Phuket Dive Sites
Phuket’s West Coast
The west coast of Phuket Island consists of reasonably healthy reefs and a surprising amount of marine life. Visibility is usually fine but the weak currents and relatively shallow depths afford a great location for dive training and snorkeling. Sites such as Freedom Beach, Paradise Beach, Bang Tao, Koh Pu (near Kata Beach), Nui Beach and Laem Phrom Thep are easily accessed from the shore or via a short longtail boat ride.
A completely submerged pinnacle about 1km north-west from Shark Point. As the name suggests, the area is completely covered in green, pink and brown sea anemones. Adding to the beauty of the underwater vista are large clusters of radiant soft corals and gorgonian sea fans. These provide homes for an abundance of fish and invertebrates. Lionfish can often be seen here in large numbers.
Also known as Koh Hae, this island is one of the most popular year-round day trip destinations from Phuket, due to its proximity (about 9kms from Chalong or Rawai), and sheltered location. Visibility is never excellent here, although the large variety of reef fish and healthy hard coral growth make this a decent site for beginners and snorkelers. Non-diving day-trippers can make this area quite busy during the high season.
(For general information see Coral Island destination guide).
Hin Daeng & Hin Muang
These two pinnacles are located about 60kms to the south of Phi Phi, completely surrounded by the open sea and 15kms from the nearest island. These sites are a favoured destination for short live-aboards out of Phuket and Phi Phi.
King Cruiser Wreck
The King Cruiser was an 85m catamaran-style ferry that ran regular trips between Phuket and Phi Phi. The ship sunk on May 4, 1997 without loss of life in calm seas after tearing its hull on a shoal, apparently due to a simple navigational error. This provided Phuket’s divers with a great wreck dive which Phuket had been conspicuously lacking. The wreck lies approximately 1km south-east from Shark Point. A large variety of marine life has been attracted to the wreck, although coral growth will take some time.
Koh Doc Mai
Meaning “Flower Island” in Thai, this small jungle topped island has imposing cliffs that tower above the sea. 20kms from Chalong and half-way between Phuket and Shark Point, there is some great wall-diving here, with beautiful scenery from the surface right to the bottom. A spectacular dive when visibility is good, with a large assortment of marine life including leopard sharks and pelagics.
Popular with divers on day trips and as well as those who come to stay on Phi Phi Don, the largest of the Phi Phi islands, the underwater scenery in the area is as spectacular as it is above water. Often considered too busy by serious divers who prefer quieter dive sites, there are good reasons for its popularity. The area has some excellent dive sites. In particular, the islands offer several cave dives and many impressive wall dives. Currents are generally weak and though visibility is fair, it’s rarely excellent.
For those staying on Phi Phi Don, there are a plethora of dive operators to choose from, as well as plenty of longtail boats in Ton Sai Bay, which you can charter for trips to nearby islands and dive sites.
(For general information see Phi Phi destination guide).
Also known as the Raya Islands, this group of islands 20km south from Phuket, is made up of Racha Yai and Racha Noi islands.
A beautiful tropical island with a lot of good hard coral reefs, great visibility and easy diving year round. The bigger of the two, ‘Yai’ means big in Thai, the island is great for novices and snorkelers
“Little Racha” actually consists of two islands further to the South of Racha Yai. The area also enjoys great visibility, but offers more in the way of rugged underwater scenery with giant underwater boulders and a great chance to see manta rays and whale sharks. Currents can be quite strong and unpredictable with occasional down-currents.
(For general information see Racha Islands destination guide).
Shark Point (Hin Mu Sang)
Named after the leopard sharks that can usually be seen lying on the sandy bottom, the site consists of three pinnacles which are densely covered in marine life. About 30kms east from Chalong, Shark Point is justifiably one of the most renowned dive spots in the Phang Nga area and as a consequence there are usually a fair number of divers here. Visibility is fair to good, usually averaging 8-12m but can be as good as 25m. The area is protected as part of the Hin Mu Sang Fisheries Reserve that also includes Anemone Reef to the northwest.
Widely recognized as the best diving area in Thailand, this group of nine islands, located about 100km north-west of Phuket, possesses some of the healthiest reefs in South-East Asia. With a huge array of hard and soft coral, an amazing variety of marine life, the Similans is one of the most beautiful places in Thailand, both above and below the water.
The area is designated as the Similans National Marine Park. During the dry season it is possible to stay on Koh Miang, or take live-aboard trips from Phuket and Khao Lak. There are also day trips to the Similans involve a 2 hour journey by hydrofoil each way. The national park is officially closed from May to October, although there are limited live-aboards to the area from June to October, depending on weather conditions and level of interest.
(For general information see Similan Islands destination guide).
The Surin Islands are a group of five islands off the coast of Ranong province, just below the land border between Thailand and Myanmar. The area was designated a national marine park in 1981 and like the Similan Islands, the area’s dive sites are accessed almost exclusively via live-aboards. The best known site is Richelieu Rock, a limestone pinnacle surrounded by several smaller ones, covered with a profusion of purple and pink gorgonians. This highly rated site is regarded as one of the best places in the world to see whale sharks.
(For general information see Surin Islands destination guide).
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