Thailand has so many world class dive sites, it can be difficult deciding which ones to visit. Here's a quick overview to help you make your choice.
I was flicking through Paul Lees' excellent book The Dive Sites Of Thailand recently and marvelling at the literally hundreds of dive sites around Thailand's coastline that are worth visiting. It's a pretty overwhelming selection - and for first time visitors to Thailand, it can be a bit confusing about which areas to make sure you dive, particularly as you have to be here at the right time of the year to go diving in some parts of the country.
Here, then, is my completely subjective, thumbnail guide to the best dive sites in Thailand, in order of priority:
1) Similan Islands (October to May each year) The Similans are renown as one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world. Whale sharks, manta rays, reef sharks, leopard sharks, barracuda, octopus, cuttlefish, lionfish, clownfish - you name it, you'll probably find it here. The sheer abundance of life out around these remote, uninhabited islands is breathtaking, as is the visibility - 20 metres viz is the norm. Virtually all liveaboards go beyond the Similan Islands proper and take in Koh Bon, a cleaning station for mantas, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock, a hot spot for whale sharks. [See my previous post on the best dive sites to see whale sharks in Thailand]. The remoteness of the islands means that most liveaboards typically last 4 days. For some people this is too much time to commit to diving, but I'd say it's perfect - 4 days on the boat lets you completely relax and do nothing but eat, dive and sleep, with maybe a little sunbathing too.
I wrote a complete report about diving in the Similan Islands in early 2005. I'm going back there in May this year, for my fourth time. I can't wait to see it again. The Similans really are a magical place to dive.
2) Hin Daeng / Hin Muang and Koh Haa (October to May each year)
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My site, www.Divehappy.com is a personal guide to scuba diving in South East Asia and Australia edited by me, Chris Mitchell, a…
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