BEST SNORKELING & DIVING SPOTS IN PHU QUOC ISLAND, VIETNAM IN DETAILS

Private snorkeling trip in Phu Quoc Island to avoid crowds to explore Coral Mountain

For a sustainable tourism industry and environmental friendly experiences, OnBird is the first and pioneer company in Phu Quoc to build and collect data on coral reefs, coral species, distribution density and coral health status in Phu Quoc, we have been starting to collect and develop information about coral reefs in Phu Quoc since 2018 for the purpose of building on-sea experiences & activities (Snorkeling and Scuba Diving) as well as getting better understanding about coral reef characteristics in Phu Quoc and tracking the change of coral reefs in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam as we are witness a decline in the area of corals in Phu Quoc due to human affects.

Being a tropical island, aside from tropical rain forests or a tropical ecosystem on land, Phu Quoc Island also possesses a diverse marine ecosystem, among that the most striking are coral reefs, we can say that: Phu Quoc is also on the top snorkeling & diving sites of Vietnam along with Con Dao, Nha Trang, Tho Chu islands, Hoang Sa archipelago (Paracel islands) and Truong Sa archipelago (Spratly islands). Phu Quoc hosts 260 coral species (32.5%) of the world’s coral species (798) (252 species of hard coral and 8 species of soft coral) belonging to 49 genus of 14 families, in which the dominant varieties are Porites, Acropora, Montipora, Pavona, Echinopora, Diploastrea,…The average coverage of coral is quite high at 44.5% (Level 3), especially in some places up to 82.5% (such as in North Phu Quoc). Taking around Phu Quoc, you will be getting surprised at a large number of coral reefs here, you can go to either the North sea or South Phu Quoc sea to find good spots for snorkeling and scuba-diving. We do list out our top sites for snorkeling, free-diving and scuba diving in Phu Quoc Island from our observations gained on snorkeling and scuba diving trips in Phu Quoc island. Coral reefs provide a large fraction of Phu Quoc’s biodiversity.

All photos of corals and snorkeling & diving used on our website are taken in Phu Quoc Island by OnBird.

 

Introduction about Snorkeling and Diving spots in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Phu Quoc touristy-avoiding snorkeling tour to explore Half-moon Reef
Half-moon Reef is one of the best snorkeling and scuba diving spot in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Base on many observations from our snorkeling & scuba diving trips in Phu Quoc, we have found that the common as well as avaerage depth at where corals growth the most is from 2 – 5m, thank to the shallow and clean water, the colonies of table coral have been developing strongly, especially in some spots such as: Shallow Reef, Crystal Reef, North-east Coral Reef, Coral Steep… we have found out the existence of hundreds square meters of table coral reefs, very impressive at sight. Most of coral reefs in Phu Quoc Island are fringing reefs whose the depths range 1 – 16m, some of coral reefs are covered fully with hard corals and some are more diversified with soft coral species, it is subject to water conditions to visit these coral reefs, some are good and safe to visit in the dry season and the other ones can only accessed in the summer time considered rainy season in Phu Quoc Island.

The following section are our recommendations for you in your exploration of the coral reefs in the Phu Quoc sea. (Remember to check out Phu Quoc weather in detail in advance for a snorkeling or scuba-diving plan or consult us for an advanced advice about Phu Quoc waters and weather conditions by the timeframe in a year)

Snorkeling and diving in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
Snorkeling and diving in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam – Snorkeling at North-east Coral Reef, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

South Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam: Snorkeling & Scuba Diving Report

1. Undersea Coral Mountain: A shallow snorkeling spot in Phu Quoc

  • Coral Species: Cactus Coral (Pavona Coral), Button Coral (Button Polys hay Zoanthids)
  • Depth range: 0.5 – 3m
  • Type of coral reef: Nearshore Coral Reef
  • Proper diving experience: Snorkeling – Try-dive (Scuba Diving)
  • Coral health status: live coral, some spots are damaged by people, surrounding coral colonies are heavily damaged or dead
  • Exploring time: All year-round (except very wavy water)
Phu Quoc Coral Mountain, An amazing snorkeling spot in Vietnam
The Coral Mountain, the biggest Cactus coral colony in Phu Quoc Island, an amazing snorkeling spot in whole Phu Quoc and Vietnam

Phu Quoc Coral Mountain is one of the most worth visiting snorkeling spots in whole Phu Quoc Island, you will be surprised with the massive size of the Coral Mountain. The cactus corals have growth into a massive size that is around 200 – 300 square meters at the Crystal Reef, south Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam.

The special of the Coral Mountain is the massive size it is, the depth at which it is located and the coral species. The cactus corals stretch out 30 – 40 meters long, 7 – 8m wide in a very shallow water, the highest tide was recorded by OnBird is 1 m from the head of the Coral Mountain, the normal low tide was recorded is 0.2 m and exceptionally low tide even leaved the coral head exposed.

Phu Quoc Coral Mountain - Phu Quoc Tailor-made Snorkeling tour
The underwater view of Phu Quoc Coral Mountain, the biggest Cactus Coral Colony of Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

The Coral Mountain amplify the wildness of the underwater landscape of Crystal Reef, which worthy of the name “Coral Paradise of Phu Quoc Island” given to it.

Across thousands of square meters area of the Crystal reef, we have found almost 80-85% of coral reefs dying or being fallen into a bad state of health, and there will be no point in exploring coral heaven if you will not be able to see healthy coral.

But fortunately, after many times of exploring here we found out the biggiest Cactus coral (Pavona Cactus) colony that we name it as “Undersea Coral Mountain”, which is still healthy and alive. Which make us feeling happy after getting very disappointed with the bad situation of corals at Phu Quoc Crystal Reef. Especially, the Button corals that live interspersed among the Cactus corals making amazing moments, when you wave slightly the Button corals they will retreat their tentacles, creating effects like color change on corals.

In the video below, we recorded a Nudibranch swimming at next to the Coral Mountain

 

2. Wrecked Fishing Boat – Snorkeling site close to Coral Mountain (the boat was destroyed Updated in September 2021)

For those who look forward to finding some amazing things in the Phu Quoc Sea besides corals then a the Boatwreck may be one of them. We found out a wrecked fishing boat at Crystal Reef in 2020 by accident after many times of exploring the water around Coral Mountain. Basing on the design and structure of the wrecked boat, we know it used to be a squid fishing boat which is very common type in Phu Quoc Island. The snorkeling site is even easy for kids to experience their very first exploration of the marine.

 

Diving & Snorkeling at Boat wreck - Phu Quoc Distinct Snorkeling Tour
Diving & Snorkeling to see Wrecked Boat in South Phu Quoc Island – Phu Quoc Soft-adventure Snorkeling & Diving Tour

The boatwreck was damaged heavily, they might suffered a strong storm

3. Half-moon Reef: A Snorkeling & Diving spot in Phu Quoc with an attractive underwater Soft corals-covered ridges of jagged material

  • Coral Species (around 20 different speices of corals): Cactus Coral, Leaf coral, Table coral, Cauliflower coral, Plate coral, Mushroom coral, Plate and Pillar coral, Pillar coral, Finger coral, Toadstool coral, Honeycomb coral, Pore Coral, Flowerpot coral, Orange cup coral, Button coral, Brain coral, Giant tube sponge, Big Yellow Rope sponge, Staghorn coral, Anemone…
  • Depth range: 0.5 – 10m
  • Type of coral reef: Fringing Reef
  • Proper diving experience: Snorkeling – Fun-dive (Scuba Diving) – Free-diving
  • Coral health status: live coral, some closeshore spots are damaged by anchor of speedboats recently, some corals are cutted to be taken to bring to sea-walking clubs in Phu Quoc
  • Exploring time: in the Dry Season (October – April), sometimes between April – August we can still explore

The video below was recorded in Phu Quoc Half-moon Reef on our snorkeling trip in 2022

Phu Quoc Half-moon Reef is one of the best spots for either scuba diving (fun-dive), snorkeling and free-diving, possess a great variety of coral species, you find here most coral species of Phu Quoc. Especially the underwater terrain make it an attractive spot to those who are keen on coral reefs and marine life. We find here coral-covered cliffs, canyons, anemone gardens, coral-covered walls, rocks and especially we find here the largest dome-shaped honeycomb coral in Phu Quoc. This is a proper site for those who are interested in free-diving, fun-dive to see a diversified marine world while swimming, diving through, over high cliff of corals and big walls. Easy to see soft corals here, with 2 popular ones: toadstool coral and finger coral. At the depth of 8 – 9m you find many big honeycombs. Anemone living at the depth of 4 – 5 – 6 -7 m. You find largest anemone populations of Phu Quoc here beside North-east Coral Reef. Descend down the depth of just 4 m, walls, cliffs or big rocks covered fully with finger corals begin to appear and surprise you. We do list out some amazing spots you can see at the Phu Quoc Half-moon Reef:

* Phu Quoc Big Golden Anemone grove

One of largest Anemone grove of Phu Quoc Island in the Half-moon Reef - Phu Quoc Snorkeling - Diving spots
One of largest Anemone grove of Phu Quoc Island located in the Half-moon Reef – Phu Quoc Snorkeling – Diving spots

The anemone population located at the depth of 5m with an area of about 4 -5 square meters. Anemone species here is Ritteri Anemone is also referred to as the Magnificent Anemone, they are naturally brown, their bases are in violet color with adhesive foot attach to a big rock and massive coral. This anemone species can almost completely retract into their base as we witnessed many time. The clownfishs living with anemone are Pink skunk clownfishs, the most popular clownfish in Phu Quoc.

The anemone grove are surrounded by some hard corals, table and leaf corals.

* Phu Quoc Finger Coral-Covered Rock

Phu Quoc touristy-avoiding snorkeling tour to explore Half-moon Reef
Snorkeling to see Yellow Sinularia Levi or Finger Leather Coral Covered Cliff at Half-moon Reef

Located at the depth of 6 meters with 4 meters long and 2 meters high, this is an amazing ideal spot for either snorkeling or free-diving, this Finger coral-covered rock located close to a big rock make a small cliff between. Finger coral or Sinularia Levi coral is a one of 2 most popular soft coral species in Phu Quoc. Enjoy a fascinating feeling of swiming, snorkeling, diving along the cliff with plenty of coral covering. The close view is totally different from above, look shimmering, magical. Around the cliff are anemones, leaf corals and giant tube sponges.

In the video below there is a section of the Finger coral-covered cliff (103s) we recorded in Phu Quoc Half-moon Reef

 

* Phu Quoc Golden Toadstool Coral-covered Canyon

Phu Quoc Coral Covered Canyon at Half-moon Reef - Phu Quoc snorkeling - Phu Quoc snorkeling
Capret or Toadstool coral-covered Canyon at Half-moon Reef – Phu Quoc snorkeling & diving

In Half-moon Reef, we find interesting ridges of jagged material below the surface. Toadstool coral-covered Canyons are around 5 – 6 m long and 5 – 7m deep and almost 3 m in height, completely covered by Toadstool Coral (a common soft coral in Phu Quoc). Live interspered with toadstool corals or capret corals are brain corals and finger coral on the seabed surface you will be seeing the presence of Montipora Monasteriata Corals and Brain Corals… We find that the toadstool corals in Half-moon reef in particular and whole Phu Quoc in gerneral will get bleaching seasonal, sometime toadstool coral get white completely and then few days or a week later the tentacle start to extend and change the coral into yellow.

 

* Phu Quoc Coral Continental Slope

The slope is at the depth of 4 – 5m, it is about 5 – 6 m long, an amazing spot to view the corals from an incredible new perspective underwater. The slope is fullly covered by plate and pillar corals, a big colony of giant tube sponge and anemone make the spot charming when looking up from below.

* Phu Quoc largest Dome-shaped Honeycomb Coral

A 5 – 6-meter-wide Honeycomb Coral discovered at the depth of 7 meter of Phu Quoc Half-moon Reef, with a height of 3 – 4 meter from the foot to the head. This honeycomb coral is the widest we have ever found in the Phu Quoc water. On top of that, the Honeycomb coral has a twin brother which is smaller in size.

Dome-shaped Honeycomb Coral at Half-moon Reef, Phu Quoc snorkeling & free-diving tour
Dome-shaped Honeycomb Coral at the Half-moon Reef – Phu Quoc snorkeling & free-diving tour

* Phu Quoc Lettuce Coral garden

This is the largest lettuce coral colony we have found in Phu Quoc Island, located at the depth of 2.5 – 4m in Phu Quoc Half-moon Reef. We document the lettuce coral garden in April 2022 for the first time, corals are healthy. Growth right at the shore the the colony is easily damaged by irresponsible speedboats if they drop down the anchors on.

Lettuce coral garden at Half-moon coral Reef, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam Snorkeling & Diving
Lettuce coral garden at Half-moon coral Reef, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam Snorkeling & Diving spots

Check out professional snorkeling tours by OnBird: Private tour or Small-group tour (Max 6 – 8 Pax) with underwater guides to explore this beautiful coral reef of Phu Quoc Island.

 

4. Shallow Reef: the kingdom of big-sized Table Corals in Phu Quoc Island

  • Coral Species (around 12 different speices of corals): Table coral, Leaf coral, Cauliflower coral, Plate coral, Mushroom coral, Toadstool coral, Pore Coral, Button coral, Brain coral, Staghorn coral, Octopus coral, Anemone…
  • Depth range: 0.3 – 6m
  • Type of coral reef: Fringing Reef
  • Proper diving experience: Snorkeling – Try-dive (Scuba Diving)
  • Coral health status: both live and dead corals, some biggest table coral colonies were damaged by anchor of speedboats recently
  • Exploring time: in the summer or Rainy Season (May – October) or even November
Shallow coral reef, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam - the Kingdom of table corals
Shallow coral reef, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam – the Kingdom of table corals

This is truly home to Table corals acrross whole Phu Quoc Island, you dont find here a great variety of coral species with just only around 12 different coral species among that, the reef is dominated by table corals the most. Thanks to the shallow water that Table corals here have been growing into very large in size. We found here largest table coral colony of Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam with 7 – 8 m arross and 1.5 m high separated into 3 – 4 floor. Please see the photos below of the largest table coral colony ever found in Phu Quoc Island.

Table coral at Shallow Reef, Phu Quoc Island - Snorkeling & Diving in Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Table coral at Shallow Reef, Phu Quoc Island – Snorkeling & Diving in Phu Quoc, Vietnam

The largest table coral colony growths into a flower-shaped colony, with the foot located at the depth of 4 – 5m.

Table coral at Shallow Reef, Phu Quoc Island - Snorkeling & Diving in Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Table coral at Shallow Reef, Phu Quoc Island – Snorkeling & Diving in Phu Quoc, Vietnam

To explore the Phu Quoc Shallow reef, a skilful snorkeling skill is a must, as you might get stuck and damage table corals when getting closer to the shore at where the depth is only 0.3 – 0.4m. Toadstool corals located close to the shore at the depth of just 1m.

Shallow coral reef, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam - the Kingdom of table corals
Shallow coral reef, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam – the Kingdom of table corals

Table corals live on pore corals and stony coral species

Table coral at Shallow Reef, Phu Quoc Island - Snorkeling & Diving in Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Table coral at Shallow Reef, Phu Quoc Island – Snorkeling & Diving in Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Video of snorkeling and corals in Phu Quoc Shallow Reef

However the reef is now under serious threat by speed boats as we found the largest table coral colony aforementioned damaged 80%. Besides that we find here many “ghost nets” left by fishermen and brought here by the waves, we sometimes make clean up snorkeling trip to clean “ghost nets” in Phu Quoc but we still find them sometime.

In the Shallow Reef, Phu Quoc we can find amazing spots for underwater snorkeling photos. The snorkeling photos below were captured on our snorkeling trip to explore this coral reef on August 23 2022. We find anemone clusters and toadstool corals developing close to the water surface.

 

5. Coral Steep: A coral garden in South Phu Quoc

  • Coral Species (around 12 different speices of corals): Table coral, Cactus coral, Plate coral, Cauliflower coral, Mushroom coral, Pore Coral, Button coral, Brain coral, Orange Cup coral, Giant tube sponge, Starghorn coral, Flowerspot coral, Anemone…
  • Depth range: 0.5 – 8 m
  • Type of coral reef: Fringing Reef
  • Proper diving experience: Snorkeling – Try-dive – Fundive (Scuba Diving)
  • Coral health status: both live and dead corals, a large cactus coral grove was damaged by anchor of speedboats recently (updated on 15/7/2022)
  • Exploring time: All year around

The terrain is gently sloping coral with a depth of 0.5 – 8m, in which coral grows strongly in the range of 0.5 – 3.5m. The main group of coral species are Porite Corals, Table corals, Cactus corals and Cauliflower corals. This is one of the fringing reefs still preserve it’s pristine beauty and easy to explore for snorkelers (snorkeling). It can be likened to a miniature coral garden, although not too diverse in coral species, corals grow densely to form a large coral carpet. Cauliflower coral here is quite special when mostly purple cauliflower coral.

Snorkeling at Coral Steep Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
A cactus coral ground living interspersed with mushroom corals, table corals and cauliflower corals in Coral Steep, Phu Quoc Island

At a depth of 1-1.5m, large populations of table corals with coral diameters up to 1.5m are formed. Coral grows densely in the depth of 0.5 – 3m.

Snorkeling at Coral Steep Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
Snorkeling at Coral Steep Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

The snorkeling experience here is like going around in a small garden, the coral color is quite fresh, updated to July 10, 2022, the coral here is hardly affected by humans compared to other places. other coral reefs in Phu Quoc due to being surrounded by large coral reefs.

Snorkeling at Coral Steep Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
Anemone at Coral Steep Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam – an amazing snorkeling & diving spot

We find here only one small anemone across whole the Coral Steep.

However: latest update on 15/7/2022 we are shocked to see a heavy damage on the cactus coral colony and cauliflower at the Coral Steep. We found the same situation at Coral Mountain at the same time. We are not sure what cause the terrible damage on the corals but it must be strong as we saw even some stony corals found in an overturned state and broken in half.

 

6. U-Turn: A small bay for Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in Phu Quoc Island 

  • Coral Species (around 13 – 14 different speices of corals): Table coral, Leaf coral, Cauliflower coral, Plate coral, Mushroom coral, Toadstool coral, Pore Coral, Button coral, Brain coral, Giant tube sponge, Anemone…
  • Depth range: 0.5 – 12 m
  • Type of coral reef: Fringing Reef
  • Proper diving experience: Snorkeling – Try-dive – Fundive (Scuba Diving)
  • Coral health status: both live and dead corals, some biggest table coral colonies were damaged by anchor of speedboats recently
  • Exploring time: in the Drys season (October – April)

Phu Quoc U-Turn is another good choice for people who are keen on free-diving as well as snorkeling. The coral populations here are not large and not as dense as Half-moon Reef, North-east Coral Reef. The average depth here is deeper than Half-moon Reef and North-east Coral Reef, average depth is about 4 – 6m. If you are not used to the sea then U-Turn will scare you as the reef is to drop down 12 – 13m suddenly in certain places.

Anemone at U-Turn Coral Reef, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
Anemone at U-Turn Coral Reef, Phu Quoc Island – Vietnam Diving & Snorkeling

For snorkeling you could do near to the shore and for scuba diving just need to descend down and get further a little bit from the shore to reach the depth of 12 m. You dont see here many anemones and finger corals like Half-moon Reef, but it is great to dive in a vast seabed right at the foot of the shore.

The photos below are a giant clam that you will be able to see when proceeding snorkeling at U-Turn and Half-moon coral reef

7. North-east Coral Reef: a Coral City in South Phu Quoc (the most beautiful coral reef in Phu Quoc – best choice in the summer time)

  • Coral Species (around 19 – 20 different speices of corals): Cactus Coral, Leaf coral, Table coral, Cauliflower coral, Plate coral, Mushroom coral, Plate and Pillar coral, Pillar coral, Finger coral, Toadstool coral, Pore Coral, Flowerpot coral, Orange cup coral, Button coral, Fan coral, Brain coral, Giant tube sponge, Big Yellow Rope sponge, Staghorn coral, Anemone…
  • Depth range: 0.5 – 9 m – 16 m
  • Type of coral reef: Fringing Reef
  • Proper diving experience: Snorkeling – Scuba Diving (either Fun-dive and Try-dive) – Free-diving
  • Coral health status: live coral, some closeshore spots are damaged by anchor of speedboats recently, some corals are cutted to be taken to bring to sea-walking clubs in Phu Quoc
  • Exploring time: in the rainy season (April – October), sometimes between October – April we can still explore

Northeast Reef is a kind of coral field with a great diversify of coral species, the reef depth ranges from 1 – 9m, go further to outer reef it could descende down 16m, the coral reef develops hunderus meters along the foot of an island, at Phu Quoc Northeast Reef you could find anemone gardens at the depth of 1.5 – 5m and big table corals with diameter of 3m…

We have found the existence of 19 coral species there. Due to the special location it is not easy to reach the coral reef as the water is usually wavy and strong current thereby we always check the water conditions to find dates and proper timeframe to explore this coral reef. Besides that this coral reef is also the best choice for snorkeling in the rainy season in Phu Quoc island

A video recorded by our guests on their snorkeling and scuba-diving trip to Phu Quoc Northeast Coral Reef

Make referrence to our snorkeling trips in Phu Quoc Island for the summer and rainy season

 

North Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam: Snorkeling and Diving Report

Not like the South of Phu Quoc Island, in the North there are less coral spots to explore. However the coral reefs in North Phu Quoc Island are less spoiled, less vulnerable than South Phu Quoc Island.

1. Turtle Island (Doi Moi): The Coral Kingdom in North Phu Quoc

As you see below the island has a unique appearance, it is the very image of a deserted island in Robinson Crusoe. It’s right, it is really tiny in size in comparison with other islands about Phu Quoc Island, what a humorous appearance, on the island is the presence of a small garden and a tiny sandy beach. About Turtle Island is thousands of square meters area of coral reefs and here is one of the most ideal places for diving tours.

Explore Turtle Island in Phu Quoc Sailing Trip - Phu Quoc things to do
Explore Turtle Island in Phu Quoc Sailing Trip – Phu Quoc things to do

 

Very sorry because we haven’t had enough documentary of coral reefs here in detail with photos to show you. We will update you soon. But from our inspection, we have pointed out some things about coral reefs here in the photo below. We will in-depth update photos of coral reefs here as soon as possible.

2. Border Reef: An amazing reef in North Phu Quoc

3. Nudibranch Garden: A spot for macro diving