Photo: There is nowhere quite like Singapore.

Scuba diving at Pulau Hantu

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No, I’m not about to reveal that Singapore is Southeast Asia’s most underrated dive destination, nor that it really compares with some of the best. Of the sixty-some islands that make up Singapore, only one called Pulau Hantu is frequented by local scuba divers and snorkellers.

About 30 minutes south of Singapore by boat, Pulau Hantu is fringed by small coral reefs that are home to a wide variety of marine life. Sheltered in the crevices of the reef you’ll spot colourful nudibranches, butterfly fish, clownfish, crabs, sea slugs, starfish, octopi, and even seahorses (check out this gallery of underwater photographs). Pulau Hantu’s marine life tends to be on the small size, so if you were hoping to see manta rays or reef sharks you’re better off diving in Thailand.

Welcome to Pulau Hantu!

Welcome to Pulau Hantu!

Pulau Hantu may be Singapore’s most popular dive site, but by no means are the conditions perfect. The island’s proximity to industrial activities combined with the silty ocean floor means that visibility is very poor. On a good day you can expect a visibility of a few metres, but on a particularly bad day I was barely able to see my dive buddy’s yellow flipper in front of my face!

Singapore: the optimal mix of aquatic recreation and petrochemical storage.

Singapore: optimal mix of aquatic recreation and petrochemical storage.

There are no scheduled ferries to Pulau Hantu, so the easiest way to get there is by joining one of the weekend dive trips.

PADI certified divers can join The Hantu Bloggers – a non-profit group that raises awareness about Singapore’s coral reefs. A two-dive day trip costs S$110 including tanks and transport. Non-divers can tag along for S$90 and can rent a snorkel for a few dollars more.

If you’re not a scuba diver but would like to learn you can get your PADI Open Water Certification in Singapore with one of the local dive centres like Sunny Cove. After the classroom training and a pool dive, they’ll take you to Pulau Hantu for a weekend of scuba diving (or, if you prefer, to prettier Pulau Tioman in Malaysia).

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