Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Thailand's Best Diving Areas Explained


Even the most biased Gulf of Thailand enthusiast would admit that, for pure diving reasons, the best places to dive in Thailand are on found the country's west coast, in the Andaman Sea. Yes, there can be some wonderful experiences to be had when diving from Koh Tao, and even Koh Chang, but the water depths, clarity and marine life mean that diving in The Similan Islands, or other Andaman Sea diving areas is generally and consistently better.


On the west coast of Thailand, there are two main areas where liveaboard diving boats sail around full of enthusiastic divers eager to jump in and see something special. These are west and northwest of Khao Lak, and south of Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta. Directly west of Khao Lak's Tab Lamu pier is the well-known Similan Islands archipelago. Eight main islands and dozens of islets are home to more than twenty fantastic dive sites, with sloping coral reefs or granite rock formations. To the northeast or the Similan Islands, and northwest of Tab Lamu, are Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon and Koh Tachai, the three making up Thailand's best diving spots for those who want to dive in clear waters and see large pelagic fish species. The third area is southeast of Phuket and south of Koh Lanta. Here Koh Haa and Hin Daeng make a very genuine alternative to liveaboard diving in the Similan Islands and northern sites.

The Similan Islands are basically uninhabited. There are a few park rangers who stay there to protect the national park. One or two islands in the far south of the chain are privately owned by the Thai royal family and Island 4 has a few bungalows and tents for tourists, but very few decide to stay there. The scuba diving at the Similan Islands is extreme enough for even the most daredevil scuba divers, which depths and currents to cater for every taste. However, there are also lots of opportunities for newly-certified divers to spend an hour underwater here. Even those who have never dived before can try scuba diving at the Similan Islands. The reefs are home to tens of thousands of colourful and exciting species, and the sea and weather conditions during the diving season are unbeatable. The liveaboard cruises, or scuba diving safaris as some call them, nearly always give guests several chances to venture onto the beaches and do a couple of hour's trekking or relaxing.

The northern sites, which include Richelieu Rock, are located at the border areas of Mu Ko Similan National Marine Park and Mu Ko Surin National Marine Park. Richelieu Rock is Thailand's best diving site, and one of the best in the world. It's easy to do three long dives there on the same day, but it's not suitable for night diving or snorkelling. Koh Tachai, a little further south and towards Khao Lak, is an uninhabited island with a pristine beach and a great and snorkel dive site offering probably the best chance in Thailand to see Manta Rays. Koh Bon, doesn't have a beach, but is also great for snorkelling and its two or more excellent dive sites are often visited by Manta Rays and other large and special fish species.

Finally, the southern dive sites are often overlooked by those looking for the best diving in Thailand on a liveaboard cruise. However, with Hin Daeng and Hin Muang on the itinerary, that is often a foolish presumption. These two sea mounts barely touch the sea's surface but are home to some very special members of the marine life community, and large sharks and rays often pay a visit. Koh Haa is nearer to the mainland, to the east of Hin Daeng and there are also some great dive sites for all levels of scuba diver.

Although some liveaboard cruises visit both the Similan Islands and the northern sites, these are normally 4D/4N trips. The two and three-day trips usually visit one or the other, but not both. Due to the extreme distances, very few (if any) liveaboard cruises are available to visit all three of these great diving areas in one trip. However, seven-day cruises on vessels such as the 'Flying Seahorse' do incorporate all three from time to time. For the best advice on which diving liveaboard safari is best in each circumstance, it's recommended to deal with an online agent who offers a large selection of boats which sail to all of them, and can therefore give unbiased information and help.

When choosing which is the best diving trip in Thailand who should you ask? Dive centers who own & run boats are usually hidden away from tourist areas. They rely on agents to sell their trips. Agents & direct sellers will naturally encourage customers to choose trips they sell. Therefore, finding an agent with a large selection of boats and helpful customer service is vital. Similan Diving Tours have more than thirty boats on offer, visiting all the best dive sites in Thailand. They have no affiliation with any particular boat or dive center, Similan Diving Tours always gives the most honest unbiased customer service & trips at unbeatable prices.

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