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Scuba Diving in South Korea
Scuba Diving in South Korea can be challenging, yet rewarding
Scuba diving in Korea takes a bit more effort than in other Asian Countries. You'll usually have to travel some distance to the dive sites in Korea, although transportation, food and accommodation is generally cheap. And it's sometimes not that easy to organize unless you sign up for a trip with one of the expat clubs. It's usually cold, except in August, September or October so dry suit or thick wetsuits are necessary. However, you can dive in a place that very few people do.
And if you travel to Jeju Island to go diving, you'll be amazed at the variety of coral and marine life that you can see. It's one of the most unique sites in the world, with the mix of hard and soft coral. And, if you go during the right time (winter/early spring), you can also see long strings of kelp, reaching all the way to the surface. I guarantee you'll have a fabulous time and that you won't believe that you're still in Korea!
Diving Jeju Island
Jeju Island, south of the mainland has the best scuba diving in Korea by far. Around Seogwipo, in the Southern part of the island there are 4 islands that are very popular. 3 of them (Little Munsom, Big Munsom, Supseom) are "shore-dives" where a boat drops you off on a rock ledge, you set up your gear and go diving from the rocks, and return back to the entry point. One island (Beomseom) is accessible only by boat dives.
Jeju Island is an interesting mix of tropical and cold water, resulting in both coral and kelp, and tropical and cold water species of fish. The water temperature ranges from about 15 degrees in the winter to 26 degrees in the fall. It truly is an amazing place to dive and well worth a visit if you're in North-East Asia.
There is even a foreign owned Scuba Diving Shop on the island: Big Blue 33 Scuba Diving in Jeju
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Diving In Jeju
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Diving the East Coast of Korea
Scuba Diving on the East Coast of Korea
Around Sokcho and Gangneung, there are plenty of sights you can do scuba diving. In fact, just about anywhere in Gangwon-Do along the ocean you'll find little scuba diving shops where you can rent a couple tanks. However, be warned: they often don't rent equipment that is Western Sized, if they rent equipment at all, so it's best to bring your own. Bring you own dive-buddy as well since most shops don't offer guided diving, but only rent out the tanks and organize the boat ride. Your best bet is to join up on a trip with one of the expat clubs who seem to head here at least a couple of times a month.
There are some ship wrecks, octopus, cuttlefish and a few fish to see, but diving here is not spectacular. It's often very cold as well, but it's bearable in August, September and October. Visibility ranges from 2m-20m, so you just have to get lucky.
Expat Dive Clubs in South Korea
Shark Diving in Busan
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Shark Diving in the Busan Aquarium
If you are not a certified diver but want a bit of adventure, you should check out the Shark Dive in Busan Aquarium. It's a spectacular way to spend a few hours and will be one of the highlights of your time in Korea. If you're a certified diver, you get a bit of a discount and it will definitely be one of the closest encounters with sharks that you'll ever have.
Have you been scuba diving in South Korea?
Diving in South Korea Links
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Scuba Diving the South Coast
There is lots of scuba diving around Pohang, Busan, Gao Moon Island, and Geoje Island. It's a bit warmer than the East Coast, but visibility and marine life often isn't great. You'll find plenty of scuba diving shops willing to rent you tanks, organize boat rides and possibly rent equipment. The easiest way to explore these sites (at least the first time) would be to take a trip with one of the expat clubs who organize trips here once in a while.
Your best bet for this would be SeaWorld, based in Busan: Expat Diving in Busan. They organize trips to the local site in Busan, Taejongdae at least once a month. It's a good spot for training, and it offers fabulous night dives. You can see almost anything, so keep your eyes open. They also host trips to South Brother, and Pohang, which are well worth the effort.
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Check out this blog by a Canadian expat teaching at a South Korean university.