Phuket Dive Sites

The Similan Islands

Similan Islands

The Similan Islands are by far the most spectacular group of dive sites that Thailand has to offer and are on par with some of the best diving destinations worldwide.

 

 

  • 9 Granite Islands
  • Granite Boulders, Swimthroughs, Overhangs
  • Bat Fish, Jacks, Rays, Leopard Sharks, Tropicals
  • Mild to Strong Currents
  • 20 to 40 Meters Visibility
  • Supervised Beginners to Advanced Divers

 

Located about one hundred kilometres northwest of Phuket, the Similans consist of nine granite islands covered in lush, tropical, jungle foliage, surrounded by sparkling clear blue oceans. The beaches are made up of the finest white powdery sand and literally melt into the warm tropical waters.

The underwater scenery features beautiful hard and soft coral gardens. As well you will find huge granite boulders and dramatic rock formations including: holes, overhangs, swimthroughs and canyons. Drift diving is possible here as divers use the current to propel them along the vibrantly rich reefs teeming with unusual and interesting marine life.

Koh Tachai

Koh Tachai

The island of Koh Tachai lies about 20 nautical miles South of Richelieu Rock and can be another great spot for Manta Rays. The dive site is a submerged sea mount with depths from 14-35m, and currents can be quite strong.

 

  • Pinnacles & Islands
  • Hard & Soft Corals
  • Whale Sharks, Manta Rays, Other Pelagic’s
  • Moderate to Strong Currents
  • 10 to 30 Meters Visibility
  • Advanced Divers

 

The top of the reef is a beautiful mixture of hard corals, while deeper regions consist of scattered boulders and sea fans. Leopard sharks are commonly found resting on the bottom, while schools of barracuda and batfish cruise around the reef.

Shark Point

Shark Point

Hin Musang ( Shark Rock, as it translates ), rises out of the water from the surrounding depths of 18-20 meters. Considering the small extent of the rock above water, the actual size of the reef underwater is a big surprise to most divers. Beginning from the relatively steep main rock pinnacle, the reef flattens out to the south rising two more times to just below the surface at the other two pinnacle that make up the reefs structure.

  • Limestone Pinnacle
  • Gardens of Hard & Soft Corals
  • Tropicals, clownfish, Leopard Sharks
  • Moderate to Strong Currents
  • 10 to 20 Meters Visibility
  • All Levels of Divers

 

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The second pinnacle, depending on the currents is an excellent place to start the dive. Like many places in Thailand, Shark Point’s most colorful feature is the profusion of the purple and pink soft corals that cling to the rock. The currents sweeping over the pinnacle’s provide food a-plenty for the hundreds of different species of hard corals and limitless tropical fish species. The name of the site comes from the common Leopard (Zebra) Shark (Stegastoma Varium), a docile creature that can be found lying in the sandy bottom surrounding the pinnacles. These completely reachable, trusting sharks grow to a length of a little over 2 meters, and most divers think that they are one of the "cutest" sharks in the ocean.

Divers that are not accustomed to seeing sharks are genuinely surprised at how big and approachable they are. Because they are nocturnal feeders, they are very approachable during the day, especially for u/w photos. The sharks aren’t the only attraction here though, Shark Point is one of the richest and most vivid dive spot around, with it’s stunning soft corals, fan corals and anemones.

King Cruiser Wreck

King Cruiser

The King Cruiser joined Phukets available dive sites in May 1997. Originally used as a ferry for transportation between Phuket and Phi Phi Islands.

After a miscalculation, the King Cruiser struck Anemone Reef which resulted in a large tear in her hull, slowly but surely she began to sink and finally came to rest approximately 1 mile to the east of Shark Point.

  • Car Ferry Wreck
  • Artificial Reef
  • Barracuda, Jacks, Tuna, Fusiliers
  • Mild to Strong Currents
  • 10 to 20 Meters Visibility
  • Supervised Beginners to Advanced Divers

 

King Cruiser

Fortunately local authorities where quick to respond to her impending doom and all persons on board where rescued without any incidents, however it has provided us with a fascinating wreck dive. Over the years the marine life has slowly but surely made this new location their home, with large schools of big mouth mackerels cruising the outside, you can also find schools of five line snappers, yellow tail barracuda, fusiliers and seasonally big eye trevally.

With a loading deck that extends her length and width, the King Cruiser allows for a fascinating swim through her entire length, in the loading deck you can find banner fish, scorpion fish, puffers, and varieties of angel fish.

With a length of 82 meters and a width of 25 meters, the King Cruiser sits upright reaching a depth of 32 meters at the stern to 12 meters at the wheelhouse, making for an easy and enjoyable wreck dive.

Phi Phi Island

Phi Phi Island

In recent years Phi Phi Island has gained a reputation as a spectacular tourist destination, one of the ten most beautiful islands in the world. But most people still don’t realize that Phi Phi is equally beautiful underwater.Phi Phi Island and the surrounding Phang-Nga Bay are spectacular limestone rocks created thousands of years ago. Many rise dramatically upward with sheer sides and have numerous caves where fearless men on bamboo scaffolding climb up to gather swallows nests (nok nang ann) for bird’s nest soup.

  • Limestone Islands
  • Hard & Soft Corals, Seafans
  • Tropicals | Octopus | Leopard Sharks
  • Moderate Currents
  • 10 to 20 Meters Visibility
  • All Levels of Diver, Good for Beginners

 

Koh Phi Phi

To the north, in Phang Nga Bay, is one of the worlds largest mangrove tracts, and it is in this dark and muddy sanctuary that an surprising amount of colorful reef fish are born and reared. In fact, without the mangrove providing shelter and food to so many marine species, the spectacular underwater landscape you are about to see on your first dive wouldn’t exist.

Koh Phi Phi

But enough marine biology for now, it’s time to get wet! The dive sites vary enormously, ranging from sheer walls with a different creature in every nook and cranny, to craggy rock outcroppings surrounded by a smooth sandy bottom. Because of the abundance of nutrients in the water, these sites are rich in filter feeding mollusks such as clams, giant oysters and scallops. Golden gorgonian fans wave in the currents, while crinoids, starfish and anemones cling to every available surface.

This is the perfect place to get out your macro lens and try and find a rare pink and white nudibranchs. If you’re lucky, you may spot something at the very top of the chain: "shallam wan" (whaleshark!). The largest fish in the sea, they actually feed on plankton. No need to worry, just take it easy and enjoy a truly spectacular sight.

Koh Bon

Koh Bon

Koh Bon is only a short cruise North of the Similan Islands and is without doubt the best site for Manta Rays. The dive site follows a ridge, covered in pastel shaded soft corals, which drops to depths of 35-40m.

 

  • Pinnacles & Islands
  • Hard & Soft Corals
  • Whale Sharks, Manta Rays, Other Pelagic’s
  • Moderate to Strong Currents
  • 10 to 30 Meters Visibility
  • Advanced Divers

 

Mantas are often spotted over the ridge or in the deep water to the South. Leopard sharks are also common in the deeper water and this is a good location to find the elusive purple fire goby.

Richelieu Rock

Richelieu Rock

Some 50 nautical miles North of the Similan Islands lies one of the best known dive sites in Asia. Just breaking the surface at low tide, Richelieu Rock is probably your best chance to have the whale shark experience.

 

  • Pinnacles & Islands
  • Hard & Soft Corals
  • Whale Sharks, Manta Rays, Other Pelagic’s
  • Moderate to Strong Currents
  • 10 to 30 Meters Visibility
  • Advanced Divers

 

Some years ago, this site was regarded as a “whale shark magnet”, and while this is somewhat of an exaggeration, they still visit regularly. Other large pelagics such as eagle and manta rays are common visitors.

The site is huge and most live-aboards will schedule more than one dive here. The sheer variety of life is amazing. Huge schools of trevallies and barracudas cruise the currents, and many tiny critters such as frogfish, ghost pipefish and seahorses are hiding in cracks and crevices.

Richelieu Rock is one of the finest sites in Thailand.

Anemone Reef

Anemone Reef

Hin Jom ( Submerged Rock, as it translates ) lies just below the waters surface, about 600 meters to the north of Shark Point. As the Thai name makes it clear, no part of the pinnacle is exposed, and under water the pinnacle drops off more dramatically to a depth of between 20-27 meters until reaching a bottom of sand and oyster shells.

Although not as colorful as Shark Point, the marine life here is excellent, and our friends the Leopard sharks, are often seen free-swimming at the top of the pinnacle in 6 meters of water.

  • Limestone Pinnacle
  • Gardens of Hard & Soft Corals
  • Tropicals, clownfish, lionfish
  • Moderate to Strong Currents
  • 10 to 20 Meters Visibility
  • All Levels of Divers

 

Anemone Reef

The english name for this dive site is derived from the profusion of Sea Anemone’s that cling to the edges providing a magnificent back drop of colour from the Sammler clown fish that make this their home. This site also acts as a haven to snappers and groupers and attracts larger game fish like tuna and jack, sometimes even larger pelagics can be seen passing by.

Location of both sites just south of Ao Phangnga and all of it’s fresh water rivers, means visibility averages around 10 meters, sometimes less during Phukets rainy season. Although conditions such as this are not what divers dream of when they think of the “perfect dive,” the amount of marine life more than makes up for it. On days when the water becomes gin clear, diving here feels like taking a breath of fresh air.

Racha Islands

Racha Islands

Due South of Phuket lie two classic tropical islands, Koh Racha Yai ( Big Racha ) and Koh Racha Noi ( Little Racha ). Both islands feature fringing hard coral reefs with an abundance of fish life, including octopus, cuttle fish, and moray eels. You can always find territorial triggerfish and large schools of blue line and yellow tail snapper. Both Islands are especially good for non-divers, plenty of shallow bays with big coral heads – ideal snorkeling territory.

  • Granite Island
  • Gardens of Hard and some Soft Corals
  • Tropicals, Turtles, Stingrays, Moray Eels
  • Moderate Currents
  • 15 to 25 Meters Visibility
  • All Levels of Diver, Good for Beginners

 

Racha Islands

Racha Yai’s best diving is off its east coast which makes it especially attractive during Phukets off season in the summer. Although visibility varies, it is normally around 15 meters all year and during the high season it reaches 25 meters or more.

A typical dive is a gentle drift along the sloping rocky face that is sprinkled with hard coral forests of many, many varieties. Especially prominent are stag horn corals of blue and tan.

Racha Islands

Many times there are large schools of barracuda hovering just outside the reef, while on the reef itself you’ll see octopus and cuttlefish, in addition to the many other tropical marine life that is in abundance throughout this location.

There is also a wooden shipwreck sitting on a sandy bottom at a depth of 24 meters on the northeastern coast of the island, another enjoyable dive.

Racha Islands

Not much grows on the wreck as yet, but it attracts large amounts of reef fish, and Bat fish in large schools are common for the u/w photographer. The diving here is generally drift diving so it allows a diver relax full viewing of all the splendors that these sites have to offer.

Koh Doc Mai

Koh Doc Mai

Koh Doc Mai is a limestone island that rises vertically from the seabed.

Some say it looks like a muffin with the jungle clad top flowing out over the sheer cliffs.

 

  • Limestone Islands
  • Garden of Hard & Soft Corals
  • Tropicals, Moray Eels, Octopus, Sharks
  • Moderate to Strong Currents
  • 10 to 15 Meters Visibility
  • All Levels of Diver

 

Koh Doc Mai

Although the visibility at this site is generally not as good as others, this dive is noted for the variety of reef fish and as such you might be lucky enough to encounter Leopard Sharks, Moray Eels, Octopus and Turtles. The east-site of the island consists of a vibrant garden of yellow tube corals as well as two small caverns.

Koh Doc Mai is located on the way to Shark Point and offers an interesting alternative to the pinnacle dives as it is one of the best wall dives in the area.

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