Whale Shark. Credit TANAKA Juuyoh on flickr.
Thailand is a stunning location for scuba diving with a number of world class dive sites suitable for divers of all experience and qualification levels.
Although we have billed this as a top 10, there are so many excellent dive sites in Thailand that we could have easily called it a top 30.
We have much more information on scuba diving in Thailand with a breakdown of each area and top dive sites in our Scuba Diving in Thailand section.
Richelieu Rock – Surin Islands
It seems only right to start with one of the best dive sites in the world and the reason many people visit the area although generally only suited to more experienced divers.
Located 18km to the southeast of the Surin Islands, this horseshoe shaped pinnacle starts just under the surface all the way down to 50 metres sitting in open, deep water benefiting from currents bringing food through the area for the immense range of marine life that makes it home there or is a regular or occasional visitor.
Eagle and mantra ray are regular visitors alongside the huge schools of barracuda and trevallies. Whale shark are common visitors but don’t expect a guaranteed visit by these giants of the sea.
Hin Daeng – Koh Lanta
This incredible dive site accessible from Koh Lanta is only suitable for advanced, experienced divers with depths of 20 to 70 metres and strong currents present.
The site is well worth the trip however as it is one of the best places to see whale sharks and manta rays as well as grey reef shark, leopard shark, barracuda, moray eel, octopus and crayfish. In shallower waters there is a large school of long fin batfish and nurse shark can sometimes be found within the southwest cave.
Racha Yai – Phuket Area
An exceptional area for divers of all levels as well as those looking to enjoy some snorkelling. This beautiful island, with beautiful beaches, is surrounded by coral reef depths from 3 to 30 metres and generally very good visibility. Around 2 hours from Phuket.
The area has large school of barracuda as well a playing home to twin-spot snapper, dog-eyed pufferfish, parrotfish, cornetfish, trumpetfish, clownfish, moray eel, octopus and cuttlefish.
The area has a number of individual sites including Siam Bay, where statues have been placed to create an artificial reef, and the East Coast which has some of the most diverse and attract marine life.
Koh Rok Nok – Koh Lanta
Excellent beaches and snorkelling plus stunning diving make this an excellent location near to Koh Lanta for the whole family.
The area features hard and soft corals, boulder coral, bubble coral, branching coral, sea whips, anemones and has opportunities for muck and macro diving.
Maximum depths are no more than 18 metres and currents are low so the area is ideal for all divers.
Marine life includes blacktip reef shark, angelfish, surgeonfish, moray eel, turtles, clownfish, glassfish, fusiliers, parrotfish, sweetlips, grouper, eagle rays, shrimp, sea cucumber and nudibranch.
Sail Rock – Koh Tao
Probably the best dive site in the Koh Tao area although the 2 hour boat ride may put some people off the journey.
This huge pinnacle rises around 7 metres above the surface of the water down to depths of around 22 metres in the main areas although some deeper sections are only suitable for more experienced divers.
The site is teeming with marine life with large schools of trevally, queenfish, barracuda, fusiliers, tuna as well as batfish, scorpionfish, moray eel, soldier fish and nudibranch.
The site also sees giant grouper and at certain times of the year, manta ray and whaleshark.
Bida Nok – Koh Phi Phi
Bida Nok is a small limestone island around 2km south of Phi Phi Leh and is regarded by many as the best dive site in the Phi Phi area. The current can be strong and with depths down to 33 metres it is a site for more experienced divers.
The area is festooned with sponges, anenomes and soft corals which creates and incredible coloured display which attracts a wide range of marine life.
Highlights include moray eel, hawksbill turtle, banded sea snake, bird wrasse, moon wrasse, leopard shark, nurse shark, bearded scorpionfish, moorish idols, parrotfish, honeycomb grouper and blacktip and grey reef shark.
If you are lucky you may see whale shark or manta ray between December and February.
Koh Haa Tai Lagoon – Koh Lanta
The Koh Lanta area is an exceptional choice for scuba divers and those wanting to snorkel and Koh Haa Tai Lagoon is no exception to that.
The area has plenty of coral outcrops and anemones among the patches of sandy bottom. There are stag horn, brain and seaman corals. The coral and anemones make great hiding and feeding places for all sorts of marine life.
The area is excellent for spotting clownfish, scorpionfish, lionfish, moray eel, parrotfish, barracuda and turtles.
There are also plenty of smaller residents including nudibranch, ghost pipefish and harlequin shrimp.
Hideaway Bay (Barracuda Point) – Similian Islands
This shallow bay in the Similian Islands has very gentle currents, superb coral formations, excellent marine life and is an excellent site for divers of all levels as well as for snorkellers.
Marine life includes reef shark, turtles, groupers, stonefish, scorpionfish, clown triggerfish, emperor amgelfish, stingray, oriental sweetlip and blue-lined snapper.
Shark Point – Krabi
Three separate pinnacles often dived as part of a drift dive which includes all three. Shark Point 1 is said to resemble a sharks fin hence the name although others say that it gained its name due to the number of Leopard shark that can be seen in the area.
A relatively short boat trip from Ao Nang in Krabi and the marine life including stingray, leopard shark, snapper and fusilier.
Hin Musang (Shark Point) – Phuket Area
Hin Musang commonly known as Phuket Shark Point is one of the best local diving sites to Phuket, consisting of three pinnacles. Located around 25km east of Chalong Bay, Hin Muang was granted official marine sanctuary status in 1992 due to the incredible eco-system and variety of marine life.
The site has an abundance of leopard shark who spend most of the day sleeping on the sea bed.
There are also bamboo shark, lionfish, scorpionfish, glassfish, pufferfish, moorish idol, bannefish, angelfish and moray eel.
Many people will be shocked as they enter the water by the incredible multi-coloured reef made up of a wide variety of soft corals, sea fans and huge barrel sponges.
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