For divers and snorkelers, Thailand is truly a paradise. The warm waters of the Andaman Sea to the west and the Gulf of Siam to the east are filled with tropical fish, coral reefs, and the occasional shipwreck. When it comes to holiday destinations for divers and snorkelers in Southeast Asia, Thailand is second to none. Here's a look at a few famous spots you might want to check out:
- Phuket: Phuket Island is home to the largest diving centre in all of Thailand. With an abundance of dive sites, Phuket is great for beginner divers, and its deep dives provide a good challenge for more experienced divers. There are coral reefs surrounding Phuket, and these are in fairly healthy condition. Around Phuket you'll find:
- Racha Yai – The most well-known dive site in the area, Racha Yai has sloping, rocky reefs surrounded by coral forests.
- Ter Bay – Divers enjoy visiting the shipwreck located between 25 and 35 metres down.
- Racha Noi – This area is great for more experienced divers who want a chance to test their mettle against strong currents and catch a glimpse of a whale shark, the largest animal on Earth.
- Koh Phi Phi or Phi Phi Island: Phi Phi Island is famous for serving as the setting for Leonardo DiCaprio's film, The Beach. Although Phi Phi Island doesn't have as many hotels as it did before the 2004 Tsunami, this might just make the island even quieter for divers and snorkelers looking for a relaxed holiday. If you want to explore the dive sites of the Andaman Sea, Phi Phi Island is a great place to start.
- Ao Nang and Railay Beaches: Located in Krabi Province on Thailand's mainland, these two beaches have a great range of dive sites, as well as plenty of accommodations. Hin Daeng, Hin Muang, the Ko Ha Islands, and the Shark Point Marine Sanctuary are all easily accessible from here. From Ao Nang, you can also reach the Phi Phi Island dive sites. Although Phi Phi Island provides closer access, Ao Nang caters to a more mature crowd.
- Shark Point Marine Sanctuary – The marine sanctuary consists of three different dive sites that can be visited in one trip. Inside the sanctuary, you'll also find the wreck of an 85 metre-long passenger ship that sunk in 1997. You can see both the ship and the anemone reef that sunk it, not to mention snappers, clown fish, tuna, barracuda, and, as the name suggests, an occasional leopard shark.
- Similan Islands: Without doubt, the Similan Islands are home to some of the best dive sites in all of Asia. Consisting of nine islands, the area is well-known for healthy, thriving reefs, the biodiversity of its marine life, and its unique and delicate coral. The Similan Islands provide access to:
- Sharkfin Reef – Best for more experienced divers, you'll see clown and half-moon trigger fish, surgeon fish, and more.
- Donald Duck Bay – The name's silly, but there's nothing silly about this beautiful site where divers and snorkelers can see crabs, octopus, and cuttlefish.
- Snapper Alley – Popular for nighttime dives, snapper alley is the nighttime hang out for various marine life to hide and sleep.
- Surin Islands: With a virtually untouched virgin reef that slopes down into the seabed and the famous Richelieu Rock, the Surin Islands are a fascinating spot for diving and snorkeling.
The diving and snorkeling sites listed above barely scratch the surface of unique underwater adventures in Thailand. You could visit Thailand once per year for a decade and still not see everything there is to the waters surrounding Thailand.