Scuba In The Land Of Smiles
Thailand is such a beautiful country with its rolling lush green jungle filled hills and long sandy beaches it has something to offer for every tourist. The warm weather, welcoming locals, unique culture and delicious food have had tourist and backpackers flocking to its shores for years.
But it isn’t all about staying on land. Thailand has some of the best dive sites that the world has to offer with its warm tropical waters home to an amazingly diverse marine world. Diving Thailand, whether in the Andaman Sea or the Gulf of Thailand, offers divers the opportunity to witness the wonders of the underwater realm that most can only dream of.
Dive The Similans – All Aboard
Diving Phuket or Khao Lhak on the West coast of Thailand are great places to take a live aboard trip to the world famous Similan Islands. Trips usually last 3-4 days cruising around the Andaman Sea visiting this small archipelago of small islands and experiencing amazing dive sites.
The Similan Islands is a group of nine islands, located within the Similan Islands National Park off the coast of Phang Nga Province, in the south of Thailand on the west coast. The nine islands are known predominately known by their number although island 8 is often referred to as Koh Similan.
The most famous of all the dive sites in this area, Richelieu Rock – it’s actually located in Surin National Park – is renowned for the diversity of its marine life and seasonal visits of Whalesharks. Also in the Surin National Park is Koh Bon, famous for seasonal visits from Manta Rays & Koh Tachai although this area is suited to more experienced divers with many of the dive sites being deep where conditions can be rough with strong currents.
Scuba divers with PADI Deep speciality will revel in the area with the dive sites around Koh Bon and Surin Islands dropping down to 40m+. This area is seasonal with a summer monsoon bringing bad weather from May-October meaning the marine parks are closed down. But when in the water you may get the chance to swim with Manta rays, Leopard sharks and Whale sharks among the colourful and diverse marine life.
Diving Koh Phi Phi – Island Life
The island of Koh Phi Phi is a 90 minute ferry ride from Krabi and has many easily accessible dive sites. Diving Koh Phi Phi gives people a great chance to experience scuba diving for the first time, with PADI programs such as Discover Scuba Diving popular with tourists wanting the opportunity to scuba dive for the first time.
The Bida Island and Phi Phi Ley are the area’s most frequently dived by scuba divers with Bida Nok the most popular site. Here you can see Hawksbill turtles, Sea snakes and Leopard sharks. Again due to Phi Phi being located on the west coast diving can be affected by weather conditions with dive sites sometimes inaccessible if the conditions become too rough.
Dive Koh Lipe – Drifters Paradise
Koh Lipe is surrounded by over 30 islands, with many reefs within easy reach. It’s is located just outside the Tarutao National Park – one of the oldest national parks in Thailand – meaning the reefs are all in good condition. Koh Lipe is known for its abundance of soft corals and is popular for macro diving but you can also see some of the big stuff such as Sharks & Manta Rays on dive sites around the edge of the Marine park.
There are some pretty strong currents in this area and although you can always find somewhere to dive the widest selection of dive sites is available twice a month following the half moon when the currents are at times nonexistent.
Diving Koh Lanta – 5 Star Diving
Koh Lanta is the closest island to the famous Hin Daeng & Hin Muang dive sites. Hin Daeng & Hin Muang most certainly offer 5 star diving and frequently rank in the World’s top dives sites. These sites boast a huge array of different corals as well as an abundance of marine life including lots of larger pelagic such as Tuna, Barracuda and Grey reefs sharks.
They also have a high number of Whaleshark sightings and Manta Rays are often spotted. Marine life is often larger out here than closer the shore and there are some rarer species of marine life spotted here including Clown and Redtooth Trigerfish.
Dive Pattaya – Let’s Get Wrecked
Recreational divers have plenty of choice of to go wreck diving in Thailand. The Royal Thai Navy has been very active, sinking several decommissioned ships in recent years that have provided excellent artificial reefs in several different locations around Thailand.
Just off the coast of Pattaya lies the HTMS Khram. This old Navy landing craft was sunk in 2003 and sits at a max depth of 30 metres with the tower rising up to 15 metres. Pattaya is only a 1 hour car journey from Bangkok presenting a great opportunity for divers short on time to get some diving during in their trip.
HTMS Khram’s sister ship, HTMS Khut, was also sunk by the RTN and along with The Haardeep – a cargo ship sunk during World War 2 – makes up a group of three first class ship wrecks, that are easily accessible from Pattaya, suitable for recreational divers and covered in marine life.
There are also several other wrecks in the general vicinity, although not as close nor as suitable for recreational divers but all in all Pattaya is a very interesting destination for wreck diving enthusiasts.
Dive Koh Chang – Untouched & Pristine
Koh Chang offers a variety of mainly shallow dive sites for all levels of divers as well as snorkelers. It is the largest of 52 islands that make up the Koh Chang National Park and as such, is less spoilt by development than some of Thailand’s other tourist areas.
Conditions can sometimes be weather dependant, with limited visibility and currents so make sure you check your seasons. They do have a couple of deep sites and a great wreck dive, HTMS Chang.
HTMS Chang is Thailand’s longest wreck at 117m in length this was sunk near Koh Chang in 2012 after being in service for over 65 years. This ship is more suited to advanced divers but can still be dived by open water divers with the crow’s nest rising up to 5m.
Diving Koh Tao – “Where The World Learns to Dive”
Koh Tao is located in the Gulf of Thailand, the smallest of the three main islands that make up the Samui Archipelago. This small island literally lives and breathes scuba diving. Koh Tao, or ‘Turtle Island’ (in Thai ‘Koh’ means ‘island’ and ‘Tao’ means Turtle), certifies more scuba divers a year than anywhere else in the world.
Koh Tao is generally considered to be one of the cheaper places around for people to get certified or ‘Get my PADI’ as most backpackers refer. The island also offers some of Thailand’s best dive sites. Combined with the laidback vibe and unique ambience, Koh Tao is fast becoming a top attraction on all travellers’ bucket lists.
The dive sites here are varied with several local bays providing excellent training conditions – nice flat sandy bottoms, very little environmental conditions offering a variety of marine life and coral.
The deeper outlaying pinnacles give divers the opportunity to see large schools of fish, some of the larger pelagic fish and of course Whalesharks. Chumphon Pinnacle and Sail Rock are the most famous dive sites here.
Koh Tao also offers wreck diving. The HTMS Sattakut was sunk in 2011 and provides divers an excellent opportunity for their first Wreck diving experience. Another bonus for those of you thinking about Koh Tao – it is dived all year round.
The monsoon on the East side of Thailand is usually relatively mild and with over 25 dive sites, dotted all round this small island all within a short distance, if the wind is blowing in, it’s easy to plan trips to the other side.
Discover Thainess – Discover The Sub Culture
As you can see whether you are an experienced scuba diver or just looking to explore the underwater world for the first time Thailand offers something for everyone. At the heart of South East Asia, Thailand is a brilliant dive destination with so much to discover both above and below the surface in this tropical paradise.
Author: Crystal Dive