Phuket Scuba Diving
Butterflyfish. Credit David Spencer on flickr
Phuket is an excellent base for a scuba diving adventure with easy access to a number of local dive sites as well as Similian Island, Khao Lak, Phi Phi and Krabi area dive sites. Longer trips can also be accessed to Koh Lanta and the Surin Islands.
Phuket has many dive shops offering dive trip and courses. Due to the number of dive operators the most popular sites can get very busy at peak periods.
Scuba diving is available all year in the Phuket area with water temperatures always pleasantly warm and conditions generally good although storms can affect conditions. The best conditions are seen during January to April.
Snorkelling is popular in the area and most dive shops will also offer snorkelling trips alongside scuba trips.
Phuket Shark Point (Hin Musang)
Yellow Boxfish. Credit Rickard Zerpe on flickr
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 is suitable and recommended for all divers with maximum depths of around 20 metres although some areas can see strong currents so should be dived with care.
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.
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, bannerfish, angelfish and moray eel.
Racha Noi Island
Triggerfish. Credit Ursula Krapf on Unsplash
Racha Noi is an uninhabited island surrounded by a tropical reef which features a number of excellent dive sites with many granite boulders and coral. The area is an excellent location for spotting manta ray and sometimes even a whale shark. Visibility tends be very good.
Around 45 minutes from Koh Racha Yai and just over 2 hours from Phuket.
A very popular site due to the shallow depths and very light currents making it suitable for all divers. Situated on the east of Racha Noi. Depths in the bay range from 3 to 10 metres and sinks to 25 metres outside the bay along the gently sloping reef.
The site features bommies and staghorn coral and there are schools of snapper, small barracuda, triggerfish, butterflyfish, moray eel and bannerfish.
also on the east of the island this is an exceptional wall dive featuring swim-throughs which, coupled with depths up to 45 metres, makes this one just for the most experienced.
The site has eagle rays, manta rays, various reef shark and leopard shark.
Strong currents make this site on the southern end of Racha Noi unsuitable for beginners but an excellent drive dive for experienced divers. Depths are around 18 metres.
The area features many schools of large fish including jacks, tuna, stingray and the occasional manta ray.
Racha Noi Bay
Another bay towards the south of the island but this one is more suited to experienced divers with depths down to 30 metres. A great site to spot some of the bigger fish in the area.
On the west coast this rocky site ranges from very shallow to 30 metres with plenty of fusiliersm stingray, parrotfish and manta ray.
Some incredible corals are situated at the north end of the island and is a good site for the more experienced to enjoy a multi-level dive.
The area attracts stingrays and reef shark, barracuda and octopus.
Racha Yai Island
Yellowtail Barracuda. Credit Thomas Quine on flickr
An exceptional site 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, twin-spot snapper, dog-eyed pufferfish, parrotfish, cornetfish, trumpetfish, clownfish, moray eel, octopus and cuttlefish.
On the northwest of Racha Yai is this wonderful dive site where statues have been placed to create an artificial reef and to help repair damage after the 2004 tsunami. There are two elephant statues, a large oyster shell and a temple gate.
Maximum depths of 22 metres, good visibility and little current make this a very popular dive site for all divers including those on dive courses.
A white-eyed moray eel has made an elephant ear its home so keep an eye out.
MS Andaman Eagle Wreck
Situated on the southwest of the island this dive boat was deliberately sunk in 2008 to create an artificial reef and interesting dive site. The wreck sits at 27 metres and attracts a wide range of marine life including moorish idol and damselfish.
Another dive boat sunk to create an interesting site, this time in 2009. Sitting at 26 metres with the shallowest point at 15 metres. Although there is no real growth on the hull it still attracts large numbers of reef fish plus batfish, stingray and barracuda.
Two shallow bays with depths of just 12 metres on a sandy seabed attract divers of all experience levels and snorkellers.
Possibly the best diving on Racha Yai where a moderate current allows a gentle drift dive which attracts large school of fish plus some wonderful surprises on the rocky face.
Here you can see lionfish, scorpionfish, small blue spotted stingrays, barracuda, bannerfish, morays, damselfish, garden eels, butterflyfish and pufferfish
Koh Doc Mai
White-eyed Moray Eel. Credit Rickard Zerpe on flickr
Koh Doc Mai is a small island covered in jungle and the dive site is as beautiful due to the flower-like corals underwater. The site is a huge limestone rock that rises out of the water and drops to around 30 metres and is home to a diverse range of marine life.
The area is excellent for macro-diving with harlequin ghostpipefish, nudibranch and yellow tiger-tail seahorses for the most observant. The area also has leopard shark bamboo shark, grey reef shark and lots of reef fish.
The west of the island has a gently sloping reef covered in staghorn coral and attracting reef fish and giant and white-eyed moray eel.
Yellowtail Fusilier. Credit Bernard Dupont on flickr
One of the quietest dive sites in the area and for good reason as currents can be very strong and depth can be as much as 55 metres. Situated between Koh Racha Noi and Koh Racha Yai.
Featuring a number of boulders and attracts an excellent range of pelagic fish including large schools.
Blue-spotted Stingray. Credit Bernard Dupont on flickr
Located as the name suggests just offshore from Karon Beach this is a dive site used by dive schools for basic training and for people who are looking for a quick and easy shore dive, marco photography and night dives. Maximum depth is 8 metres.
There are some very nice coral formations that attract a good range of marine life including stingray, turtles and grouper.
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