Zooming in on Thailand, a few hours of ferry ride away is a quaint town called Krabi. Essentially famous for its sheer limestone cliffs, packed mangrove forests and myriad offshore islands. We routinely hear about Phi Phi Islands or Railay Beach, but did you know these places are a part of the Krabi province? Gorgeous temples, wild nightlife, beautiful sunset dinner cruise and unlimited alcohol seem to be a few reasons why Thailand is on every bucket-list!
We believe it is time Thailand claims its due credit for curating some of the best and reasonably priced water sports and adventures in the world! Challenge yourself to experience kayaking, snorkelling, shark watching and one thing you certainly cannot afford to miss is Scuba Diving in Krabi! While we all know places like Goa and Sri Lanka offer excellent Scuba diving experiences, here is why Thailand is noteworthy and stands out as different from any other place one can imagine.
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Foremost, in Thailand, you can dive into the Andaman Sea throughout the year! Absolutely! These experiences run even during monsoons, although there are certain months during which the experiences will be best. Second, here you have an unparalleled opportunity to spot, adore and swim really close to some of the amazing aquatic animals of the Andaman Sea whale sharks, manta rays, leopard sharks, coral reefs, blacktip reef shark, clownfish, octopus and even more exclusive experience to swim with bioluminescent plankton!
Scuba Diving in Phi Phi Islands
Pondering what the best places are to scuba dive in Thailand? The Phi Phi islands have the most number of dive sites that are also incredibly beginner-friendly! These are so famous that many operators from Ao Nang, Koh Lanta and even Phuket travel down here for the scuba diving experiences! These dive areas are packed with tours typically around New Year’s and Christmas, which means the vibe is too touristy during these months.
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This area harbours a total of 22 sites, but 3 out of these are currently closed for divers due to efforts of preservation. This region is also trendy for cave and wreck sites located deeper in the ocean but is strictly reserved only for those with certifications. The following is a list of top dive sites and the kind of things you can see while Scuba diving in Krabi.
Dive Sites of Phi Phi Islands
1. Maya Corner (For Beginners)
Quite close to Koh Phi Phi Ley, you will find the Maya Corner dive site which gets its name from the universally known Maya Bay Beach (The beach is currently closed for visitors due to efforts of preservation and restoration of the destination.). This dive site is good for both beginners and the experienced lot. Here you can see sea turtles, and if you manage to go a little deeper, be sure to look out for some varieties of shrimp including the mantis shrimp and branded boxer shrimp!
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2. Viking Bay (For Beginners)
Viking Bay is home to magnificent coral reefs, especially the artificial reef called The Pyramid. But it is hands down one of the best places to go scuba diving in Krabi! The Pyramid is an assembly of giant cement blocks piled on top of each other. This began after the devastating 2004 tsunami to help coral regeneration and provide a surface for corals to grow.
Amazing results can be seen in this site, including an extensive coral growth and swarms of fish flocking here. Batfish, scorpionfish, pufferfish, giant moray eels, and tiny dancing shrimps all seem to find shelter here. This is also the site to spot blacktip sharks, that are not dangerous at all! If anything, they are extremely shy, which makes it hard for divers to spot them sometimes.
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Tip: put on a friendly face and be welcoming and inviting to make the most of being underwater with these beautiful aquatic creatures!
3. Bida Nok and Bida Nai (For Beginners)
South of Koh Phi Phi Ley is two islands known as the Bidas. Bida Nok is the outer island, and Bida Nai is the inner. Divers have often spotted blacktip sharks here swimming in groups sometimes! The speciality is the leopard shark that many find resting in the sands. Many pipefish, nudibranchs and shrimps, make their homes here. Other common aquatic animals at the Bidas are gigantic moray eels, barracudas, banded sea snakes, turtles, blue spotted stingrays, cuttlefish, trumpetfish, and pufferfish. If it is your first time experiencing Scuba diving in Krabi, do not fret! This site will help you take it easy and learn.
4. King cruiser wreck (For Experienced)
Of the two wrecks in the Koh Phi Phi area, one is the King Cruiser that sunk off the west coast of Koh Phi Phi Don in 1997 in a collision accident with the Anemone Reef. For twenty years, the heartwarming progress has been observed as it has transformed into a thriving reef. The wreck is home not only to tremendous coral growth but also big schools of jacks, barracudas, snapper, lionfish and scorpionfish blending into the background. Additionally, if you’re really lucky, you might see a whale shark. The depth and challenging conditions accompanying it make this a site suitable for advanced and experienced divers.
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5. Kred Gaeow Wreck (For Experienced)
The Kred Gaeow was formerly a Thai Navy vessel that sunk a while ago and now provides another adventurous wreck dive opportunity in the Koh Phi Phi area. This wreck dive site is also close to Koh Phi Phi Ley and has seen excellent coral growth in a very short duration underwater. It goes from 14m to 30m deep making it a challenging one suitable for experienced divers. There is plenty of life in this region, including fusiliers, pufferfish, scorpionfish, barracudas, and lionfish. Consider yourself lucky if you spot a frogfish here!
Scuba Diving in Ao Nang
The following are the islands adjacent to Ao Nang archipelago which consists of 14 islands, of which around 10 are good dive sites. Here you will find a sheer diversity in topography and marine life in some spots closer more than the ones farther away.
Fraught with caves, tunnels and wreck sites from World War 2, some are only suitable for the experienced. Ao Nang maintains average visibility than the dive sites in Phi Phi Islands. But if the conditions are appropriate, usually around half-moons, it does become more enjoyable. If you are fortunate and get good conditions in this location, your experience may be better than the one in Phi Island!
The reason is that in these areas you will see a lesser population of divers than the diving sites in Phi Phi which end up being heavily crowded. These sites are also home to banded sea snakes, spiny lobsters, pick handle barracuda and baby blue-spotted stingrays.
Dive Sites of Ao Nang Islands
1. Koh Yawabon (For Experienced)
If you are a qualified diver, make a note of this site and do visit! The key feature at Koh Yawabon is a swim through spanning the entire island through a tunnel-like channel. You will be able to swim to the surface to see cave formations inside the island and a vast chamber with 30m high stalactites. Underwater, the biggest attractions are the baby blue spotted stingrays, tiger tail seahorse and nudibranchs.
2. Koh Sii (For Beginners)
Koh Sii remains the quintessential site to see a variety of life that the Ao Nang local islands boast about. It goes as deep as 15m and with an easy dive, one can catch a glimpse of seahorses, nudibranchs, bent stick pipefish, and shrimp. Bamboo sharks, banded sea snakes and spiny lobster are also seen hiding in the rocks.
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3. Koh Talu (For Experienced)
Koh Talu is yet another site with a significant marine route at the Ao Nang local islands for certified divers. Like the Koh Yawabon, you can find yourself swimming through tunnel-like channels. The highlights here include a tiger tail seahorse and bamboo sharks at the entrance of the cave almost as if greeting you in their humble abode, a unique kind of nudibranch called a flabellina (a purple and yellow variety) and don’t forget to stay on the lookout for the blue spotted stingrays in the sand.
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We recommend not just scuba diving but also kayaking, shark watching tours, snorkelling and sea swimming when you make plans for Thailand, apart from the usual club hopping, hangovers and street food eating. As beautiful as it is above the surface, it is underwater too! Head on to the land of beautiful smiles and turquoise waters and challenge yourself to a whole bunch of first-time experiences! This country will not disappoint you. Maybe start with scuba diving in Krabi, and you never know, this might be the first step to finding your new hobbies or talents!
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