When we think of freediving in Asia, our minds usually go to countries like Thailand, the Philippines, or Indonesia. In contrast, East Asia is often associated with bustling cities and industrialization, and less with unique underwater landscapes and marine life. 

However, diving, and specifically freediving, is becoming increasingly popular across many East Asian countries (in fact, mermaid freediving is driving an explosion of Chinese interest in the sport).

If you are eager to explore these underrated freediving sites, here are the top 3 destinations we recommend checking out. 

1. Green Island – Taiwan

A volcanic island off the southeast corner of Taiwan, Green Island is home to a well-protected marine reserve. Its crystal clear waters boast a wide array of marine life, such as nudibranchs, eels, and sea snakes. Green Island is a popular vacation spot for the Taiwanese but has only garnered international attention in more recent years. In fact, we have the nature-hungry, younger generation in Taiwan to thank for establishing the island as a premier diving spot.

While conditions are season dependent, there are usually plenty of easy dive sites to choose from. However, advanced freedivers can consider visiting Gun Shui Bi, also known as Shark Point, a site that’s active with swarms of hammerheads around December to March. The site has strong currents and a depth of 25-35m (83-115ft), but it is definitely a sight to behold. 

If you’re interested in a sneak-pick view of scuba diving in Taiwan, check out this amazing 360° view.

small volcanic crater in Jeju Island, South Korea - one of the best diving destinations in East Asia

2. Munseom Island, Jeju-Do – South Korea

You may have heard of the Korean freediving women from Jeju Island, also known as “haenyeo”. These women carry on the centuries-long tradition of foraging along the ocean floor, often staying down for several minutes at a time. If you visit Jeju, not only can you witness these incredible female divers at work, but you can also dive into the water yourself. 

One of the best dive sites here is Munseom Island off Seogwipo, Jeju-Do’s second biggest city. Munseom hosts a mix of tropical and temperate marine life, so you can expect to see colorful soft corals and thick kelp forests.

To learn more about diving conditions in South Korea, check out our PADI dive guide

great wall of china underwater - one of the best diving destinations in East Asia

3. Underwater Great Wall, Hebei – China

One of the most spectacular architectural feats in history, the Great Wall of China is a must-see destination for visitors to China. While it is impressive to climb a stretch of the 21,196km-long (13,170 miles) structure, you can also dive along it! 

Due to the construction of the Panjiakou Dam in 1975, a portion of the Great Wall in Hebei became flooded. This section of the wall is now under 5-35m (16-115 ft) of water and has transformed into a popular dive site. Conditions can be challenging, particularly for freedivers, as water temperatures can be low and visibility may be limited. However, exploring this ancient city wall and swimming through its passages is well worth a visit. 

If you are looking for other unique dive sites in China, check out this article for inspiration. For more general information on diving in China, here are our PADI resources. 

For your next freediving trip, we invite you to stray from the well-worn dive destinations and check out some of these lesser-known places. Visit PADI Travel to book today.

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