Scuba Diving in Koh Phi Phi
Hawksbill Turtle. Credit Rickard Zerpe on flickr
The Phi Phi islands offer around 20 excellent dive sites with options for everyone from beginners undertaking initial dive training all the way through to advanced divers.
The area includes shallow reefs, coral fields, dramatic walls and pinnacles with excellent opportunities to see sharks and turtles as well as a wide range of other marine life.
The area is an excellent location for divers of all standards with many dive shops both on the islands themselves as well as in Ao Nang and Phuket.
Current tend to be mild and most sites are less than 18 metres deep although some are as deep as 25 to 30 metres. Water temperature is around 27 to 30 degrees centigrade all year and visibility is generally around 10 to 20 metres. The best time to dive in the area is October to May. The boat ride is between 2 and 2.5 hours from the Ao Nang area.
Blacktip Reef Shark. Credit Rickard Zerpe on flickr
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 including 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
Oriental Sweetlip. Credit Rickard Zerpe on flickr
Also limestone island lying south of Phi Phi Ley is Bida Nai where the walls are covered with huge sea fans, sea whips, staghorn coral and zigzag clams with bolders forming swim-throughs.
As you descend you will swim through thousands of glassfish before seeing trevallies, squid, crocodile long-toms, bearded scorpionfish, harlequin ghost pipefish, oriental sweetlip, seahorses and blacktip and leopard shark.
Titan Triggerfish. Credit Derek Keats on flickr
A very popular dive site used for beginners as well as experienced divers, offering a wide range of marine life. Situated outside the world famous Maya Bay featured in the Leonardo DiCaprio film “The Beach” which is currently closed following the damage caused by thousands of tourists visiting each day. The dive sites outside the bay are still open however.
The area is also popular with snorkellers due to shallow depths near to the wall and the range of marine life that can be enjoyed.
The mixture of hard coral and boulders provide shelter and swim-throughs contribute to the diversity of life here that includes hawksbill turtle, moray eel, leopard shark, pufferfish, titan triggerfish, bannerfish, moorish idol, oriental sweetlip, wrasse, snapper and blacktip reef shark at the surface.
Depths range from 5 to 30 metres.
Hin Bida / Shark Point
Leopard Shark. Credit Brian Gratwicke on flickr
Around 8km southeast of Phi Phi Ley is a submerged rock that is home to leopard sharks.
The rock just breaks the surface and descends to around 21 metres and is covered in soft corals, barrel sponges and colourful anemones, home to clownfish. There are also giant clams.
Barrel sponges also thrive here and house scorpionfish. Giant clams are scattered all around.
Common marine life includes blue-lined snappers, fusiliers, parrotfish, bannerfish, butterflyfish, damselfish, porcupinefish, pufferfish and boxfish alongside banded sea snakes, crab and shrimp.
Hin Dot / Chimney Rock
Yellow Tail Fusilier. Credit Bernard DUPONT on flickr
Located just outside Tonsai Bay, the main harbour on Phi Phi Don and is comprised of 3 pinnacles with depths down to 30 metres with shelves at 3, 12 and 15 metres on the main pinnacle.
The pinnacles attract schooling fish including snapper and yellow fusilier as well as barracuda, leopard shark and trevally. The walls are covered in purple and orange-coloured soft corals alongside tube corals, hard corals, Christmas tree and tube worms.
Garden Eel. Credit Rickard Zerpe on flickr
On the south of Phi Phi Leh is another site popular with snorkellers as well as divers.
The dive is centred on a tiny cliff islet which varies in depth from 8 to 20 metres with hard coral and clams covering the walls.
A popular attraction is a narrow channel 15 metres deep enabling divers to swim through an incredible display of soft coral, sea whips and gorgonian sea fan with turtle often seen feeding.
The area is popular with lionfish, scorpionfish, parrotfish and angelfish and is also a popular night dive where more marine life can be seen. The site is also a good location to see garden eel and moray eel.
Yellowtail Barracuda. Credit Thomas Quine on flickr
2 km east of Phi Phi Leh is a submerged reef that sits between 6 and 24 metres deep with mild currents.
The reef is a mixture of hard and soft coral, sea fans, anemones and barrel sponges.
Marine life includes leopard shark, yellowtail barracuda, gold-striped fusilier, pufferfish, scorpionfish, lionfish and blue-lined snapper.
Emperor Angelfish. Credit Brian Gratwicke on flickr
Suitable for all levels of divers with a maximum depth of 18 metres Palong Wall has an exceptional variety and abundance of marine life and beautiful coral. There are also some small caves and swim-throughs to explore.
Common marine life includes blacktip reef shark, turtles, seahorses, grouper, oriental sweetlip, emperor angelfish and octopus.
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