Asia has some of the best macro life in the world. With so many destinations to choose from, here are our top liveaboard diving destinations for macro diving.
Formerly associated with the spice route, nowadays, liveaboards include Ambon in their cruises for world-class muck diving.
In this small bay, there is a fantastic variety of species. In1863 Peter Bleaker already discover 783 different species of fish. That in comparison to the whole of Thailand, where you can find less than 700 species.
The Ambon scorpionfish and Halimeda ghost pipefish are a rear find anywhere in Asia. Ambon is the place to dive to see these critters, among many others.
The most favorite dive sites for an Ambon liveaboard to scuba dive are Laha, Rhino City, and Silale.
Laha consists out of a sloping reef that starts at 2 meters descending to 12 meters. The seafloor consists of a sandy bed with some small corals, rubble, and feather stars.
During this part of the dive, you will see painted frogfish, cockatoo waspfish, and shrimpfish.
Further, into the dive, there is a small jetty that local fishermen use. Underneath this pier, you will find discarded rubbish such as glass bottles and remnants of fish.
What makes it an oasis for several species of moray eels to feed. The glass bottles form a hiding place for striped catfish schools and some lionfish species hiding under the pier.
When you approach spiny sponge branches, have a closer look as the Pink Thorny Seahorse often hides here. If you dive here during the dusk of the day, you have an excellent chance to witness mandarin fish doing their mating dance.
Rhino City got its name from the weedy scorpionfish, also known as Rhinopias. This dive site is an extension of the sandy slope that makes Laha.
The seafloor on this dive site has patches of anemone with a variation of carpet and bulb tentacles. These anemones are the home of indigenous anemonefish. If you pay closer attention, you will find the porcelain crab and the anemone shrimp.
Other unusual critters to be found here are ribbon eels, orangutang crabs, hairy crabs, jawfish, and hiding in the seagrass the Robust ghost pipefish and short snout pipefish.
Another muck diving site is Silale, which consists of black sand and rubble in one area, and the other has large predominantly elephant ear sponges.
In the black sand, there is an excellent variety of frogfish in several colors. Also seen here are the dwarf lionfish, and for the well-trained eyes, stonefishes and scorpionfishes will appear.
You can witness wonderpus venturing from one place to the other or sea a seahorse clinging on to a piece of rubble during you dive on the slope. Near the foot of the mooring, Palau cuttlefish stay in numbers.
On the other are large elephant ear sponges give a hiding place for the giant frogfish, and numerous nudibranchs crawl around on the sand.
Lembeh liveaboard cruises can choose over 60 dive sites while cruising the Lembeh strait. With day trips from the Lembeh diving resorts, liveaboards can avoid the crowds and find you the best dive sites to spot many incredible critters.
One of the most popular dive sites by liveaboard is the “Hairball,” a typical muck diving site. The gently sloping sandy bottom where a mix of currents brings in more nutrients than other dive sites nearby. The combination with scattered reefs in the shallows and the north part of the dive site makes it exceptionally rich with marine life.
During your liveaboard safari around the strait, you can find mimic octopuses, seahorses, pipefish, hairy frogfish, flamboyant cuttlefish, and lots of other incredible critters.
The Similan Islands has some fantastic macro dive sites with amazing marine life. By far, the most popular is Richelieu Rock, which is part of the Surin national park. Still, when booking a Similan liveaboard, this national park is included in the itinerary.
The tip of this horseshoe-shaped pinnacle submerges out of the Andaman sea during low tide when you can see the top one meter. Just like the tip of an iceberg.
You will be amazed by all the marine life; large schools of fish such as fusiliers, snappers, and barracuda welcome you during your descent.
But when getting a closer look at the pinnacle covered in soft corals and anemone, lots of macro life will be found. Also, you can discover here Seahorses, pipefish, and numerous kinds of nudibranchs on Richilei Rock.
During your dive, check out all cracks and holes to find the pineapple fish and often ornate ghost pipefishes.
When you see a purple seastar missing one leg, pay good attention because harlequin shrimps feed on this as their favorite food, so usually, they are not far away.
You can find a rare species on Richelieu Rock is the tomato anemonefish with an orange body and a black dot on the sides.
Underwater photographers need to pick the correct lens before jumping in, as whale sharks are known to appear out of the blue.
When going on a liveaboard to the South Andaman, you will come across Koh Haa, Thai for five islands. You can see many nudibranchs crawling in the caves of “the Cathedral” and the “Chimney.” But our favorite would be Koh Haa Lagoon what is the perfect night dive.
You are starting your dive, descending next to a wall covered in orange cup corals that open up during the night. Macro life is here in abundance. Look in the cracks Several kinds of shrimps, such as dancing shrimps, boxing shrimps, and harlequin shrimps.
Ensure all the gorgonian sea fans as ghost pipefish and seahorses like to hide there. Often you will witness moray eel swimming free in the hunt for prey.
After the wall, you will cross a white sandy area where often cuttlefish, Kuhl stingrays, and crocodile fish like to hide.
Raja Ampat is known for its biodiversity and stunning coral reefs what makes it a world-class diving destination.
Most divers come here to see the beauties of the reefs, schools of fish, and the larger pelagic fish. But when you look closer, Raja Ampat brings along some amazing macro life.
Many dive sites are a breeding site for fish where you can encounter many juveniles of batfish, angelfish, sweetlips, and parrotfish.
On the reefs, countless different kinds of nudibranchs appear in any color of the rainbow. When you look closely at the sea fans, you can spot Denise’s pygmy seahorse and the Bargibant’s Pygmy Seahorse.
Uncommon in most of the world is the mushroom coral pipefish that you can regularly find in Raja Ampat. Another unique critter you can encounter is the blue-ringed octopus that only has a golfball size.
Komodo liveaboard diving doesn’t only bring you some marvelous wide-angle diving but has some fantastic dive sites to explore the ocean’s smaller critters.
Macro marine life that you can expect on your liveaboard cruise is a wide range of nudibranchs, bobtail squid, ghost pipefish, frogfishes, pygmy seahorses, ubiquitous Ladybug amphipods, mantis shrimps, and lots of other species.
To find out more about macro diving in Komodo, read our post on the top 5 macro dive sites in Komodo.
Other places to do some fantastic Macro diving are:
Papua New Guinea