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Top 5 Places in Asia to Shoot Underwater

The magnificence of the underwater world is hard to describe. From psychedelic-coloured corals to steel-grey sharks to the hard-to-spot pygmy seahorses, the sea holds a multitude of fascinating subjects that would be any photographer’s dream. Check out these 5 amazing places in Asia you’ll definitely regret not bringing your camera to.

Canon EOS 6D, EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens, f/22, 1/100sec, 200mm, ISO 160 by Lisa Collins

Anilao, The Philippines  

Best for: Macro and nudibranch photography

Located just 3 hours south of Manila, Anilao is a well-known dive location featuring extremely healthy reefs comprising of gorgeous soft and hard corals. You can expect to find a multitude of critters like shrimps, crabs, small squids and cuttlefish hiding amongst the flora, and with little surge at most sites, super macro photography is even possible. Visibility is fairly consistent, ranging between 12-15m.

Canon PowerShot G11, f/2.8, 1/60sec, 6.1mm, ISO 80 by Steve Matador 

Bunaken, Indonesia

Best for: Wide-angle and macro photography

Known for great wall diving and extremely healthy coral reefs, Bunaken is a must for all divers – whether you’re into photography or not. The picturesque underwater seascapes and calm conditions make it perfect for both budding and experienced photographers, and one can even expect to see some sharks, turtles, tunas and schools of trevally.

Canon PowerShot G11, f/4.0, 1/60sec, 18.1mm, ISO 80 by Steve Matador 

The Lembeh Strait, Indonesia  

Best for: Macro photography

Mention the Lembeh Strait to any diver and chances are they will gush about this critter wonderland endlessly – especially if they also happen to be a photographer. Famous for muck diving, you’ll be able to spot an incredible diversity of life, including seahorses, rare nudibranchs, juvenile fish, harlequin shrimps, mandarin fish, mantis shrimps and even frogfish. Diving is good any time of the year here, but avoid the rainy season (December to February) as it tends to affect visibility.

Canon PowerShot G11, f/3.5, 1/100sec, 12.1mm, ISO 80 by Steve Matador 

Mergui Archipelago, Myanmmar

Best for: Wide-angle and Macro photography

The Mergui Archipelago only opened up to divers in 1997 and is one of the less frequented sites in Asia – it is not uncommon to be on the only liveaboard in the area! As a result, divers who do venture there are treated to spectacular scenery underwater. Think massive pinnacles rising majestically from the ocean floor, tons of brightly coloured sea fans and schools of fish of all sizes, each dive site completely different from the last. Teeming with life, one can even expect pelagics like sharks, pharaoh cuttlefish and if you’re really lucky, whale sharks and manta rays.

Canon EOS 400D, EF15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens, f/6.3, 1/100sec, 15mm, ISO 200 by Dan Exton

Wakatobi, South East Sulawesi  

Best for: Wide-angle and Macro photography

Located in the Banda sea, the Wakatobi reefs has reportedly been dubbed an “underwater nirvana” by Jacques Cousteau, and houses an incredible biodiversity of marine life and is one of the most pristine reefs in the whole of Asia. From large schools of trevally to bumphead parrotfish to barracudas and gorgeous coral gardens, you will lack for nothing, whatever kind of underwater photography you’re into.


Mona Teo
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Mona Teo is a writer based in Singapore who believes that there is nothing more powerful than the written word (not counting coffee). An avid scuba diver and traveler, she relies on her Kindle to get her through flights and seeks inspiration from the world around her.