What better way to start Spring than to dream about your summer holidays?
You should never wish away the year, but when you’ve got the glorious loom of Thailand awaiting you, it’s pretty hard not to. Here at Oyster Diving, we’re crazy about everything that involves a snorkel, tank, or stunning location! So, with that in mind, I’ve hand-picked some of the best places in Thailand where you’ll be able to live-out your underwater exploratory fantasies.
The Andaman Sea
The Andaman Sea is perfect for beginner and adept divers alike. It’s warm and crystal clear waters that are aghast with colourful fish, corals and other exotic sea-dwelling wonders. The setting for this underwater paradise couldn’t be better, the surrounding tropical islands are enough to entice anyone to come here, even if you aren’t a fan of scuba-diving!
The Andaman Sea is renowned for being one of the best – if not the best – scuba-diving adventure areas in Thailand. It’s a fan favourite with the tourists and locals alike, and has been so for the past decade. \
Pros: Underwater photography (very clear), vibrant fish-life, good value for money, suits beginners and adept divers
Phuket’s diving experience lays elegantly in the Andaman sea. The main reason why Phuket’s diving scene is so popular is because you’re able to visit all of Thailand’s popular diving attractions. Regular live-aboard tours to the beautiful Similan Islands are another massive bonus.
Offering a vast array of local adventures, such as wall diving, discovering the sunken treasures of the King Cruiser wreck all whilst traversing through some truly unique underwater paradises. There’s also a chance to swim with manta rays, view dolphins and occasionally, even whales at Racha Noi South Point.
Keen photographers will be in their element due to the diverse range of fish, the two most popular attractions being cuttlefish and leopard sharks, both of which can be found at Koh Phi Phi or Shark Point.
The Phi Phi Islands are also a site to behold, whilst they do require a bit of travelling to get there, they’re very popular on dive trips. The islands provide incredible wall-diving experiences, splashing down to discover reef sharks, groupers and other exotic fish and squid. The trip is worth making for the scenery alone! Having the best diving platforms in all of Thailand made it difficult to leave Phuket out of this list. Not only that, but Phuket delivers wonders elsewhere, with its vibrant nightlife, incredible beaches and tourist attractions, you’d be silly to miss out Phuket!
Koh Samui Diving
Welcoming tourists since the 1970s, Koh Samui has evolved into one of the most loved and well-known tourism sports on the east coast of Thailand. Due to the fact that the Gulf of Thailand is somewhat protected from the major oceans in the region, it means that the diving sites can be visited all year round, without disturbances that would otherwise effect other larger diving zones.
The two most famous sites are Sail Rock and Chumphon Pinnacle, a fan favourite for more experienced divers, and has deservedly earned itself a place in my top diving sites list.
The colossal pinnacles, huge rock formations, sloping reefs and the phenomenal soft and hard corals make for a fantastic experience for all diving fanatics. The area is also known for its abundance of turtles and triggerfish!
If you’re feeling adventurous, Koh Tao isn’t too far away, and there’s plenty of opportunity to take day-trip diving tours here. Similarly, Koh Yippon – located to the north of the Angthong Marine National Park – graces you with a picturesque island, swarming with tropical trees, rocky landscapes, and that’s just above ground! The underwater experience is just as memorable, sea anemones and purple barrel sponges are native to this area, and both fish can be found in shallow waters, which makes it a great place for snorkelers.
The great thing about Koh Samui is that it’s a fantastic place for both non-divers and divers alike, as it offers a phenomenal snorkelling experience for the not-so-keen divers. Samui will always be one of Thailand’s most beloved tourist attractions, with its excellent hotels, resorts, vast array of beaches, thriving nightlife and of course the National Marine Park.
Phi Phi Islands
Strictly speaking, there are two islands – Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. These amazing islands sit comfortably, elegantly mirroring each other within the clear waters of Phang Nga Bay. You’d be hard done finding a more picturesque set of islands in the world.
Scuba-diving in Phi Phi ranks amongst the top 5 dive destinations in Thailand. The limestone rock faces assertively rise from the depths of the seabed and plunge straight back down to form what the islands are renowned for; their colourful soft coral walls.
With more than 15 dives sites and opportunities for exploration (caverns, caves, snorkelling zones) this is a scuba enthusiast’s heaven. Being surrounded by clouds of gorgonians and glassfish for example, wouldn’t be the worst introduction to scuba diving, would it? If this doesn’t convince you, then the seahorses, harbour pipefish and shrimpfish we be sure to keep you preoccupied during your underwater stay. Your diving experience in the Phi Phi Islands will differ to other areas of Thailand, due to the islands residing in the Krabi Province, making the sea life substantially different to other areas of Thailand.
The Phi Phi islands appeals to many people due to its range of water and land-based activities, it’s perfect for travellers, paradise seekers, holidays, and anything in-between.
Slightly ‘newer’ than the likes of the Phi Phi Islands and especially Koh Samui, Khao Lak has firmly established itself as a popular go-to diving zone for tourists and locals alike. With the Similan Islands only just across the Andaman Sea, Khao Lak is surrounded with natural diving exploration zones. Not only that, but Khao Lak’s underdeveloped coastline, beaches and forests means that this area hasn’t been ‘commercialised’ as much as other diving resorts, making it a more immersive experience.
The most regularly visited area in Khao Lak is the Bunsoong Wreck. This is a renowned artificial reef where you’re immediately introduced to barracuda, snappers, moray eels and trevallies. The most recent sunken wreck is the Premchai Tin Dredger – sinking in 2001 only 21 metres below sea level, making it an ideal alternative diving area. Similarly, the Sea Chart I, is located here. Found 40 metres below sea level, it makes for another idea diving location for both beginners and adepts. This wreck is home to rainbow runners, batfish, frogfish, lionfish, nudibranchs and even octopus and the rare ghost pipefish.
This is the ideal diving location if you want to get away from the commercialism that Phuket is known to represent. Diving holidays in Khao Lak are best suited for families, couple get-aways and adventurous divers. I hope you enjoyed my list! If there are any locations within Thailand that you’ve particularly enjoyed experiencing, do let me know in the comments below.