We spend a lot of time highlighting our favourite big life creatures and our top spots around the globe to send divers for close encounters of the aquatic kind. We now swing the spotlight to macro life. Polar opposite perhaps, but far from second best, and, if you aren't a macro and muck diving enthusiast yet, please allow us to persuade you.
Read on for a list of our favourite locales where you can spot these miniature, camouflaged, beautiful, epic oddities that have inspired more than a couple of sci-fi movies throughout the years. Then get in touch to plan your next dive adventure to see them for yourself!
Rife with dive sites supporting a menagerie of the rarest critters in the world, the Philippines offers multiple regions ideal for muck diving, where the eagle-eyed diver can spot flamboyant cuttlefish, pygmy seahorses, ghost pipefish, mimic octopus and nudibranchs galore. From Dumaguete and Dauin to Bohol, island hopping this emerald archipelago will fill your logbook with the weird and wonderful and leave you ever wanting more.
Indonesia is a mecca for macro across the board. The silty sea floor of Sulawesi, the biodiversity of Raja Ampat and the remote archipelago of Alor all support myriad hidden gems and aren't shy about showing them off. Venturing along the bottom you'll find hypnotic ribbon eels, blue ring octopus, nudibranchs, mandarin fish, hairy frogfish, wonderpus, orangutan crabs patrolling their anemone havens and so many more. If that's not enough for you, just look up to catch a manta ray flying overhead or a scalloped hammerhead swimming past to even the scales.
3. Papua New Guinea
The underwater world of Milne Bay will steal your heart forever. While the odd hammerhead or manta might swim by, the real stunners are along the volcanic sand bottom, where mimic octopus, frogfish, nudibranchs and cuttlefish can be found. Next, head to Tufi to marvel at the mating dance of mandarin fish, a bit of pelagic action and incredible giant clams.
Predominately renowned for its healthy shark populations and thriving soft corals, Fiji may not be on your radar as a sanctuary for stunning macro life. However it is not to be passed over. Touting kaleidoscope seascapes chock full of hidey holes for all manner of tiny life, dive sites like Bligh Water and Rainbow Reef support tiny critters like hairy ghost pipefish, sea dragons, nudis of every variety, and porcelain crabs to name a few.
Known for its iconic coral cover and seasonal concentrations of whale sharks and humpbacks, Australia's Ningaloo Reef is perfectly perched on the northwest corner of the island continent, far away from the crowds. Especially not to be missed is the dive site named Navy Pier, which is flush with macro critters seeking refuge in the plentiful crevices along the coral encrusted structure. Keep a keen eye out for octopus, scorpion fish, shrimp, toad fish, flatworms and, of course, nudibranchs.