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Taiwan is Surrounded by Undersea Beauty: Scuba Photographer Wesley Oosthuizen

‘There’s so much to love about Taiwan. The mountains here are incredible, but I’m definitely more drawn to the ocean’, says Wesley Oosthuizen, a South African who’s made his home here for almost two decades.

Harlequin Shrimp (photo by Wesley Oosthuizen)

Wesley first travelled to Taiwan to teach English before leaving and then returning to work as a video editor. When children appeared on the scene (his son is ten years old, his daughter is now three) he returned to the field of education. ‘Now, my time is divided between teaching and diving, but I hope to make it more diving than teaching in the future’, he says.

Long before he dreamed of living in Asia, he tried to carry a camera with him at all times. ‘I’ve been shooting photos since I was nine or ten years old. I first got into photography when my grandpa gave my brother and I an old school point-and-shoot film camera. Of course, we had no idea what we were doing back then, and had to be very selective about what shot was worth taking as we had to use our pocket money, which was dismal, to pay for prints. It was really interesting to see the different results one could get, especially when utilising light in different ways. My brother did a lot of that and it was a pretty big inspiration for me with regards to thinking outside the box.’

Squat Lobster (photo by Wesley Oosthuizen)

The stunning beneath-the-waves images with which Wesley has impressed hundreds of thousands of people in Taiwan and elsewhere are in part the result of a canny salesperson who offered him a good deal on equipment.

Wesley first got into shooting underwater when he landed a job as an underwater videographer on Grand Cayman in the Caribbean. ‘Actually, the setup I bought when I got back into shooting underwater was never meant for photography. I’d planned on getting back into underwater video, just like when I was shooting on Grand Cayman, and wasn’t even thinking about macro. It just happened that when I was purchasing my gear they happened to have a 50-percent discount on a very good macro lens. They mentioned this in passing and asked me if I was interested in adding the lens to my purchase,’ he says. ‘I’d always been interested in the idea of macro and I thought it was such a good deal that passing it up wouldn’t be a smart idea.’

Caloria Aeolid Nudibranch (photo by Wesley Oosthuizen)

He’s never for a moment regretted that decision, saying ‘There’s a whole miniverse right at our feet and it’s mind blowing.’

According to Wesley — who has a YouTube channel as well as more than 10,000 followers on Facebook — the way people do diving in Taiwan is very different compared to the Caymans. ‘On Grand Cayman, it’s all about boats and the majority of diving happens that way, whereas in Taiwan shore diving is so accessible. That’s definitely the name of the game on the northeast coast, but I will say that I’ve noticed more and more people getting interested in the idea of boat diving these days.’

He points out other great advantages of doing underwater photography in Taiwan: ‘It’s relatively inexpensive to go diving, dive sites are safe from crime, the food is excellent and affordable, the Taiwanese themselves are very accommodating and there’s an abundance of macro life to shoot here.’

Emperor Shrimp (photo by Wesley Oosthuizen)

‘I’ve been shooting here for years and I’ve never stopped finding new stuff that leaves me speechless. The biggest challenge is turning what I do into a lucrative business, but I believe I’m capable of doing that.’ 

Wesley has dived at some of Taiwan’s outlying islands, including Green Island and Orchid Island, and he hopes to get to the Penghu archipelago in the not-too-distant future. ‘I’ve not explored much of the south’s diving scene, but hopefully that’ll change as I start making the transition from part-time diver to full-time,’ he says.

Eager to find out why Wesley Oosthuizen and so many other people adore Taiwan? Start planning your trip to this stunning island by getting in touch with us today. Our experienced travel designers would love to share their know-how and help you plan a customised trip that suits your every need.