With reefs and shipwrecks a plenty, it’s not hard to see why Thailand’s such a popular destination for diving aficionados. Here are five of the best diving spots not to be missed.
1. Richelieu Rock, Surin Islands
Home of the big boys, expect to run into whale sharks, rays, barracuda and all manner of large sharks. And that is just the beginning.
2. Shark Fin Reef, Similan Islands
Does as it says on the tin: leopard and reef sharks a plenty. The highlight: a humphead parrotfish weighing in at a huge 100kg.
3. Hin Pusar (Elephant Head Rock), Similan Islands
With lots of tunnels, caverns and gullies, there are a lot of beautiful fish hiding in the dark cracks. And, of course, black and white reef sharks.
4. Hin Daeng (Red Rock)
Situated way out into the Andaman, best to get here by liveaboard from Koh Lanta. It shall be worth the effort when eyes are clapped on whale sharks and manta rays.
5. Hin Mouang (Purple Rock)
Again, another one of our secret gems, Hin Mouang is also quite a distance out into the Andaman, but not far from Hin Daeng. Expect the same, but with grey reef sharks thrown in to boot.
Black Tomato’s tips for diving in Thailand:
- Thailand has two different coasts, the Andaman on the west and the Gulf of Thailand on the east, each with its own rainy season so be sure to check the weather before planning your dive to get the best visibility. Between October and April there isn’t much rainfall on the Andaman coast, while the Gulf is optimum between May and September.
- Reserve your dives well beforehand as between November and March – the tourist high season – tours can be booked up days or even weeks in advance.
- Ko Tao is a prime spot for getting a PADI certificate as thousands flock there, flippers in hand, each year to do a course. Before choosing which course you’d like, consider the dive sites, the size of the class and have a chat with the instructor if possible.
- If you’re planning a post-party diving detox in Ko Tao after a Full Moon Party, reserve your ferry tickets a few days ahead as it’s a popular thing to do.
- Check with your tour before departure whether gear is included or not as you may have to hire from a separate dive center.
- When planning dives in busy spots like Phuket or Ko Phi Phi, there can be dozens to hundreds of dive stores offering trips. A lot are just akin to a booking agent and will simply reserve your dive with another, bigger operator so store around. More professional outfits will operate their own boats.
- Devoted divers often opt for liveaboard trips which offer a taste of life at sea for anything between three to ten days – sleep and eat on the boat and you can dive up to four times a day. Floating on Thailand’s turquoise waters for days at a time – where do we sign up?