Regarded as one of the top 10 diving destinations in the world, Phuket is an excellent choice if you’re considering learning to SCUBA dive or want to upgrade your skills. There’s nothing more exhilarating than immersing yourself in an unspoilt underwater wonderland of colourful coral, exotic fish and curious sea creatures.
You can scuba dive at any time of the year in Phuket, there’s always some good diving to be found and the water temperature averages around a comfortable 27 C. The best conditions are in the high season, from November to April, when the sun is shining, the sea is calm, and the water sparkling a brilliant blue.
Typically dive sites are suitable for most levels with a maximum depth of 18 to 30 metres. There’s a diverse mix of underwater topography, with small caves and shipwrecks, rock formations and submerged limestone islands, and teeming reefs rich with vividly coloured fish and marine life.
Some dive sites can be reached directly from the beach or a short trip by longtail boat, but most diving is enjoyed as a day trip by boat. Andaman Cruises offer a range of luxury yachts for charter, take your friends out for a day’s diving in style. The most visited sites around Phuket are The Racha Islands, Shark Point, Anemone Reef, King Cruiser Wreck, and Phi Phi Islands.
Koh Racha Islands
There are two Racha Islands, Racha Noi is uninhabited and the smallest, it has exceptional diving sites for qualified divers and shallow bays for beginners and snorkellers.
Racha Yai is popular with day-trippers, it offers several dive sites, most of them suitable for all levels with good visibility. Spend the day swimming amongst the staghorn and table coral gardens, they’re a playground for the many devil scorpionfish, moray eels, and yellowtail barracuda. Follow the trumpetfish and flute fish as they hover over the coral, and watch out for the googly-eyed titan triggerfish belligerently guarding their territory.
As you go deeper, you’ll see spotted garden eels, blue-spotted stingrays hiding in the sands below, and the curious-looking bent-stick pipefish.
At the northern-most point of Racha Yai is Siam Bay where you can dive amongst large sunken stone elephants, there’s also a replication of a temple entrance guarded by Yaks. Yaks are mythological giants who protect the temple from evil spirits, these have been put here to attract diving tourists so make sure you stop and take some great photos!
Shark Point and Anemone Reef
Located between Ko Phi Phi and Phuket, the cluster of Shark Point, Anemone Reef and King Cruiser Wreck are for experienced divers, and usually visited together on a day trip.
Shark Point might sound scary but no need to panic, these are passive leopard sharks, creatures that lie around in the sand surrounding the pinnacle. At least you can boast to your friends about swimming with sharks when you get home!
Several underwater pinnacles explode with a rainbow of colours, from the purple and pink soft corals that hug the rocks to the giant gorgonian fan coral. The sheer density of fish around the pinnacles makes diving here a magical experience. Fusiliers all dressed in blue pass by, hunting trevally dart in and out of the rocks, moray eels hide away in the rock cavities, lionfish, and blue-ringed angelfish swim past, you might even spot ghost pipefish and seahorses against the multi-coloured corals.
King Cruiser Wreck
King Cruiser is a ferry boat that hit Anemone Reef in 1997 causing it to sink, the wreck is now a popular dive site thriving with fish life. At 85 metres long and a depth of 31 metres, this is a dive site for advanced certified divers only. Fed by the waters of Phang Nga Bay, the dive sites around the wreck are some of the richest and varied in the country, with beautiful soft corals and large schools of fish.
If conditions are good, you’ll see all kinds of creatures here, keep an eye out for cuttlefish, snapper schools, batfish and pufferfish, well-camouflaged scorpionfish, rabbitfish and goatfish. Leopard sharks can sometimes be seen at the bottom of the wreck and big red octopus and hawksbill turtle have been known to show their faces.
The sites around Phuket and Ko Phi Phi are protected under National Park regulations, but not all dive sites are. Please remember that coral gardens are fragile environments and protect and preserve them for the benefit of future generations.
When you’re not diving there’s plenty of other fun activities to explore around Phuket. Spend a leisurely morning stand-up-paddle-boarding or visiting some of the Buddhist temples, an afternoon at the spa, or listening to the chilled-out tunes at one of the exclusive beach clubs.