After so much diving in the Philippines, I couldn’t suddenly go cold turkey, so I decided to do some dives in the islands off Nha Trang, which is generally considered Vietnam’s top underwater destination. As Thomas had a cold, I was on my own this time – or so I thought. It seems that the inexpensive $20 dives attract a lot of attention from backpackers passing through. The boats and the sites were packed. At points, it felt a bit like an underwater traffic jam as divers lined up for swim-throughs.
Despite the crowds, I enjoyed the dives which featured some beautiful pastel corals, impressive schools of barracuda, a huge cuttlefish, a spectacular spotted moray, and my first octopus in over a year. But the piece de resistance was a foot-long sea centipede spotted by my Icelandic divemaster, Einar. Although I was Einar’s first customer as a certified divemaster, our dives were quite good by Vietnam standards as he had a real knack for bumping into good sea creatures. (That should take you very far, Einar. )
I say “good by Vietnam standards” because the underwater scene here can’t quite compete with those further south, although I heard rumors that more distant sites accessible by specially chartered speedboats were good for macro diving. Unfortunately, these sites are much more expensive to access. All in all, I would recommend a couple of dives for those passing through rather than a dedicated dive vacation.
Nha Trang Diving Tips
The dive shops here generally appeared far more professional than those in the Philippines and safety precautions were taken quite seriously, making Nha Trang an excellent option for inexperienced divers or those wishing to take a course. I dove with Octopus Divers (Sailing Club Divers), which ran like a well-oiled machine. As Octopus does a lot of divemaster training, you are likely to have a newby divemaster rather than a more experienced underwater guide. Experienced divers looking to do some serious macro diving might prefer the well-recommended, more expensive Rainbow Divers. The people at Coco Dive Center were very nice, however divers should be aware of the fact that they are not an authorized PADI dive center.
Also check out this page of recommended dive sites in Vietnam.