Muck Diving Guide

Muck Diving Information for Underwater Photographers
By Scott Gietler

For many underwater photographers, muck diving is their favorite activities. On muck dives, underwater photographers find rare nudibranchs, juvenile fish, frogfish, and strange critters that are found no where else. And they then spend a long time photographing them. For some people, a muck dive is their favorite place to practice underwater photography.


Muck dive sites often have large patches of sand, often rich volcanic black sand, with small patches of life here and there. But these patches are rich in critters, such as seahorses, frogfish, and cuttlefish. In the sand one can often find gobies, mantis shrimp, octopus and more.


Muck Diving Preparation

  • Learn the critters in the area. Develop a critter list.

  • Find a good dive guide.

  • Have the right dive equipment - a large tank full of nitrox is the best, with stiff fins that don't silt up the area when you kick

  • Plan to dive the sites during the day and night for different opportunities. Here's more about dive planning

  • Have a good dive light or focus light

  • Get excited when it's rainy or cloudy - more critters will be out


Tiny frogfish from Anilao, found muck diving

Tiny frogfish from a muck dive in Anilao. F18, 60mm + 1.4x teleconverter


Best Muck Diving Locations

  • Anilao, Philippines

  • Secret Bay, Seraya, and Padang Bai Bali

  • Dumaguete, Philippines

    • Good muck place, although the best dive site, the "pier" is now closed

  • Redondo Beach, California

    • Every dive here will produce new species of fish, nudibranchs, or other inverts. Best at night! Shore dive only. Enter at Vet's park.

  • Lembeh Straits, Indonesia

  • Ambon, Indonesia

    • Muck diving here can rival or better the critters found in Lembeh and Bali. Ambon bay is famous for its Rhinopias, Frogfish, ghost pipefish, many juvenile fish and much more. Interestingly, I've head Ambon Scorpionfish have not been seen lately. Some people claim they've been taken.

  • Bali, Indonesia

  • Mabul, Borneo

    • Good muck diving in Mabul and Kapalai to compliment the big fish of Sipadan

  • St Vincent, Caribbean

    • This is the place for critters in the Caribbean

  • Blue Heron Bridge, Florida 

  • Ulua Beach, Maui, Hawaii (it's hard to choose just one, but it's definitely one of the best beaches in Hawaii for muck diving in our opinion)

    • Night dives here always turn up something different

  • Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea

    • The original place of muck-diving! Lots of critters here.

  • The Pipeline, Nelson Bay, Australia

Contact me to tell me about your own local muck dive.


Muck Diving Underwater Photography Tips


Further Reading

Best Dive Destinations for Underwater Photography

Muck diving destinations from Bluewater Travel

wonderpus octopus

Muck diving can produce rare underwater photography treats, like this wonderpus octopus. F11, 60mm lens + 1.4x teleconverter

Muck Diving Guide
Scott Gietler
Muck Diving Information for Underwater Photographers


Scott Gietler is the owner of Bluewater Photo, Bluewater Travel, and the Underwater Photography Guide. Bluewater Photo, based in Culver City, CA is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious underwater camera stores, serving many thousands of customers each year, where nothing is more important than customer service. The Underwater Photography Guide is the world’s first website to feature free tutorials on underwater photography, and has become the most trafficked resource on underwater photography worldwide. Bluewater Travel is a full-service dive travel wholesaler sending groups and individuals on the world’s best dive vacations. 

Scott is also an avid diver, underwater photographer, and budding marine biologist, having created the online guide to the underwater flora and fauna of Southern California. He is the past vice-president of the Los Angeles Underwater Photographic Society, has volunteered extensively at the Santa Monica aquarium, and is the creator of the Ocean Art underwater photo competition, one of the largest underwater international photo competitions ever held in terms of value of prizes. He lives in California with his wife, newborn girl and scuba-diving, photo taking 4 year old son.

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