Known as the Pearl of the Andaman, Phuket, roughly the same size as Singapore Island, is the major tourist attraction of Thailand for divers and non-divers alike. The surrounding waters contain a wide variety of marine life and so it is a very well established dive destination. Most of the diving done in Phuket takes place in the islands to the south of Phuket such as Racha Yai, Racha Noi, Koh Doc Mai, and the Phi Phi Islands.
Day trips out to the islands is the way to explore the dive sites and the highlights of the area include The King Cruiser Wreck, Koh Doc Mai with its steep walls, Shark Point where you can catch the Leopard or Zebra Sharks resting on the seabed, and the Phi Phi Islands with their beautiful caves and rock formations. Lucky divers may even catch a whale shark or manta at these sites.
After the diving, you can explore the rest of Phuket. Spectacular scenery, stunning tropical sunsets and warm blue sea awaits you at Asia’s most popular beach destination. This fun island provides an unbeatable combination of perfect silky soft white palm-lined beaches. Patong is the main tourist beach that offers the craziness and nightlife only Thailand can provide. Kata and Karon are both more relaxing and the beaches are some of the nicest in Phuket.
Diving possible between November and April.
Traveling during the monsoon season from April to October is not advisable due to the strong winds.
Air from Singapore, 1hr 30min minutes.
Bus from Airport to Chalong, about 1hour.
Boat from Chalong, 30min – 3 hours.
The dive sites off Phukets south coast are ideal for day trips as they are a couple of hours away from Chalong Phuket. There waters are warm,28C average, and have a marine environment rich in life of the Andaman Sea. They provide good diving for beginners, so it is good to do Open Water Courses as well as easy leisure diving.
Located off of Phuket’s east coast, the Racha Islands (Racha Yai and Racha Noi) provide excellent diving year round and are particularly suited for beginners. Sometimes called the Raya Islands, and featuring mild currents and shallow depths, these islands are perfect for those who’ve just finished their certification and are eager to explore the undersea world. The smaller of the islands, Racha Noi, also has some more challenging dive sites for the experienced diver.
Not everyone spells the Thai names of the islands the same way Racha is often spelled Rajah and Raya. The Phi-Phi Islands are also spelled Pee-Pee. When reading about local dive-sites It helps to learn a few Thai words Ao means beach, Ko (or Koh) means Island, Hin means Rock, Yai means large, and Noi means small. Racha Yai offers some of the best local year around dive-sites but the visibility varies as to the season. On the north end of the island are two beautiful little bays famous for their a deep clear water and colorful coral formations.
The more isolated of the two islands and is a popular dive-site for more experienced divers, as the depths are generally greater and the currents frequently stronger than at its sister island to the North. You will encounter huge underwater boulders that offer a good chance to see manta rays and whale sharks. The northern tip of the island offers an opportunity for a good multilevel dive along a large pinnacle where spotting larger marine life like Reef Sharks and Stingrays is common.
Off the southern point is a nice drift dive along some spectacular scenery as you find yourself on top of a large rock formation surrounded by deep water. On the southwest side there is a wooden ship-wreck that draws a lot of interesting reef fish. Racha Noi offers many opportunities for an enjoyable and rewarding deep-dive but due to the potential for strong currents here many of the dive shops will only bring divers here who have an advanced certification.
So named for the large numbers of docile leopard sharks that can be found around its base, shark point is a lovely dive site that absolutely teems with life. Fairly strong currents sweep the site’s two pinnacles, providing ample food for the large populations of coral that cling to the rocks. Although visibility is sometimes impaired, on a clear day it is one of the most densely packed ecosystems in Phuket.
A tiny jungle topped island between Phuket and Phi Phi, Koh Doc Mai is considered one of the best wall dives in the area. The island is a huge limestone rock that rises steeply out of the sea and the walls go down to about 27m. The sheer walls are occupied with a different creature in every nook and cranny while the west side is a gently sloping hard coral reef. This dive is noted for its variety of reef fish and an opportunity to view some of the resident Moray Eels. The east-side of the island is a garden of yellow tube corals and with small caves along the base of the wall ready for exploration.
The King Cruiser, a passenger ferry, sank on May 4th, 1997 apparently miles off course after striking the hazardous submerged pinnacle of Anemone reef while it was on it’s way to Koh Phi-Phi from Phuket. So far was the vessel off course, and so in need of a decent wreck diving site was Phuket, that local divers joked that the captain took a huge bribe to create a wreck for the divers. No one got hurt during the sinking and the King Cruiser lies on the sea bed 30m down. The top of the wreck is about 9-14m and the wreck attracts barracuda and whale sharks. Despite being a relatively shallow wreck, its location makes it unsuitable for begineners as the area often has strong currents and rough seas, so it is best for experienced recreational divers.
This unique dive-site is a largee lime-stone pinnacle that rising from the seabed of about 30m up to just beneathe the surface. This barely submerged reef is a well-known shipping hazard and is located less than a mile North of Shark Point. The Thai’s know the site as “Hin Jom” or underwater roc. It is not as colorful as Shark Point but Anemone Reef is famed for its vast fields of sea anemones that cling to every surface available. The anemeones creathe the illusion taht the rock is a living thing when they sway with the current as it passes.
The abundance of sea anemones and the nutrient-rich water attract to a constant stream of reef fish seeking food and shelter. Schools of parrotfish fish, snappers, groupers, and colorful clown fish live here. While the larger fish like tuna and barracuda, and leopard sharks can be seen passing by on occasion. Anemone Reef is also revered for the viewing lionfish sometimes encountered in-groups of twelve or more.
While technically located in Krabi waters, Phi Phi is easily reached from Phuket and its powder soft beaches and dramatic limestone cliffs make it a popular excursion for visitors to both provinces. The diving around Phi Phi is not as mind boggling as the Similans or Hin Daeng but it does offer a huge variety of dive experiences concentrated within a small area. Longtail boats abound to take you to sites filled with caves, swim-throughs and coral gardens. Mantas, whale sharks are sometimes spotted out at Bida Nok.