Under the sea in Thailand a whole new world awaits diving adventurers, and it’s no surprise considering both the quality of the dive sights and the dive services in the country. Diving in Thailand is an absolute must if you’re visiting the country, or planning to stay for a little while, and if you forgo an opportunity to see what waits below, you are definitely missing out.
Thailand’s Diving History
Surprisingly, diving never happened in Thailand until the American Navy SEALs bought the practice to the country during the Vietnam war, and even then the first dive shop didn’t open until 1977. It opened in Pattaya, which became a massive hub for Thai and foreign divers, leading to the sport exploding all over Thailand.
Phuket was the next big hub, and the Similan Islands were a big draw in the Andaman Sea. Today, they’re ranked as some of the best dive sites in the world, and diving is only getting more and more popular in the country, now considered one of the best places to dive in Asia.
But where else can you dive in beautiful Thailand?
Tarutao National Park – Koh Lipe
The Tarutao National park is one of Asia’s oldest marine parks, and despite the 2004 tsumani the reefs are in very good condition. There are around 30 uninhabited islands and hundreds of amazing reefs within a short trip of the dive shops on Koh Lipe.
Famous dive sites include 8 Mile Rock, Stonehenge and Koh Pung where divers can experience the thrill of seeing sharks and manta rays as well as the famous whale sharks that migrate through the area. Even inexperienced divers will likely see hawksbill turtles, incredible gorgonian sea fans, and a plethora of colorful soft corals.
Phuket and Koh Phi Phi
Once the most famous dive site in Thailand, there’s still a lots to keep divers entertained around this island. This includes the limestone wonder of Koh Doc Mai and the well-known Racha Yai, where many beginner divers get their first diving experiences. There’s even a wreck at a depth of 15-25 metres within the Racha Yai area called Ter Bay.
Also in easy reach of Phuket is the Koh Phi Phi National Marine Park. This is yet another famous dive site (there are no shortages of these in Thailand), where divers will find impressive rock formations, an overwhelming abundance of marine life and both hard and soft corals in excellent condition.
Although there are no sites on the actual island of Koh Lanta, it remains a popular diving area due to its proximity to the Hin Daeng and Hin Muang sites. These sites were in the past a part of an underwater study that catalogued an incredible 200 hard corals and 108 reef fish, but there are thousands more to be found there.
Hin Daeng is home to the deepest drop in Thailand, where the ridge falls more than 50 meters. Hin Muang on the other hand is comprised of a series of pinnacles, and also features a massive drop (although not quite reaching the depth of Hin Daeng). It is famous for the soft violet-colored coral that grows on the reef walls.
Ko Tao remains one of the most famous diving centres in Thailand at the present time, and certainly the biggest in the Gulf of Thailand. Its close proximity to the Ang Thong National Marine Park, and its incredible selection of dive providers make Koh Tao a site popular with everyone from novice to experienced divers.
Most of the year visibility around Koh Tao can be as much as 40 metres, which is perfect to see some of the best dive sites in the area. These include the Chumphon Pinnacles, huge granite pinnacles covered with sea anemones and pink anemone fish, as well as the occasional school of barracuda. The Japanese Gardens is also a popular site, where shallow seas and calm waters make it perfect for beginners and snorkelers.
Diving is a perfect activity to be involved in when you’re in Thailand thanks to the country’s agreeable weather, which allows for incredible experiences from November to April and June to September in the Andaman Sea, and from May to September in the Gulf of Thailand. This makes it a great spot to dive almost all year around. Of course during the rare times that you can’t dive, the Thai beaches will likely keep you more than occupied.