Scuba Diving in China

China, Zhongguo (Pinyin: Zhōngguó) or, as the Chinese call it, the middle kingdom is located in East Asia. Since diving in China is relatively new not many diving inthusiasts are aware of these opportunities. The water depth here is moderate; divers do not go deeper than 25 metres. Nonetheless, there is night diving and wreck diving opportunities along with many other activities that many beginners will find interesting.
Hainan Island (Pinyin: Hǎinán) is the most popular location among underwater explorers. It is found in the South China Sea and is also known as the Maldives of China. Tourists enjoy over 300 sunny days per year. The island attracts diving enthusiasts with its clear azure water and a large number of intact coral reefs. Experts believe that Hainan Island has every chance of becoming a top diving destination in Asia.

Reasons to Visit

Where to go
in China?
The only Coral Reef Nature Reserve in China with a total area of 4,000 hectares is located near Sanya City (Pinyin: Sānyà). It is home to over 600 species of sea inhabitants and rare corals that have retained their bright colour in crystal clear water. Shellfish, fish, plankton, and algae form a whole ecosystem.
Zoologists estimate the number of fish species alone is around a thousand. When diving in China, you can admire butterflyfish, diamondfish, angelfish, and other fabulously beautiful representatives of tropical seas. You can come across friendly and curious dolphins, including the shallow-dwelling Chinese white dolphin.
Local waters are inhabited by 7 shark species: the great white shark, the tiger shark, the blue shark, the hammerhead shark, the zebra shark, the reef shark, and the catshark. Some species are completely harmless to humans. For example, the catsharks grow up to 1 metre in length. They feed on small crustaceans. However, diving with great white sharks and tiger sharks is impossible without a cage.
Numerous caves and grottos feature an incredibly mystireous world. Fen Jie Zhou Dao Island is thinly populated. You can explore three wrecks at once: the remains of two planes and a large ship. Divers will find two more interesting sites on the seabed of Sao Dun Hai Bay: the wrecks of a cargo ship and a launch.
Wreck lovers will never be bored. There is an underwater city here! Shi Cheng was under occupation for about two thousand years. Then, in 1959, the city was deliberately flooded by the waters of Qiandao Lake to make way for a new hydroelectric power station. The ancient city currently lies at a depth of 23-36 metres offering a unique diving opportunity.

Diving Destinations in China

Most interesting dive destinations in China are concentrated around Hainan Island (Pinyin: Hǎinán). Picturesque Xiao Dong Hai Bay, Haitang Bay, and Shimei Bay offer opportunities for wreck diving and exploring the South China Sea. There is a unique coral reef reserve not far from Sanya City (Pinyin: Sānyà). Xidao Island also attracts diving enthusiasts: the currents are moderate, and the coastal waters feature quaint underwater landscapes.

Memo Notes
Currency CNY - Chinese Yuan Renminbi
Languages Cantonese, Chinese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, English
Timezone UTC +8
Phone code 86
Emergency Help 110

Type A - 220 V, 50 Hz

Type C - 220 V, 50 Hz

Type I - 220 V, 50 Hz

Dive Shops in China

Dive shops in China are located along the coast of Hainan Island (Pinyin: Hǎinán) and on West Island (Xidao). You can make a shore dive here or go to one of the small and remote islands. You can also try nighttime diving and wreck diving.

Сlimate & Seasonality

Spring marks the opening of the diving season in China. Which lasts from March to November. The air temperature reaches 25 °C during March, but can rise up to 32 °С by the beginning of May. The water warms up to 28 °С.


The rainy season in China reaches its peak in the summer months, which are characterized by intense heat. July is usually the hottest month of the year. The air temperature doesn't go below 33 °С while the water temperature stands at 30 °С.


Autumn offers favourable weather conditions for diving, though the month of September brings heavy rains. The relative air humidity increases while the air temperature stands at 28-30 °С.


The weather in Hainan Province, China's major diving destination, is quite warm during wintertime. With jenuary being the coldest month. The water temperature drops to 20 °С, the air temperature stands at 25 °С.

high season
middle season
low season

The Best Dive Sites

Dive sites near Sanya City (Pinyin: Sānyà) are quite popular in China. For example, the underwater world at Pirates Island (Wuzhizhou Island) features a wide variety of corals, marine animals and plants. You will definitely like the wrecks located near Hainan Island (Pinyin: Hǎinán), the Coral Reef Nature Reserve, and a mysterious sunken city which lies at the bottom of Qiandao Lake.

Health & Safety

Chinas health care system is of a very high quality. China does not offer free medical services, yet the prices are lower than in Europe and the USA. A consultation with a specialist costs about 25$, prices for a blood test range from 2$ to 4$. There are no mandatory vaccinations for China. However, vaccination for Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, hepatitis A and B, rabies, and typhoid is highly recommended.
China is quite safe, however, one should bear in mind that the police seek to avoid getting involved in the problems of foreigners. There is a risk of theft so you should take precautions to protect your belongings.

Dangerous Marine Life

The South China Sea is home to many different shark species, however, venomous pterois, whiptail stingrays, and siphonophores jellyfish pose a greater threat to humans. Besides, local waters are inhabited by the blue-ringed octopus, one of the world's most venomous animals.

Eat & Drinks

The Chinese know everything about seafood and are good at cooking it. Chinese food is delicious, exotic, and so diverse that Chinese people manage to try only 30% of all the dishes during their lifetime. Chinese cuisine is represented by different food types which differ in preparation methods and spices used. Hele Crab is the most popular dish among tourists. Foodies would enjoy tender crab meat and golden caviar. It is steamed and served with sauce, garlic, and vinegar. You should definitely try braised Dongshan mutton, which is characterized by special fragrance, and is served with a spicy sauce. China is the only country that has retained the secret of making Sweet Rice Wine (Jiu Niang) with low alcohol content (16% and higher). The Chinese use osmanthus flowers to impart an unusual and pleasant aroma on the wine. Tap water in China is safe to drink.