Guinea scuba diving be sure to also visit Kimbe Bay. Surrounded by sleepy volcanoes, the colourful coral reefs at Kimbe host hundreds of fish species and there are black sands at Wire Bay.
The MV Chertan liveaboard offers reef and muck trips, plus dedicated muck trips to Milne Bay. The experienced crew are great for spotting critters you might just miss without them.
What can you see muck diving?
Muck diving is truly a feast for the eyes, with an almost endless list of tiny creatures to find.
Fans of octopi can search for blue-ringed, mimic, wonderpus and coconut octopus. Meanwhile, frogfish fans won’t be disappointed with white, black, yellow, giant, orange-painted, psychedelic and hairy frogfish to find.
Pygmy seahorses, sea moths and ghost pipefish are highly sought after in the Philippines, where you can also find waspfish plus grumpy-looking stargazers in the sands.
Mandarinfish are perhaps the most well-known muck diving critter to find. These colourful and easily-recognisable fish are well worth searching for.
If you don’t want to spend all your time searching for tiny critters, you can also find larger life at top muck diving destinations:
- Alor is great for whale and dolphin encounters
- Wakatobi hosts mantas and whale sharks
- Moalboal’s sardine run offers fast-paced pelagic action
Can anyone try muck diving?
Absolutely. There are a variety of shallow and deep muck dives, making it suitable for all. Just remember you need good buoyancy and fin kicking skills to ensure you don’t disturb the fine sands.
What dive gear do you need to try muck diving?
A camera is a must-have item for muck divers. You might also want to carry a muck stick, to stabilise yourself whilst hovering above the sands. A torch is also helpful for spotting small life and highlighting their different colours.
This article was written by divers and writers at LiveAboard.com