A solitary island 150 kilometres from the closest mainland is gradually becoming known as South Korea’s most exciting dive destination. Asian Diver Field Photojournalist (Korea) experiences Jeju Island at its best – after the sun goes down. (Text by 박정훈 (PARK JUNG-HOON, AKA J.HOON), TDI trainer, PADI MI, videographer, photos 강동완 (KANG DONG-WAN) by Y.Zin Company, Cheju Tourism College (Photography), farmer, PADI Instructor, Underwater Photographer)
Jeju Island doesn’t just have an abundance of natural heritage on land; it is also covered by a body of beautiful blue ocean. Because it is situated at the southern end of the Korean Peninsula, it enjoys warm ocean currents all year round. Add the profusion of aquatic wildlife and it holds up well against the best areas in Southeast Asia. Needless to say, it has become a diver’s dream.
Night Diving in Jeju
One thing you cannot miss while on Jeju Island is the night diving. With the world’s longest-running ceasefire in place between South Korea and its volatile neighbour, night diving is generally forbidden, and there are only a few parts of the country where it is allowed. Among these, Jeju Island surpasses them all, with no specific restrictions on night diving at certain sites, including the shallow waters around the popular Mun Island.
After nightfall, herbivorous marine creatures sleep in distinct areas, so photographing this marine life is relatively easy after dark. Predators, however, become very active during this time, looking for prey or a mate, both of which are more difficult to undertake during daylight hours.
NIGHT DIVING SITES
Mun Island (문섬)
Both boat diving and shore diving are possible here. You will find soft coral colonies and marine life at a wide range of depths (14–30 metres). Macro and wide-angle photography opportunities are widely available, and you can also find subjects to photograph on the sea floor. You should be vigilant of the strong tidal currents that occur throughout the year.
Sung San Dive Point (성산다이빙)
Boat diving is typical on the east side of the island, near Seongsan Ilchulbong. However, various sites can be accessed via the beach as well. Educational and night diving is excellent, but the varying currents make finding your way around a challenging task. A thorough briefing of the area before getting into the water is highly advisable for a safe and productive dive. Requesting a guide to help you is also recommended. At Jariyeo Point, one can find groups of Jari and saw-edged perch roaming around the area.
Sa Su Hang Beach Point (제주시 사수항비치포인트)
This site is near a port. The seabed is made up of sand and bedrock, and one can find numerous octopuses, filefishes, and flatheads. The area is rife with plankton, which attract many different kinds of marine life, and provide an ideal opportunity for macro photographers. Because of the site’s close proximity to the port, the passing boats, and the shallow waters, a dive tender is needed when leaving the area.
Smaller and medium-sized marine animals tend to be found in the waters around Jeju Island, so careful finning is advised on night dives. An inadvertent fin kick could disturb these slumbering creatures and send them fleeing straight into the jaws of a predator.