Scuba Diving Day Trips From Phuket

Phuket has a number of quality dive sites that lie not far from the island’s ports.

Most dive companies here offer trips on a weekly schedule, both during the low season from May to October and the high season from November until April.

One-Day Scuba Diving Trips From Phuket , first diving in Phuket

Go West!

Kata Beach

During high season, you’ll find excellent dive sites along the West Coast of Phuket. The best sites are off Nai Yang Beach near the airport; at Karon Noi, home of Le Meridien Phuket Hotel; Kata Yai on both ends of the beach in front of Club Med; and the northern cape of Kata Noi Beach. These dive sites can be reached by swimming or by local longtail boat. The sites offer a mixture of rock and hard coral, and marine life is plentiful and varied. Diving along the West Coast is not possible during low season as the prevailing wave direction brings high seas directly onto the beaches, making conditions dangerous and visibility poor.

The diving along this coast is not deep, and most of the Phuket West Coast dive sites are between two and 10 metres deep. It’s best to ask a local dive shop to supply you with a guide; not because the diving is difficult, but because it’s easy to get lost with the ever-changing currents. If you don’t swim back to your point of departure, you could have a long, long walk back to where you parked.

East Coast Diving

Phang Nga Bay

There is no diving along the East Coast of Phuket, as the sea is subject to freshwater run-off from the rivers in Phang-nga and Krabi. The water is also very shallow next to the islands. Some of the islands in Phang Nga Bay have nice coral, but visibility is poor and coral growth is usually only a metre or two below the surface.

So, it’s a nice place for snorkelling on a clear day, but not much action for scuba divers. It’s too bad, really, as the area is so beautiful it would be a lot of fun to have dive trips to the bay. No, for us divers, we need to get to deeper water offshore.

Diving Day Trips

Koh Racha Yai

We have three main diving areas that are accessible for day divers, to the east and to the south. The area south has two islands, Racha Yai (often called “Raya”) and Racha Noi. The furthest south, Racha Noi, lies about 35km from Phuket’s Chalong Bay; Racha Yai is about 21km. Racha Yai has a few places to stay onshore including the fabulous The Racha, and there is a dive shop on the island. Most divers get there by dive boat or speedboat from Phuket.

Racha Yai is the most popular for diving courses as the island features three protected bays. One of the bays is protected during the Southwest monsoon, and two are protected during the Northeast monsoon - our high season (or winter). So, no matter the weather or the time of year, diving is possible and good at Racha Yai. The bays have spotty coral and so-so visibility on most days, but there are nice flat sandy areas where teaching can be done. The outside of the island has better diving and the water is generally clearer, with visibility often more than 20m. Fish life is not incredible but there is enough variety of eels, lionfish, trumpetfish, cuttlefish and some nice hard corals to make most people pretty happy.

Racha Noi

Koh Racha Noi

Racha Noi usually has better visibility, but getting there can be a long haul if the waves are large. Both the southern and northern tips feature some deeper ridges that have some wicked currents, so they are more for advanced divers.

It’s important to go with good divemasters here, as the currents really can be quite surprisingly strong, with up and down currents as well as the normal sideways ones.

Phi Phi Island

A small beach on Phi Phi Don

To the east we have a famous group of islands called Phi Phi. Everyone has heard of Phi Phi Island by now. The diving here can be very, very good, and there are several dive shops and lots of accommodation on the island. Diving day trips are possible from Phuket, but on a slow diving boat it can take up to three hours to arrive one way.

The benefits are excellent though, as the amount of marine life there compared with Racha makes you feel like you’re in a different ocean. You have big sea fans, lots and lots of soft coral as well as hard coral, plus many leopard sharks, some rays, and it’s great to see dolphins which are common around Phi Phi Island for some reason. Phi Phi also has some nice easy cavern diving, good wall diving, and the topside scenery is some of the best in the world.


Anemone Reef

When staying on Phuket, the most convenient and most fertile sites lie towards Phi Phi. About 20km directly east of Phuket lie three good dive sites: Shark Point, Anemone Reef and the wreck of the King Cruiser. This area is protected from most fishing, and the law is pretty well enforced these days so fish life is abundant and healthy.

Two of the dive sites, Shark Point and Anemone Reef, are pinnacles and since we get fairly large tides here the currents can be tricky, so one must be better than a beginner to dive these spots. Shark Point sticks out above the water, and Anemone Reef starts about five-metres below the surface. There are hundreds of lionfish on these sites, as well as white-eyed moray eels, bearded scorpionfish, three different species of anemones and anemonefish, and lots of barrel sponges and crinoids. There are usually leopard or zebra sharks around, too. They lie quietly in the sand are pretty used to divers, so are quite approachable.

King of the Reef

The King Cruiser sinking near Phi Phi

The King Cruiser wreck sank in 1997, and much of her superstructure has collapsed since she went down (she wasn’t a strong ship when she sank), but oysters and some corals have grown on her. Here is a great place for large moray eels and some larger groupers. King Cruiser’s also an advanced dive as the bottom is in 30m of water. It’s our only real wreck dive around, so is very popular.

Diving day-trips usually leave in the morning and arrive back between 4:00pm and 6:00pm. But, allowing for road traffic at that time of day, it may take another hour to get to your hotel. Prices vary from shop to shop, but generally start at around 2,500 baht and go up to 3,700 baht depending on the comfort level of the boat, the number of dives offered, and the distance to the dive site. Phi Phi is the most expensive due to its distance from Phuket.

Source: ©Siam Dive n' Sail & John B. Williams

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