Ever since sun tanning became a sport for western society, travelers from all over the world have been flocking to Phu Quoc, an island district consisting of 28 islands, to sit on its world famous white sand beaches, explore the renowned peppers farms and fish sauce factories, and savor the classic laid back island ambiance in a relaxed atmosphere. Nowadays there is also a new type of tourist visiting Phú Quốc’s sandy shores – one who wants to try scuba diving. Phu Quoc is the best place to try scuba diving in Asia due to its low depths and relatively stable conditions.
Scuba Dive Phu Quoc – An Overview
Scuba diving in Phu Quoc is definitely an interesting experience and an option worth exploring while vacationing on Vietnam’s Paradise Island. There are a few dive sites, 5 star PADI dive centers, SSI dive centers, and a lot of operators who can communicate in either English, Russian, Korean, Swedish, Norwegian, German, Chinese, Vietnamese or French. If you ever wanted to try scuba diving, pursue a scuba diving certification in Vietnam, or upgrade your training, then consider Phú Quốc.
The 28 islands that make up “Phu Quoc” are surrounded by coral reefs however recreational scuba diving is done at either the two northern islands adjacent to the main island of Phu Quoc or in and around the southern islands of the southern tip of Phu Quoc Island. Calm shallow waters surround both the northern and southern islets with a average visibility of 5 meters and water temperature being around 28 to 30C (83 to 86 F). The maximum diving depth in Phú Quốc is roughly 30 meters however most of the scuba diving is done in the 4 meter to 6 meter mark. Novice divers will be in awe of the fantastic macro life found here and will enjoy exploring the unique underwater topography shaped by a variety of hard coral species. Due to its shallow depths, Phu Quoc can be considered one of the safest places to learn how to scuba dive in all of Asia in an open ocean environment (not a swimming pool).
The following is an overview of the scuba diving options, PADI SSI certifications, and dive sites in Phu Quoc. For more specific information on the underwater flora and fauna, please read our Phú Quốc scuba diving guide.
Getting Your Scuba Diving Certification In Phu Quoc
Prospective divers heading to Phu Quoc Island are spoiled for choice when it comes to scuba dive training centers and dive instructors and as a result the competition for your business is intense. There are numerous dive training facilities on Phu Quoc so it definitely helps to have a few things in mind when making such a big investment of your time and travel budget. Remember that Phu Quoc is not a place that can be classified as having “world class diving” since it is not marine protected and the entire area is over fished. Phu Quoc is, however, a perfect destination to try scuba diving, obtain your open water certification, or upgrade your scuba certifications. It’s also a relatively affordable place to get your diving certification, but not as cheap as Nha Trang which is the scuba diving capital of Vietnam.
PADI or SSI Certification?
There are over 30 internationally recognized scuba diving certifications and training systems, but on Phu Quoc the choice comes down to the two most popular: PADI or SSI. Both are more or less the same, but differ in terms of scuba dive training methodology, processes, teaching materials, awards, and certification types. Once you pursue a specific standard, you normally stick with this standard for your entire scuba diving “career”, however they are both interchangeable and globally recognized.
PADI, which stands for “Professional Association of Diving Instructors”, is the market leader in scuba dive training. They are like the “Uber” for scuba diving schools and can be found worldwide. On the other hand SSI, which stands for “Scuba Schools International”, is more of a niche operator and they have a lower cost structure overall which they pass down to their customers. Ultimately the choice between getting PADI certified or SSI certified on Phu Quoc is up to you. We are not promoting one over the other but our team members have PADI open water certification, and PADI advanced open water certifications.
Typical scuba diving certification courses on Phu Quoc adhere to the following itinerary:
Instructor led training at the dive center which includes watching videos, learning basic skills, an overview of the equipment that is used, and the effects of ocean pressure on your body. Students are then given additional material e.g. books and online resources for further study.
Practicing basic skills in a shallow part of the ocean and learning buoyancy control – one of the most important skills to master that will enable you to hover completely motionless underwater.
Open ocean testing of the skills you have mastered followed by a final exam.
How Much Does Scuba Diving Certification Training Costs On Phu Quoc?
The cost varies depending on which you course you want to take and what certifications you want to pursue, but here is a rough overview of the average cost of a Open Water Certification Course on Phu Quoc Island compared to the same course in Nha Trang and Koh Tao Thailand.
$410.00USD PADI open water
$375.00US PADI open water
$250.00US PADI open water
To come up with the averages mentioned above, we looked at all the scuba dive centers in each location, what they charged, and then averaged out the costs per location. Clearly Phu Quoc is not the cheapest option in South East Asia.
Choosing A Dive Shop
With so many diving companies on Phu Quoc to choose from it can be difficult to decide on which one to go with. Here are some important tips:
What certifications does the company have? Check their credentials (PADI/SSI//NDL), If they offer dive courses and instructor course, they are likely to be of better quality.
What level of certification do the divemasters have? Most shops will have this displayed prominently along with the number of dives each staff member has completed.
What type of equipment is the dive shop using? If the gear and equipment looks old or of cheap quality, choose another company. Diving is very safe with the right instructors and equipment.
How much does it cost? The market is very competitive in Phu Quoc which offers great value for money. However, sometimes it pays to spend a few dollars extra to get the best experience. Do not choose a dive operator based on price alone.
What can you find online. The internet offers accurate and up to date information about dive operators on review sites. Find out what previous customers have thought of their experiences diving in Phu Quoc!
What’s It Like To Scuba Dive in Phu Quoc?
Instead of describing in words what it’s like to dive here, we suggest you watch an actual video taken by an amateur scuba diver while scuba diving in Phu Quoc:
Best Places To Go Scuba Diving In Phu Quoc
The following is a map of just the best scuba dive sites around Phu Quoc District. These sites are also great for snorkeling and freediving as well since the ideal depths are extremely low.
Phu Quoc Dive Site Descriptions:
Turtle Island in Phu Quoc, or Hon Doi Moi / Hòn Đồi Mồi in Vietnamese, is a small island located a few kilometers off the coast of the main island of Phu Quoc. It’s surrounded by a coral reefs and there are many dive sites here but the best spot is known as “Trystan’s Trench”, an area located south of the island and famous for anemones, anemone fish, whip coral, and barrel sponges. Maximum depth 6m.
Fingernail Island North
Fingernail Island, or Hon Mong Tay / Hòn Móng Tay is an island located off the coast of Bãi biển Vũng Bầu (Vung Bau Beach) that was once a good place to spot nudibranch’s but now the island is part of a resort and part of the reef has been damaged due to construction. Maximum depth 4m.
The most popular dive site in the south is located off the northern coast of Pineapple Island (Hòn Thơm). Here you will find anemone, hard coral, and a variety of reef fish.
Fingernail Island South
This Fingernail Island is located in the south and it is more famous for its beach than for its diving. The dive site here is located west of Fingernail beach as well as off the northern coast of the island in between 2 other islands. Not a good dive location due to the area being over fished. You will see a lot of spear fishermen in this area as well.
Vong Island (Hòn Vọng) is another gorgeous island in the south which is part of the Phu Quoc Marine Park and once famous for bamboo sharks. Those sharks are long gone and there is nothing here but bleached coral and a few reef fish.
May Rut Island
May Rut Island (Hòn Mây Rút) is a privately owned island that is surrounded by a shallow reef which is perfect for freediving. There are also banded sea snakes to be found here in depths of over 8 meters (see above video).
Beware that diving is addictive! Many people who have booked in for one day of fun scuba diving in Phu Quoc will change their plans and return to the sea for more underwater adventures and possibly pursue their PADI open water certification.
Snorkeling vs Scuba Diving on Phu Quoc
If you have been conducting online research on scuba diving in Phu Quoc, reading the numerous travel forums, and looking at all diving videos and social media posts you will most likely come to the conclusion that the snorkeling is far better than the diving, and this is true. It’s also much cheaper and has less of an environmental footprint. We even created a special Phu Quoc snorkeling guide for those who want to experience the best of the islands marine life which you can get here: