One of the most popular activities for visitors in Thailand is scuba diving. The trend started in the 1960s and caught on rather quickly. Clear waters, abundant aquatic life, and a multitude of exciting dive sites make Thailand ideal for scuba aficionados, as do the low exchange rates and delicious food. Just to get you started, we have comprised a list of a few great dive sites to ensure you see the beauty underneath with Scuba Diving in Thailand.
This large island has plenty of good beaches, restaurants, and other activities, including, of course, diving. Moray eels, turtles, leopard sharks, and the usual array of fish are among the many marine life forms that can be found here. The currents on Phuket can be strong at times so the beaches here are probably not advisable for beginners. For those with experience, Koh Dok Mai (Flower Island) and Ter Bay are widely regarded as good choices for diving in Phuket. Koh Dok Mai is a limestone island formation, which hosts a variety of aquatic species, while Ter Bay features a shipwreck and the former . Other fun island activities include zip-lining through the rainforest at Flying Hanuman or trying one’s hand at Rollerball Zorbing.
This chain of over 800 islands features intriguing rock formations and a pristine diving environment. As it has been open to the public for less than 20 years, this site has a wealth of fish and untouched coral reefs. It is also far less crowded than many popular diving locations in Thailand. Dive sites here are deep and the currents are strong, so this archipelago is best suited to advance scuba divers, rather than beginners. These islands are accessible by boat, but there is only one hotel located on the entire chain, which may or may not be a selling point with visitors. Be sure to bring bug spray if you come, because the sand flies can be fierce. For those that have tired of scuba diving, the fishing is also good here.
Koh Chang or Elephant Island
Located in the island in Trat Province, Eastern Thailand, Ko Chang National Marine Park features excellent diving sites that are located close to shore. Turtles, barracuda and eels are all found in these waters. There are also some interesting underwater caves and rock formations at the dive sites. Hikes to the many local waterfalls are popular activities on the island, as are the elephant rides. However, the island name comes from the island’s shape rather than the presence of pachyderms.
Ko Phi Phi
Located between Phuket and Krabi, Ko Phi Phi Island is largely known for its role in the 2000 movie “The Beach” and has largely recovered from the damaged inflicted by the 2004 tsunami. Dive sites are easy to access from shore and the currents here are not especially strong. Leopard sharks, manta rays, whale sharks, and rainbow colored fish are prevalent at the dive sites. Features of this area include soft coral and limestone formations. Other activities for visitors include ascending the rocks at SpiderMonkey either by climbing or hiking to the island’s viewpoint. The locals can direct you to the latter as it is part of the tsunami evacuation route. Look for the blue signs.
This island provides easy access to the Ko Haa island group as well as Hin Muang and Hin Daeng, which are well known for being some of the world’s best diving locations. Guided tours from Ko Phi Phi also take tourists to the nearby island Ko Phi Phi Lee Island, where overnight guests will need to bring their own tent due to the complete absence of a hotel.
Koh Tao (Ko Tao)
Popular with the backpacker crowd, Turtle Island is a good budget choice for snorkeling and scuba diving. Marine animals present in this area include anemones, pink anemone fish, barracudas, leopard sharks, reef sharks, angel fish, manta rays, and many other species. Visitors can choose from seven different diving sites on the island and inexpensive PADI certification courses are offered as well. There is also mini golf and bowling on the island should you tire of scuba diving.
It is best to keep in mind that Turtle Island is on the well-beaten path and can prove a trifle too crowded at certain portions of the year. The best times to visit are between April and October.
If you enjoy snorkeling is more your pace, here’s our best Thailand snorkeling locations.
What are some good dive sites that you would recommend for anyone headed to Thailand?