Beth & Shaun Tierney - Diving in Southeast Asia

Renowned author and dive team Beth & Shaun Tierney explain their reasons behind writing Diving Southeast Asia, the follow-up to the bestselling Diving the World.

What was the inspiration behind Diving Southeast Asia?

Choosing this region for our second Footprint guide was easy - at least in our minds - it just had to be our personal favourite, Southeast Asia. After Diving the World was published we were continually asked for more detailed dive travel recommendations and we found we were always saying, Bali, the Similans, Borneo and so on. When it was time to start planning a second guide, we conducted several international polls asking divers “if you could dive anywhere in the world, where would that be?” and a clear majority voted for somewhere in Southeast Asia. You can imagine how delighted we were.

Who do you think will benefit from reading it?

Any diver from gap-year backpackers who want to learn to dive through to experienced divers in search of an off-the-beaten-track adventure. And anyone looking for underwater inspiration! We know that everyone wants a different style of holiday with varied budgets so we have covered off lots of angles.

What is it about Southeast Asia that makes it such a draw for divers?

Asia’s reefs are sitting at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the region confirmed as the global centre of marine diversity and this is what makes it particularly attractive for all sorts of divers. There is simply more of everything - more corals and more fish species live in these waters than anywhere else on the planet. Apart from the incredible and varied marine life, each of the countries covered has significant cultures, their own language, fantastic cuisines and best of all, for Europeans and Americans, the cost of living is so much lower. It’s all very affordable.

If you had to select one dive site from the book which epitomised diving in the region, which would it be and why? 

That is such a hard question, and one we get asked over and over. One dive that probably sums up the region is Richelieu Rock in the Andaman Sea. There is so much on this one site we always think of it as the site that has it all. Not only can you see tiny creatures like mating pairs of harlequin shrimp who huddle in crevices, there is the chance of seeing the largest of gentle giants, a whaleshark. The other question we get asked almost as often as this one is where would we go back to? And that is easier for us. We have had a  love-affair with Indonesia even before we started diving and it is still our personal number one. There is an incredible variety of diving as it is the biggest of Asia’s countries but there is always a new area opening up. 

The photography in the book is stunning - are there any tips you could impart for amateur photographers looking to capture their underwater exploits?

Underwater photography is getting ever more popular with the advent of cheap, small digital cameras. A lot of people think they can just buy one and get great results, but it’s not so simple. However, with a little practice and a little knowledge, most people can get some decent ’happy-snaps’. To get really good images though, you need to make the investment in better equipment and perhaps take a course so you understand how light changes underwater. Shaun now uses Nikon DSLRs although for a long time, he was dedicated to film.

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