Phi Phi Diving – Koh Phi Phi is one of the islands in the islands in the Andaman Sea. It is situated just to the east of the southern tip of Phuket, Thailand. If you were around at the turn of the last century, this part of the world was best known by the film The Beach starring Leonardo Di Caprio. This area was known for being paradise then… and it still is today.
When is the best time for diving Phi Phi?
The best part of diving in Phi Phi is that you can dive all year round. Unlike the sites to the west of Phuket which are not protected by land masses from the bigger currents and waves during the summer season. As the area around Phi Phi is protected, conditions are suitable for all levels of diver for the most part. There are some sites prone to currents which may be unsuitable for newer divers, and some are at depth.
For the utmost best diving conditions; lesser currents and greater visibility, the winter season from late Oct – early April is when to visit.
The simplest route to getting to Phi Phi island itself is most likely via ferry from Rassada Pier, Phuket Town. That is if you are flying internationally into Phuket Airport. It is also possible to come in from the other side via Krabi on the mainland.
For diving Phi Phi, you can access the sites from 3 main areas. From Chalong on Phuket island, from Phi Phi itself or also from Krabi on the mainland (also Koh Lanta but you’re likely looking at a 2hr boat ride).
The most well known dive sites around Koh Phi Phi
Phi Phi has nice variations in diving styles over the different dive sites. There are wall dives, a wreck, some nice caverns and even a made man reef (which is surprisingly interesting!). The diving, as mentioned before, can cater to all levels and there are generally few currents to worry about.
King Cruiser Wreck
King Cruiser was a car ferry operating between Phuket and Phi Phi. In 1997 it sadly sunk after hitting a reef, fortunately no one was seriously hurt. The catamaran was only carrying foot passengers of the time of the accident, so until more recently you could penetrate the empty hold. Over the last 20 years the conditions have not served the wreck well causing some of the frame to collapse. Sadly, penetrating the wreck is no longer allowed due to safety concerns.
The boat rests on the sea floor in an upright position from 18m down to 30m. This makes the dive site better suited to advanced certificated divers. As there can sometimes be some stronger currents, staying above the wreck at 18m can mean being swept off for lack of cover. Also, you will likely descend and ascend holding the buoy line attached to the rear of the vessel for ease.
King cruiser is full of fish. Snappers circle the outside, some frogfish camouflage on the wreck itself. You may also find a Leopard Shark around the sea floor area if you’re lucky.
Running north to south are three pinnacles that make Shark Point. This dive site is often considered a drift dive as light currents run over the site regularly. You will see great macro within the colours of the pink and purple corals, scorpion fish, groupers, jacks, trevallys, anemone fish and hopefully a Leopard Shark or Whale Shark on occasion. A great site for divers of all experience levels.
Cathedral (Koh Haa 5)
The Cathedral Dive site at Koh Haa is mostly know for its large cavern, which from the inside makes some great silhouettes for photography. Don’t worry, the cavern is plenty spacious in the main part. If you a new diver you will have no problems exploring it. There are also a couple of cheeky swim throughs. One is a little bit technical and the other quite large.
As you come out of the cave area, the rest of the dive will likely follow along the shallow sea floor, gradually getting a little deeper. Plenty of fish to see close up and even the odd Blacktip Reef Shark. Overall this dive site is very pretty and you will feel very connected to your surroundings as you dive it.
The paradise island of Phuket is renowned for its diving, its arguably the best in Thailand. But what is the main diving season in Phuket? Surprisingly, the two main diving areas have slightly different times they can be accessed and yet they’re only 100km apart.
What are the main diving areas?
First of all, we need to take a look at the areas for diving in Phuket.
The main two are the south east of the island, accessible via Chalong, and actually just off the island to the north west, accessible via Khao Lak.
Each area has a different diving schedule due to the geographical surroundings and yearly weather cycles. If you look at the map everything to the east of Phuket is open to the ocean; unguarded if you will. The diving to the south east is somewhat protected from the open seas by land masses hence you can dive some sites all year.
The main season for diving in Phuket
The main diving season in Phuket runs from around the end of October until April. This time of year all the diving is usually accessible. The Similan and Surin National Parks (from Khao Lak) are closed the rest of the year as the seas can get too rough for boats and divers during this time. It is so exposed to the elements from May-Oct that the authorities close the park in full for safety.
You will find the regularity of trips less during the ‘summer’ season of May-Oct from Chalong. Don’t worry though, there is still great diving to be had. Many people worry about the weather at that time of year as it is considered rainy season. The truth is, it usually rains for an hour or two and then the sun is back out in full for most of that time of year. Do bear in mind that it may be grey and wet for a couple of days on occasion though.
When is best to visit?
To be frank, the best dive site in Phuket is most likely considered Richelieu Rock, up in the Surin National Park. It really is one that should be on your list if you are diving in Thailand. With that in mind, you can only access the national park between late October and early April.
We would highly recommend that you do a liveaboard as the Similan and Surin National Parks are a little way out. Also, there is ample diving for 4-6 days if you include the Koh Tachai and Koh Bon. Liveaboards also give you a better diving schedule as you can often can sleep right near to your next days diving. If you like diving on uncrowded, yet popular sites, it is certainly the way to go. You can be out of the water after your first dive before the day boats even arrive. Very sophisticated.
If you are in Thailand outside of the months of October to April, do dive the south east. There is some nice reef diving and a couple of wrecks, King Cruiser the most well known. As mentioned before, the scheduling will be a little more sparse at that time of year as it is less busy. There will still be plenty of day boats and some liveaboards operating.
When diving in Phuket what will I see during the season?
As with all diving, there a never any guarantees although the list below details the likely stuff that you will come across.
There are many options for scuba diving in Phuket for beginners. The paradise island is a hotspot for divers as the weather is great, the water warm and the prices are very reasonable. Also, the locals are known for their friendliness and laid back attitude. Phuket is the biggest island in ‘The Land of Smiles’ and is truly a stand out destination.
Scuba Diving in Phuket for Beginners – Where to look
There are dive centers all over the island, in every town. The main tourist towns are on the west coast. Kata, Karon and Patong being the three most popular. Chalong is the main diving hub for the dive sites to the south and east of the island.
The picture above shows where the groupings of dive centres are so it is unlikely you will be far from one wherever you are on the island. But just in case here are some good companies you may wish to take a look at –
There are two ways that you can proceed when starting to dive.
The first option is to test out diving whilst a diving professional escorts you around giving you a chance to experience the sensation of breathing underwater. This is called a ‘discovery dive’ and is a great way to determine if you would like to enrol and get your diving license, or maybe you are the type who would prefer to get straight to the point…
The second option is to go directly in to your ‘Open Water’ course which usually takes 3 days. You will do one day of diving in a confined area, usually a pool. On the subsequent days you will head out into the sea for some skills drilling and more real world experience.
As someone who is new to diving there is unlikely a need to worry about equipment, your dive school should have that factored into your course. Diving insurance should also be included, although it is most likely a good idea to double check.
Studying beforehand is expected and we would advise that you do take this seriously. Completing the e-learning section prior to your course will assist you greatly in passing as there is quite a lot to take on. Furthermore you do want to be the best diver you can be surely right?
Why Scuba Dive?
Scuba diving really is one of the most fascinating sports you are likely to come across. First of all, we do not know all that much about the sea, certainly with regards to how much we know about the world on land. There truly is a wonderland under the surface hence why we highly recommend you explore it.
Bouyancy control, getting used to the equipment and understanding the science behind it all are a great challenge. When you have mastered the basics you will naturally relax more and start to really take in the environment around you.
Finally, you never forget the first time you see a Manta Ray, or a Whale Shark. Utterly incredible moments. There are things out there that you do not even know how much you love yet. Just wait until you see how dorky Bumphead Parrotfish are…
Welcome to our price guide for scuba diving in Phuket. What we aim to achieve here is a rough guide of costs for your days in the water. Everything from courses to gear hire as best we can.
Thailand is renowned as a great place for learning to scuba dive. The prices have always been affordable, even with an expensive Thai Baht. What you get for your money also is diving in utter paradise, the amazing Thai cuisine and laid back hospitality of the Thai people. Hence Phuket makes for one of the best holiday destinations known.
Prices for Scuba Diving in Phuket
There are a few things to bear in mind with the differences in prices. Firstly, some courses may be held on less days than others. Trips may be to different destinations and include transfers. Also, some prices may include things like equipment already. The below table is so that you can get an idea on price for scuba diving in Phuket.
For those of you with a slightly higher budget there are many liveaboard options in Phuket. The main areas where they operate are the Similan and Surin national parks and are the best way to visit those sites. Our favourite is The Junk (also happens to be Scaramanga’s boat from the film Man with the Golden Gun, for all you James Bond nerds)