Thailand pink anemone and fish shutterstock 357619118b opt

pen ink well goldA note from Dom  ... Tempting Thailand 

For me personally, the Thai waters hold less of the "wow" factor than, for instance, Indonesia, the Philippines or the Solomons.  Still, I enjoyed the extensive & vividly colored coral gardens, the intriguing topography &had some pretty terrific critter-time there.  Plus, in the strong currents on the open-water side, we had good-sized schools of barracudas, jacks & trevally for excitement.                             read more

Then there's the add-on bonus of migrating whale sharks (generally January to May) and manta rays (typically early December to the end of April).  So, if those are a big draw for you, we need to time your visit to include them.

I'd like to add that the beauty of the undersea world here is matched by the gentle & gracious nature of the Thai culture.  Having had the incredibly good fortune one year to spend 10 amazing weeks travelling here, exploring land and sea, I have to hope that you can spare some time to include a bit of exploration on terra firma ....

If wish to venture further afield for diving in the Andaman Sea, the Burma Banks, Mergui Archipelago and the Andaman Islands offer quite unusual underwater landscapes with interesting diving.  See The Junk & Diva Andaman for liveaboards who generally schedule trips into Burmese waters.  The Thailand Aggressor occasionally schedules trips up into Burma, also.  It's another world, a world well-worth experiencing, and one I would, with pleasure, help you to access.

When you're ready to hear more, I'm an email away and will respond to your request with any additional details that you wish.     Cheers, Dom

Thailand & Burma diving

Thailand rice farmer shutterstock 460985530b opt

globe th CopyLocated on the Indochina peninsula, bordered by Malaysia, Burma, Laos & Cambodia, is charming Thailand.   The Gulf of Thailand lies to the west & offers the best of Thailand's diving around the Similan Islands, a group of 9 rocky islands which offer divers fascinating diving terrain.   India, a distant neighbor across the Andaman Sea, is often a starting point for trips into the northern & western parts of the Andaman Sea & to the Mergui Archipelago & Burma Banks.

Thailand diving  ...  the essentials

  • pinnacles, tunnels, fantastic swim-throughs, walls and slopes
  • vividly colored coral gardens & coral bommies
  • barracudas, giant trevally, Napoleon wrasse, snappers, blue fin tuna, giant moray eels
  • leopard sharks, blue spotted stingrays, manta rays, even whale sharks in season
  • clown trigger fish, angelfish, rabbit fish, cuttlefish
  • scorpion fish, frogfish, mantis shrimp, porcelain crabs, pipefish, cleaner shrimp, fire dart goby, popcorn shrimp

Thailand Destination Page Vertical Insert

Hard & soft corals in blazing colors ... with pelagics tossed into the mix

In Thailand, the hot spots for divers are the Similan and Surin Islands off the west coast of the peninsula.  They offer a geologic combination of granite and limestone.  The huge granite boulders and weathered limestone both create tunnels and caves and swim-throughs galore. 

There is access to pelagic action, great coral gardens and plenty of engaging critters.

Thailand is known for magnificent hard & soft corals lure exquisitely-colored fish into their gardens on the protected side of the islands. Then, in the strong currents on the open-water side, particularly at Richelieu Rock, the diving is vastly different.

These waters host a long list of big fish including barracudas, jacks, tuna and trevally and are graced by visits from migrating Whale Sharks and Manta Rays in the spring months.

The Burma Banks & the Mergui Archipelago also offer quite unusual underwater landscapes with exciting diving.

The diving by region

Thailand Andaman Sea Bright CoralsSimilan Islands
Nine granite islands, covered in dense jungle and ringed by sandy bays are located some 80-100 kilometres off the island of Phuket, Thailand. The Similans offer a sumptuous variety of diving for experienced divers in the strong currents of the eastern shores, but for all divers and even snorkelers on the western sides.

You'll find enormous granite boulders, descending down to 40 meters with swim-throughs, caves and tunnels, making the diving more challenging.

The serious adrenaline rush comes on the western slopes in the strong currents created by the waters meeting these massive rocks. Diving is challenging but rewarding, offering more swim-throughs and plenty of colorful reef fish, including sharks, and sting rays amongst the larger categories, but also eels and a variety of critters, such as ghost pipefish, frogfish and ribbon eels Even on this side of the islands you'll find sponges and gorgonians that will take you breath away.

Adding to the excitement, you'll find that at the right time of the year you're in one of top locations for whale sharks and manta rays.  Richelieu Rock, which is covered in soft corals, hosts a vast array of fish: Moorish idols, bearded scorpion fish, titan triggerfish and lionfish, crabs and nudibranchs to name just a few.

And as major food supply is not abundant in this sea, it's quite natural that the pelagics would find their way here to fill their bellies. You'll run into jacks and tuna and trevallies, rainbow runners, great barracuda, plus the delight of the mating cuttlefish in addition to whale sharks and manta rays.

Elephant Head is another favorite site with more boulders, swim-throughs with caverns, arches and grottoes to explore. Soft corals & hard corals abound, schools of yellowtail snappers and yellowtail fusiliers, imperial and emperor angelfish, leopard sharks.

Thailand Manta at Wall 190Burma Banks & Mergui Archipelago
These areas are largely known for shark encounters and the islands themselves are pretty well uninhabited and untouristed. The four banks, Silvertip, Rainbow Reef, Roe and Big Banks, have raging currents which have cut ethereal oral underwater formations sporting incredibly large table corals ... read more ...

A large tunnel runs right through western rocky island, which houses sleeping nurse sharks and countless crayfish. in addition to the nurse sharks, you almost certain to see bull sharks, grey reef sharks, black tips and white tips.

More of the same at black rock but adding to the wonder are scores of manta rays, marbled rays, Jenkins rays and the rare mangrove ray, schooling mobula rays and spotted eagle rays.

Favorite dive sites are Black Rock, North Twin, South Twin, Three Islets, and Shark Cave which all include plenty of variety. From multiple species of sharks, pelagics, schooling fish & unusual macro life to caves, caverns, steep walls and rock covered with coral and fans, the wealth of aquatic life combined with clear water will please underwater photographers and marine naturalists.

Andamans Mangroves 190 Andaman Islands
These Islands cover an area of just over 8,000 square kilometers with 500 islands, islets and rocky outcrops (only 26 islands are currently inhabited).  Many of the islands are surrounded by reefs which can be several hundred metres wide & separated from the shore by a lagoon of similar width ... read more ...

There are also steeply sloping reef walls & coral pinnacles or knolls. Divers can cruise around hills of black volcanic lava and find large pelagics: sharks, large schools of hammerheads, grey, white tip, nurse and leopard sharks, silvertips and oceanic white-tips are sometimes seen.

You'll be fascinated by the cleaning stations where giant barracuda wait for their teeth to be cleaned. Enormous manta rays, bumphead parrotfish and napoleon wrasse are also often seen, sometimes by the dozens.

Thailand / Burma map ... zoom & click the markers for airports, boat departure points & diving