As we stepped off the boat, gravity took over and we hit the sea with a splash. Icy water flooded into my oversized, baggy wetsuit and with the shock of the cold, I gasped for air. I've been here before I thought, diving in Tasmania, I just need to wait a minute to acclimatise to the cold. It didn't really work. Every time I tried to put my head into the murky water, I felt even colder, drew breath even more sharply and had to resurface. Our guide looked really worried. Given that he was layered up in 4 separate wetsuits, it's not surprising he was comfortably warm. After a few minutes, I finally managed to exhale enough to sink. So far, not really what I expected from the tropical diving in Nha Trang.
The Diving In Nha Trang
Once underwater, we cruised slowly between algae covered rocks and small outcrops of coral. Colourful Christmas tree worms protruded from every rock and promptly disappeared as we passed by. We came across a saddled toby, its tiny fins flapping in the usual comical fashion. The odd surprisingly small lionfish also swam by, stripey fin rays flared out in a spectacular display. Flower urchins littered the sea floor, each one having decorated itself with tiny broken pieces of dead coral. They were interspersed with the occasional cushion star and sea cucumber.
Our second dive started over a sea of mushroom corals though we soon moved on to soft corals, their tentacles extended in a feeding frenzy. We saw a confident lizardfish propped up on a boulder and a few scorpionfish, well camouflaged, with their grumpy faces scowling at us. A couple of nudibranchs were the highlight of our day. Our favourite was a plump yellow chromodoris covered in striking purple spots. We also spotted a pipefish and followed it for a while as it snaked across the sand.
Back on the boat, we were plied with fresh pineapple, melon and rambutans along with the all important postdive cake. We drank tea and warmed up while comparing stories of our dives.
How Cold Was It Diving In Nha Trang?
Not very! The water around Nha Trang was a balmy 230C. It doesn't sound that cold but in a paper-thin, ill-fitting rental wetsuit it felt colder. We didn't see the wetsuits before we got on the boat, our sizes were guessed by the dive shop staff who prepared our rental gear. They did mention that it wasn't really appropriate to look women up and down when sizing them up. They had instead honed a technique where they could size up anyone from a quick glance. Given that they were several sizes out for both of us, it's fair to say this method was questionable.
Would We Recommend Diving In Nha Trang?
We dived in Nha Trang in January, which is not the peak diving season. The viz was 2-3 metres. We were told it was the best viz they'd seen all month. Later in the year however, the viz improves and the water warms up. We did see some cool marine life and managed to find a couple of nudibranchs but as Asian diving goes, it was pretty standard stuff.
Our verdict: As we were passing, Nha Trang was a good place to get our heads wet and have a couple of fun, easy dives. We wouldn't go out of our way for it though.