Diving in Thailand
Thailand, the “Land of a Thousand Smiles,” is a country proud of its unique culture and famous worldwide for its cuisine. You’ll find white sandy beaches, colourful coral reefs and many exhilarating cultural attractions in some of Southeast Asia’s liveliest cities. With the Gulf of Thailand on the east and the Andaman Sea on the west, diving opportunities include fringing reefs, deep drop-offs, wrecks, walls, caverns, tunnels, pinnacles or open ocean seamounts.
Dive sites are a rainbow of colours and teeming with marine life. For “big fish” aficionados, whale sharks, manta rays, leopard sharks and other pelagics are a major draw whilst macro-life such as seahorse, frogfish, ghost pipefish and an array of nudibranch and crustaceans can all be seen amongst the reefs. Although November through to April is the best time for optimum site conditions, the Thailand scuba diving season runs all year round. This being said, the best time to see whale sharks is between February and May when there is a higher concentration of plankton. This time of year is also the best for manta ray sightings although the number of sightings varies from year to year.
Koh Phi Phi
Surrounded by national Marine Park it is clear why the producers of the movie “The Beach” decided on Koh Phi Phi as their island of choice. Surrounded by rugged pinnacles, secluded bays, aquamarine water and sublime beaches the island is a natural beauty. Koh Phi Phi is a popular destination due to its picturesque reefs, healthy coral gardens and exotic marine life. You’ll find everything from lazing leopard sharks to passing whale sharks and when you’re not looking at the larger inhabitants you’ll notice the schools of jewel like damsels flitting around the reef.
At the foot of Koh Samui’s mountainous tropical rainforests lay some of Thailand’s most photographed beaches. Koh Samui is the second largest island in Thailand and it offers something for everyone, from backpackers to billionaires it’s possible to find your place here. Underwater is equally varied and no less impressive with colourful reefs, caverns and swim throughs. Pinnacles such as Sail Rock attract passing pelagics and Shark Island which, as the name suggests, is a great shark sighting spot but also home to a diverse range of reef fish and macrolife.
With varied underwater scenery boasting everything from rock pinnacles and healthy reefs to great shipwrecks, Koh Tao is a firm favourite of many divers. Of course, it helps that it’s possible to see leopard sharks and whale sharks on top of the usual array of reef fish you would expect from the Chumphon Archipelago. Above surface, Koh Tao has rugged cliffs, beautiful white sand beaches and sunsets which will impress even the most discerning of travellers.
As one of Thailand’s first resort destinations, Phuket is a great destination for relaxing and enjoying great resorts and beaches in comfort. Phuket has excellent nightlife which can be as lively or as tranquil as you want it to be – there really is something for everyone. Nearby dive sites and marine parks offer varied topographies and marine life ranging from bamboo sharks at Shark Point, incredible biodiversity at Koh Dok Mai and a kaleidoscope of colours at the appropriately named Anemone Reef.