Scuba Diving around Phuket
Phuket has many great scuba diving attractions. For beginners it is an ideal location for a diving course such as the PADI Open Water. For casual divers there are plenty of day trips to great dive sites. And for the serious diver there are enough dives to fill an entire holiday.
The warm waters of the Andaman Sea are teeming with sea life. You can see colourful tropical fish, sharks, rays, eels and turtles. If you are very lucky, you may even see the awe-inspiring sight of a whale shark. Water visibility is usually excellent, sometimes exceeding 30 meters. The best time to dive is from November to May. During the monsoon season from June to October visibility is reduced and some dive sights, such as the Similans, are closed or out of reach due to the choppy sea.
There are lots of reputable dive companies in Phuket and this keeps prices competitive. They can organise diving courses, day trips or liveaboards. If you want a recommendation, check out Dive The World Thailand. They offer a full range of diving packages, competitive prices and have plenty of experience.
If you have not dived before then the best way to start is to do an accredited scuba diving course. These will qualify you to do basic scuba diving anywhere in the world. Reputable diving companies will not allow you to dive without an accredited qualification.
The two most widely recognised course operators are PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors). Most dive shops will be running courses from one or both of these organisations.
The beginner courses (Open Water Diving) take three or four days. They include theory, practice dives in a swimming pool and up to four dives at sea.
And for those already qualified, there are advanced or specialised courses to improve your skills.
The waters immediately around Phuket do not offer the best diving. The beaches are too sandy and the water too shallow. However, there are a few locations where you can wade straight into the sea and find some good sites.
The rocky headland around Laem Promthep is a popular option. Wade in at Yanui Beach and work your way round the headland. Alternatively swim out to Koh Kaeo Noi which also has good coral formations.
Ao Sane Beach is also a good starting point with plenty of corals to explore. However if the tide is out then access is difficult as the corals are too close to the surface.
Kata Beach & Kata Noi Beach have some excellent corals right off the beach. There are a few nearby dive shops where you can rent equipment.
Best Diving Islands around Phuket
Most of the best diving is around the coral reefs at the nearby islands. You can take day trips or liveaboards to visit these sites.
Another popular diving island is Koh Dork Mai - This translates as Flower Island as the locals think it looks like a flower sprouting from the sea. It is a small limestone pinnacle that juts from the water. It is a good wall dive and is often included on day trips.
Further away are The Surin Islands and The Andaman Islands (India). These definitely require liveaboards. The Surin Islands do not compare with the Similans for diving but they do have Richelieu Rock where whale sharks are regularly spotted. The Andaman Islands are a spectacular experience with lots of big fish.
Other Diving Sites
Shark Point - so named because of the docile leopard sharks that you can see here. Fifteen miles southeast of Phuket, this is an ideal dive to include on a day trip. Two rocky underwater pinnacles, only one of which breaks the surface, ringed with coral reefs and teeming with sea life. Moderate currents mean that visibility is not always great but the sheer abundance of sea life make up for that.
Anemone Reef - Only 600 meters north of Shark Point is anemone reef. It is an underwater limestone pinnacle that does not break the surface. Depths as shallow as five meters mean this rock is a shipping hazard. For divers it is famous for the fields of sea anemone that cover every bit of rock. This attracts lots of reef fish and the area is also known as good site to see lionfish. Sometimes strong currents can make this an advanced dive.
Kingfisher Cruiser Wreck - This was a ferry on the Phuket to Phi Phi route when it somehow strayed off course and hit anemone reef. Nobody is quite sure how this could have happened in perfect conditions but fortunately, nobody died. And the positive thing is that it has created a great wreck dive site. Between 12 to 30 meters depth, this wreck has quickly become a home for a myriad of sea life. Corals are already growing so the site should improve with time. Visibility is variable but on good days this can be a stunning dive.
Snorkeling Around Phuket - A description of the best snorkeling sites around Phuket.
Diving in Phi Phi - A description of a great dive trip the the Phi Phi islands.