American magazine Forbes has included Vietnam’s Hòn Ông, known internationally as Whale Island, in this year’s edition of world’s top-10 dive sites. Located off the coast in central Khánh Hòa Province, some 100 kilometres north of Nha Trang, Whale Island is a peaceful retreat well off the beaten track and is regarded as one of Asia’s premier destinations among enthusiasts of scuba diving, snorkelling and kayaking.
“Whale Island specifically, with an average water temperature that hovers around a beautiful 82° Fahrenheit (28° Celsius), is particularly known for its macro gems hidden among the lush soft corals, which makes drift diving here that much more exciting,” Forbes says.
According to the magazine, flocks of whales and whale sharks frequent the archipelago between April and July to feed on krill and plankton (hence the island’s name). The area is also popular with manta rays, stingrays and eagles, and the one dive site not to miss there, as per Forbes, is White Rock.
With just one French-run resort on the island, Hòn Ông is a place of untouched beauty and fine white-sand beaches. Covering an area of about 40 hectares, the island is remarkably quiet and wild, with coconut trees lining a blue beachfront.
Other must-dive spots featured in Forbes’ list are as varied as Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, Mnemba Atoll in Zanzibar, Mongolia’s Lake Khovsgol and the Eyjafjordur Fjord in Iceland.