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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Diving in Thailand

Thailand Diving is an experience to match the best in the world though not all reefs and seas are equal. The Similan islands enjoy the premier diving sites but are out in the Ocean and so many visitors end up diving the Thailand's inland reefs which are closer to the main resort destinations of Phuket, Phi Phi, Krabi, Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. These diving sites are more variable and are more influenced by local conditions such as the state of the moon/ tide, weather and season and their position in the greater ocean reefs.

Often diving is organised and pre-booked before departure. It gives you a chance to research the dive company, and work on any reviews, good or bad that might make your decision  easier. Having said that, if you are staying a luxury island 4 and 5 star hotel or resort then you will be able to organise your diving 'in house'.


Euphoria. Loving it

Thailand's most famous diving islands.
The Similan diving experience is perhaps the stand out dive location in Thailand as it is a series of small islands surrounded by beautiful reefs far from the mainland shores of Phang Nga Province. Diving in the Similans give you the best waters in Thailand, clear and free from any fishing debris and any of the coastal villages. The western coast is on the Indian Ocean and shares a similar but diverse habitat of all the islands that stretch from Koh Tao in the south, Past the vast array of islands off Burma and up to the Bay of Bengal.

Similan Islands

Turtle in the Similans... beautiful sand!

In the deep waters off the Similans there are a series of migratory paths for some of the Thailand's migratory pelagic species and whale shark, manta are a common sight. Many dive boats leave Phuket island or Khao Lak (Tapla Mu) to reach the Similan islands which lay out to sea and just over the horizon. It is only recently that day diving from the mainland has been made possible with the introduction of large and fast speedboats to take divers out as for nearly all the history of diving in the Similans diving has been done by live aboard. There are many live aboard operations that cater from simple to the high end luxury diving experience.

Phuket Diving
One of Thailand's key tourist destinations, Phuket has has a wealth of diving sites though there is very minimal diving from the shore. Most diving centers on taking the day boats from Chalong Bay going out to Racha Island, Shark Point and Phi Phi Islands. On Racha island the visibility is excellent with 40 meters being common. This is one of Phuket's closest reefs and enjoy all year conditions. Phuket Shark Point is one of Thailand's iconic dive days where you are able to dive 2 submerged reefs and the Wreck all within a 600m square.
The wreck dive. Reached from Phuket or Phi Phi
Cuttlefish off Shark Point

Phi Phi Island.
The famous Thailand island of Koh Phi Phi lies some 45km-48km from Phuket and Krabi respectively and is home to more reefs, rock walls, caves underwater pinnacles than most other areas of Thailand. It has the reputation of a mecca for divers. Not only does it have an extraordinary array of dive sites, they are often no more than 15-20 minutes by boat from the shore. On top of this and with speedboat transfers you can get to Koh Ha or Hin Daeng with in a days dive where you can get to see Whale Sharks in the right season. PADI courses are taught at the 15 or so dive schools on the islands.

Day Dives off Phi Phi Island

Manta off Hin Muang

Swim through Phi Phi Island

Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao
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Diving off Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao is diving in the southern reaches of the Gulf of Siam and part of the Pacific Rim diving experience. This zone of diving is nearer the historic start of marine life and is open to more variety of sea life than the Thailand's western shore. However geographically this area is at the end of the diving archipelago starting nearer Papua New Guinea and Indoneasia. Although excellent diving it has less migratory traffic from the larger species of marine life.

Off Sail Rock

One of the key dive sites is Sail Rock, a large granite pinnacle that breaks the surface. Far from land it is an obvious location for schools of trevally to feed off the juveniles that cloud together in defense of these dangerous predators. It is also home to large schools of long fin batfish. 30 meters deep it has a glorious swim through that can be entered at 20 m and left at 5 m. This cavern like structure can be full of glassfish, confusing the way through. Home to morey eel and the occasional passing whale shark, Sail Rock is one of Thailand's key dive sites.

Whale shark off Sail Rock

PADI Courses to learn diving are taught at Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

Dancing Durban Shrimp

1 comment:

  1. Thank you nice article.
    your next trip…Phuket is the best choice for you!!
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    And I really love white sand, crystal clear waters at Surin Beach too.
    Thank again.

    ReplyDelete