Scuba Diving in Cambodia: Discovering a Hidden Gem

As world travel becomes ever more accessible, it’s increasingly difficult to find dive sites that offer spectacular marine life and minimal tourism. Cambodia offers such hidden gems.

Boats and large dive groups overrun many famous dive areas in peak season. This is a far cry from the serenity and peace that most of us seek when diving. Intrepid travelers can explore plenty of lesser-known diving locations, however. If you’re prepared to go off the beaten track and begin a travel adventure both topside and underwater, the scuba diving in Cambodia offers one such adventure.

Travelers will receive a warm welcome in Cambodia, in the heart of Southeast Asia. Many people still associate the notorious dictator Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields with Cambodia. Fortunately, the country has emerged from that dark period and is now a frequent destination for adventuresome travelers. The predominantly Buddhist country is famous for the spectacular World Heritage site Angkor Wat. This temple complex constitutes the largest religious monument in the world — don’t miss it during a trip to the country. Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, is a hub for Khmer culture and delicious local cuisine; Sihanoukville is the tourist gateway to beaches, tropical islands and mangrove jungles.

Scuba Diving in Cambodia

Cambodia’s waters are and remain at a constant 82 to 86 F (28 to 30 C) most of the year. Dive sites are accessible year-round. Visibility ranges from 20 to 100 feet (6 to 30 m) depending on the season. The wet season runs from June to October, and the dry season is more popular for visitors. There is a great array of marine life; highlights include coral reefs, seahorses, rays, a multitude of colorful nudibranchs and various tropical fish species. You can find the shark-like cobia at some dive sites and spot whale sharks as well.

Sihanoukville is one of the main destinations for scuba diving. You can reach the tropical islands of Koh Rong, Koh Rong Saloem and Koh Kong via a 2-hour boat ride from there. Scuba Nation and The Dive Shop both offer trips to these islands, where there are a variety of dive sites.

For a truly remote diving experience and an authentic Cambodian island community, visit Koh Sdach (King Island) and its only dive center, Octopuses Garden. This small island, with almost no tourism, offers a fascinating insight into island life and the chance to live within a traditional community. The facilities on the island are rustic . Nearby dive sites are shallow, consistently calm and suitable for novice and experienced divers alike. Projects Abroad offers volunteer diving and marine-conservation placements for those looking to experience the diving here while also contributing to local conservation efforts.

If diving the reefs of uninhabited islands and seeing no other tourists for weeks on end is your idea of scuba heaven, look no further than Koh Sdach. The waters surrounding the island are well worth exploring now before this hidden gem hits the mainstream. Scuba diving in Cambodia truly offers something for everyone.