Krabi is one of the best kept secrets when it comes to great scuba diving in Thailand.
Located on the southeast coast of Thailand, it is neatly tucked in between the provinces of Phang Nga and Trang. Krabi boasts stunning sea views of the famous Phang Nga Bay, often used as décor for Hollywood movies.
The sea in Krabi is dotted with hundreds of steep green limestone islands.
Lush mangrove forests and eye catching limestone cliffs surrounded the breath taking beaches.
Krabi has a vibrant and adventurous feel both on land and underwater. Krabi is a super laid back destination for tourism and scuba diving, and only a 4 hour drive from bustling Phuket.
To see the best diving sites in the Similans (accessible from just north of Phuket) read here – Khao Lak Diving
Krabi Diving – Scuba hotspots
The Phang Nga Bay is part of the Andaman Sea and offers a wide variety of scuba diving in and around Krabi. There are pinnacles that feature an abundance of coral and reef fish, combined with the opportunity to see larger pelagics.
Experienced divers who fancy some exhilarating underwater action will definitely enjoy themselves exploring the shipwrecks, overhangs and caves. Also, novice divers have a multitude of dive sites to choose from, varying from colourful coral reefs to walls filled with macro marine life.
Krabi is the ideal starting point for getting to Ao Nang and Koh Phi Phi, two of the best scuba diving areas in Thailand.
Ao Nang Islands – Krabi’s diving finest
Very close to Krabi, the scuba diving options are plentiful. Only a short boat ride to the north, you will find the island groups of Ao Nang where you can spot seahorses, pipefish and a whole array of luminous nudibranchs. Macro divers will no doubt have a field day here as the variety of macro life is magnificent. Set in a decor of coral reefs and swim-throughs, there is a good chance of seeing barracudas, spiny lobsters and the occasional banded sea krait. The Ao Nang islands are relatively sheltered. As such, you can dive here all year round, no matter the season.
Read about some of our favourite dive sites in Ao Nang below:
A tunnel traversing the island underwater is home to a nursery for young blue spotted stingrays. You may find groups of them snoozing on the seabed. Qualified divers should certainly not miss this special dive site, but novice divers will also enjoy taking a peek inside.
The tunnel is about 50 metres in length and you can surface in a stunning cave on the way. Also, other usual suspects in the cave include pick handle barracudas. During the day they normally hang out in the tunnel before they go hunting at night.
Outside the cave, search for seahorses, pipe fish, and nudibranchs.
A nice and shallow dive site, with a maximum depth of 15 metres, take your time to find more of Ao Nang’s little treasures. Bent stick pipefish, all kinds of shrimps and of course nudibranchs are only a few examples. Look for (baby) bamboo sharks under the rocks; they may be as little as 20cm in size!
Most importantly, explore the short swim through where you can find banded sea kraits and spiny lobsters.
Just like Koh Yawabon, Koh Talu features a scenic swim through under the island. It is helpful to know that this one is much shorter. Once iside, look carefully for a unique and beautiful kind of nudibranch: a special flabellina variety that is purple and yellow. A tiger tail seahorse usually hangs out at the end of the cave. Try to spot the bamboo sharks hiding in the rocky outcrops. Again, keep an eye out for blue spotted stingrays in the sandy bottom. Wondrous macro critters galore! Most of your dive will be around 12 meters depth or less. This creates perfect conditions for a long dive to enjoy the marine incredible life on display.
Krabi Diving – Koh Phi Phi
The world renowned scuba diving destination easily accessible from Krabi is Koh Phi Phi. With a grand collection of dive sites, Koh Phi Phi National Park offers something for every diver level. Around Phi Phi there are also several tiny islands where the diving is epic. Day dive boats depart on most days from Krabi to Koh Phi Phi, which is a journey of approx. 2.5 hours. Or choose to travel by speedboat; then the trip only takes a mere 45 minutes.
This tiny island tops most divers’ bucket list for good reasons, one of Krabi’s finest for diving. A kaleidoscope of corals adorn the shallow reefs and vertical walls all the way into the deep. Overhangs and crevices provide a home to moray eels, shrimps and other critters. This is a very ‘fishy’ dive, in the best sense of the word. For the entire dive, you will be surrounded by parrot fish, all kinds of different wrasses, friendly moorish idols, butterfly fish, angel fish and more!
Bida Nai offers fantastic swim throughs filled with huge groups of schooling glass fish. A great place to find scorpion fish, ghost pipe fish, nudibranchs and many a variety of shrimps. The reef features sea whips, gorgonian fans and large barrel sponges which attract large numbers of lionfish. You can also spot hunting trevally, trigger fish and jacks. Sometimes black tip reef sharks and leopard sharks are resting under rocks or patrolling the sandy areas.
This karst pinnacle rises up from 30 metres’ depth and is completely covered with a stunning number of multi-coloured anemones. The anemones, in turn, are home to thousands of anemone fish and damsel fish, plus the usual associated shrimps and anemone crabs. Between a colourful décor of fusiliers, yellow snappers, butterfly fish, banner fish, trumpet fish, sweetlips, trigger fish, spot the moray eels and other critters in the cracks. To summarise, colours and incredible bustling marine life are the keywords for this dive site.
Close to Anemone Reef, this is also a scuba diving site featuring a pinnacle adorned with some of the most abundant and colourful soft corals in Thailand, It is home to literally thousands of fish and other marine species. Shark Point’s name comes from the leopard shark that you can often spot resting on the bottom. Currents can be strong here, bringing along plenty of plankton and nutrients. These nutrients nurture many types of fish species that are not commonly seen on other Thai dive sites. In the shallows, for instance, look for orange spine unicorn fish. See how many types of shy, juvenile reef fish you can spot hiding in the pink and purple soft corals. If you are lucky you can find the pair of tiger tail seahorses who have made their home on the main pinnacle.
These pinnacles literally explode with life; the sheer density of corals, fish and marine life make diving here a wonderful, magical experience.
In Thai, Hin Daeng means Red Rock. Here, together with Hin Muang, you will experience some of the best scuba diving in Thailand. The dive sites in this area are suitable for divers with experience beyond beginner level. Just breaking the surface, Hin Daeng offers a multitude of diving sites at variable depths, all covered in red tree soft corals. These corals are home to millions of small reef fish, boxer shrimps, octopus and giant morays.
Schools of trevallies, barracudas and rainbow runners circle around this reef to feed. Chances of seeing a leopard shark on the southern wall are high. Moreover, keep an eye out for whale sharks and manta rays. Pelagic fish such as jacks hang out close to the rocks. Hin Daeng is also a great place to search for critters such as nudibranchs, cowrie shells and various species of shrimps. Mainly between November and May, you may come across a manta ray or a whale shark!
Close to Hin Daeng, Hin Muang is a long rocky ridge ranging between 8-70 metres. It is actually connected to Hin Daeng, but the depth prohibits a dive between the two. Currents can sweep quite strongly over the ridge, but there is a sheltered side to dive on as well. The rock of Hin Muang is covered in purple soft corals and anemones. Predators like jacks and trevallies hunt the massive schools of tiny silversides.
This dive site is home to an amazing amount of marine life. Look for leopard sharks on the eastern tip. After that, the other usual suspects include trigger fish, barracudas, snappers, groupers, trevally, giant moray eels, lion fish, puffer and porcupine fish. There is a great variety of colourful fish such as angel fish, moorish idols, and oriental sweetlips. Similarly, box fish normally make an appearance here too.
However, macro lovers should search carefully in the coral for boxer shrimps and ghost pipe fish. Just like in Hin Daeng, rainbow runner, tunas, whale sharks and manta rays make an regular appearance here.
Keep in mind that the conditions on dive sites can vary and the area can be prone to strong currents.
This 85 metre passenger ferry sank in 1997 after colliding with Anemone Reef. It used to ferry people and cars between Phuket and Phi Phi. Fortunately, out of the 500 passengers on board there were no casualties. The King Cruiser landed almost on the reef at 30 metres in an upright position. The captain’s cabin is the shallowest point at only 12 metres depth.
Huge numbers of schooling fish and hordes of lionfish have made the wreck their home and the steel structure is now almost completely encrusted in corals. For the keen eye, all kinds of nudibranchs live here too. In summary, this is an exhilarating dive plus a perfect example of a thriving artificial reef.
Kled Kaew Wreck
In 2014, the Thai government sank this 50 metre long ex-naval gunship deliberately for the purpose of becoming an artificial reef. In a relatively short time this wreck became home to massive numbers of fish; lion fish, scorpion fish, and some of the biggest puffer fish and porcupine fish we have ever seen. Massive schools of yellow snappers and fusiliers sometimes make it almost difficult to see the wreck.
Look for blue spotted stingrays on the sand below. Also, on and around the wreck you will find nudibranchs of all kinds, groupers, rabbit fish, snapper, damselfish, trevallies, squid and barracudas.
Krabi Diving – Other fun things to do
Railay Beach – A small secluded paradise in Krabi for after diving
After your days of diving, enjoy a day out in Railay Beach, a short longtail boat ride away. Not only boasting gorgeous beaches and views, Railay is only accessible by boat due to large limestone cliffs on each side cutting it off from the mainland. Also, for that reason there are no roads or cars on Railay. A true slice of paradise.
Try rock climbing, it is spectacular for the limestone cliffs and views. If you want to really feel away from the world this might just be as good as it gets.
Thong Klom Hot Springs
If you are in for a relaxing day, pay a visit to the Krabi Hot Springs. Set inside beautiful rainforest surroundings, the springs have been cut into the smooth rocks. Furthermore, the water originates from deep rooted thermal springs that are located inside volcanic chambers. This water reaches a temperature of 40C and contains natural minerals that have many healing properties. You can totally chill out and relax here and if you fancy a cool swim after, jump directly in the stream.
Wat Tham Sua
Another of Thailand’s natural wonders and certainly worth a visit is this warren of caves that sit in the middle of the jungle and are home to many monks. Legend has it that a tiger once lived in the cave which is what is temple is named after.
Exploring the caves, you can find many icons and relics to admire. Also, be sure you visit the ‘Footprint of Buddha’. However, this is a good climb up 1,237 steps, which is no small task. Although, once at the top you are rewarded with 360 degree views on the Andaman Sea with the beautiful islands.
In conclusion, Krabi is a world class scuba diving and tourism destination. Take advantage of the relative peace and quietness in Krabi to explore the best dive sites, as well as the natural and cultural wonders nearby.
What do to next…
If you are arriving in Phuket and are looking to dive the sites above, we highly recommend the southern itineraries with The Junk Liveaboards. Check them out, you won’t regret it.