Thailand has arguably the best diving spots in the world with exceptional underwater visibility and a vast variety of marine and coral life. The Thai coastline is divided into two areas which experience different diving conditions over different times of the year. The Andaman Sea is situated on the west coast of Thailand and tends to experience its best diving conditions between the months of November and April when the monsoon rains are not present. On the other side of the spectrum lies the Gulf of Thailand on the eastern coastline. Here, monsoon rains are experienced from November through to April and experience the best diving conditions between May and September.
Diving trips can be enjoyed via liveaboard boat trips which include accommodation and food during your stay aboard and range from 3 day to 10 day trips. One can also enjoy day trips to certain islands via speedboat from the Thai mainland or popular tourist islands.
For your convenience, we have picked out the top 5 diving hotspots throughout Thailand.
The Similan Islands consists of 9 minute islands which all show off their white sandy beaches to diving enthusiasts. This set of islands contain arguable the best diving spots found in Thailand and lie within the Mu Koh Similan Marine National Park. There is a massive variety of marine life to be seen here notably Leopard Sharks, Black Tip and White Tip Reef Sharks, Batfish, Barracudas, Triggerfish and a great deal more. Gigantic boulders are very much predominant throughout the Similan Islands with Elephant Island being most notable for its topographic nature. Other “must see” and popular spots within this chain of islands are West of Six and Christmas Point. The Similan Islands contain about 25 diving spots so a liveaboard boat trip is highly recommended for a visit to the islands. That being said, if money or time is not on your side, day trips are available from Koh Lak or Phuket. The diving season for the Similan Islands runs from November through to May while the best time of year to visit is from between February and April. The area is suitable for both snorkelling and scuba diving, has a visibility of 20 to 40 metres and is recommended for intermediate to advanced divers. Photo by Similan Dive Centre
Hin Daeng and Hin Muang
With an underwater visibility of between 20 and 40 metres, these two neighbouring islands boast an array of mantas, Whale Sharks, and a variety of smaller fish and marine life. Hin Daeng, nicknamed Red Rock, and Hin Muang (Purple Rock), are well-renowned for their soft red and purple coral respectively. They both lie to the south of Phuket within the Mu Koh Lanta National Marine Park. One can access these two scuba diving havens via shorter liveaboard boat trips from Phuket or day trips by speedboat from Koh Phi Phi. These two gems are most suitable for advanced divers and should be visited between the months of November and April when the monsoon rains are not present. Photo by Sea You Again
This diving spot is most recognised for its vast quantity of Whale Sharks and is regarded by many diving enthusiasts as “Whale Shark territory”. Plankton are ever so present in this massive diving region bringing about a significant quantity of marine life, especially the larger fish. Richelieu Rock lies just south of the Burmese border and to the east of the Sulin Islands. This diving region is recommended for intermediate to advanced divers and a liveaboard trip will be your best bet (from either Phuket or Khao Lak), although this area can be accessed via speed boat from Khao Lak. Photo by Thailand Dive and Sail
Unlike the Similan Islands, which boast an array of soft coral havens, the Surin Islands are recognised as the number 1 hard coral diving spot in Thailand. The Surin Islands are well renowned for the rare and unique marine life that are not found in other Thai diving hotspots. Be prepared to dive alongside rare fish species such as Yellow-marked Angle Fish, Tomato Clownfish and Barramundi, Napolean Wrasse, Bumphead Parrot Fish and a ton of turtles. Due to the shallow depths of some of the reefs found here, snorkelling is very popular and the region is appropriate for beginners. The islands lie just south of the Myanmar (Burmese) border and slightly further up from the Similan Islands.
A great feature about this diving location is its remoteness – one can easily escape the tourist crowds and enjoy some peace and quiet whilst diving. The area is protected by the Koh Surin Marine National Park and contains some lush jungle scenery on the islands making it stand out amongst the rest of the diving islands around Thailand. Popular diving spots include South East Point and Koh Turinla. The diving season for the Surin Islands is open from mid-October to early May but the best time of year to visit this region is from December through to April. Access to this diving region usually includes a visit to the Similan Islands due to its remoteness but one can find out more here. Photo by Dive Heads
The Gulf of Thailand
Koh Tao is regarded as the top diving region in the gulf of Thailand. It is very popular for beginners, as the area welcomes some of the most reasonable PADI Open Water diving courses for young travellers and some of the most suitable and calm conditions for beginners. Koh Tao is also a popular spot for experienced divers who come to train to become professional divers and is also a hotspot for those experienced divers seeking a laid back work abroad experience working as diving instructors. Angle Fish, Yellowtail, Barracuda, Triggerfish, Whale Sharks, a lot of turtles, and more are ever so present around the diving spots along the coast of Koh Tao. Diving hotspots to venture out to include Shark Island, White Rock, Green Rock, Hin Wong Pinnacle, and Chumpon Pinnacle. The diving season is open year round although the best time of year to visit Koh Tao for diving purposes is from May to September. Photo by Travel Moments
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