Boasting a tropical setting, vibrant culture, thriving food scene and exotic beaches, Thailand is a perfect destination for a summer vacation. Besides laying down under the palm trees or swimming in the turquoise beaches, visitors should not miss the most exciting activity here: SCUBA DIVING. The Land of Smiles also offers some of the best diving sites in the world, thanks to its crystal-clear waters and fantastic marine life.
For any underwater enthusiasts, here is a list of the 5 best scuba diving sites in Thailand, where you can either swim side by side with the majestic manta rays, the whale sharks, discover coral-encrusted caves or explore some hidden wrecks.
Location: Similan National Marine Park
Highlights: Manta rays, Blacktip & Whitetip reef sharks, and Leopard sharks
Similan Islands are an archipelago of nine different islands, located within the premises of the Similan National Marine Park. With diverse marine species, magnificent underwater landscapes with intricate maze-like rock formations composed of swim-throughs, beautiful coral gardens and deep rocky gorges, no doubt it’s the prime diving spot that Thailand has to offer. Moreover, the warm waters, good visibility and easy diving conditions make this destination the perfect choice for any newbie-drivers. Adding a thrill to your diving experience, Similan Islands are also home to a good number of Manta rays, Blacktip, Whitetip reef sharks, and Leopard sharks.
The best way to dive in the area is to join a liveaboard, which will take you to some notable spots including Elephant head or (Hin Pusar), Christmas Point and Fantasea Reef.
Location: Mu Koh Surin marine park, in the Andaman Sea, about 70 km from Khao Lak
Highlights: Whale sharks and Manta rays
If you are looking for the best diving sites in Thailand, Richelieu Rock must be your best bet. This isolated pinnacle is part of the Mu Koh Surin marine park and about 70 km from Khao Lak. When the tide is low, we can even see the top of the rock, which will be submerged at high tide. The Richelieu Rock is shaped in horseshoe form and offers dramatic rock formations as well as pinnacles, overhangs and mystic caves. The area is so huge that it requires two dives to fully explore the underwater life down there. But don’t worry, the bountiful nature in Richelieu Rock is worth every effort. Besides some macro creatures and critters such as Porcelain crabs, Tiger Tail Seahorses, Pipefishes, Harlequin Shrimp, you can also have a great chance to spot the Whale Sharks and Manta Rays.
You can dive in Richelieu Rock through a liveaboard or if you don’t have a lot of time, a day trip from Phuket or Khao Lak might be other great options.
Location: Koh Tao, Koh Nang Yuan
Highlights: Large schools of fish, colorful reef
Situated only about 12 km away from Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan, Chumphon Pinnacle is one of the island’s finest diving spots. It is a long, large granite pinnacle carpeted with sea anemones - home to various fish species, white moray eels, crabs, and shrimps. Along the way down from the top, you can see huge schools of juvenile yellow-tailed barracudas, trevallies, bannerfish and big-eyed jacks all swirling or hunting around.
Located south-west off the main Pinnacle is the Barracuda rock, a perfect spot for any macro creature and critter lovers. Depending on the season, whale sharks will pay you a visit too. But if not, this underwater playground always has something to see.
This site can be reached by a scenic 45-minute boat journey from the mainland of Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan.
Location: Mu Koh Lanta National Park
Highlights: Cave dive, Manta Rays, Gray reef Sharks, Leopard sharks and Whale Sharks
Hin Daeng (Red Rock) and Hin Muang (Purple Rock) are two world-class dive sites located in the Mu Koh Lanta National Park and are just 500 m away from each other. Because of the strong current, these spots are only recommended for advanced divers with required certificates. The incredible marine life and the clear visibility make these spots a dream come true for most divers.
While diving between the steep walls covered with soft corals, spotting some jacks, moray eels and tiny silversides, remember to watch out for Manta Rays, Gray reef sharks, Leopard sharks and even the Whale sharks, which are also hanging around here.
These 2 spots are easily accessed by boat from Koh Lanta or by speedboat from Koh Phi Phi. You can dive here all year round, so get ready for some exceptional diving experiences!
Location: Koh Tao
Highlights: Shipwreck, rich marine life
For any history lovers, this diving spot is a must-visit during your Thailand trip. The HTMS Sattakut, formerly known as USS LCI (M) -739), was an infamous assault ship of the U.S. Navy in World War II. After being commissioned into the Thai Navy as HTMS Sattakut in 1946, the ship was completely stripped and cleaned of any hazardous materials and then donated to Koh Tao to become an artificial diving site project in 2011.
As this shipwreck lies at a maximum depth of between 27 and 30 meters, while the top is at a depth of 19 meters, only advanced divers or those doing their Advanced Adventurer course are allowed to dive here.
Nowadays, it has turned into a home for various marine species such as barracudas, groupers, fusiliers, blennies and moray eels.
You only need a short 15-20-minute boat ride to reach the diving site from the Mae Haad pier.
These five diving spots will ensure an exceptional adventure into the world beneath the sea. Besides, Thailand is also the ideal destination for other exciting activities, which can spike up your adrenaline levels such as ATV riding in the jungle, white water rafting on the river and kayaking in the hidden lagoons. All can be found right here, in our “ADVENTUROUS THAILAND” tour.