- Dive shops on Phuket
- Best time to travel
November to April
- Recommended diving suit
Shorty wetsuit, 3 mm
- Flight connection
Edelweiss recommendation: Similan Islands
Boasting heavenly diving conditions and visibility of up to 80 feet (25 m), the Similan Islands are among the most spectacular diving destinations in the Andaman Sea. Especially towards the end of the peak season, i.e. in April, sightings of numerous large fish, such as whale sharks or manta rays, are not unusual. The islands can be reached on diving safaris from Phuket or on day trips from Khao Lak (a two-hour drive from Phuket). The Similan Islands are an archipelago of nine islands located in the Mu Ko Similan National Park. Visitors should note that, for conservation reasons, the park is closed between May and October.
Top Diving Spots in Phuket
Phi Phi Islands diving
The Phi Phi Islands are located in the Andaman Sea and boast a slew of movie-worthy backdrops, including emerald-green water, pristine white beaches and a dazzling marine world. Divers have a choice of 15 dive sites to explore, all featuring vibrant reefs, rock faces and large fish. Encounters with turtles and small sharks (such as blacktip reef sharks or leopard sharks) are not uncommon. The Phi Phi Islands can be visited on day trips from Phuket for two to three dives. They are also highly suitable for novice divers and snorkellers. Many diving centres, including Sunrise Divers, will have Shark Point as one of the dive sites on their day trips.
Of sharks and sea anemones
Situated about 1.5 hours by boat from Phuket, Shark Point is a dive site that bears a scary name. However, contrary to what the name suggests, shark encounters are not commonplace. The reef crevices chiefly serve as nooks and crannies for leopard sharks and longtail carpet sharks to hide in. The real highlight of Shark Point is its dazzling soft corals, large sea fans, turtles and myriad shoals of fish. The Shark Point dive site is near Anemone Reef. The upper part of Anemone Reef is covered in a carpet of colourful sea anemones, hence its name. Except during a full or new moon, currents are not too strong at these dive sites. Shark Point is nevertheless unsuitable for novice divers.
Royal wreck diving
Anemone Reef is also the final resting place of Phuket’s largest wreck: the King Cruiser. In May 1997, the car and passenger ferry struck the reef and sunk. It soon became the new home of shoals of fish and is now one of Phuket’s most popular dive sites. The wreck offers plenty to see at depths of between 30 and 100 feet (10–30 m), including some areas to penetrate. Visibility is often limited and strong currents can be an issue, which is why this site is only recommended for experienced divers.
Whale sharks are drawn to Richelieu Rock
There is probably no stone more famous in Thailand than Richelieu Rock. The horseshoe-shaped rock in the Andaman Sea is one of the best dive sites in Thailand. The top of the rock is visible at low tide. Below the water, the rock extends to a depth of about 110 feet (35 m) and is covered in soft corals, attracting a mindboggling diversity of species. Due to strong currents and very little protection when circling around the rock, this dive site is not suitable for snorkelling or trial diving. Richelieu Rock is particularly famous for whale sharks, with almost daily sightings of these impressive marine giants between February and March. Many liveaboard trips from Phuket and day trips from Khao Lak will include Richelieu Rock as part of their tour. Sea Bees Diving offers both options. Their liveaboard trips from Phuket last six days and include Richelieu Rock, as well as many other well-known diving spots in the Surin Islands, such as Koh Bon and Koh Tachai.
Snorkelling around the Coral Islands
Heavenly conditions are an irresistible invitation to snorkel in Phuket and around the islands off its coast. Starting with Phuket, Laem Singh Beach and Freedom Beach feature crystal-clear water and fascinating marine life. We also recommend a trip to Koh Hae (Coral Island), some five miles from the southeastern tip of Phuket. Home to beautiful white-sand beaches, Koh Hae is popular with day trippers who visit the island by boat to snorkel. A good way to avoid the crowds is an overnight stay on the island at the Coral Island Resort, allowing you some peaceful early morning action or relaxation.
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The beginners’ island: Koh Racha Yai
The tropical island of Koh Racha Yai is surrounded by a hard coral reef. Protected, shallow bays provide clear water and good visibility. With water depths between 10 and 100 feet (3–30 m), the island is an ideal dive site for beginners and snorkellers. Many diving schools choose Koh Racha Yai for training purposes or for trial dives. The Racha Dive Center offers PADI diving courses on the island itself. Abundant shoals of fish inhabit the waters around Racha Yai. Divers are also likely to spot blue-spotted ribbontail rays in the sandy areas of the reef.