8 Best Spots For Muck Diving

Reef diving might be the obvious jumping off point as a diver, but beyond coral landscapes there are hundreds of species to be discovered on the simple seabed. Muck diving is a focused exploration of the ocean floor, where you can uncover rare sea creatures and microscopic animals hiding in plain sight.

Here are our top 8 muck diving spots for divers ready to explore the sandiest frontier.

What is muck diving?

Muck diving is a form of macro diving, where divers search for small creatures in a "mucky" environment. What makes a dive mucky? …The sediment on the seabed of the dive site. On a muck dive the sea bed is made up of sand, coral rubble, silt, or other natural and unnatural sea debris. Muck diving is about discovering hidden treasures in an area that can often appear underwhelming at first glance.

Whilst the name of this diving activity might not sound very appealing, the experience itself is full of wonder. Divers can take their time diving at a relaxed pace while keeping a keen eye to spot well camouflaged creatures hiding in the sediment. Eyes or fins can be key features to look out for that will lead you to an aquatic discovery.

The sea bed has its own thriving ecosystem so divers are sure to find rare species that can not be seen anywhere else in the water. It is a favorite activity for macro diving enthusiasts and keen underwater photographers. With nudibranchs, octopuses, juvenile fish, plus many more to be found, what are you waiting for?

Muck diving requires excellent buoyancy to avoid kicking silt up and ruining your view. Here is How to do a Proper Buoyancy Check.

Do You Need Special Equipment For Muck Diving?

Special equipment is not required for muck diving but there are a few pieces which might advance the experience. A high quality camera is an obvious choice for any budding photographer, equipped with a macro lens divers are sure to take some sensational snaps.

Stabilizer sticks are a great tool for holding you in place in the water. These stainless steel rods allow you to take in the natural environment without landing on the sea bed or holding on the natural infrastructure. As well as aiding you, not touching your surroundings protects the sea life around you and avoids any accidental contact with stinging critters.

Taking a dive light with you can also be helpful as some sites will have poor visibility even during the day time. You might also find a magnifying glass useful so you can really appreciate tiny sea animals without getting too close.

Thinking of getting into underwater photography? Here is A Beginner’s Guide to Underwater Photography to get you started.

8 best spots for muck diving.

1.St. Vincent, Caribbean

In the warm water of the Caribbean there is a secret oasis of miniature species to be discovered. St.Vincent is surrounded by larger, more touristic islands meaning these waters remain a haven of tranquility for divers and marine species alike. Due to a lack of big sea animals and predators the smaller species thrive here. You will have the opportunity to see the curious flying gurnards, yellowface pikeblenny, flamingo tongues, seahorses, shrimps, and many more. The pristine water and lava sand sea beds are full of weird fishes to be found and great critter photo ops. Visibility is high and currents calm meaning this spot can be enjoyed by divers of all abilities. With warm temperatures between 81°F/27°C and 85°F/29°C it is a comfortable and exciting dive experience.

2. Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea

If you are able to make the journey to the lush forestry lands of Papua New Guinea and its white sand shores then muck diving must be on your list for while you are there. The seabed of Dinah Beach in Milne Bay is a mixture of black sand, pebbles and natural rubble, creating an ideal environment for harlequin shrimp, orangutan crab, mandarin fish, nudibranchs and many more muck diving treats. The water is warm year round meaning you can dive any month in temperatures ranging from 25°C/77°F to 30°/87°F. Currents tend to be mild so you will have a smooth dive full of small, sea animal spotting opportunities.

3. Anilao, Philippines

Anilao is one of the top muck diving destinations, the waters of the volcano ladened Philippine archipelago create a perfect sedimentary environment for many species. Hidden within the sea bed divers can find Bobbit worms waiting to snatch their prey, seahorse clinging to seaweed to fight the current and sprawling mimic octopus settling into the sands. Anilao is divable year round, critters in particular are always available for photographing but January to March has the coldest water temperatures. November or December are the best months for warmer temperatures without tourists crowding the water.

Love seahorses? Check out our 15 Fun Facts About Seahorses.

4. Redondo Beach, California

Veterans Park at Redondo Beach in California has ideal conditions for relaxing and accessible muck dives. Calm waters and beach entry make it a perfect location for novice divers to discover muck diving and all the creatures settled into this sandy sea bed. Look out for thornback rays, sand dollars, scorpionfish, and sarcastic fringe heads which are all hidden in these waters. Redondo Beach offers high visibility and night time muck diving for the chance to see a whole new community of nocturnal sea species. Water temperatures are around 50°F/15°C to 60°F/18°C and diving can be enjoyed by divers of all abilities throughout the year.

5. Blue Heron Bridge, Florida

Waters underneath a road bridge might seem like an underwhelming dive spot but Blue Heron Bridge is one of the top muck diving locations in the US. Offering a world of hidden critters for patient divers ready to explore at slack tide, divers can find scaly-tailed mantis, the spinny legs of yellowline arrow crab, blenny, nudibranchs and seahorse species. There is always plenty on show at this dive spot making it unmissable for macro photographers. Keep an eye on the tides and weather to ensure the best visibility for your dive, visibility of 30m/100ft is possible at this spot. Divers of all abilities can go muck diving at Blue Heron Bridge but to make the most out of the short dive time it is good to have some muck diving experience under your weight belt.

6. Izu - Japan

Diving is not the first activity that comes to mind when thinking of Japan but it has a massive collection of dive sites including muck diving at Izu. Sunken items have been used to help create a diverse environment for sea critters to inhabit and they have embraced their new surroundings. Yellow pygmy gobies, moray eels, sakura shrimp, damsel fish and many more tiny critters can be found in contrast to the giant mola mola. . Temperatures ranging from 55°F/14°C to 77°F/25°C allows year round diving and the opportunity for adventurous divers to see a new underwater expanse.

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7. Gulen, Norway

If you find yourself in Europe and want to muck dive then head up to the beautiful coast of Norway. In the cool waters of the North Sea surrounding Gulen keen muck divers can find newly discovered nudibranch species and plenty of crustaceans. The critters of Gulen come to life at night so this spot is perfect for diving any time of day, all year round. If you are a nudibranch enthusiast then spring is when these colorful creatures are most visible, temperatures from cool 41°F/5°C in spring to highs of 59°F/15°Cin summer. It is possible to dive in the winter but be prepared with an extra thick wetsuit. Gulen offers diving suitable for all abilities just make sure to bring your camera to capture all the macro life.

8. Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Our list would not be complete without Lembeh Strait, considered by most to be the best muck diving in the world and likely the location of many of the top muck diving photographs. The black sands from ancient lava streams are full of nutrients, these rich waters are home for hundreds of species including rare critters that will not be found anywhere else. Hairy frogfish, scorpion fish, coconut octopus, wonderpus, flamboyant cuttlefish, hundreds of nudibranch species are all waiting in the waters of Lembeh Strait. Every dive promises something new, macro photographers can take the picture of a lifetime all whilst drifting in 79°F/26°C to 84°F/29°C temperature of the Molucca Sea.

Which dive spot will you muck around in first?