To the uninitiated, diving on a black, barren seabed strewn with litter sounds distinctively unglamorous. But stay with us because muck diving is, if you’ll excuse the pun, something of a diamond in the rough.

Originally hailed in hushed tones by only the most avid divers, muck diving has grown into a full-blown movement. Why? Because these landscapes are dominated by all the small, weird masters of marine disguise.

Coined by legendary scuba explorer Bob Halstead after diving on the black sandy seabed of Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea, muck dive sites are normally made up of sand, silt, rubble and natural debris. While the lack of colourful coral might sound unappealing, this allows divers to narrow their focus, scanning the ocean floor for all manner of creatures. What at passing glance may look like a leaf, could reveal itself to be a leaf fish or a cockatoo waspfish; focus your eyes on discarded coconut husks as they shudder and shuffle, suctioned to the tentacles of a veined octopus (otherwise known as a coconut octopus); spot the flattened faces of stargazers buried in the sand as well as scorpionfish and frogfish that change colour to match their surroundings until they are all but invisible. Not to forget nudibranchs, moray eels, mantis shrimps, squat lobsters, harlequin shrimps, pipefish, ghost pipefish... the list goes on.

Muck diving also provides unparalleled photo opportunities, not only because of the weird critters lurking in these wastelands, but because most of the species move very slowly or remain stationary allowing underwater photographers to hone their skills. Whether you're a keen underwater photographer, macro enthusiast or want to experience something new, muck diving is an experience every diver should add to their bucket list.

Top Five Muck Diving Destinations

The best places to go muck diving are predominantly found around Asia, although you can find these wonderful wastelands across the world, from the Caribbean to Europe. But, if you're keen to hear the top muck diving destinations, we've rounded up a list of our top five favourite muck diving spots below.

1. Ambon, Banda Sea, Indonesia - One of the best places to go muck diving in Indonesia, Ambon Bay has an astonishing array of critters. Not to mention it is where the psychedelic frogfish was first discovered

2. Lembeh Strait, Northern Sulawesi, Indonesia - Undoubtedly the best place to go muck diving, the Lembeh Strait is home to just about everything

3. Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea - the birthplace of muck diving, Milne Bay is a critter heaven with everything from lacy scorpionfish to porcelain crab, black-saddled toby to dragon sea moth, pygmy seahorse and so much more

4. Dauin, Philippines - see some of the world's rarest critters off the shores of Dauin, from velvet ghost pipefish to mimic octopus

5. St Vincent, the Caribbean - The critter capital of the Caribbean, spot everything from flamingo tongues to frogfish

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

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