Guest post by Michelle Williams
Diving in ThailandD
iving is one of the major activities when visiting the islands and beaches of Thailand. The combination of clear and warm tropical waters, and the overall variety of marine flora and fauna makes Thailand a great destination for exploring the wonders of the underwater world.
A lot of the great dive spots are right off the beach, along rocky shorelines which makes diving in Thailand very beginner friendly. On top of that, you have numerous Thai dive spots that include old underwater wrecks.
All of Thailand’s top diving destinations will have dive shops and schools, making it unnecessary to bring your own equipment. Especially for snorkeling though, it is nice to have you own equipment when the opportunity arises. There are numerous options, should you want to use your own diving gear and perhaps you would also want to bring some underwater camera equipment to store your underwater memories.
Choosing the right diving location
It can be overwhelming to choose a holiday destination when you start researching, as you will surely be presented with numerous dive options in Thailand. Many of the diving destinations in Thailand are seasonal, meaning your time of travel will help determine which area to explore. Here, we break down the top dive spots to help you decide.
Koh Tao is located in the Gulf of Thailand, not far from two other famous islands Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Among these islands, Koh Tao is particularly popular among divers.
The diving in Koh Tao is recognized for its relatively easy waters and friendly reefs, perfect for beginner scuba divers. The island is one of the top destinations for scuba diving instruction in the world and the number of open water dive certificates handed out here each year is staggering. You will find an abundance of PADI certified diving schools. Another important factor in Koh Tao being the go-to diving destination in Thailand is the fact that the island offers year-round diving in good conditions.
On a lot of the islands beaches, you can snorkel or scuba dive from right off the beach, as the island provides plenty of rocks and reefs teeming with life.
Koh Chang lies in the eastern part of the Gulf of Thailand, not far from the borders of neighbouring Cambodia. Koh Chang and its surrounding islands are known for their lush green environments, being part of the Mu Koh Chang National Park.
Weather plays a role in this area, as the summer months and beginning of autumn sees a lot of rain. This means that from June to September the visibility decreases, so this is not the best time to go diving around Koh Chang.
Koh Chang has a number of wrecks for some exciting diving, as well as rocks in the shallow waters and reefs. The dive sites are mainly located to the west and south of the island.
The Similan Islands is a cluster of islands in the Andaman Sea, east of Khaolak. These islands have maintained their charm with only very basic camping grounds and bungalows on a couple of the islands.
Usually visitors to the area stay overnight on liveaboard packages or daytrips from the mainland, where the main theme is diving, snorkeling and some romantic castaway experiences. So while getting to this divespot may require a bit more planning, you will get fantastic memories to take back home.
The diving season is seasonal here, spanning from October to May, while the best conditions for diving are between November and February.
Phuket is Thailand’s most famous beach holiday destination, so naturally the area offers much more than just diving. This makes it a great vacation choice if you want a lot of activity options for you stay.
Phuket mostly serves as a hub for multiple diving sites in the area, where you jump onboard a boat and go on day trips to the best diving spots.
Just like the Similan Islands, the diving in the Phuket area is best from October to May, where the waters are more calm and visibility is highest.
Diving in Thailand Resources
For more information about Thailand, head straight to our main Thailand travel guide. For more information on diving resources, here are some excellent links:PADI’s Diving Guide to Thailand DivingSquad’s Diver’s Guide Ithaka’s Beginner’s Guide to Diving in Thailand
For a quick and easy overview of when to dive in each of Thailand’s top diving destinations, take a look at this table from Asia Dive Site: