Diving in Singapore – Pulau Hantu

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Doto nudibranch in Singapore
Diving in Singapore is known for its macro life, such as this Doto Nudibranch in Pulau Hantu. Photo by Kevin Li / Fun in Blue

WHERE ARE WE GOING?

Today we are diving in Singapore on Pulau Hantu. Pulau Hantu is an uninhabited island situated to the south of the main island nation of Singapore. The name is Malay for Ghost Island and gets its namesake from the phenomenon that parts of the island and its reef emerge at low tide and disappear at high tide.

WHY ARE WE DIVING IN SINGAPORE?

Pulau Hantu is by far the closest and easiest accessible dive site from the city-state of Singapore. While it is possible to dive at the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, special permission needs to be secured ahead of time from National Parks Board of Singapore

So what’s the catch? Why haven’t you heard of this dive site transiting through Singapore on your way to other world-famous sites in the Coral Triangle? 

One word: Visibility

Yes, the tradeoff for convenience is visibility. Due to its position in the middle of the Straits of Singapore, visibility ranges from 0.5 – 5 meters (1.6 to 16.4 feet).

However, you will be rewarded with nudibranchs, seahorses, the occasional frogfish, and even a resident hawksbill if you can get over diving in pea soup!

Bornella Stellifer Nudibranch found in Pulau Hantu
Amazing macro life in Singapore. The Bornella Stellifer Nudibranch. Photo by Kevin Li / Fun in Blue

HOW DO WE GET THERE?

There are no means of public transportation from Singapore to reach this island, so the only way is through private charter. However, you can always join the regular charter (Dolphin Explorer) that takes weekend divers twice daily (three times if there are enough divers for a night dive) from the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club every Saturday and Sunday. 

The journey from the Yacht Club takes about 25 mins in the Straits of Singapore, and gives you an opportunity to check out the busy Port of Singapore on the way. If you are really lucky, you will be able to spot the endangered pink Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in the Straits.

The boat is fitted with DIN and Yoke tanks. It will stay on the site for 3 hours which is enough to get 2 dives in. There are also fresh fruits, coffee, tea, and bottled water (but do bring your own bottle to reduce plastic waste) provided on board. The boat is equipped with 2 showers but you need to bring your own towels.

Read More: DIN vs Yoke Tanks – Which is Safer?

WHICH DIVE SITES ARE MUST-SEE?

There are 2 sites at Pulau Hantu and they are open all-year-round.

Map of dive sites around Pulau Hantu in Singapore
Map of dive sites around Pulau Hantu in Singapore.

Hantu West

Hantu West is as the name suggests, located at the western side of the island. The diving takes place between the shore and the outer reef. The max depth is about 13-15 meters (43 – 50 feet) depending on the tide with a bottom that is sandy.

You can find coral colonies growing closer to the shore. It is not advisable to dive on the outer edge (western side) of the outer reef as the currents here are unpredictable.

The site is mainly a macro site where you can spot various nudibranchs, cuttlefish, octopus, crabs, bivalve, snails, Shawn the Sheep nudibranchs, frogfish, and toadfish if you have keen eyesight.

Hantu North (Hantu Jetty) 

Hantu North is as the name suggests, located at the northern side of the island. This site is also referred to as the Hantu Jetty. The best diving can be had beneath the jetty (max depth 8-9m / 30 ft) or slightly to the west of the jetty (max depth 10m).

Because of the jetty, I have always felt that the bio-diversity of Hantu North is higher than that of Hantu West. You can also find several resident seahorses living beside the jetty. There are also various species of reef fish living in the hard coral colonies closer to the shore.

The current can get strong so it is not recommended to venture north into the channel that separates Pulau Hantu and Pulau Bukom. The rule of thumb is to turn back south once you hit a depth of 15m/50ft mark.

Current usually isn’t a challenge, and the boat captain will pick the site to dive depending on current and tide.

DO I NEED ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT?

When diving in Singapore, the water temperature is a cozy 28-30° Celsius / 86°F, so wetsuits are not really needed. But I do recommend wearing at least a full-length rash guard to protect you against hydroid stings.

Read More: Do Rash Guards Keep You Warm?

I also recommend bringing a compass as the seascape is quite similar, as well as a torch (even for a day dive) due to the low visibility.

There are no rules against using pointers and gloves. However, you should be a conscious diver and never touch or provoke marine life.

Nudibranch Hypselodoris Bullockii Pulau Hantu - diving in Singapore
The Hypselodoris Bullockii nudibranch. Photo by Kevin Li / Fun in Blue

WHAT LEVEL CERTIFICATION SHOULD I BE?

The sites are considered to be easy sites with a maximum depth of 15 m/50 ft and little current, so an Open Water certification should be enough. But if you have never dived in low visibility it does take some getting used to. Speak to your buddy or dive guide prior to the dive if you have concerns.

HOW MUCH WILL I SPEND?

At last check, a 2 dive day trip is 105 SGD or about 75 USD. 

A 2 dive night trip is 120 SGD or about 85 USD. 

A multi-trip package (10 minimum) is available but check with the operator on the latest deals.

All gear rental or guide hiring cost are extra. 

WHAT TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION IS AVAILABLE?

Singapore is world famous for its huge selection of lodging. Take your pick from budget to high-end hotels.

DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Diving in Singapore at Pulau Hantu is a great place for locals to get their diving fix between trips. It is a unique way for a visitor to spend the weekend. 

It is also a good place to test out your new gear, practice your skills, and to get photography tips from the other divers. Did I mention that almost every diver at Hantu is also a photographer due to the amazing macro life?

Read More: Tips to Get Started with Underwater Photography.

Noble Volute sea snail found in Singapore
The Noble Volute sea snail. Photo by Kevin Li / Fun in Blue

WHAT DO WE DO ON SURFACE INTERVALS?

Singapore is known for having a lively nightlife, excellent food, natural parks, endless shopping malls, etc. and makes for a great stopover!

While not diving I hold a corporate finance position in a multi-national company. Diving has really opening my eyes to the beauty of the natural world, and made me realize that she needs all the help that she can get at the moment. My goal is to use my images and videos to show the people the awesomeness of nature, and inspire people to live in harmony with nature.

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