What if we told you that you don’t need to board a spaceship to see alien life forms? That below the surface of some of the world’s most remote and exotic seas, tiny weird and wonderful aliens of all shapes and colours thrive and flourish on underwater landscapes just as varied? This is the marvellous world of macro diving.

Divers are really astronauts; gliding weightless through the ocean we explore strange new worlds, some carpeted in colourful coral gardens and others covered by desolate volcanic sands. Look a little closer and a world of minute macro marvels is unveiled.

The name 'macro diving' derives from the large lens needed to capture the ocean's smallest critters, meaning the subjects appear larger in the photograph than in real life. The sheer quantity of macro life is too long to list (with new species being discovered almost daily), with the marine environments equally varied, from coral to muck sites (so-called because of the nutrient-rich volcanic sand - or 'mucky' - seabed). Keep your eyes peeled for the whole spectrum of critters, from the expertly camouflaged - like the pygmy seahorse that winds itself round the tendrils of a gorgonian sea fan, or the leafy sea dragon that floats like a piece of seaweed - to the bold and brilliant. From technicolour sea slugs (nudibranchs) to the rainbow-coloured peacock mantis shrimp, spindly ghost pipefish and bizarre hairy frogfish, these are some of the most fascinating creatures in the ocean.

Top Five Destinations to Go Macro Diving

Fins on and cameras at the ready to dive in and discover our top five best places in the world to go macro diving…

1. Dauin, Philippines - Diving in the Bohol sea off Dauin brings a huge array of unusual macro critters, all best accessed off the shores of Atmosphere Resort & Spa. Insider tip: don't miss doing a night dive on their house reef to see the beautiful but rare mating ritual of mandarin fish

2. Lembeh Strait, Nothern Sulawesi, Indonesia - Often hailed as a 'muck diving mecca', spot some of the world's rarest, most unusual critters lurking in the debris of black and grey volcanic sand slopes, including no less than eight species of frogfish, plus mimic octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, pygmy seahorses, blue ringed octopus and even the bobbit worms (which you might remember engulfing an entire lion fish in Blue Planet II)

3. Mafia Island, Tanzania - Located off the shores of Chole Bay in Mafia Island Marine Park in Tanzania, Nudi City and Frogfish Town are a haven for a plethora of small critters hiding across the reef, from over 80 different species of nudibranch and frogfish to ghost pipefish, cuttlefish, seahorses, harlequin shrimps and little dragonfish - and with both sites at just ten metres deep you can seek out these camouflaged critters for longer

4. Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea - The original muck diving spot, Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea is a celebration of all things small. From pygmy seahorses, octopus and scorpionfish to mandarin fish, crabs, shrimps and all manner of eels. You name it, Milne Bay will most likely have it

5. Ambon, Indonesia - The psychedelic frogfish was first discovered in Ambon, not to mention a whole heap of other rare species, including the Ambon scorpionfish and the Halimeda ghost pipefish. For macro diving enthusiasts, this shouldn't be missed

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Jacqui is our 'Macro Diving' expert and as a seasoned traveller has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

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