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Top 10 Places to Scuba Dive or Snorkel in Thailand

Top 10 Places to Scuba Dive or Snorkel in Thailand

By Chris QuanUpdated May. 10, 2022

Here we have summed up the top 10 places in Thailand for diving for you.

Thailand has some of Asia's best places to snorkel and scuba dive along with some of the best beaches. Our tours go to key scuba and snorkeling spots in Thailand along with going to famous cultural or scenic areas in Southeast Asia and China. Here's our pick of the best diving and scuba spots we go to in Thailand.

Thailand has two coasts with the Andaman sea on the west and the Gulf of Thailand in the east. Some places in the Andaman sea are world class for diving and snorkeling. Islands on the east coast are good diving and scuba spots too, but they are mainly tourist and resort areas.

1. Similan Islands

The Similan Islands consist of 9 small islands off the northwest coast of Phuket. These islands are open from November to April and rank among the world’s top 10 dive sites.

The blue waters, sandy beaches, the charming seascape attracts thousands of travelers to this archipelago every year.

The islands have some of the world's most beautiful, unspoiled beaches with an abundance of diverse marine life and spectacular coral reefs that provide a world-class underwater paradise for deep-sea divers. While diving you may even see leopard sharks and whales.

The Similan Islands were designated a national park in 1982 and the Thai government makes efforts to maintain and protect these pristine islands. The Thai navy has installed buoys at dive points and anchorage areas for mooring to avoid harming the coral and other creatures.

Best places to dive: Elephant Head Rock, Christmas Point, Richelieu Rock, Eden Garden, Koh Bon, and Koh Tachai

How to Get There: Fly to Phuket and then head to the port of Thap Lamu to take a boat to the Similan Islands.

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2. Koh Tao

Koh Tao is a world-famous dive site located in southern Thailand. It is a small island with 28.6 kilometers of coastline and is surrounded by an 8-kilometer wide coral reef.

Also known as the “World’s Diving Factory”, this island not only has breathtaking natural scenery and clean seas but also cost-effective diving lessons and courses.

The sea surrounding the island is calm making it a great place for beginners to learn both snorkeling and scuba diving. It is said that more than 60% of the world's diving permits are issued here every year.

Best places to dive: Chumphon Pinnacles, Koh Nang Yuan, Aow Leuk Beach, and Sail Rock

How to Get There: You can take a speedboat from Koh Samui. The journey takes about 1½ hours

3. Phuket

In Southern Thailand, there are world-class places to dive around Phuket. Phuket is Thailand's largest island. It is 48 kilometers long and 21 kilometers wide at the widest point. It is a very popular tourist resort place as well as a very popular scuba diving area.

Travel Advisor also lists it as the third best tourist island in Asia. It is known for its large resorts. It has an airport called Phuket International Airport.

Intermediate divers: Anemone Reef, Shark Point, and King Cruiser Wreck are all about 27 km east of Phuket. The King Cruiser wreck is known for large schools of fish around it. In all three places, a stronger current and the presence of some dangerous animals makes it advisable that only divers with some experience go there.

Beginner divers: About 15 kilometers south of Phuket, there are Racha Noi and Racha Yai. Racha Noi has big mantas and whale sharks that often visit. Both islands have areas suitable for beginners with mild currents.

Best diving season: November to April is when visibility is very good. Between January and April, it is dry season. After January is when peak tourist season is over, so prices are lower, and there are less boats/people in the water. From April to October, the sea can be choppy and visibility is often reduced.

Snorkeling: On the east side of Racha Noi, Coral Island is a fine snorkeling area.

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4. Ko Samui

The diving at Ko Samui isn't as good as in the Andaman Sea or Koh Tao, but it is one of the options there. The best diving at Ko Samui is at Angthong Marine Park where there are many small islands in a cluster. Ko Samui and many nearby islands are mainly known for its resorts, beaches and scenery. You can dive, snorkel and kayak.

The marine park has many islands and spectacular scenery. Visibility is usually poorer, so the interest in diving is lower around Ko Samui. The average cost of a dive is higher on Ko Samui than Koh Tao because of the tourist popularity and fewer diving companies.

Intermediate divers: Hin Yippon has an average depth of 18 meters. It is the northernmost of the islands and furthest from the Samui.

Beginner divers: Koh Wao is a place more for beginning divers. There is a lot of coral in the bay.

Best diving season: November and December are the worst months for diving due to monsoon weather, and in early December many diving operators go on vacation or close down. We suggest February and between April 18 to the end October because you'll miss high tourist season and find the best diving conditions.

Snorkeling: Snorkeling in is quite good at Angthong Marine Park. Kao Wao is especially suited for tourists to snorkel at since the depths are low and visibility better. It is 40 kilometers from Koh Samui, and is one of the small islands in the marine park furthest from Samui.

5. Surin Islands

The Surin Islands rank as one of the world’s top 10 dive sites along with the Similan Islands. They may be not famous as Phuket, Koh Samui and Phi Phi but have purer oceans and a more primitive natural environment.

The Surin Islands are one of Thailand's national ocean parks. The islands are home to some of the most stunning underwater treasures in the Andaman Sea and are an isolated archipelago surrounded by warm turquoise waters.

Here you can swim with sea turtles and admire pristine coral reefs. The Surin Islands are open to visitors from November to April. >>>How to Choose from Thailand’s Islands (Your Island Hopping Guide)

Best places to dive: Hin Kop, Koh Torinla East, Ao Mae Yai Bay, and Hin Pratumba

How to Get There: Phuket has speedboats to the Surin Islands.

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6. Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi's divinSimilan Islandsg is better than famous Koh Tao's on the east coast, though the resorts are not as plentiful. The Koh Phi Phi islands are about 40 to 45 kilometers from Phuket. >>How to Get to Phi Phi Island from Phuket?

On Trip Adviser, Koh Phi Phi was voted as the world's #1 "must see island." These islands combine excellent scenery, hikes in the hills, beautiful beaches, and excellent diving and snorkeling.

Intermediate and advanced divers: The currents at the islands are generally mild to medium, but Hin Dot and Bida Nok are known for sharks, so it is suggested that only experienced divers go there.

Beginner divers: Palong Wall Dive Site is suggested for beginners who go with experienced local divers. it is often used for diving courses and free of dangerous sharks.

Best diving season: Between January and April, it is dry season. After January is when peak tourist season is over, so prices are lower, and there are less boats/people in the water. From May to December, the sea can be choppy and visibility is often reduced.

Snorkeling: Bamboo and Mosquito Island.

7. Koh Chang

Koh Chang and its surrounding waters have several excellent diving sites with coral reefs visible at depths of 5-25 meters.

The area is home to a variety of coral reefs, both hard and soft, where you can see many tropical marine species including moray eels, tropical fish, perch, turtles, and whale sharks.

HTMS Chang is Koh Chang’s most famous and attractive dive spot. The 100-meter-long vessel was decommissioned in 2013 and sunk into a 30-meter-deep sea to be converted into an artificial reef for divers to explore.

Best places to dive: HTMS Chang, Hin Luk Bat, and Hin Raap.

How to Get There: Fly from Bangkok to Trat and then head to the pier to take a ferry to Koh Chang.

8. Koh Kradan

Koh Kradan is a good snorkeling site in Trang and is famous for its good water quality. The waters around the island are clear and blue making it possible to see all kinds of fish and beautiful coral reefs.

This area is also famous for its abundance of the lovely Nemo fish or clownfish. The white sands of Koh Kradan extend up to 2 kilometers along the east coast. This area has few tourists so you can enjoy a quiet moment.

Best places to dive: Ao Niang Bay

How to Get There: you can take a ferry from Koh Lanta to Koh Kradan.

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9. Koh Lanta

Located at the southernmost corner of Krabi, Koh Lanta covers an area of 150 square kilometers and is a national park dotted with several beautiful islands surrounded by coral reefs.

The best time to dive here is from October to April.

Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are the most famous and the best dive spots around Koh Lanta. Hin Daeng, known as Red Rock, got this name for its large amount of red soft coral. Similarly,

Hin Muang, known as Purple Rock, features amazing purple coral. Divers can explore the seafloor, canyons, and steep reefs or watch huge shoals of fish and other wildlife.

Best places to dive: Hin Daeng, Hin Muang, Koh Haa, and Koh Lok

How to Get There: you can take a ferry or a speedboat to Koh Lanta from Phi Phi Island

10. Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe is located in the southernmost point of Thailand and is famous as the filming location of the movie Mechanic: Resurrection.

This island is also known as the “Little Maldives” because of its charming natural scenery and rich travel resources. Koh Lipe lies in the center of the Tarutao National Park - the oldest protected ocean park in Asia.

Some of the deeper spots near the edge of the ocean park are good places to see whale sharks. The shallower sites offer beautiful hard coral reefs and a rich variety of fish.

Best places to dive: Hin Takorn Dukong and 8 Mile Rock

How to Get There: First go to Hat Yai and then take a boat to Koh Lipe. You can also get there from Langkawi in Malaysia.

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