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POCKET GUIDE D I V E

Thailand
including the M e rg u i A rc h i p e l A g o

www.diveguidethailand.com

PAUL LEES PG 2009 EDItIon

Australia A$17.60 (incl. GST) Europe €11 Singapore S$22.50 (incl.GST)


Thailand B450 UK £7.50 USA US$14.50 Sweden SEK105
See listing on Page 165
See listing on Page 110
pocket guide
Dive Thailand

Cover photo & above: Golden damselfish (Amblyglyphidodon aureus)

Contents
Map of Thailand & the region 10
About the author 12
About Pocket Guide dive Thailand 14
Introduction to Thailand 16
Travelling to & around Thailand 24
Health & safety for divers 32
Diving & snorkelling in & around Thailand 42
Learning to Dive in Thailand 52
The Andaman Sea
Phuket 93
Khao Lak 113
Mu Koh Similan Marine National Park 122
Mu Koh Surin Marine National Park 129
The Mergui Archipelago 131
Krabi 135
Koh Phi Phi 147
Mu Koh Lanta Marine National Park 157
The Gulf of Thailand
Western Seaboard
Koh Tao 169
Koh Phangan 181
Koh Samui 190
Eastern Seaboard
Pattaya 196
Mu Koh Chang Marine National Park 206
Alphabetical index of dive centres 220
Published by Sun Offa Beach Co., Ltd., 29/116 Moo 2, Chuan Chuen Lagoon,
T. Koh Kaew, A. Muang, Phuket 83002, Thailand, in cooperation with Phuket
Publicity Services Part., Ltd. EDITOR: Wilai Suksalee.
info@golfguidethailand.com, www.golfguidethailand.com
PRINTER: Siam Offset Co., Ltd, 9/1 Soi Sriaksorn Tungmahamek, Bangkok 10120
©2008 Sun Offa Beach Co., Ltd and Phuket Publicity Services Part., Ltd. All rights
reserved. The contents of this book may not be reproduced or copied in any form
– printed, electronic, photocopy or otherwise – except for excerpts used in reviews,
without the written permission of the copyright holders. Text & photography, © Paul
Lees (unless otherwise stated in the book). Design & layout, © Grenville Fordham.
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OvErvIEW MAPS
Dive Thailand

Thailand & neighbouring countries

Principal diving destinations

10
AbOUT THE AUTHOr
Paul Lees

B
ritish born writer and photographer, Paul Lees, has
travelled extensively throughout Asia, gaining first-hand
insight and absorbing local perspective along the way.
Numerous valuable experiences have been stored in the
form of pictures and words, which have since appeared in
many internationally acclaimed publications including New
Holland’s best selling coffee table presentations Top Dive
Sites of the Indian Ocean, The Dive Atlas of the World and
Diving with Giants, as well as Dorling Kindersley’s Eyewitness
Guide to Thailand.
Aside from spearheading the Pocket Guide series, Paul
holds the qualification of Master Instructor under two scuba
diving training agencies. He also specialises in underwater
photography and is a regular contributor to regional and
international scuba diving magazines.
He has also been bringing the underwater world to the
surface in the form of natural history documentaries and TV
shows, including ABC Kane’s The Living Edens and the BBC’s
Really Wild Show.
When not engrossed with the range of Pocket Guide titles, he
continues to pay attention to expanding his extensive image
library on subjects both above and below the ocean surface.
Paul currently lives in Thailand with his family.
photo by Wilai Suksalee

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AbOUT POCKET GUIDE
Dive Thailand

T his, the 2009 edition of Pocket Guide DIvE Thailand,


follows the Pocket Guide philosophy: written by experts
who are passionate about their subject and widely distributed
to reach active, travelling divers and those interested in taking
up the sport, providing an informative, quality publication.

The contents of the book start with a series of introduction


sections, namely: Introduction to Thailand, Travelling to &
around Thailand, Diving & snorkelling in & around Thailand,
plus a section on Health & safety when diving.

The book then covers the different diving regions, each


with its own introduction and map, plus descriptions of the
region’s featured divesites. These are followed by detailed
listings of featured dive operators and a regional directory
of local services and travelling logistics. Each dive operator
listing and directory has a uniform layout to maintain the
high standard and profile that are the hallmarks of a Pocket
Guide publication.

Although every effort has been made in putting together


this, the 2009 Edition of Pocket Guide DIvE Thailand, there
is always the possibility of changes to the conditions at
divesites or facilities offered after going to print.

If you find that we have misrepresented any details, please


send an email telling us what you found wrong. Your input
will help us correct errors for the next edition, which will
contain credits to all readers who have kindly supplied
valuable input. Comments to: info@diveguidethailand.com
If you have enjoyed this title, or we trust found it useful, there
are other topic-specific guides in the series.

Pocket Guide GOLF Thailand gives an in-depth overview


of each of the golfing regions around the country including
featured courses and how best to play them. These are
complemented by, amongst others, informative sections
covering golfing tips and tricks, healthy playing, golf for
all the family and living the golfing lifestyle. A worthy
companion to any players’ scorecard!

Pocket Guide FOOD Thailand (due for release first quarter


2009) is packed with signature dish recipes and how to create
them from top restaurants around Thailand. There are also
sections covering regional flavours, different cooking styles,
preparation and presentation techniques,
as well as healthy and alternative
ingredient suggestions making it an
ideal meal planner and food shopping
guide where ever you are. After all,
everyone has to eat!
14
InTrODUCTIOn
to Thailand

A
t the heart of South East Asia, Thailand is an independent
kingdom combining 20th-century sophistication with an
ancient culture that has evolved over the past 700 years.

Covering just over 500,000 sq km it is bordered by Malaysia


to the south, Myanmar to the west, Laos to the north and
Cambodia to the east. It is unique amongst Southeast Asian
nations in that it has never been occupied by a foreign
colonial power. Largely as a result, it has maintained a
cohesive sense of national identity and traditional culture.

Tourism
With over five million annual visitors, Thailand is one of the
most popular tourist destinations in Asia. It has an enormous
amount to offer, from ancient temples to rainforests and
remote islands with palm-fringed beaches – and, of course,
coral reefs teeming with life for divers and snorkellers. Tourism
is an important part of the kingdom’s service economy.

The country has also recently become a bit of a golfers’


paradise. In relation to its neighbours, Singapore, Hong Kong,

One of Thailand’s many glorious golf courses

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Taiwan, Korea and Japan, it’s excellent value for money. As Isan
a result, many Asian and European tourists now visit in the Separated from Laos by the Mekong River, the northeast
winter months from November to March and enjoy a wide plateau is dominated by agriculture (rice, fruit and vegetables)
range of impressive golf facilities all around the country. and is one of the poorest regions in the country.

For best information and insight on where, when and how to Known as Isan, this region has a distinct culture and dialect
play, see Pocket Guide GOLF Thailand and its online version, PG (reflecting its proximity to Laos), and although it is the least
www.golfguidethailand.com developed area in Thailand, this part of the country is well
worth visiting, with ancient stone temples dating back
bangkok and the regions of Thailand almost 10 centuries. Isan is growing in importance as the
The population of Thailand is around 60 million, with gateway to Laos.
approximately 10 million people living in the capital,
Bangkok. This massive, vibrant, traffic-bound city dominates Central Plains
the country’s central region and functions as the cultural, The central plains are another important rice-growing area
religious, economic and political centre of the country. and, although most visitors tend to pass them by on their
way further north, there are ancient cities, such as Ayutthaya
Thailand is divided into four distinct regions: the mountainous and Sukhothai, which repay exploration.
north, the vast northeast plateau, the central plains, and the
narrow Isthmus of Kra to the south, stretching down to the The Andaman Sea
border with Malaysia. It’s the islands and beaches of southern Thailand that hold the
greatest appeal for tourists and, whether you’re looking for
Once covered in teakwood forests, the mountainous solitude or sophisticated nightlife, there is plenty of choice.
northern region appeals to the adventurous traveller, with
one of the main attractions being the prospect of trekking The Andaman coastline, to the west of the Kra Isthmus,
through remote – and not so remote – villages inhabited by a boasts fabulous scenery and dazzling beaches. The largest
diversity of tribal peoples. The main focal point for the region and best-known of the island destinations here is Phuket,
is the growing centre of Chiang Mai, Thailand’s ‘second’ city. which has been attracting tourists for a number of years and
is now in full swing, high-rise hotels appear inexorably above
From the viewpoint, just south of Kai Bae on Koh Chang the palm trees.

Further south, the island of Koh Phi Phi and the beaches
around Krabi on the mainland are slowly but surely building a
foothold on the tourist map and, although not as established
as Phuket, they are geared up to welcome all visitors – from
independent travellers to families – as is the more remote
and charming island of Koh Lanta Yai further south.

The Gulf of Thailand


In the Gulf of Thailand, on the other side of the Kra Isthmus,
the most established destination is the island of Koh
Samui; the other islands within the Samui Archipelago, Koh
Phangan and Koh Tao, are also popular tourist and diving
destinations.

To the east of Bangkok, the beach resort of Pattaya bears


little resemblance to the real Thailand and has a notorious
reputation, but further east still there are several virtually
untouched islands awaiting the adventurous traveller – Koh
Chang, for instance, which is the country’s second largest
island offers miles of beaches and unexplored forest along
with its less developed neighbour, Koh Kut.
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Getting there the penalties are draconian. The allowances for the usual
More than 50 international airlines serve the country with luxury goods – perfume, alcohol and the like – vary, so check
daily direct flights to Bangkok from most major cities in them before departure. Please note that you are required to
Europe, USA and Australia. There are also frequent flights bring a minimum amount of currency into the country which
from all over South East Asia to Bangkok and Phuket. varies depending on your visa.

You can drive into Thailand from Malaysia and Laos – the Getting around
latter journey takes you over the famous Thai-Laos Friendship For longer distances air travel is the easiest option and
Bridge across the Mekong, at Nong Khai. If you are coming not prohibitively expensive. Nok Air and Thai Airways
into the country from Singapore or Malaysia – and if you International both have extensive domestic networks;
have a great deal of money to spare – think about the 34hr Bangkok Airways has a smaller one. Recent years have seen
journey on the luxurious Eastern & Oriental Express, sister to deregulation of air travel in Thailand and a number of new
the legendary Orient Express. low-cost domestic carriers. Reliability may be factor.

visas Thailand has a good rail service: the fares are inexpensive,
People of most nationalities can obtain free visas, valid 30 timetables are usually adhered to, and the trains themselves
days, on arrival at Bangkok International Airport and other are comfortable and clean – with four classes covering
entry points; these will be issued only if you have a current four main lines; Northern, North-eastern, Southern and
passport and ticket to take you out of the country at the end Eastern – so that you can choose between economy and air
of your stay. Longer-stay visas are available, for a fee, from Thai conditioned luxury. One pitfall to avoid is that of not booking
embassies and consulates around the world: specify whether early enough: on the trunk routes you should do so at least
you want a transit visa (valid 30 days), a tourist visa (valid 60 a month in advance. The main railway station in Bangkok
days) or a non-immigrant visa (valid 90 days and difficult to serving all destinations is Hua Lumphong Railway Station.
obtain). If you have a tourist visa you can, once in Thailand,
apply for a 30 day extension. If you plan to leave Thailand Long-distance buses are a cheaper alternative, but you take
temporarily during your stay, you must obtain a re-entry visa, your life in your hands on one of these; the driving is often
available from the Immigration Department in Bangkok. These atrocious. If you decide to risk it, opt for an air-conditioned
rules are subject to change so check current regulations prior service; the comparatively small cost difference is worth it. In
to departure remote areas you may be able to go to the opposite extreme
– from air-conditioning to just plain air – by travelling on a
Customs Songthaew. This is essentially an open-backed pick-up truck
Customs are usually no trouble, unless you are carrying with a couple of wooden benches in the back.
pornography, political propaganda, firearms, large amounts of
cash (over $10,000), or illicit drugs – for possession of which Taxis, Tuk tuks (three-wheeled scooters) and pedal-tricycles
operate in most parts of Thailand. You use these much as
A day trip dive boat returns to Phuket you would use a taxi at home, except that they require you
to negotiate a price before setting of – and remember to
bargain. Do note that in many areas the drivers may not speak
English, so, to avoid confusion, get your hotel receptionist to
write down your destination in Thai so that you can show it
to the driver. Ask at your hotel what a reasonable fare to the
destination might be.

Alternatively, self-drive is an option and by law, an


International driving license will need to be produced.

Money
The unit of currency is the Thai Baht, which comprises 100
satang. All major credit cards are widely accepted. If you
prefer travellers’ cheques, obtain them in either Sterling,
Euros or US dollars.
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Currency exchange can be done either at banks or, in the


major tourist areas, at currency exchange counters. The
larger hotels will also change money, but usually give a poor
rate of exchange. Daily exchange rates are published in two
English language newspapers — the Bangkok Post and the
Nation.

Tipping
The majority of major hotels include a service charge
and local taxes, however a tip of 10-15 per cent for an
appreciated service should be considered in restaurants and
after liveaboard excursions.

Health
No particular vaccinations or inoculations are officially
required before you enter the country, unless you do so from
an area where an infection is rife.

Check your route with your local consulate or embassy in


case there are necessary inoculations. Ask to be protected
against hepatitis A and B, tetanus, malaria and typhoid. Once
in Thailand, do not drink tap water.

Venereal diseases – notably AIDS – are extremely prevalent


so avoid casual liaisons. Rabies is likewise: If bitten by any
animal, seek medical attention immediately.

The standard of medical services in Thailand is generally high


– certainly in Bangkok and other big cities and in the major
tourist centres. A note of warning: Even if you take anti-
malarial tablets before travelling, it’s still possible to contract
malaria, so if you feel feverish when you return home contact
your doctor immediately and have a check-up, mentioning
that you have been in Thailand.

Key facts
Electricity: The supply is 220v AC 50Hz. Two-pin plugs with
either round or flat pins are used, so carry an adaptor
Mean temperatures: Air – 30-400C. Sea – 27-30C
Time zone: GMT + 7hr
Clothing: Lightweight clothes are most suitable. Long
trousers guard ankles from mosquito bites during the
evenings and are strongly recommended, as are waterproofs
for long dive-boat journeys
Diving agencies: Recreational – CMAS, PADI, SSI, some BSAC
and NAUI. Technical – ANDI, IANTD and TDI.
Diving gear: Included in the price of diving courses and
some dive trips; the larger dive centres all provide a full
rental service. OCEAN
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Dialling codes
The IDD for Thailand is: +66
To dial IDD from within Thailand, use 001 (or+)

Local dialling codes within Thailand need to be added for all


calls, even those made within the same area. When calling
from outside Thailand omit the prefix ‘0’.

Smaller islands have mobile phone numbers and are not on


a network.
Dialling codes within Thailand are:
• bangkok 02
• Koh Samui, Koh Phangan & Koh Tao 077
• Phuket & Khao Lak 076
• Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi & Krabi 075
• Pattaya 038
• Koh Chang 039

Public holidays 2009


January 1 New Years Day October 23 Chulalongkorn
April 6 Chakri Memorial Day Day
April 13 – 15 Songkran november full moon Loi
May 1 Labour Day Krathong
May 5 Coronation Day December 5 HM The King’s
May 8 Visakha Puja Birthday / Father’s Day
July 1 Mid-year Day December 10 Constitution
July 7 Buddist Lent Day
August 12 HM The Queen’s December 31 New Year’s
Birthday/Mother’s Day Eve

Chaweng beach on Koh Samui

30 See listing on Page 193


HEALTH & SAFETy
for divers

D
ecompression Illnesses (DCI) or ‘the bends’, occurs when
bubbles of gas are trapped inside the body of a diver.
Symptoms include muscle and joint pain, skin rashes,
tingling sensations and in more serious cases neurological
problems and even paralysis.

Initial symptoms can be very subtle but gradually worsen


over time, and can occur within a few minutes to 48 hours
after the dive. Thankfully DCI is extremely rare with only
a small percentage of divers needing to be treated each
year. Statistics show that only a very small fraction of the
thousands who dive in Thailand every year are treated for
DCI.

It’s important to remember that Decompression Illness can


be difficult to diagnose and in many cases DCI symptoms
are similar to a lot of other medical problems that don’t

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HEALTH & SAFETy
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require treatment inside a hyperbaric chamber. This is why


it’s important for an injured diver to visit a hospital to be
completely checked out and diagnosed correctly.

If a diver has DCI then they will need to breathe oxygen under
pressure in a hyperbaric chamber. This helps break down the
bubbles of gas that are trapped in their body. The time they
need to spend inside the chamber can vary between 2 to 5 or
more hours depending on the severity of the symptoms. On
average a patient needs to receive 2 treatments inside the
chamber before their symptoms completely disappear.

DCI can be extremely expensive to treat, with the average


cost around 189,000 Thai Baht per patient. In the majority
of cases the diver will either have specific diving insurance,
or travel insurance that will cover the cost of treatment.
Unfortunately some travel insurance companies still classify
diving as a high risk activity and as a result will not cover
diving accidents. Regrettably the first time the patient is
made aware of this is after they have been treated!

As a result the badalveda Diving Medicine network offers


membership cards to individual divers that can provide
extra protection in the unlikely event that an accident
occurs. These cards cost only 300 Baht each and provide a
discounted rate for hyperbaric treatment at all Badalveda
Hyperbaric chambers in Thailand for a period of 1 year from
the cards issue date.

Although Badalveda have their own membership cards,


they advise divers to obtain personal insurance which
includes coverage for diving. To find out more, visit
www.dive-master.net For more information on Badalveda
talk to your local dive centre or call the Diving Medicine
Hotlines: +66 (0)81 989 9482, (0)86 272 4618.

Divers can call these numbers 24 hours a day for advice


and assistance about diving injuries, evacuation services or
general diving medicine questions, but please bear in mind
that these are emergency contact numbers!

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HEALTH & SAFETy
for divers

There are a number of medical problems that affect a person’s


fitness to dive. While someone may feel fine and may be
taking medication to treat an illness, it can be very difficult
to determine what will happen when he or she is placed in a
situation with increased pressure. Diving with a pre-existing
medical condition may not only put the diver in danger, but
also his or her dive partners.

It’s imperative always to answer truthfully on any diving


medical questionnaire and be cleared by a doctor if there are
any doubts. As a rough guide, any diver with the following
conditions should consult a doctor before commencing a
dive.

• Asthma
• Epilepsy
• Cardiovascular disease
• History of lung injury or disease
• High blood pressure / Hypertension
• Middle air or chronic sinus problems
• Gastrointestinal problems

It’s also important that divers receive clearance for any


medication they may be taking. It can be extremely
hazardous to dive with certain drugs in your system and you
should always consult with a doctor specialising in diving
before going ahead to dive.

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HEALTH & SAFETy
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D
iving is a very safe activity, but as in all aspects of life,
things can go wrong. Just as a skier can break a bone or
a general holidaymaker can get sick, a diver can fall foul
of some problems.

Medical bills and equipment costs are often more than an


individual can afford, so there is a need for specialist dive
insurance. It’s true that many travel insurance policies cover
diving, but these are modifications to general policies that
were never designed for an activity as specialist as diving.

You were probably enticed into diving for its adventure


and exploration, so it stands to reason that along with the
equipment and training you buy specifically designed
insurance.

Reputable dive insurance companies offer policies for all


levels of diver and all sectors of the dive industry. After all,
a company insuring the professionals of an industry is also
going to make sure its policies for general divers are top
notch.

These companies also update their policies regularly to keep


up with current trends in travel and diving. One of the most
recent updates for travellers to look for is diving day specific
insurance that can be bought at the resort. This means even
if you leave home with no intention of diving and therefore
have no specific insurance, you can still cover yourself for the
duration of your dive course or trip.

When buying insurance for diving don’t be seduced by the


lowest price. Look at what the policy will cover you for. Read
the policy details. Check the depth limit, the exclusions and the
costs being paid out. If possible, check the reputation of the
insurance company. A company that has been operating for a
number of years is often a better bet.

Everyone wishes they didn’t have


to have insurance and no one
thinks something is going to
happen to them, but the
fact is, things do happen
and a good insurance
policy standing behind
you will mean top quality
treatment and first class
service.

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T
hailand has much to offer the visiting diver and the Andaman Sea are uninhabited (apart from communities
snorkeller. There is a vast range of exhilarating sites of of Chao Ley – ‘sea gypsies’), and are crowned by lush primary
many different kinds, providing something for both vegetation tumbling down to a shoreline punctuated by
recreational and technical divers alike, regardless of their idyllic sandy beaches.
qualification levels or experience.
Most of the diving in this region is organized from the popular
With over 2,000km of coastline and hundreds of offshore holiday island destination of Phuket, with a wide variety of
islands, the variety is phenomenal, encompassing everything operators offering recreational and technical training, day
from extensive fringing reefs to deep drop-offs and wrecks, trips, and liveaboard options. The best time for diving is
dramatic granite walls, caves and tunnels, coral-covered between October and May.
pinnacles, and open ocean seamounts. Spectacular hard and
soft corals abound, and the marine life is prolific, ranging In general the Andaman Sea has more extensive coral reefs
from minute and colourful reef dwellers to manta rays, sharks but similar visibility to the Gulf of Thailand, with most of
and pelagic visitors such as giant barracuda, tuna, trevally the reefs around the offshore islands occurring on the east
and the mighty whale shark. sides of the islands, due to the influence of the southwest
monsoon; the west coasts tend to have rocky slopes
With the Andaman Sea to the west and the Gulf of Thailand descending to 10-30m in depth.
to the east, Thailand is unique in that it borders two distinct
oceanic zones, each with their own peculiarities and marine Towards the northern end of the Thai coastline, a series of
life. Many dive sites all around the coast share common granitic outcrops lie in deep, clear water with reefs descending
species, but on others the underwater terrain and reef to 25-30m and beyond in depth. These are the Similan and
communities show marked differences between the two Surin Islands, whose breathtaking underwater scenery and
sides of the peninsula’s coastline. great diversity of marine life have gained them a considerable
reputation in the diving community.
Andaman Sea
Extending from Myanmar down past the west coast of Given their proximity to Phuket, it is not surprising that these
Thailand to beyond the Malaysian border, the Andaman Sea two island groups are among the country’s most popular
forms part of the Indian Ocean. Many of the 155 islands in destinations for day trips and liveaboard excursions.

Anemonefish

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Further to the north in Myanmar is the Mergui Archipelago, The most southerly established dive sites in the country are
recently opened to foreigners, offering real wilderness diving to the south of Koh Lanta. They feature pristine corals and
over unusual underwater terrain, with the added attraction spectacular fringing reefs in potentially excellent visibility.
of shark encounters. Here are some of the finest dive sites in the country, such as
Hin Mouang, which features the deepest drop-off in Thailand,
The coastline of Phuket itself offers little for the experienced with depths in excess of 70m, and Hin Daeng, one of the
diver, although there are dive sites that can be (and are) used few remaining dive sites where both manta rays and whale
for training and are also a good option if bad weather prevents sharks are regularly encountered. Another dive destination in
boats getting to the better sites. the Andaman Sea that is still in its infancy is Mu Koh Tarutao
Marine National Park (just north of the Malaysian border),
These offshore sites are mostly to the south, and can be where dugongs have been seen.
reached by relatively short boat rides of between one and
two hours. They are all well worth the journey, but two in The Gulf of Thailand
particular (Shark Point and Anemone Reef) stand out as The Gulf of Thailand coast, at 1,840km well over twice as
being special in terms of the abundance of marine life. long as the Andaman Sea coastline, follows a great parabola
from the border with Malaysia on the south coast around to
Further south, the coastline at Krabi offers shallow fringing Cambodia and the southwest tip of Vietnam. The Gulf itself
reefs around impressive limestone formations (ranging in is a vast, shallow depression – generally less than 60m deep
size from underwater pillars to whole islands). Some of the and reaching a maximum of 85m – which, while incredibly
best snorkelling sites in the country are to be found here. productive, does not have continually great visibility.

Offshore, the Phi Phi islands, with their palm-fringed beaches, This is largely due to the turbid waters from river outlets being
have been growing in popularity as a dive base for the last two trapped in the Gulf by an underwater shelf that stretches
decades. This is not surprising as the local waters experience across the mouth of the Gulf from Malaysia to Vietnam. True
great visibility complemented with a rich variety of corals and reefs do not occur further north than those found in the Ban
marine life; shallow fringing and patch reefs are an added Krut area in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, just over 300km
attraction for snorkellers. south of Bangkok.

Dive boats at Koh Racha Yai There are 112 islands in the offshore waters of the Gulf, many
with fringing reefs interspersed with rocks and soft seabed.
Visibility around their shorelines tends to be better than
the mainland, where inshore waters are affected not only
by turbidity but by freshwater runoff and urban/industrial
pollution. The offshore reefs have a lower diversity than the
reefs of the Andaman Sea, but marine life is still prolific, with
Indo-Pacific species predominating.

The closest good diving and snorkelling to the south of


Bangkok is at Ban Krut. There are a number of very worthy
dive sites following the fringing reefs of rocky outcrops and
offshore islets. Both divers and snorkellers will find radiant
hard and soft corals, colourful schools of reef fish and
an exciting selection of visiting pelagics, including giant
barracuda and whale sharks.

Some of the best dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand are around
Koh Tao, 80km from the mainland. Sheer wall dives around
submerged pinnacles, tunnels and archways carpeted with
iridescent soft corals, pelagics (including sharks), and easy
snorkelling from the beaches over impressive coral gardens
are just some of the highlights of Koh Tao.
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Koh Phangan, 47km south of Koh Tao, is a Bohemian paradise.
The fringing reefs around the island are of limited appeal, but
two sites to the north – Sail Rock and Samran Pinnacles – are
truly world-class, spectacular wall dives, acting as a magnet for
numerous schools of pelagics.

Koh Samui, further south, has a well developed tourist


infrastructure and some enjoyable dive sites on its fringing
reefs. Visibility around Koh Samui is only slightly better
than that around Koh Phangan, and most people use it as
a convenient (and fun) base from which to dive sites to the
north of Koh Phangan or around Koh Tao.

Further to the south, the clear waters around Koh Losin, located
above the Malaysian border, are occasionally dived from
liveaboard excursions and are a great place for encountering
manta rays, whale sharks and large schools of trevally.

Working eastwards from Bangkok, Pattaya has a well


developed dive industry for both recreational and technical
divers. The better dive sites here are located around the ‘Far
Islands’ group, offering fringing reefs of hard and soft corals
and a selection of four enjoyable wrecks. Pattaya’s dive sites
also include the islands and islets off the small fishing village
of Samaesan 17kms further south.

Thailand’s easternmost diving and snorkelling area covers


the waters around and to the south of Koh Chang, in Trat
province. This is an up and coming destination and one
well worth visiting. Aside from a great diversity of dive sites
including reefs, walls and pinnacles the associated marine
life is as diverse as it is high and includes regular encounters
with all sizes of marine life from minute invertebrates up to
enormous whale sharks.

Diving seasons
The weather on either side of the Kra Isthmus and diving
conditions in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand
are dominated by two opposing monsoons, the northeast
and southwest monsoons. The northeast monsoon sweeps
across the Gulf of Thailand between mid October and mid
December, bringing heavy rain and strong winds – some dive
sites become inaccessible during this time as they suffer from
strong currents and reduced visibility. It’s during this period
that many tourists switch, as if by magic, to the west coast.

Those that stay on in the Gulf during this short time will find
themselves on nearly empty beaches, with the sun regularly
appearing from behind the clouds. An anomaly is that the
easternmost diving regions in Trat province remain sheltered
during this period.
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The Andaman Sea is sheltered from the worst effects of the Dive operators
northeast monsoon, and diving and snorkelling is at its best There are many top-notch dive centres in both the Andaman
from November to April. Underwater visibility ranges from 5m Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. PADI and SSI are the main
to 30m or more during this period. From May to October the certification agencies, in both recreational and technical
southwest monsoon strikes this region, bringing in its wake diving tuition. There are also a number of BSAC, CMAS and
towering seas and strong currents and increased turbidity. NAUI training facilities along with IANTD, ANDI and TDI
for the ‘Tekkies’. Entry-level courses through to Instructor
Conversely, the dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand are at their programmes and specialties like cave diving and underwater
best during this season, with only minimal winds and light photography are widely available.
showers to disturb the tranquillity of the beaches and seas.
Visibility can sometimes equal that of the Andaman Sea Most of the larger and better-established dive operators
during this period. There are always dive sites on either maintain their equipment to high standards, with a good
side of the Isthmus that are sheltered enough to be dived selection of sizes. BCDs, masks, fins, regulator and pressure
whatever the weather so, if you find in the wrong place at the consoles are obtainable everywhere; however, wetsuits,
wrong time, don’t despair! diving computers and underwater cameras are generally
only available at the more established facilities.
Water temperatures in Thailand generally range from 27˚C to
31˚C. A thin wetsuit or lycra suit is recommended, not simply renting equipment
for protection from exposure but also as a barrier to marine When you rent equipment − for your own safety and
hazards such as stinging cells which can be present. Oceanic comfort − you should remember to check the following:
sites (such as the Similans and the Burma Banks) are subject buoyancy Control Device (bCD)
to sudden cold currents or thermoclines which can chill the • Select the correct size. The last thing you want is a
water by up to 10˚C and, although these temperature dips BCD that restricts your breathing because it is too tight.
are localized, most divers still prefer to don 3-4mm wetsuits Conversely, if it is too large, you may feel you are about to
for thermal protection. slip out of it.
• Select a style or make that you are familiar with and take
Blue ribbon eel
into consideration belts, buckles and fastenings.
• Check there are no leaks.
• Ensure that the low-pressure inflator connector is securely
tightened.
• Ensure that both the deflator and power inflator buttons
function correctly and do not stick.
Mask
• Ensure the mask fits correctly and does not leak.
• Check the skirt for damage or tears.
• Check the strap for signs of wear and tear. Bear in mind
that if you lose the mask you might have to pay for it.
• Ask for an optical mask if required. Some larger operators
carry a wide selection of prescription lenses.
regulators
• Check ease of breathing through both regulators.
• Ensure regulators mouthpieces are in good condition and
that the bite lobes are okay.
• Purge regulator before putting it in your mouth – in the
tropics, you never know what might have crawled inside!
• Check the pressure gauge; satisfy yourself that it does not
stick.
Fins and booties
• Be careful to get the size right: too small can result in
cramp, too large and they may fall off.
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“T
here’s never been a better time to learn to dive!” you All the top training agencies are omni-present in Thailand and,
seem to hear it everywhere around Thailand these wherever there’s diving, there will be dive centres affiliated
days; in coastal resorts, on boats during passages to to one of them. Training mainly comes ‘The Professional
coral fringed tropical islands and even in the larger cities! Association of Diving Instructors’ (PADI) and ‘Scuba Schools
International’ (SSI), followed by the British Sub Aqua Club
But when talking about taking that memorable first breath (BSAC) in third place. CMAS and NAUI are here too, but with
underwater, the sales pitch is not only inaccurate, it can be a much smaller presence.
seen as intimidating − to say the least. A much better approach
is: “It’s always a great time to learn to dive in Thailand.” Why? Starting slowly
Simple. The water is clear and warm and filled with exciting Not everyone feels comfortable or has the time to jump
adventures and creatures to meet and explore. Golden in at the deep end and enrol in a multi-day commitment
opportunities arise all year round and your dive course will be without first getting a taste of the fun. But not to worry as,
fun and relaxing without the hustle and bustle of city life. in appreciation of this, the major training agencies offer
non-certified experience programmes. These are still under
What with great training facilities and calm and warm waters the guidance of a qualified dive professional and obviously
complemented by a second-to-none diversity of marine life, follow the highest of safety standards.
all readily available in many picture-postcard destinations,
this has to be one of the world’s top places to learn, continue Experiences range from taking that first breath underwater
learning or even create a career based around the planet’s in a swimming pool or just off the beach, to going on a dive
fastest growing recreational pastime of scuba diving. with an instructor in the open ocean. No corners are cut and
training covers all the basic skills needed to submerge and
Instruction is available in a number of forms, from freelance ascend safely. The only difference between these experience
instructors providing a small and personal service up to programmes and a certifying course is that, after completion,
five-star training centres with self-contained resort facilities you must still be accompanied by a diving professional at all
offering career development services allowing those who times and you cannot dive anywhere else. The advantage
want to learn to choose the style that best suits them. is that the course takes a short time and, even better, your
experience may count toward your certification (depending
Learning to dive is not something that can be self-taught. on the training agency) and you’ll be more than ready to sign
Instruction is essential and standard safety practices need up for a certifying course when time permits.
to be applied and upheld throughout, no matter the size of
operation. Thankfully this is the case in Thailand. There are For the family
also a number of award-winning facilities around the country As the interest and participation in scuba is on the increase,
proudly displaying their credentials − fine role models for images of black rubber-clad men immersing themselves
others to follow. in the abyss, whilst groups of ladies anxiously look on, are

Students prepare to descend for the first time An instructor takes care of a pair of entry level divers

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thankfully a vision of the past; nowadays the ladies are more


likely to be buddies! Diving couples have been coming to Originating in the UK, the bSAC
enjoy the tropical waters here for some time, some so regularly was formed in 1953, making it
that they’re now being accompanied by their families. the world’s largest dive club, with
1,000s of branches and over 33,000 members worldwide,
And the youngsters are not left out at all. PADI’s ‘Bubble Maker’ making it one of the most experienced diving agencies.
and ‘Seal Team’, along with SSI’s ‘Scuba Ranger’, programmes
The ethos of the BSAC is to train divers to a level where
give boys and girls aged eight years upwards the opportunity,
they are competent to dive in UK waters. Courses are
under professional guidance, to enjoy an exciting scuba
comprehensive in their content, but this doesn’t mean
experience whilst learning some cool underwater tricks into
they are any more difficult to complete.
the bargain. Programmes last around an hour or two in the safe
surroundings of a swimming pool or similar water conditions Over the last few years the BSAC has been steadily growing
in a protected area, and are a great way to get the youngsters throughout Asia. There are now currently 11 BSAC centres
hooked, either with or without their parents in tow! These in Thailand located both on the east and west coasts.
fabulous introductions to the underwater world are a great
way for kids to share valuable learning experiences, whilst To learn more about the BSAC visit: www.bsac.com
meeting new friends along the way, and are widely available
PADI was founded in 1966. It is the world’s
in all of Thailand’s diving destinations.
largest recreational diving membership
organisation. The membership includes
Convenience
dive businesses, resort facilities, academic
Thailand flaunts a comprehensive range of dive centres and
institutions, instructor trainers, dive
services, the majority in the southern provinces, but with
educators, divers, snorkellers and other
several in Pattaya and Koh Chang too. There’s also a small
water sports enthusiasts.
selection in Bangkok (generally branches or booking offices).
Having a city base is particularly useful for providing academic Professional PADI members teach the vast majority of
and shallow in-water tuition to the local community or to those the world’s recreational divers, issuing approximately
that have not yet reached their intended diving destination a million certifications every year, whilst maintaining
and are taking their time checking out the city sights first. the highest industry standards for dive training, safety
The one factor these dive centres all have in common is the and customer service. The total number of PADI dive
equally impressive selection of courses they offer. centres and resorts (IRRA Members) located worldwide is
approximately 5,300, with over 1,000 of these in the Asia-
For those working in full-time jobs and therefore tied up Pacific region and over 250 located in Thailand.
during office hours, knowledge development training can be
completed on line and practical training can be completed For more about PADI, visit: www.padi.com

SSI is a worldwide diver certification


In the classroom
agency and educational support
organisation and is recognised as an
innovative leader in diver education.
Founded in 1970, SSI provides state-of-
the-art training programmes, standards
and materials for all levels of diver education. Courses are
flexible, allowing instructors to tailor training to individual
students’ needs.
Permanent certification cards are issued at the dive
centre on completion of courses, which is handy for long
term travellers. The first SSI regional centre in South East
Asia opened in 1983 and is currently one of over 2,000
facilities in over 90 countries.
For more about SSI in Thailand, visit: www.ssithailand.com

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Crystal dive resort
CRYSTAL
DIVE RESORT

Koh Tao ’s A wa rd Winning Dive C ent re

All Levels of PADI Courses from


Beginner through to professional
Reef Check ECO Diver Courses

DSAT & TDI Technical Diving


Courses

Mae Haad Resort, t: +66(0)77 456106-7 f: +66(0)77 456105


Dive Team, t: +66(0)86 475 6115
Sairee Resort, t: +66(0)77 456954
Bangkok Office, t: +66(0)2 280 3601 f: +66(0)2 280 3603
info@crystaldive.com : www.crystaldive.com
See listing on Page 176
See listings on Pages 142 & 164
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in the evenings or over a weekend, whichever is most alongside those in other popular diving destinations around
convenient. Once the required skills and knowledge have the world. Very few compare favourably to Thailand.
been mastered, students can then be referred to an affiliated
branch or dive centre to complete the open water sections Courses
of the course, or any other uncompleted part of it for that At the end of the day, whichever training agency you adopt,
matter! they all operate to high safety standards.

Continuation does not need to be done immediately but there Entry level courses introduce students to the underwater
is a timescale involved; the instructor will advise how long the environment and how to comfortably adapt to the new-
completed training is valid for before it would need repeating. found surroundings, how to use the unfamiliar equipment
On a broader scale, this popular option of splitting the training and above all else – how to dive safely and relax.
(known as a referral) over more than one destination is
available internationally. On successful completion the newly certified divers are
qualified to dive unaccompanied by a diving professional, in
As long as all the training is completed within the designated the same conditions and to the maximum depth experienced
period and successful completion of the initial training can during training. However, with the great selection of dive
be proved, students from literally anywhere in the world centres around, you have the choice of joining any number
can complete their courses here, taking advantage of what of daily trips with the option of dives being led by trained
diving in Thailand has to offer, without committing to a full diving professionals.
course during their stay.
There’s no extra charge for this service as it’s included as
However, the majority of visitors opt to do the whole course standard in the dive trip price and it’s a great way to build
here – a sensible decision, as prices are extremely competitive confidence and familiarity for novice divers. Plus, if you don’t

Students repeating safety skills in the ocean (photo courtesy of SSI Thailand) Learning to dive is a fun experience (photo courtesy of PADI)

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We provide PADI Dive Education
from ‘Try dives’ up to Instructor level
« Discover Scuba Diving »
« Open Water Diver »
« Advanced Open Water »
« Rescue Diver »
« Specialties »

Scandinavian Dive Center


in Thailand since 1997

Snorkel Trips Take the next step...


Bounty Island - Coral Island and become a Pro
Phi-Phi Islands - Similan Islands
Diving Day Trips
Racha Yai - King Cruiser - Shark Point As a PADI 5-Star Instructor
Anemone Reef - Phi-Phi Islands Development Center, we provide
Similan Islands only the very best of diver training up
to and including the professional
You and your family and friends are levels of Dive Master or Instructor
always welcome on one of our two day
trip boats, join one of our popular
snorkel trips to one of the local tropical Scandinavian Divers
islands around Phuket and Khao Lak. 58/6 Soi Patong Resort, Patong Beach
Tel: +66 (0)76 294225-6
For bookings contact us in our shops in
Fax: +66 (0)76 292408
Kata Beach, Patong Beach or Khao Lak info@scandinavian-divers.com
www.diving-phuket-thailand.com
See listings on Pages 105 & 116
British owned and managed, Scuba Cat Diving
operates as a PADI 5 Star CDC Center, Go Eco
Operator and Reef Check Center. They also are
certified trainers for the International Association
for Handicapped Divers.

Scuba Cat Diving regularly schedules the full


range of PADI diving courses from ‘Bubble Maker’
for the kiddies, through ‘Open Water Diver’ for
beginners up to the professional level of Open
Water Diving Instructor.

Tailor-made ‘Career Internship’ all inclusive


packages, comprehensively cover professional
diver training and all the aspects of what you need
to know in order to run and maintain a profitable
diving business.

www.scubacat.com
email: info@scubacat.com
Telephone: +66 7629 3120
Fax: +66 7629 3122
Mobile: +66 898722026
See listing on Page 106
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have a buddy, one will be provided for you. So now you’ve ‘Enriched Air Diver’. After all, dives are not likely to be cut
learnt to dive in warm and inviting waters, are seeing things short or be few and far between due to cold conditions!
you once could only dream of and are rapidly making new The list of speciality topics is endless; there are even special
friends – not a bad start really. It’s no wonder diving is so courses that have been individually written to suit the very
popular! surroundings. Just ask at the dive centre to find out what’s on
offer! But don’t expect to get signed up for any ice diving!
The next step is to fine-tune those skills already learned, and
be introduced to new ones. Advanced diving courses are Next on the list are rescue courses which should seriously
really great underwater adventures. Even though the term be mandatory for every diver. Course topics covered include
‘advanced’ may imply they are demanding and stressful – in self-rescue, problem management and how to help divers in
reality they are quite the opposite. stressful situations and, better still, how to avoid them in the
first place.
Safety and fun are high on the agenda and the results are
extremely rewarding. In fact, it’s surprising they aren’t As any diver will know, you never dive without a buddy!
compulsory, especially as some dive sites are restricted to But are you both actually capable of looking after each
divers certified as advanced and above. other? If not, then learn! The rescue diver courses are great
value in Thailand and are just as comprehensive as they
There’s a stream of associated speciality courses that open up are anywhere else in the world. Certification requires CPR
the chance to take the knowledge learned during advanced and First Aid training, which is also available alongside the
training to an even more in-depth level. Thailand’s tropical course. In a nutshell, what you learn is all you need to know
waters make particular courses extremely attractive; for in order to look after yourself and others, both under the
instance, the warm waters are more appealing to deep and water and on the surface during everyday life. So you might
night diving enthusiasts; the water has been exposed to high as well learn in comfort and at a good price.
levels of warming sunlight during the day, thus reducing the
likelihood of uncomfortable chilly encounters. The highest level of recreational diver certification is ‘Master
Scuba Diver’ or equivalent, depending on the training
The generally high water clarity opens up splendid vistas of agency’s certification title. To achieve this rating, or status,
colourful reefs and curious inhabitants, making ideal subject divers need to complete all the above courses and be certified
matter for underwater photographers and videographers, in a pre-determined number of different specialities, as well as
two more popular choices of speciality dive courses on offer have completed a designated number of dives. There’s also a
at many of Thailand’s dive centres. ‘Junior Master Scuba Diver’ rating for the over 12 year olds!

With such enjoyment on the cards, divers may wish to Thailand also provides a comprehensive range of technical
increase their safety levels and obtain the qualification of diving courses, from using enriched air up to diving on

Success - another happy qualified diver (photo courtesy of PADI) Underwater navigation is an invaluable skill to master (photo courtesy of SSI Thailand)

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See listing on Page 178
See listings on Pages 107 & 117
LEArnInG TO DIvE POCKET GUIDE dive thAilAnd

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mixed gases and cave diving. The use of rebreathers is also


becoming more common. Without this type of training,
a number of Thailand’s wrecks and deep reefs would be
inaccessible to divers. Both PADI and SSI provide such
courses, as do a handful of training agencies that are solely
dedicated to technical diving.

becoming a Professional
Job done and it’s time to consider the world of the
professional diver and, yes, this does actually mean getting
paid to go diving and getting the chance to get all the cash
invested in the courses back again – several times over!

The entry level course is the ‘Dive Master’ or, depending on


training agency, ‘Dive Leader’. These are extremely popular
in Thailand. Courses run over a number of days and can be

Gearing up for a rebreather training dive

Paul Lees - Pocket Guide DIVE Thailand author


Becoming a professional diver opens up a wide variety of opportunities

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See listing on Page 108
See listing on Page 215 See listing on Page 211
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taught over a longer period, thus allowing participants to gain Many operators include complimentary accommodation
some work experience along the way. As the whole focus of for the duration of a diving course, especially for beginners.
the qualification is based around taking care and control of However, a number of the larger centres have taken things
others, rather than just to display a badge of completion, this one step further and created tailor-made internship packages
is a great way to learn. And, with plenty of places in which do which, in some cases, include everything needed to sign up
a course, it’s a popular option indeed. as a non-diver and leave as a qualified diving professional
complete with a job, either locally or in another country!
Setting up a temporary base in one of the diving destinations
is not really a problem − more of a dream. The weather’s good, These packages can also be joined at anytime during a
the food tasty, the social life usually relaxed and friendly − diver’s career, no matter where they are qualification-wise;
and prices for everything are reasonable. In fact, the perfect and, as they can include equipment and accommodation in
conditions in which take the next step of qualifying to be a the overall ‘package’, it’s a great opportunity to focus on the
diving instructor. matter in hand without all the worry of having to plan day-
to-day expenses and practicalities.
There are several levels of instructor, with the top of the
ladder being a ‘Course Director’, who trains divers to be The standard of training is high, as is the essential advice on
instructors. Course Directors cannot certify instructors how to survive in the diving industry after completion. Once
though; this has to be done by examiners from the training again, these centres are situated in all of the country’s diving
agencies themselves, who are flown in from all over the destinations.
world. Instructor courses, termed as Instructor Development
Courses, or IDCs for short, are scheduled on a regular basis, In fact the only thing difficult about learning to dive in
as are the Instructor Examinations (IE). Thailand is deciding where to sign up!

An instructor takes a pair of students through their pre-dive ‘Buddy Check’

82 83
The Accommodation
- 28 comfortable rooms and 2 superb suites.
- Fully air-conditioned.
- Private bathroom.
- Battery charging facilities.
- Ocean view.
The Facilities
- Free flowing hot and cold drinks.
- Buffet-style dining.
- Enormous sundeck, with 360 views of Mabul and
mainland Borneo.
- Bar and Karaoke lounge.
- Games room with pool tables and table tennis.
- Movie centre and conference room.
- Souvenir shop.
- Wireless Internet access.
- Personalised local tour, travel & reservation service.

The Diving
- Morning trips on the legendary reefs of Sipadan.
- Afternoons at the macro-rich reefs of Mabul and
Kapalai.
- Full range of PADI courses from Open Water to
Instructor.
- Specialties courses including Cavern Diver and Nitrox.

SEAVENTURES TOURS & TRAVEL SDN. BHD.


( Company No.: 234206-T | Tourism License No. KKKP 2639 )
Tel: +6088-261 669/251 669 Fax: +6088-251 667
Resort Tel: +6017-811 6020 Semporna Office: +6017-811 6023
Website: www.seaventuresdive.com
Email: info@seaventuresdive.com
A minute anemone crab peers out between the stinging tentacles of its host sea anemone
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - phuket

Phuket

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Creative Innovation 11
9

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Above & Below 12

the Water Thailand’s largest island, Phuket, is the second most


developed (after Pattaya) of the country’s tourist destinations.
The island is separated from the mainland by a narrow
bridged strait. The island’s west and south coastlines are
liberally sprinkled with beaches, many of them long, curving
arcs of golden sand with mounds of boulders separating
Dive World (Thailand) Co. Ltd. them from the neighbouring beaches. With an international
Authorised Cressi Dealer & Wholesaler airport and good transport links to the rest of the country,
Head Office Bangkok: Phuket makes a good base for exploring further afield or as
the jumping-off point for other popular destinations such as
Tel: 027 139 151-3 Fax: ext 4 Khao Lak, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta.
Email: info@diveworld-thailand.com
Krabi Office: Diving around Phuket
Phuket is the largest dive centre in Thailand and the
Tel: 080 533 8772 main base for liveaboards heading for destinations in the
Email: krabi@diveworld-thailand.com Andaman Sea. For those not having the free time to join a
www.diveworld-thailand.com
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dive sites - phuket
Phuket
dive boat to the sites further afield, all is not lost as there are 4 Koh Dok Mai
a few good dive sites off the shores of Phuket Island itself. Location: 10km west of Shark Point.
These local sites also open up opportunities for night diving Depth: Average 19m / Maximum 31m
and polishing up those diving skills. The east side of the island offers a wall rich in invertebrates
and a good representation of tube corals. There are large
Conditions improve considerably around the outcrops, moray eels, black-banded sea kraits, honeycomb groupers
islets and islands off the south of Phuket; the currents here and angelfish, and you’ve a good chance of seeing leopard
carry away algae and silt and the corals have more chance sharks out on the sand. Bivalves cling to sea whips along the
of flourishing. The reefs are generally in a healthy condition deeper sections of the wall, which also features two caves.
with good hard, as well as colourful soft, corals. Marine life is The walls and ceiling of the larger one are rich in soft corals,
plentiful, with visits from large pelagics adding spice to the but it’s best to remain outside, exploring the cave’s interior
diving. Some sites are quite deep with ripping currents often safely by torch light. The western side of the island features
present, but there are plenty of other locations suitable for all a steeply sloping reef rather than the sheer drops that
levels of both recreational and technical divers. dominate elsewhere. Black-tip and white-tip reef sharks can
be seen. There are healthy sea fans and barrel and encrusting
1 Meridien Reef sponges. Visiting pelagics often pass by.
Location: Between Patong and Karon Beaches.
Depth: Average 7m / Maximum 18m
5 Anemone Reef
This site has comparatively few hard and soft corals and fish-
Location: 30km east of Chalong Bay on Phuket.
life is only sporadically present – although you might discover
Depth: Average 17m / Maximum 26m
a blue-spotted ribbontail ray hiding beneath one of the rocks,
Anemone Reef is a small submerged rocky plateau about 4-7m
and very occasionally may encounter a small white-tip reef
deep at the shallowest parts. The top of the reef is smothered
shark. However, the site is a very good one for training or for
in sea anemones; there are many resident clownfish, shrimps
introducing new divers to scuba: students can concentrate on
and porcelain crabs. Elsewhere you find large clusters of soft
learning to dive, without their attention being distracted by
corals and enormous gorgonian sea fans – the latter sheltering
deep waters, strong currents or too many fish!
dense groupings of Indian lionfish. There’s a healthy cross-
section of marine life. At its deepest point a solitary rock is
2 Kata House Reef
home to a number of juvenile moray eels.
Location: Western end of Kata Beach.
Depth: Average 5m / Maximum 12m
6 Shark Point
Entry to the site off the beach brings you to the fringing
Location: 1km southeast of Anemone Reef.
reef, at a depth of 5m. As you follow it around the headland
Depth: Average 19m / Maximum 24m
the depth gradually increases to 12m. This is a training and
This site was named for the leopard sharks that are often found
introduction site similar to meridian reef, but shallower
either resting on the sandy sections around the perimeter of
and slightly more enjoyable. Barracuda, tuna, and trevally
the main structure or freely swimming around the surrounding
are often present. The reef just breaks the surface in low
waters. Three pinnacles are dense with colourful marine
water. Blue-spotted ribbontail rays and white-tip reef sharks
are sometimes seen. Reef-fish are present but tend to be Hawkfish
scattered over the area rather than dominating particular
areas. The site is accessible during inclement weather
conditions and suitable for night-diving enthusiasts.

3 Koh Pu
Location: Approx 1km west of Kata House Reef.
Depth: Average 18m / Maximum 24m
The island is fringed with fallen rocks; these are larger around
the northwest area, and are the main feature of the site.
The gaps between some of the rocks offer swim-throughs;
beneath the rocks are heaps of broken oyster shells, obscure
nudibranchs and a few cowrie shells. There are no pelagics or
big fish of note, but you’re likely to see small schools of fusiliers
and snappers, moorish idols, squirrelfish and rabbitfish.
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dive sites - phuket
Phuket
life, from impressive sea fans to honeycomb groupers, of encountering mating cuttlefish along with a greater display
vivid encrusting sponges, moray eels, lobsters, lionfish and of reef creatures, including good-sized titan triggerfish, moray
harlequin ghost pipefish. Slightly to the west of the northern eels and octopus; plus on a smaller scale, a better selection of
pinnacle is a large, spectacular arch saturated in the brilliant colourful fish and invertebrates. Leopard sharks and hawksbill
colours of the soft corals growing on its surfaces. The reefs turtles are occasionally seen around this coastline.
here also display bushy black corals, sea whips and gorgonian
sea fans, with barracuda, snapper, trevally and mackerel all 11 Koh Racha Noi – Northern tip
patrolling the fringes. Location: Approximately two hours from Chalong Bay.
Depth: Average 17m / Maximum 30m
7 King Cruiser Wreck A reasonable multi-level dive site, which takes divers around
Location: 1 km southeast of Anemone Reef. pinnacles and large rocks. There’s a fair display of hard and
Depth: Average 20m / Maximum 32m soft corals and the usual reef-fish are present in reasonable
In 1997 the King Cruiser, a car ferry operating between Phuket quantities. If you’re lucky you should be able to sight small
and Koh Phi Phi, bottomed on Anemone Reef, splitting it in reef sharks, but the main attraction is probably the presence
two. The impact also tore a large hole in the vessel’s hull. of large bullethead parrotfish. However, diving here can be
The sunken vessel attracts a high diversity of marine life; extremely hazardous because of the hostile currents under
invertebrates have taken up residence and juvenile reef fish no circumstances should this site be attempted by any but
hover around the now barnacle-encrusted frame. Daylight experienced divers.
penetrates the majority of the wreck, though there are some
areas that can only be explored with an artificial light source. 12 Koh Racha Noi – Southern tip
Beware that quite a few areas have collapsed ceilings – these Location: Just over two hours from Bay Chalong Bay.
should not be entered at all. Depth: Average 23m / Maximum 40m+
This is a great dive for experienced divers – in fact, good
8 Coral island operators will bring only divers of advanced level and above!
Location: Outer of two islands south of Chalong Bay. The underwater terrain is similar to that around the island’s
Depth: Average 14m / Maximum 20m northern tip, but much deeper – the shallowest part of
The south of the island is the best area to dive at this primarily any consequence is at 18m. Fine soft corals highlight the
training site, not only in terms of safety (no threat from erratic smooth-sided boulders. Crinoids and featherstars are well
jetskiers!) but also because there’s a more diverse presence represented. There are fairly plentiful, reasonably sized
of marine life, plus it displays the healthiest corals which are fish, including lionfish, parrotfish, wrasse and triggerfish, as
mainly foliaceous interspersed with bubble, staghorn and star. well as large visiting pelagics such as barracuda, rainbow
runners and trevally. Manta and marbled rays are frequently
9 Koh Racha Yai – Bungalow Bay seen here, as are whale sharks – although with slightly less
Location: 90 minutes from Chalong Bay. regularity. All in all, this site can be compared with some sites
Depth: Average 17m / Maximum 30m found around Mu Koh Similan Marine National park.
This site can be split; you can opt to follow either of the bay’s
shorelines. The rocky formations visible above the surface SHARK PoiNt MARiNe SANCtuARY
continue underwater, with a good presence of reef-fish. Shark Point Marine Sanctuary consists of Shark Point
Around the rocks swim surgeonfish and fusiliers, while below and Anemone Reef, 1km to the north-west. Since 1997
you can see inquisitive paired goatfish, nudibranchs, urchins it has included the wreck of the King Cruiser car ferry.
and plenty of blue-spotted ribbontail rays.
Designated a Marine Sanctuary in 1992, the sheer
10 Koh Racha Yai – eastern Coast profusion of marine life here is justification enough for
Location: 90 minutes from Chalong Bay. protected status. The marine park zone covers a radius
Depth: Average 12m / Maximum 22m of 2.5km around the western limit of Shark Point and
This is a popular diving destination and is suitable for all levels all commercial fishing, collecting of marine life, or other
of diver. There’s also enjoyable snokelling around the rocks harmful activity is prohibited.
in the shallow waters off the island’s coastline. The shallower
Official mooring buoys have been installed but if they
sections of the reef feature tables and smaller examples
are in use (which is often the case, given the popularity
of leaf corals; the deeper waters have similar species, but
of these sites), divers must execute a live-boat dive. On
larger. There are many featherstars, lionfish, puffers and a few
no account should anchors be dropped here.
parrotfish and wrasse. The site’s southern end has the bonus
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dive centres - phuket
Phuket

all 4 diving aquamarine divers


Patong Beach Chalong
Tel. +66 (0)76 344611 Tel: +66 (0)76 383083
Fax. +66 (0)76 343015 Fax: +66 (0)76 280397
e. info@all4diving.com Mobile: +66 (0)81 584 8502
w. www.all4diving.com Philkade Liveaboard Diving cruises
Instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental e. admin@philkade.com, w. www.philkade.com
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation Atitara Day cruises
w. www.atitara.com, e. booking@atitara.com
Being a member of the Andaman Diving Group, All 4 Diving
take care of their visitors and guests from the moment they Instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
arrive on Phuket until departure. Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
This is the largest and most comprehensive dive centre Operating since 2004, Aquamarine Divers’ is raising the bar
on the island and is run by divers for divers. All of the for dive operations on Phuket. Owning and operating their
knowledgeable staff are either Thai Nationals or long-time own vessels, M/V Atitara and M/V Philkade, Aquamarine
Phuket residents who combined, are more than capable of offers both day trip and liveaboard cruises.
helping with virtually all aspects of diving in Thailand.
M/V Atitara offers daily scuba diving and snorkelling trips to
All 4 Diving provides an extensive range of liveaboard and local sites such as Racha Yai, Shark Point, the King Cruiser
day trip diving options, as well as conducting the full range Wreck, and the Phi Phi islands as well as having facilities to
of PADI dive courses. On top of all that the centre has the cater for individual private overnight charters and corporate
largest retail selection in the country, which includes most functions.
major and popular brands, all of which can be promptly M/V Philkade operates in Thai waters from October to May
serviced at the onsite service centre. with liveaboard cruises ranging from 4 to 10 nights to the
Similan Islands, Surin, Mergui Archipelago, Hin Daeng and
the Andaman Islands. Between July and September, M/V
Philkade operates in the Komodo National Park in Indonesia.
Also, experienced PADI instructors teach a comprehensive
range of diving courses from the one-day Discover Scuba
Diving experience up to the professional rating of PADI
Divemaster.

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Phuket

dive asia eden divers


Kata Beach Patong Beach
tel. +66 (0) 76 330598 tel/fax: +66 (0)76 290474
Fax. +66 (0) 76 284033 w. www.edendivers.com
e. info@diveasia.com e. info@edendivers.com
w. www.diveasia.com
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Located in the heart of Patong Beach, the main resort area
Dive Asia was founded in 1988, one of the first dive shops of Phuket, Eden Divers offfers luxurious, fun-filled daytrips
on Phuket. As the first PADI 5 Star Career Development and liveaboard safaris to some of South East Asia’s best dive
Center in Phuket, one of only four in all of Thailand, they’re sites.
a recognised leader in diver training and proudly operate a
world-class facility. The company offers a full range of award- Guests can choose from daytrips around the Phuket area or
winning scuba diving services in one of the top ten dive to the famous Similan Islands or Koh Bon, or liveaboard sa-
destinations in the world. Liveaboard excursions onboard the fari cruises which cover the best dive sites from the Similan
luxurious M/V Dive Asia dive the waters around the legendary Islands, Koh Bon, Ko Tachai and Richelieu Rock.
Similan Islands and relaxing day trips visit Phuket’s best local Eden Divers pride themselves in having a multi-lingual staff
dive sites including Phi Phi, Racha, and Shark Point with the comprising English, German, Russian, Thai, Spanish, and
comfortable M/V Diva Asia II. Italian languages - just to name a few.
‘Tauchen,’ Europe’s largest diving magazine, have honoured Their professional dive staff all comply to strict safety prin-
Dive Asia several times as one of the best dive centres in ciples with guests always diving in modern, well-serviced
South East Asia. They are also the first dive centre worldwide diving equipment. You can be assured that a journey with
to be honoured twice with PADI’s prestigious ‘Hallmark of Eden will always be a safe and enjoyable experience.
Excellence Award’.
Their guests will always be their focus, so join them and
Dive Asia’s philosophy is quite simple. Personal attention, experience the difference.
high quality diving, professional education, affordable prices
and all the fun that is great diving.

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Phuket

mermaid liveaboards ocean geo divers


Patong Beach Nai Harn
Booking Centre tel/fax. (+66) 076 613253
+66 (0)76 344612 Hotline. (+66) 089 586 3879
Hotline e. info@oceangeodivers.com
+66 (0)87 274 8348 w. www.oceangeodivers.com
e. info@mermaid-liveaboards.com
w. www.mermaid-liveaboards.com
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear Rental
instruction | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental | Snorkelling Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Accommodation
Ocean Geo Divers is a dedicated International team of
Mermaid Liveaboards – Asia’s premier liveaboard fleet – owns instructors & divemasters. Day trips visit Koh Racha Yai and
and operates two liveaboard vessels, M/V Mermaid I and M/V Racha Noi, Shark Point, Anemone Reef, King Cruiser Wreck,
Mermaid II. Large spacious dive decks and dive platforms are a Koh Doc Mai and Phi Phi. Liveaboard excursions visit all the
treat. Photographers are catered for with large rinse tubs and best sites around the Similan Islands and Mergui Archipelago
camera tables on the deck. Both vessels are equipped with including the Burma banks, with trips up to 14 days/13 nights.
full safety equipment, dinghies and life rafts. Air-conditioned
comfort, sundecks, saloon and party deck with lounges and The centre also has an extensive selection of equipment for
restaurant-style dining. Mermaid, a member of the Andaman sale and rent with top brand names including Sunnto, Mares
Diving Group, offers a choice of CMAS & PADI diver training. and Scubapro; they are the only stockists of Waterproof
Combine this luxury with the experienced dive crew and you Wetsuits in Thailand.
will enjoy a liveaboard trip of a lifetime. The full range of PADI courses are offered from the
Scheduling offers a choice of cruises from 2 days/3 nights introduction level of Discover scuba Diving through to
up to 9 days/9 nights; you can combine cruises to enjoy a one of the most sought after PADI ratings of Dive Master.
discount and the best diving throughout the Andaman Not forgetting the kids, they offer Bubble Maker courses
Sea at sites including the Similans, Richelieu Rock, Mergui through to Seal Team for ages from eight up. The family
Archipelago and Hin Daeng, Phi Phi and Koh Ha to the south. friendly services also extend to arranging and booking local
Or join a trip in Indonesia which departs from Bali every excursions to all the popular attractions.
Saturday from June to October to dive Nusa Tenggara and
Komodo, including walking with Komodo Dragons in the
World Heritage Komodo National Park.

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Phuket

santana diving & canoeing scandinavian divers


Patong Beach Patong Beach
tel. +66 (0)76 294225-6
Fax. +66 (0)76 292408

tel. +66 (0)76 294220, (0)76 340360 e. info@scandinavian-divers.com


Fax. +66 (0)76 340360, e. pguide@santanaphuket.com w. www.scandinavian-divers.com
w. www.santanaphuket.com instruction | Daytrips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation Scandinavian Divers is a PADI 5 Star IDC Center managed
Santana is Phuket’s most experienced dive centre with more by a Danish, Norwegian and Swedish team. Their goal is
then 25 years in business! Back in the late 70s they were the to ensure a memorable experience for the whole family,
pioneers of scuba diving on Phuket and the Similan Islands whether diving, snorkelling or just enjoying a cruise.
and were responsible for naming many of the established
dive sites, including ‘Elephant Head’. As a multi-lingual company with trained PADI professionals
they offer dive courses for guests from all four corners of
These days, Santana heads out to dive the Andaman Sea’s the globe. The Scandinavian standard of service and safety
finest dive sites aboard their spacious and air-conditioned coupled with Thailand’s hospitality and charm is an excellent
liveaboard vessel, M/V Discovery. The schedule offers regular and safe way to add adventures to an enjoyable holiday –
departures to the Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock, the and it can all be booked online.
Southern Islands including Hin Daeng and Mouang, and
Burma’s (Myanmar) Mergui Archipelago including the Burma The company runs two diving boats which visit all the popular
Banks. They also run a daily day trip service which opens up local dive sites on a daily basis. Those who want to enjoy the
the local hotspots around Phuket and Phi Phi. sites further afield can join one of a selection of multi-day
liveaboard cruises which sail from 2 - 10 days around both
As you would expect from an established PADI 5 Star Thailand and the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar.
Instructor Development Center, the full range of PADI dive
courses including the professional level of Instructor are
conducted and are available in a variety of languages.

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Phuket

scuba cat diving sea bees diving


Patong Beach Chalong
tel. +66 (0)76 293120/121 tel. +66 (0)76 381765
Fax. +66 (0)76 293122 Fax. +66 (0)76 280467
e. info@scubacat.com e. info@sea-bees.com
w. www.scubacat.com w. www.sea-bees.com
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
The Sea Bees international team of dive guides and instructors
Scuba Cat Diving was established back in 1992 and is now at their PADI 5 Star Gold Palm IDC Center are highly experienced
under British ownership, with a multi-national management and trained to the highest standards. Each has a minimum of
team running the day to day operations. The company has 250 dives, so divers are in safe hands. Also, their knowledge of
steadily grown over the years and is now operating as a PADI the local dive sites and aquatic life is second to none. Sea Bees
5 Star CDC Center, Go ECO Operator and Reef Check Centre. has a fleet of six dive boats which are individually kitted out for
Their goal is to provide a specialised quality service in relaxed day trips or liveaboard excursions.
and friendly surroundings and to ensure their guests get the
most out of their holiday all year round. The comprehensive dive centre in Chalong is equipped
with a customer service centre, comfortable reception area,
If you want to further your dive education, Scuba Cat regularly workshop, and equipment room where guests can store their
schedules the full range of PADI Courses from Bubble Maker own equipment.
for the kiddies, right up to the professional certification of
Instructor, with their own award-winning PADI Platinum Their resort, the Palm Garden Resort is unique in that was built
Course Director. to house the See Bees Dive Academy which offers a complete
range of courses from beginner to a variety of Instructor
Scuba Cat has two liveaboard boats. Enjoy the world- qualifications. The Acadamy has its own purpose-built 3m
renowned Similan Islands following your own personal training pool with four air-conditioned classrooms complete
schedule onboard M/V Scuba Cat or join a regular excursion on with full multimedia support.
M/V Scuba Adventure, which includes the sites further afield.

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Phuket

sea World dive team sunrise diving


Patong Beach Patong Beach
tel. +66 (0)76 341595 tel. +66 (0)76 292 052
Fax. + 66 (0)76 342510 Fax. +66 (0)76 293 034
e. info@seaworld-phuket.com, w. www.seaworld-phuket.com e. info@sunrisediving.net
w. www.sunrisediving.net
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation Sunrise Diving is a PADI 5-Star National
Geographic Instructor Development
With their motto of, “Our first priority is your satisfaction”, Sea Centre conveniently located opposite the Jungceylon
World Dive Team is a member of the Andaman Diving Group, shopping complex in Patong. It caters for all levels of diver,
and is a 5 Star PADI IDC Center located right in the heart of from complete beginners to those wishing to pursue a career
Patong Beach. They have been operating since 1997. in the diving industry, with regularly scheduled IDC’s.
The professional, multi-lingual team of diving instructors instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
regularly schedules the full range of diving courses, from Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
beginner up to, and including, the professional level of
instructor. All courses are conducted in the centre’s air- The dive centre boasts three air-conditioned classrooms
conditioned classrooms with the in-water training modules equipped with the latest multi-lingual training aids; a retail
taking place in the purpose built on-site training pool. store stocking a comprehensive range of equipment and
diving accessories at competitive prices; and the friendly
As well as organising day-trip diving to all the best local multi-lingual staff are always on-hand to give advice.
sites, Sea World Dive Team offers liveaboard excursions
Safety is paramount at Sunrise Diving. All instructors have
to all the prime diving destinations in the Andaman Sea,
many years diving and teaching experience from around the
including Thailand’s legendary Similan Islands and the Mergui
world and are all First Aid trained. All equipment is regularly
Archipelago to the west of Myanmar (Burma). Trips are also
maintained by European technicians.
scheduled around the diving Mecca of Komodo in Indonesia.
Sunrise Diving also features a ‘Live Chat’ facility on its website
to deal instantly with inquiries on instruction, dive trips and
liveaboard packages to all the top sites.

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Dive CeNtReS POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
directory - phuket
Phuket DiReCtoRY Phuket
How to get there
Water World asia Phuket can be reached directly by air, road and sea.
Patong Beach
tel. +66 (0)76 342511 By air: It’s possible to directly access the island’s international
Fax. +66 (0)76 342512 airport from a number of neighbouring countries, or via
e. info@waterworldasia.com Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Bangkok’s
w. www.waterworldasia.com Don Muang Airport also operates flights to Phuket.
Conveniently located in Patong
and with ample parking space A few budget airlines serve the Bangkok–Phuket route but
around, Water World welcomes you to one of Thailand’s timetables change regularly. There are also direct flights
largest and complete dive centres. between Koh Samui and Pattaya. The three main carriers are:
Bangkok Airways: Within Thailand, Tel. 1771; from outside
instruction | Daytrips | Liveaboard | Nitrox Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 265 5555. Nok Air: Within Thailand,
Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Service Centre Tel. 1318; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 900 9955. Thai
They provide diving trips to all of Phuket’s dive sites every Airways International: Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111.
day with a choice of speedboat or full size dive boat. There’s
also a wide selection of boats available to leave the Island By bus: VIP air-conditioned buses depart from Bangkok’s
and join a liveaboard trip to the Similan Islands or even Southern Bus Terminal daily to Phuket City. Trip time is
further north to Myanmar. Trips offered run between 4 to 14 around 14 hours. At Phuket City bus terminal visitors continue
days and there’s something for every budget.
their journeys by taxi or local bus, unless a pick-up by their
As a PADI 5 Star Center, they offer the full range of diving dive operator has been arranged. For further information on
courses and have training materials in most languages. Daily bus services, contact Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal: Tel.
programs are available from Bubble Maker to those who +66 (0)2 435 1199, (0)2 435 1200.
want to take their diving to a professional level.
At Water World they pride themselves on being well stocked Where to eat
with the world’s best names in diving equipment and in There are countless restaurants across the island; for the
the 350 m2 dive store you will find all the most renowned
top quality brand names. Last but not least they also are an best up-to-date information on the island’s eateries, look
authorized service centre. for Image Asia’s comprehensive publication Where to Eat in
Phuket. It’s also an online at: www.wheretoeat-phuket.com.
For more information and insight on where and what to eat,
PG see Pocket Guide FooD thailand − launching first quarter of
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com

Dive facilities
Scuba diving here is big business. The larger centres cater
for divers from all over the world; courses and dive trips are
generally supervised by multi-lingual staff, but English remains
the main language. Several larger centres provide a transfer
service to and from Phuket International Airport.

Dive trips
There are two main types of dive trip available. All operators
run daily trips, and the larger, more established, schedule
regular liveaboard excursions on their own boats around the
Similan and Surin island groups and the Mergui Archipelago.
Some arrange short excursions to southern destinations
around Koh Rok and Hin Daeng.

All these trips differ in style and duration with enough


variations to suit anyone. Daily dive trip prices include transfers
to and from resorts, light refreshments and beverages, lunch,
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DiReCtoRY POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - khao lak
Phuket
khao Lak
two full tanks, weight system and – if required – Divemaster
services. Equipment rental and Nitrox fills can be extra. Divers
who have been out of the water for over six months either
follow a refresher course or accompany an instructor during
their first dive; there’s a minimal charge for this important Page 129
and necessary service. Page 130

Liveaboard excursions
Many divers come to Phuket for the selection of liveaboard
excursions, giving access to far-off dive sites. Excursion
styles differ, but all share high standards. Prices include
diving, meals/snacks and accommodation, but not alcoholic Page 128
beverages or scuba equipment.

Hospitals
Bangkok Phuket Hospital, in Phuket City
24 Hr Contacts Centre: Within Thailand, Tel. 1719; from
Page 128
outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)76 254425
Phuket international Hospital, on by-pass road, between
Tesco Lotus & Central Festival
Emergency Ambulance: Tel. +66 (0)76 210935
Recompression chambers
Badalveda Diving Medicine Network in Bangkok Page 122
Hospital Phuket, Phuket City
Diving Medicine Hotlines
Tel. +66 (0)81 989 9482, +66 (0)86 272 4618
vedainfo@badalveda.com | www.badalveda.com
Khao Lak Marine National Park boasts 12km of casuarinas and
Hyperbaric Services of thailand, in Phuket International
palm fringed coastline. Behind the glorious beaches are palm
Hospital
and rubber plantations, which continue to meet green foothills
Hotline Tel. +66 (0)89 871 2335
and mountainous terrain divided by cascading waterfalls.

Dive courses One thing that sets Khao Lak aside from many other seaside
Local diver training follows BSAC, CMAS, PADI and SSI systems. destinations is that you don’t have to cross a road to reach
The majority of internationally-recognised certifications are the beach! Tourism is slowly but surely taking off here,
accepted in any of the dive centres; certification cards and log particularly for divers, which is hardly surprising as some of
books will be requested. The course price structures are mostly the county’s best diving is right on its doorstep.
the same at different operators. The open water sections of
the courses can be completed locally or amalgamated with a Diving around Khao Lak
liveaboard excursion. The majority of diving offered visits the sites around the Mu
Koh Similan and Surin Marine National Parks. However there
Generally prices are inclusive of instruction, study materials, are a few local sites, including a recently discovered reef that
equipment, dive trips and certification. Introduction courses is still to be properly explored.
include full equipment, whereas other courses are inclusive of
tanks and weight systems only. Additional equipment can be There are also a couple of wrecks of tin mining boats; the
rented from all centres at a discounted price. You’ll need two ‘Boonsong’ lies just off the coast and can be a real treat to
passport sized photographs for certification in all courses. dive. All manner of marine life can be encountered from tiny
and endemic nudibranchs up to, on the odd occasion, whale
For more information on Phuket, contact Tourism Authority of sharks. The second wreck, the ‘Premchai’, lies upside down
Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)76 212213, (0)76 211036 but remains in one piece allowing penetration.
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dive centres - khao lak
Khao Lak

big blue diving iq dive


Khao Lak Khao Lak
tel/fax. +66 (0)76 485544 tel. +66 (0)76 485614
e. info@bigbluedivingkhaolak.com Fax. +66 (0)76 485613
w. www.bigbluedivingkhaolak.com e. info@iq-dive.com
w. www.iq-dive.com
Located in the very heart of Khao
Lak, Big Blue Diving offers day trips iQ-DIVE is a PADI 5 Star Dive Center
by luxury speedboat to explore located in Khao Lak, Thailand,
both above & below the water the beauty of the world just some 60 minutes north from
renowned diving destination of the Similan Islands. Phuket International Airport. They offer scuba diving and
snorkelling daytrips, overnight and liveaboard cruises to the
instruction | Day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental famous Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, Richelieu Rock,
Retail | Snorkelling Myanmar (Burma) and Indonesia and of course the complete
The centre runs two speedboats offering daily diving trips to PADI educational programme from beginner to pro!
a number of the best dive sites around, including the sites instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
around Koh Bon, Koh Tachai & Richelieu Rock. They also run a Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
comprehensive liveaboard booking service offering a variety
of multi-day excursions. iQ-DIVE has been successfully operating in Khao Lak, on
Big Blue Diving offers the full range of both PADI & SSI diving Thailand’s West Coast, since 1996. The iQ-DIVE centre is
courses from beginner to the professional certification of managed by Swiss scuba diving instructor Ernst Schläpfer
Dive Master. and his Thai wife Meaw.
The iQ-DIVE fleet consists
They also have their own profile on the social networking of two boats: A fast
website ‘Facebook’, where they regularly share all the latest 11m long fibreglass hull
updates. catamaran which visits the
more remote dive sites and
a comfortable 25.5m long
wooden daytrip boat that
visits the nearby Similan
Islands.
iQ-DIVE’s professional and
very experienced team of
PADI dive Instructors and
dive masters will assure that
all of your dives are safe and
most joyful experiences.

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Khao Lak

scandinavian divers sea bees diving


Khao Lak Khao Lak
tel. +66 (0)76 429800 tel. +66 (0)76 485174
ext. 1074 and 1075 Fax. +66 (0)76 485175
e. khaolak@sea-bees.com
w. www.sea-bees.com
e. info@scandinavian-divers.com instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
w. www.scandinavian-divers.com Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox Sea Bees Khao Lak is a PADI 5 Star Gold Palm IDC Center.
Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation Their all-inclusive service includes a unique way of diving the
Similans, onboard their own spacious catamaran providing
Along with the main office on Patong Beach, Phuket, fast and comfortable day trips to the island group. The trips,
Scandinavian Divers’ new PADI Dive Center in Khao Lak, and also multi-day liveaboard excursions, onboard M/V
achieves a high standard of Scandinavian-style service and Genesis, conveniently depart from nearby Thap Lamu. The
a high level of safety, not only in diving adventures but as staff here all have a minimum of 250 dives and are highly
an enjoyable holiday experience for the whole family. Diving experienced and trained to the uppermost standards so
instruction is also available for the complete beginner to divers are in safe hands.
professional level of Instructor.
The comprehensive dive centre supports its resort in Khao
The team schedules daily snorkelling excursions to the Lak, the Palm Garden Resort, which has comfortable rooms,
Similan and Surin Islands to enjoy encounters with all a good restaurant and purpose-built diver training pool,
manners of marine life and colourful fish along the tropical making it a great base either before or after liveaboard
island reefs. The trips also present opportunities to try scuba excursions. It is also an ideal place for the whole family,
diving in shallow waters with experienced instructors. particularly if anyone is undertaking training, which is done
Scandinavian Divers also offer a selection of liveaboard on site. Courses from beginner to a variety of instructor
cruises, which depart from the Khao Lak area, and are an qualifications are all regularly scheduled.
ideal way to explore a variety of different destinations. Trips
include onboard accommodation and all meals.

116 117
Dive CeNtReS POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - khao lak
Khao Lak

sea dragon dive center siam adventure divers


Khao Lak Khao Lak
tel. +66 (0)76 485420 office. tel/fax.
Fax. +66 (0)76 485418 +66 (0)76 485632
Hotline.
e. info@seadragondivecenter.com +66 (0)81 874 3262
w. www.seadragondivecenter.com e. info@siamadventuredivers.com
w. www.siamadventuredivers.com
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Gear rental
Retail | Snorkelling instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Being established in 1993 Sea Dragon were the first dive Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling
centre to be based in Khao Lak. They are located only an hour Siam Adventure Divers is a British owned and operated
north of Phuket International Airport on the picturesque company that has been servicing the diving community,
west coast of Thailand, which is easily accessible from all and in fact all water enthusiasts, for over seven years in
major towns. The local harbour, Thap Lamu, is conveniently and around Thai waters. They have continually changed to
the closest departure point to Thailand’s finest dive sites, the accommodate the styles of all water activities and adopt
Similan Islands. flexible schedules in order to fit in with their guests’ budgets
Sea Dragon’s three unique boats were specifically designed and, just as importantly, their travel plans.
to complement their various styles of liveaboard trips to From November through May, Siam Adventures have an
Richelieu Rock and both the Similan and Surin Islands. array of vessels to transport divers and holiday-makers
Additionally, they operate three different day dive trips to to the tropical paradise of the Similan islands. The range
the local reefs and the two charming tin mining wrecks. For of packages on offer includes speedboat transfers and
those who wish to begin or advance their diving, the friendly snorkelling trips, day-boat diving, overnight packages and
and professional staff at this PADI 5 Star IDC Center conduct liveaboard safaris to both the Similan islands & the Mergui
the full range of PADI dive courses in many languages, from Archipelago in Myanmar.
beginner through to Instructor - And they are open all year
round.

118 119
DiReCtoRY POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
directory - khao lak
Khao Lak

How to get there Dive facilities


Khao Lak can be reached directly by road and indirectly by air. Scuba diving here is very popular. To cater for the high demand
there’s is a string of dive centres along the main highway,
Phuket, the main gateway to the area, is a 90-minute drive many of which have booking offices or their own facilities in
away. Phuket’s international airport is directly accessible from the larger hotels and resorts. Several centres provide their
most neighbouring countries, or via Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi own, or can arrange, transfers to and from Phuket and Krabi.
International Airport. Domestic flights are also scheduled
between Phuket and Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport. Dive trips
Both daily trips and multi-day liveaboard excursions visit
By air: A few budget airlines serve the Bangkok–Phuket route the sites around Mu Koh Similan and Surin Marine National
but their timetables change regularly. There are also direct Parks as well as the local wrecks and the Mergui Archipelago.
flights between Koh Samui and Pattaya. The three main All trips include transfers to and from resorts, tanks, weight
carriers are: Bangkok Airways: Within Thailand, Tel. 1771; system and Divemaster services, light refreshments and
from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 265 5678. Nok Air: Within beverages. Day trips include lunch.
Thailand, Tel. 1318; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 900
9955. Thai Airways International: Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111.
Hospitals & Recompression Chambers
By bus: VIP air-conditioned buses depart from Bangkok’s Bangkok Phuket Hospital has a permanent ambulance
Southern Bus Terminal daily to the bus terminal in Phuket stationed in Khao Lak which serves the area. Tel. 1719
City. Trip time is around 14 hours. At Phuket City bus terminal The nearest recompression chambers are those on
visitors may continue their journeys by taxi or local bus, unless Phuket. For details see page 112.
a pick-up by their dive operator has been arranged. For further
information on bus services contact Bangkok Southern Bus
Terminal: Tel. +66 (0)2 435 1199, (0)2 435 1200. Dive courses
The full range of PADI and SSI programmes, up to and
Where to eat including the professional level of Instructor, are available and
The majority of local hotels and resorts have their own eateries in several languages. Prices generally include instruction, study
with international and local menus. However, those wishing materials, equipment, dive trips and certification. The in-water
to sample the local fare outside of these will find a range of sections of the courses can be completed during day trips or
worthy bakeries, restaurants, coffee shops and snack bars amalgamated with a liveaboard excursion. The majority of
along the main highway running parallel to the beach. internationally-recognised certifications are accepted in any
of the dive centres; certification cards and log books will be
For best information and insight on where and what to eat, requested as proof of certification and experience.
see Pocket Guide FooD thailand − launching first quarter of PG
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com For more information on Khao Lak, contact Tourism
Authority of Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)76 212213, (0)76 211036.

Bang Niang beach, Khao Lak

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Dive SiteS POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
Mu Koh Similan

1
2
3

5 11

6
10

This archipelago of nine granitic islands sits 90km northwest


of Phuket. The islands cover an area of about 128 sq km. They
feature lush rainforests inhabited by squirrels and bats, and
a variety of bird-life.

There are two staffed park offices (on Islands #4 and #8), but
otherwise the islands are uninhabited.

Two dive sites around the northern islands of Koh Bon and
Koh Tachai are also included in this section.

A noticeable characteristic of the Similans is the contrast


between the east and west coastlines. The east is subject to
the relatively gentle north-easterly monsoons, and features
superb sandy beaches and sheltered bays. The western
coasts, however, experience the full force of the harsh south-
westerly monsoons and are more commonly characterized
by rugged weather-beaten boulders, a pattern that continues
underwater.
122 See listing on Page 102 123
Dive SiteS POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - mu koh similan
Mu Koh Similan
1 North Point
Diving around the Similans Location: The northern apex of island #9.
The Similans can certainly lay claim to being one of the Asia Depth: Average 20m / Maximum 34m
Pacific’s top dive destinations. The dramatic underwater The walls and sides of large boulders are highlighted by
terrain is highlighted by thriving reefs and abundant soft radiant soft corals. Around these are numerous parrotfish of
corals, and the tremendous diversity of marine life includes all sizes, small dog-faced pufferfish and larger solitary clown
many of the more exciting, larger pelagics. triggerfish. Sharing the area are mixed amounts of leafy, brain,
slipper and lip corals. Further down, giant sea cucumbers and
During late March and early April, Thailand’s hottest period, blue seastars decorate the rocky surfaces. The prolific fish-
rising sea temperatures cause plankton blooms, which attracts life includes varieties of butterflyfish, parrotfish, lionfish and
a wealth of the larger animals into the area, resulting in wrasse. To the north, manta rays and barracuda are frequent.
chance encounters with, amongst others, schooling chevron
barracuda, giant trevally, rainbow runners and reef sharks. 2 Breakfast Bend
There’s also a selection of rays including eagle, marbled and Location: South-eastern apex of island #9.
enormous but graceful manta. Depth: Average 16m / Maximum 34m
Breakfast Bend is so-called because it is generally the first
In general, the east-facing dive sites feature gently dive on a live-aboard excursion – after breakfast! The western
sloping reefs and drop-offs with impressive gardens of sea section is relatively shallow, averaging 8m; its sandy bottom
anemones, flourishing hard and soft corals, and teeming fish is punctuated with scattered rocks. Southeast of here are
populations. With negligible currents and mostly moderate the beginnings of a reef flat, primarily staghorns; these
depths, these sites are suitable for any level of diver. The eventually achieve garden-like proportions. They are bigger
sheltered conditions are also ideal for snorkelling. but much less frequent on the steep reef-slope.

The archipelago’s western sites are quite the opposite. Here The reef-slope – also formed by small boulders and coral
giant boulders tumble down to the seabed in depths of 40m shelves, with many branches of tree, leafy and brain corals.
or more. Currents have kept the gaps between the boulders Moorish idols, raccoon butterflyfish and Indian lionfish –
free from build-ups of sand, leading to the development of paired rather than solitary – are all present en masse. Colonies
tunnels, archways and caverns that provide exciting swim- of garden eels can be seen on the sandy patches. The seabed
throughs. The currents also provide nutrients for masses of has widespread coral mounds.
gorgonians, crinoids, sea fans and lush soft corals.
3 Donald Duck Bay
The Similans are dived as both multi-day liveaboard Location: In the small sheltered bay on the northwest coast
excursions and daily dive trips, scheduled from Phuket and of island #8.
Khao Lak. For details of dive centres, see pages 98 and 114. Depth: Average 8m / Maximum 14m
A popular night diving site. Scattered coral mounds and
Fire goby
boulders provide sleeping quarters for a host of marine life,
but their formation forces the nocturnal creatures into areas
of open sand in search of sustenance. Thus night-divers can
observe them with much greater ease and frequency and in
larger numbers. Attracted by the lights of dive boats, cuttlefish
and squid are often everywhere. Crabs, small lobsters and a
wealth of other invertebrates scurry across the sand at night.

4 Beacon Beach
Location: The reef spans the length of the south-eastern
coastline of island #8, about 200m offshore.
Depth: Average 12-18m / Maximum 34m
The reef-flat is in just over 5m and features many small
boulders of lesser star and brain corals, interspersed with
familiar clusters of staghorns, all rich in colourful reef-fish like
damsels, wrasse, parrotfish and surgeonfish, as well as large
numbers of inquisitive triggerfish.
124 125
Dive SiteS POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - mu koh similan
Mu Koh Similan
To the north are areas of foliaceous corals, such as lettuce 7 east of eden
and carnation, with many colourful reef-fish: bird and lunar Location: South-eastern fringing reef of island #7.
wrasse, powder-blue surgeonfish, squirrelfish, soldierfish Depth: Average 22m / Maximum 34m
and Indian lionfish are all plentiful. The bottom is punctuated This is a steep sloping hard coral reef consisting of mostly hard-
with large, impressive coral mounds and rocks, which are coral laminates. Unusually for an east-facing reef, there are
covered with soft corals in diverse hues, encrusting sponges soft corals in the shallower waters at about 12m. Also on view
and various tubeworms and featherstars. are schools of snappers and fusiliers, and occasionally turtles
and leopard sharks. There’s a stunning bommie (coral head)
5 Beacon Point in the middle of the reef, starting in around 9m and going
Location: The southern extension of Beacon Beach Reef. down to 30m; it features one of the finest concentrations of
Depth: Average 16m / Maximum 55m corals in the Similans and should not be missed.
The site is very like Beacon Beach Reef but with more fish
and larger corals, especially in the deeper waters. Also, you 8 Shark Fin Reef
have a good chance of seeing manta and eagle rays, plus Location: Around the rocks that break the water at low tide;
large pelagics, in the deeper southern waters, away from 3km southeast of island #3.
the headland. The reef-flat features many small boulders of Depth: Average 16m / Maximum 40m
lesser star and brain corals, interspersed with familiar clusters The north-eastern side features a sloping reef, whereas the
of staghorn corals, all rich in colourful reef-fish like chromis, south-western side is a more dramatic sheer drop-off: rocks
wrasse, parrotfish and surgeonfish. The coral cover remains resembling fallen hexagonal pillars, are the highlight of this
constant around the apex, with individuals increasing in size side of the site. At the south-eastern end of these formations
with depth – especially gorgonian sea fans at about 30m. is a large swim-through; this provides an almost purpose-
built opening to the site’s opposite side. Large Napoleon
6 elephant Head wrasse have also been seen around this section as have
Location: The giant rocky outcrop off island #8’s southern tip. passing sharks and rays.
As you approach the site from the west the outcrop resembles
a partially submerged elephant – hence the name. 9 Boulder City
Depth: Average 24m / Maximum 70m Location: Immediately south of Shark Fin Reef.
Huge boulders, some with frames measuring over 30m, sit Depth: Average 19m / Maximum 32m
individually or are stacked to form daring swim-throughs The site consists of a collection of enormous submerged
comprising arches, caverns, gullies and tunnels at all depths. granite boulders running southeast-northwest, which are
more typical of a west-facing coastal rock formation. They
There’s plenty of marine life residing in the site’s shallower fancifully resemble rocky mountains separated by wide
sections. Around the boulders are angelfish, triggerfish and valleys, their sheer sides punctuated occasionally by clusters
schools of fusiliers and juvenile snappers. This is an ideal of soft coral and radiant crinoids; with small crevices housing
place for spotting small reef sharks. a diversity of marine life.

East of Eden - Mu Koh Similan

126 127
Dive SiteS POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - surin
Mu Koh Similan
10 Koh Bon Mu koh Surin
Location: Off the south west corner of Koh Bon.
Depth: Average 21m / Maximum 40m
The island’s perimeter here takes the form of a series of small
wall-like sections which drop to meet a fringing reef at 32m
before sharply dropping to 40m to reach gently sloping
sand. Huge sponges and sea fans can be found along the
reef in depths of 30-40m.

The wall sections are covered with a mixture of sea anemones


encrusting sponges and sea whips. Concealed within the
narrow rocky gorges and crevices are octopus, resting
cuttlefish, and coral trout being attended to at one of the
many cleaning stations around this site. On closer inspection
a variety of cleaner shrimps can be witnessed as they tend to
their willing hosts.

To the southwest a splendid reef tapers down to the sites


maximum depth and is covered in corals teeming with
1
marine life. This is also a great location for regular encounters
with manta rays and leopard sharks. 2

11 Koh tachai 3
Location: 40km south of Koh Surin Tai.
Depth: Average 22m / Maximum 30m
This submerged plateau is divided into three reefs, each
dominating a different depth with different structures and
reef inhabitants. Mu Koh Surin Marine National Park is located 80km due west
of Ranong Province along Thailand’s west coast.
Off the island’s southern point, two submerged pinnacles
stand proud of many large boulders and smaller rocks, The largest island is Koh Surin Nua which has an area of
providing great swim-throughs. This, the southernmost area 19 sq. km and a highest point 240m above sea level. To its
of the site, is part of the deepest of the three reefs, ranging immediate southwest lies the slightly smaller Koh Surin Tai;
from 25m to 30m. This section is a fairly reliable spot for between the two is a strait only 200m wide, which can be
catching glimpses of manta rays and whale sharks which crossed on foot during low waters.
both frequent the area.
The only residents on Koh Surin Nua are the park officials,
The second, or central, section of the reef is slightly shallower although Koh Surin Tai has small communities of Chao Ley
and is constructed mainly of hard corals and large rocks, sea gypsies on some of its eastern beaches.
around which schools of spadefish – such as pinnate batfish
– are tended to by common cleanerfish. Clinging to the rocks Diving around Surin
are gorgonian sea fans, featherstars, colourful crinoids and Sites follow along fringing reefs that slope gently to the sea-
areas of carpet sea anemones. Large bullethead parrotfish bed and in contrast along the walls of sheer pinnacles. The
and even larger Napoleon wrasse share these waters with reefs and their inhabitants are thankfully now protected,
moorish idols, schooling bannerfish, juvenile snappers and a but this hasn’t always been the case. Sadly there are isolated
variety of triggerfish, including titan and orange-striped. areas of damage which have restricted the selection of listed
sites. However, the jurisdiction extends to include the whale
The third and shallowest section of the site sits in 12m. Here shark magnet of Richelieu Rock.
you will encounter many Indian lionfish amongst backdrops
of gorgonian sea fans and giant clams. Other schooling fish The sites are dived as both multi-day liveaboard excursions
life includes batfish, sweetlips and juvenile yellowtail and from Phuket and Khao Lak, as well as daily dive trips from
chevron barracuda. Khao Lak. For details of dive centres, see pages 98 and 114.
128 129
Dive SiteS POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - mergui archipelago
Mu Koh Surin
1 turtle Ledge Mergui archiPeLago
Location: Koh Surin Tai’s south-eastern coastline.
Depth: Average 8m / Maximum 20m
The site was awarded its name from the frequent sightings of
turtles. It is also excellent for night-diving.

The higher portions of the reef-slope have numerous


gardens of carpet anemones, below which are solitary
magnificent sea anemones inhabited by a variety of
anemonefish. Clusters of stag and elkhorn corals shelter
giant clams and encrusting sponges from the predation 1

of bullethead parrotfish. Green turtles are frequently


encountered here.

2 Koh torinla
Location: Off the southwest tip of Koh Surin Tai. 2
Depth: Average 12m / Maximum 27m
The eastern area has a small garden of magnificent sea
anemones which are hosted by pink skunk and Clark’s 3

anemonefish. Small groupers and coral trout shelter beneath


many fine flower corals. Beyond these gardens, are numerous
smooth porous corals – including lesser and greater star –
with schools of bicolour parrotfish, blue-spotted groupers
and pairs of Emporer angelfish all venturing between the 4

rocks.

The rocks in the shallows host hermit crabs, urchins and In 1997 the Mergui Archipelago in the south of Myanmar
cleaner shrimps, and are rich with colourful featherstars. (Burma) was opened up to foreigners for the first time in over
This is one of the few locations in Thai waters where large fifty years. Back in the 17th Century the port of Mergui used
numbers of bumphead parrotfish are still frequently seen. to be the main gateway to the Gulf of Siam and beyond – all
passing boats came to the port to offload cargo or replenish
3 Richelieu Rock supplies.
Location: 14km east of Koh Surin Nua and Tai.
Depth: Average 19m / Maximum 45m Since then the Mergui Archipelago has been left largely alone
As this is the only food source in the immediate area, it is and today it is an area of some mystery. Numerous islands
excellent for encountering large pelagics. Rainbow runners, remain unexplored, and the region presents the possibility
great and chevron barracuda, trevallies and tuna are all of hundreds of exciting new dive sites. Even now, trips here
frequently seen. The rock is also among the world’s top listed maintain an exploratory feel, with visitors being amongst the
locations for sighting whale sharks. first foreign faces ever seen by local nomadic Moken people
(Burmese sea gypsies).
Predominantly, this is a wall-dive which follows around a
main outcrop surrounded by smaller submerged pinnacles Diving the Mergui Archipelago
whose peaks range from 3m to 10m below the surface. In the Coral representation is sporadic, and the underwater terrain
deeper waters around the three southernmost pinnacles is a is quite rugged and not as colourful as that around Mu Koh
collection of large gorgonian sea fans, immediately beneath Similan Marine National Park. However, the area’s waters are
radiant hermetypic corals. certainly not without their own special attractions. Sites such
as Black Rock attract a variety of sharks as well as manta, eagle
Around the corals is a wide diversity of marine life: residents and marbled rays, whilst The Three Islets has a healthy array of
include schooling bannerfish, a variety of snappers and smaller reef life which is second to none. Virtually all the diving
lionfish, moorish idols, titan triggerfish, and even shovelnose around the Archipelago is done from liveaboard excursions
rays. Also present are bearded scorpionfish, stonefish, moray operating out of Phuket and Khao Lak. For details of dive
eels, seahorses, shrimps, crabs and nudibranchs. centres, see pages 98 and 114.
130 131
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - mergui archipelago

1 Black Rock
Location: A 50m wide outcrop equidistant between North
Eastern Little Torres and North Twin Island.
Depth: Average 22m / Maximum 40m+
This is a tremendously exciting dive site, with frequent
possibilities of spotting sharks of different sizes and species. It
is primarily a wall dive, underlined with small boulders. This is
the place to observe larger apex predators such as scalloped
hammerheads, bull, grey reef and white tips. The sharks patrol
the waters away from the rocky mass, passing through and
around patch reefs and boulders that have settled to form
wide U-shaped gullies on the seabed.

Large barracudas provide a wake-up call for any divers


thinking of investigating the rocks in the deeper waters. Reef
fish are prolific all around this open ocean site as are minute
reef creatures such as nudibranchs, shrimps and crabs. The
rarely seen Rhinopia, or lacy scorpionfish has been seen along
the northern slopes of this site.

2 North twin
Location: 36km to the south of Black Rock.
Depth: Average 15m / Maximum 22m
A wide plateau at 20m, covered by numerous hard and soft
corals, crinoids and small reef fish. Eggshell and tiger cowries
sit on display, while small groups of goatfish fidget about
between the rocks and over the coral substrate bottom.
Juvenile harlequin sweetlips are in evidence, and around
one particularly compact cluster of sea fans, schools of
checkerboard wrasse and small fish fry congregate.

There are larger table corals and porite mounds dotted


with muti-coloured plume worms, and below the mounds
crayfish concealed in darker overhangs. Parrotfish, spiny
foot and dog-faced pufferfish have also taken up residency.

Blue dorid nudibranch

See listing on Page 119 133


Dive SiteS POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - krabi
Mergui Archipelago
The waters away from the island appear to be part of one krabi
of the many routes for great barracudas and small white-tip
reef sharks. The barracuda in particular often come in close
to check out divers and on occasion escort them round the
site.

3 three islets
Location: These three rocky outcrops lie 30 km to the
southeast of North Twin Island.
Depth: Average 20m / Maximum 30m
This is the favourite site in the archipelago as there’s simply
so much to see. The islet is split in two from west to east by
a canyon and is a great place to encounter grey reef sharks 1
and marbled rays as they pass through. The whole site is
2
literally teeming with shrimps, eels, seahorses, anglerfish
and basketstars. Macro photographers could spend days
here and still not photograph everything. 3
4

4 Western Rocky 5 7
Location: A collection of small rocky outcrops 82km 6 8
southwest of the departure point of Kaw Thaung. 9
10
Depth: Average 20m / Maximum 30m
The underwater terrain here consists of pinnacles, both
outcropping and submerged. The largest outcrop has a cave
that cuts right through it and branches into a narrow and Had Nopparat Marine National Park
low exit; the tunnel itself is filled with painted lobsters, crabs Krabi Province is 940km south of Bangkok and has long been
and small invertebrates. The smaller exit of the tunnel is best a popular destination for budget travellers. The addition of
avoided since its exit is occasionally blocked by a couple an international airport and high end resorts now attract a
of large though harmless resident tawny nurse sharks. The much broader spectrum of visitors to the area, particularly
presence of tiny invertebrates continues around the other families.
pinnacles in the form of porcelain crabs, harlequin shrimps
and squat lobsters. There’s also a variety of other smaller The area features some of Thailand’s most stunning landscape.
attractions around this site, including cowrie shells, seahorses Sheer limestone cliffs are crowned with elevated jungles and
and ribbon eels. A variety of small reef sharks can be seen in coconut palms clad the hillsides above glorious beaches.
the deeper waters. The rugged cliff-faces are scarred with numerous caves and
crevices, many of which are climbed by adventurous sports
Black Rock climbers.

Diving around Krabi


Directly off Ao Nang there are two islands, Koh Podah Nai
and Koh Podah Nok, and a handful of limestone outcrops.
The area’s local diving concentrates around these, as well
as the sites at Koh Phi Phi, Shark Point Marine Sanctuary and
Hin Daeng and Mouang. Divers can enjoy an abundance
of radiant soft corals and a tremendous diversity of marine
life. There are gently sloping reefs, caves and exciting swim-
throughs.

The shallow reefs also offer opportunities for some


tremendous snorkelling. The local sites are accessed in
around 20 minutes whilst those further afield take over an
hour.
134 135
Dive SiteS POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - krabi
Krabi
1 Koh Ma tang Ming 4 Koh Mae urai
Location: Immediately north of Koh Podah Nai. Location: 1km southwest of Koh Podah Nai.
Depth: Average 6m / Maximum 14m Depth: Average 9m / Maximum16m
Although this is not one of the area’s better sites, it merits a This rocky outcrop features two underwater tunnels. As you
mention as it has reasonable diversities of both marine life and pass through the easternmost tunnel its exit acts as a natural
hard corals making it a rewarding introduction dive to the area. frame for glorious soft corals in whites, pinks, blues, oranges
Close inspection of the submerged rocks is recommended, and yellows. Beyond this coral garden, the sea-bed tapers
as numerous members of the scorpaenidae family – such as gradually down past shelves of rocks crowned with colourful
bearded scorpionfish and stonefish – are concealed on the featherstars and orange encrusting sponges. Magnificent
rocky ledges. Small yellow boxfish, rock basslets, moorish idols sea anemones host a variety of anemonefish.
and bannerfish add colour, as do trees of soft corals.
5 Hin Bia Rhlua
Hard corals are represented by staghorn, brain and some small Location: 500m southeast of Koh Mae Urai.
boulders of coral porites. The best area for snorkellers is around Depth: Average 9m / Maximum 16m
the eastern side where, close to the rock, there are many sea One of the local favourites. The southern side of the main
whips, large plate corals and associated reef inhabitants. outcrop is the deepest section of the dive, which gradually
gets shallower as it heads north and is mainly dominated
2 Koh Podah Nai by terraces of foliaceous corals. Below these are many small
Location: The largest of the offshore islands and islets, just boulders of lesser and greater star corals with the familiar
over 6Km south of Ao Nang Beach. punctuation of plume worms and sea whips. There’s a
Warning: Due to high volume of boat traffic, extreme care must narrow gorge in the northern apex of this site. Along its floor
be taken when snorkelling at this site. parrotfish peck away at hard corals and black-banded sea
Depth: Average 5m / Maximum 12m kraits weave in and out of the nooks and crannies along its
The northern beach of Koh Podah Nai slopes gently down to walls. Some sections of this site are relatively shallow, and
an extensive reef-flat, which continues outwards for a further are suitable for snorkellers to enjoy.
50m before it reaches an almost sheer slope which drops to
12m. At high tide the corals are covered with only 2m of water 6 Koh Ya Wa Sam
or less; at lower tides many coral heads actually break the Location: About 2km west of Podah Nok.
surface. These conditions render the particular area suitable Depth: Average 9m / Maximum 17m
only for snorkelling. The reef-slope off the southern outcrop climbs over many
rocks which provide the main structure of the site. Juvenile
Better corals and marine life are found a little way out. The black-tip reef and grey nurse sharks often rest among the
reef consists mainly of small clusters of staghorn, cauliflower rocks, with leopard sharks out on the sand.
and a number of leaf and plate corals. There are many narrow
crevices and ledges that cut into the rocky walls of the island Anemone crab
itself, these are well worth investigating as tigertail seahorses
often conceal themselves within.

3 Koh Podah Nok (Chicken island)


Location: 500m due south of Koh Podah Nai.
Depth: Average 1m / Maximum 4m
This site is immensely popular for snorkelling, and as the
maximum depth dictates, not really a suitable dive site.
The marine life around this picturesque islet is more prolific
round the eastern shore, particularly off the northern end of
the beach.

The seascape is liberally punctuated with rocky boulder


and coral laminates with lots of small colourful reef-
fish, reasonably sized giant clams and a wealth of small
invertebrates. Its best to swim from the beach itself as there
are also many black-spined sea urchins.
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Dive SiteS POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - krabi
Krabi
7 Koh Kom 9 Koh See
Location: Outcrop to the southeast of Podah Nok. Location: Three outcrops south of Koh Ya Wa Sam.
Depth: Average 12m / Maximum 20m Depth: Average 6m / Maximum 16m
The seascape around the western side of the outcrop features There’s a tremendous diversity of corals and marine life here.
numerous terraced shelves which drop down to an area of Off the eastern face you find a wall. To the west this gradually
large rocks. The gaps between the rocks act as shelters for a declines into close formations of large rocks. Back along the
selection of medium-sized vertebrates including large dog- reef-slope itself, at a steady depth of 11m, a ribbon like effect
faced pufferfish and groupers. Moorish idols and schooling is created by a series of brain corals which have anchored
bannerfish patrol among many sea whips and bushy black themselves into the limestone.
corals.
The coral assortment changes towards the site’s western
There’s also a small cave, the shallower exit of which leads section where the familiar hard species are replaced by
to an elevated rocky plateau dense with magnificent sea bubble corals and zoanthids. These continue back to the
anemones, themselves occupied by groups of saddleback western apex, which is highlighted by a spectacular shelved
and tomato anemonefish. slope of leaf corals. There’s a fair representation of reef
fish around Koh See, including titan and yellow-margined
8 Koh Ya Wa Bon triggerfish, moorish idols, dog faced pufferfish, lunar wrasse
Location: To the west of Koh Podah Nok. and harlequin sweetlips.
Depth: Average 12m / Maximum 20m
In the north of this site an impressive archway cuts through 10 Koh Haa
the face of the rock for about 10m; there are two entrances at Location: Outcrop to the southeast of Koh See.
6m and 12m. This is a good swim through, although it is only Depth: Average 12m / Maximum 20m
wide enough for a single diver at a time. The site’s northern Two large rocks in a depth of 9m are covered in soft corals,
area gradually slopes down over coral laminates interspersed with oysters clinging to the rocky surface and also to sea
with sea anemones (with a variety of tenants) and rocks. whip corals. The craggy surfaces of these small pinnacles host
various moray eels. There are many sea anemones, mainly
Away from the reef are three large submerged boulders, whose magnificent and gigantic; there’s an equally impressive
southern faces are carpeted in anemones; their many crevices number of tenant anemonefish. If you look closely at the
act as homes and lairs to a variety of invertebrates, including anemones you usually find other, smaller hosts such as
banded, boxing and hinge shrimps. This is also a good location anemone crabs and translucent shrimps. This is also a good
for spotting juvenile snowflake morays and black-banded sea site for spotting colourful mantis shrimps in their burrows in
kraits as they meander in and out of the rocks. the coral substrate.

Koh Poda Nok with mainland Krabi in the background

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dive centres - krabi
Krabi

ao nang divers aqua vision dive center


Ao Nang Ao Nang
tel. +66 (0)75 637245 tel/fax.
Fax. +66 (0)75 637246 +66 (0)75 637415
e. aonang@aonang-divers.com e. info@aqua-vision.net, w. www.aqua-vision.net
w. www.aonang-divers.com
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
On a total shop area of about 150sqm, Swiss managed Ao Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Nang Divers now offers a full range of all diving and snorkelling
equipment. Whatever you need diving equipment-wise, Ao Established in 1997, Aqua Vision is one of the biggest and
Nang Divers will be able to help. best-established dive centres on Ao Nang beach, offering
daily dive trips to all the world class dive sites in the Andaman
instruction | Daytrips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear Rental Sea on its own boats. The dive centre exclusively offers whale
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation shark and manta ray trips to the southern sites of Hin Daeng
If you are thinking of taking a diving course, or are already and Hin Mouang on a luxury diving speedboat.
a qualified diver, the professional and friendly staff will Aqua Vision is a PADI 5 Star Dive Center offering a wide range
be pleased to look after you. 12 years of experience and of PADI scuba diving courses from beginner up to professional
professionalism were endorsed when Ao Nang Divers were levels. It has experienced and multi-lingual staff who are
announced as the winner of the 2006 PADI Tourism Award passionate about diving and teaching. Spoken languages
for the Asia Pacific Region, which recognises excellence in are English, German, Russian, Swedish and French.
the planning of tourism infrastructure and services.
You can rely on Aqua Vision in and out of the water to make
As a certified diver or a snorkeller, enjoy daytrips onboard Ao your Scuba Diving experience a memorable one for all the
Nang Divers, purpose built, comfortable and spacious 25m right reasons!
diving vessel the Petchmanee 10.
The Ao Nang Divers travel section offers many services
such as accommodation, transfers and all kind of excursions
within the Krabi area. Drop them an email to find out more
about their outstanding service.

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dive centres - krabi
Krabi

kon-tiki krabi manta point dive center


Ao Nang Ao Nang
Dive Centre. Dive Centre tel/fax.
+66 (0)75 637675 +66 (0)75 638441
Booking. +66 (0)75 637826 Hotline (english)
Fax. +66 (0)75 637676 +66 (0)87 629 8586
e. info@kontiki-krabi.com Hotline (French, Russian)
w. www.kontiki-krabi.com +66 (0)87 468 6940
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental e. info@mantapoint-aonang.com
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation w. www.mantapoint-aonang.com
Kon-Tiki Krabi in Ao Nang is a fully equipped 5-Star IDC and instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
National Geographic Dive Center. With more than 30 years of Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
experience providing top-quality diving and snorkelling trips
throughout Thailand, Kon-Tiki have become one of the most A professional dive centre under British management. The
respected dive centres in the country. They promise you will team has an international outlook focusing on individual and
learn something new on every trip with them and for your friendly service. They cater primarily for small groups and limit
comfort and safety, they offer Nitrox for Free. up to 8 divers with 2 dive guides, or up to 12 snorkellers, so
divers won’t be in a big crowd on the boat or during diving.
Kon-Tiki has won several awards for its commitment Their daytrip boat, Enterprise 1, visits the major destinations
and work towards a better understanding of the marine available from Ao Nang including the local islands with black-
environment, with the latest being the ‘Project AWARE tip reef sharks and seahorses, the splendour of Phi Phi and the
Marine Environmental Award 2008’. outstanding sites in the Shark Point Marine Sanctuary.
Kon-Tiki offers the full range of PADI Dive education from This is the only centre in Ao
entry-level to Instructor courses with highly trained, multi- Nang that offers night diving
lingual staff, who will make sure you have good fun and the from their own boat. There are
experience of a lifetime. You’ll find Kon-Tiki in all major dive also competitive private charter
destinations in Southern Thailand from Khao Lak and Phuket rates. With associates in Khao
to Krabi and Koh Lanta. Lak, they offer liveaboards to
Surin, Tachai and Richelieu Rock
for groups of up to 12. Trips to
Hin Daeng and Mouang can
also be arranged.
A wide variety of PADI speciality
courses as well as scuba diving
classes from beginner to Pro
are offered.

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Dive CeNtReS POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
directory - krabi
Krabi DiReCtoRY Krabi
How to get there
phra nang divers Krabi can be reached directly by air, road and sea.
Ao Nang
tel/fax. +66 (0)75 637064 By air: Krabi International Airport can be accessed from
e. info@phranangdivers.com a number of neighbouring countries, or via Bangkok’s
w. www.phranangdivers.com Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Domestic flights are
also scheduled between Krabi and Bangkok’s Don Muang
Established in 1992, Phra Nang Airport. Domestic flight times average 80 minutes. There are
Divers are the most experienced also flights between Krabi and Koh Samui.
PADI dive centre in Ao Nang.
Their experience lends itself to The three main carriers are: Bangkok Airways: Within
maintaining a high level of quality through all dive courses Thailand, Tel. 1771; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2
and dive excursions. From half day beginner courses, 265 5555. Nok Air: Within Thailand, Tel. 1318; from outside
daytrips to the sites of Koh Phi Phi, King Cruiser Wreck/Shark Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 900 9955. Thai Airways International:
Point and Koh Ha Yai to liveabords in the Similans, Phra Nang Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111.
Divers will take care good of you.
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox By boat: Longtail boats from Krabi Town to Ao Nang and
Retail | Snorkelling Railae take 40 minutes to reach Railae and another 5 minutes
to Ao Nang. Longtail boats also provide a regular service
Their beachside centre offers a superb selection of diving between the two beaches.
and snorkelling equipment in Ao Nang, including Mares,
Ocean Dynamics, Ripcurl and Quiksilver. Large passenger boats depart daily from Ao Nang, Railae
Phra Nang Divers looks forward to diving with you! and Krabi Town to Koh Phi Phi, and to Koh Lanta from Krabi
Town.

By bus: VIP air-conditioned buses leave Bangkok’s Southern


Bus Terminal daily. The local bus terminal is just outside Krabi
Town and takes 12 hours to reach. For further information
regarding any bus services contact Bangkok Southern Bus
Terminal: Tel. +66 (0)2 435 1199, (0)2 435 1200.

Where to eat
Ao Nang Beach: The larger hotels and resorts at Ao Nang all
have their own restaurants, but that’s not to say that they
are the only option for lunch or dinner. There are many
good eateries along the beach road, as well as along a
walkway that continues on at its northern end.

At the opposite end of the beach, nestled amongst the shady


trees directly behind the beach, is the Last Café. This is an
ideal and unique place if you’re looking for light meals and
beach snacks during the day.

Railae: This beach differs from Ao Nang in that virtually all


the restaurants are associated with individual beach resorts.
Family-run rustic-style cafés serve fantastic seafood dishes.

For best information and insight on where and what to eat,


PG see Pocket Guide FooD thailand − launching first quarter of
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com

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DiReCtoRY directory - krabi
Krabi

Dive facilities
Most of the area’s diving services are found on Ao Nang
Beach, either as stand-alone dive centres or associated with
the larger resorts or hotels. All the operators offer diving
instruction and daily diving trips to the local sites and those
further afield.

Dive trips
Dive trips run on a daily basis. All trips depart from Ao Nang
with pick-ups from Railae on the way to the dive sites, and
include light refreshments, fruit, drinking water, lunch and
Divemaster services. On the majority of the local diving trips,
the surface interval can be spent on the island of Koh Podah
Nai. Snorkellers can enjoy the reefs around this and Chicken
Island.

Day trips to the further destinations of Shark Point, Anemone


Reef, King Cruiser Wreck and the Phi Phi Islands are also
available on a daily basis and snorkellers and non-divers are
welcome to join any of the trips. Hin Daeng and Mouang are
also visited.

Hospitals
Krabi Provincial Hospital
This hospital is in Krabi Town, but it is basic. If you do
require treatment it is advisable to get to Phuket.
Tel. +66 (0)75 611227-8

the Bangkok Phuket Hospital has a permanent


ambulance based in Krabi Town which serves the area.
Emergency Ambulance: Tel. 1719
Diving Medicine Hotlines
Tel. +66 (0)81 989 9482, (0)86 272 4618
Recompression chambers PADI & SSI Instruction
The nearest recompression chambers are those on
Phuket. For details see page 112
Day trips
Live-aboards
Dive Courses
Tel: +66 (0)75 612665
Courses for the complete beginner are very popular here,
as there’s a good selection of shallow sites. Local instruction www.ppscuba.com
follows CMAS, NAUI, PADI or SSI diver training programs and
is available in a variety of languages; the prices are similar
and are fully inclusive of all equipment and certification.

For more information on the Krabi area contact Tourism


Authority of Thailand, Tel. 076 212213, 076 211036.

146 See listing on Page 152


dive sites POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh phi phi
Koh Phi Phi

diving around Koh Phi Phi


Koh Phi Phi offers a splendid variety of different types of
diving on its local reefs, with abundant hard and soft corals
and rich diversity of marine life – suitable for all levels of divers.
Trips also visit Shark Point Marine Sanctuary, Hin Daeng and
Mouang. Snorkelling around Phi Phi is second to none, with
plenty of shallow coral gardens crowning the fringing reefs,
which are alive with colourful fish.

1 Ao Nui
1 Location: On the northwest coast of Koh Phi Phi Don.
depth: Average 15m / Maximum 21m
The dive circumnavigates the large rocky outcrop just outside
the bay and is a truly enjoyable dive. The waters around the
eastern face are shallow and ideal for snorkelling: there are
lots of corals and colourful reef fish among small boulders
and rocks, which are encrusted with patches of sponges and
2 interspersed with a multitude of plume worms.

3
In contrast, the western section comprises a wall that descends
to 20m to meet a jumble of rocks. The wall features a wealth of
4 marine life including moray eels, lionfish, angelfish, butterflyfish
and even harlequin ghost pipefish. The northwestern apex of
the reef features large boulders, balanced on top of each other,
5 between which the more experienced divers can explore a
6
number of relatively tight swim-throughs.
7
2 Hin dot
Location: Submerged pinnacle off Koh Phi Phi Don’s
southwestern headlands.
8
depth: Average 12m / Maximum 28m
The pinnacle is dominated by three interesting shelves
which provide ample and varied underwater scenery as you
spiral upwards. There are good soft corals at all depths. The
Mu Koh Phi Phi Marine National Park hard corals are represented by tubes and laminates. The
50 km to the south west of Krabi, the Phi Phi island group deeper sections have numerous oysters and clams. Many
has been drawing visitors from all four corners of the globe reef-fish are in evidence, including lunar wrasse, parrotfish,
for over a decade. It is an extremely popular international honeycomb groupers and spotfin and Indian lionfish. There
destination, and one that is well and truly established on are also bearded scorpionfish lurking among the rocks as
Thailand’s diving and snorkelling map. they await their prey of tiny fish.

The islands’ raw natural beauty, fabulous beaches and ease of 3 table Coral City
access all together add to the lure of this family destination, Location: Off the eastern side of Phi Phi Ley next to the
which continues to flourish without the eyesore of high-rise Viking Cave.
development. depth: Average 9m / Maximum 28m
This is an interesting place to dive, and there is much to see.
The topography of the larger and only inhabited island of The topography of the site is a sloping reef with sand and
Koh Phi Phi Don comprises two dramatic limestone outcrops coral patches interspersed with a range of pinnacles. In the
divided by a narrow flat isthmus. This stretch of land is where shallower reefs, there are some excellent examples of sea
the vast majority of the island’s amenities and services are fans, whips and table corals, under the larger of which a
found, of which there are plenty to choose from. resident hawksbill turtle can usually be seen.
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dive sites POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh phi phi
Koh Phi Phi

There is also an artificial reef comprising of 100 cement variety of marine life, including small reef sharks, schooling
blocks stacked from 18m to around 6m covered with algae pelagics (barracudas, trevally, kingfish and tuna) and, for shark-
and an increasing amount of sea anemones. Regular marine spotters, bamboo, black-tip reef and leopard sharks. Reef
life encounters include leopard sharks, scorpionfish, ghost inhabitants include angel and butterflyfish, morays, octopus,
pipefish, peacock flounders, tiger tail seahorses and a variety seahorses and the occasional turtle!
of nudibranchs.
7 Koh Bida Nok
4 Ao Maya Location: Outer outcrop directly south of Phi Phi Ley.
Location: West coast of Koh Phi Phi Ley. depth: Average 19m / Maximum 30m
depth: Average 16m / Maximum 24m Gorgonian sea fans, sea whips and colourful soft corals
The dive follows the coast along a steep shelved reef, with abound. Small scorpionfish disguise themselves amid the
occasional sections of wall; hard corals, sea whips and various rocks; lionfish hover between. Varying sizes and species of
species of sea anemones cover the elevated shelves. There are colourful parrotfish and wrasse, along with large schools of
also small offshore pinnacles and submerged rocks to explore. moorish idols and hunting trumpetfish, are at all depths. On
Wrasse, moorish idols and bannerfish constantly pass by. the higher ledges are numerous sea anemones populated by
clownfish. Expect encounters with leopard sharks and, on a
5 Ao Losamah grander scale, manta rays and whale sharks.
Location: The southern bay of Koh Ph Phi Ley.
depth: Average 14m / Maximum 20m 8 Hin Bida
The sandy bottom is punctuated by rocky ledges among Location: Outcrop 8km southeast of Koh Phi Phi Ley.
which are numerous bearded scorpionfish. Fringing the depth: Average 12m / Maximum 18m
rocks are sea whips, some bent over by the aggregations of Relatively shallow at around 5m, the area due north of the
wing oysters clinging to them. The southern section of the outcrop is covered with scattered rocks; in calm conditions
site is deeper, at 20m, and follows a wall where many bivalves snorkellers and divers can enjoy schools of colourful reef-
and clusters of soft corals are in evidence. Pairs of large blue- fish, including blue-lined snappers and harlequin sweetlips,
ringed angelfish explore the nooks and crannies. and more static attractions like multi-coloured plume worms,
featherstars and crinoids.
6 Koh Bida Nai
Location: The nearer of the two outcrops directly south of This location’s secondary name (Phi Phi’s Shark Point) refers
Phi Phi Ley. to the overwhelming presence of leopard sharks. There
depth: Average 16m / Maximum 35m are also lots of cuttlefish, squid and titan triggerfish. Large
A hugely diverse range of hard and soft corals. One area, known undulated and golden morays, spiny lobsters and octopi
as Fantasy Reef, comprises mostly branching and hard coral attempt to obscure themselves within the many craggy
laminates, punctuated with soft corals. The reef attracts a high holes and crevices.

From the viewpoint on Koh Phi Phi Don

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dive CeNtres POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - koh phi phi
Koh Phi Phi

phi phi scuba diving center princess divers


Ton Sai Bay Loh Dalum Bay
tel. +66 (0)75 612665 tel . +66 (0)75 601168
e. ppscuba@gmail.com e. info@princessdivers.com
w. www.ppscuba.com w. www.princessdivers.com
Just a minute and a half’s Princess Divers offers a choice of two
stroll from the pier, the bright yellow 2-storey dive centre superb diving locations, on Koh Phi
covers all aspects of diving service whilst maintaining a Phi & Koh Mook (Muk), which allow
sociable relaxed atmosphere. you to dive all southern Thailand’s best
dive sites, including Hin Daeng & Hin
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Gear rental Mouang, Shark Point, the King Cruiser
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation Wreck, Phi Phi Islands, Koh Kradan & Koh Rok. Experienced
multilingual dive staff offer courses for complete beginner to
Established in 1989 Phi Phi Scuba has plenty of experience
professional from PADI or SSI starting daily.
and with six dive boats and a power boat chartering
service they offer a choice of diving destinations every day, instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
separating boats for qualified and student divers. Trips visit Gear rental | retail | snorkelling | Accomodation
all the local dive sites, including the King Cruiser Wreck and
the manta ray and whale shark magnets of Hin Daeng and Hin Princess Divers is Phi Phi’s premier resort-based dive centre,
Mouang. These sites are perfect for advanced and speciality located within PP Princess and PP Charlie Resorts, only a
dives, such as underwater photography and videography, one-minute walk from the main pier. Established in 2001
two services offered by centre. they offer a relaxed friendly atmosphere with the emphasis
on small groups for maximum attention and safety. The
PADI and SSI dive courses up to and including the professional facilities include air-con classrooms and the largest range of
certification of instructor start daily in a variety of languages retail equipment on the island.
with classes being kept to small groups, providing students
with a comforting introduction to the Andaman Sea. Dive If it’s peace and quiet you want, look no further than the
professional internship packages are also available. newly-opened island of Koh Mook in Trang Province. Located
within Charlie Beach Resort, on Haad Farrang beach, Princess
Above the dive centre, the ‘Deco Bar’ is a great place for Divers are the island’s only dive centre, with daily dive trips
logging dives and relaxing whilst wrapping up a great day and dive courses for beginners. Koh Mook and its surrounding
of diving. islands offer stunning unspoilt diving opportunities where
the only crowds are the marine life! New dive sites are being
discovered regularly.

152 153
dive CeNtres POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
Koh Phi Phi direCtOry Koh Phi Phi
How to get there
viking divers There are daily boat transfers to and from Krabi, Koh Lanta
Ton Sai Bay and Phuket. These are the main options.
dive Centre. +66 (0)75 601110
Hotline. +66 (0)81 719 3375 Other options include private boat charter or the Phuket
e. vikingdivers@hotmail.com Seaplane Service operated by Destination Air:
w. www.vikingdiversthailand.com Tel. +66 (0)76 328637-39, +66 (0)85 785 1889.
Viking Divers believe you will not
find a better partner for your diving For information on how to get to: Krabi see p145, Koh Lanta
needs and over the years they have p167 and Phuket p111.
gained a good reputation as a
friendly professional dive centre. Where to eat
instruction | day trips | Gear rental | retail | snorkelling Narrow streets and walkways on Koh Phi Phi Don traverse
Accomodation both the isthmus and follow along the two coastlines and
are substantially punctuated by a range of restaurants, cafes
They are mentioned in the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet and bakeries purveying a broad selection of European and
as well as several other well known guide books, their aim is
to give customers the best possible service and experience Thai menus. Pizzerias, hamburger and steak joints, ice cream
underwater that they can. To ensure that they meet this, parlours and, as you would expect, seafood restaurants are
group sizes are kept to no more than four people on any all but a short stroll away from each other.
diving course or guided dive trip.
For best information and insight on where and what to eat,
PADI and SSI dive courses commence on a daily basis along PG see Pocket Guide FOOd thailand − launching first quarter of
with three different scheduled dive trips to the local sites, the
wreck of the King Cruiser or Hin Daeng and Hin Mouang, all 2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com
of which are visited onboard the centre’s two custom built
dive boats. dive facilities
The majority of Koh Phi Phi’s dive operators are located in
the small, and only, town in Ton Sai Bay on Koh Phi Phi Don.

Diving is a big attraction here and there are plenty of dive


centres in order to cater for the demand. The standard of
service is high with virtually all the major languages being
spoken.

A number of the more established centres carry a good


selection of equipment for sale and provide servicing too.
There are two liveaboard boats operated from the island.
The Koh Phi Phi dive sites are also visited as daily excursions
by the operators located in Krabi, and on the islands of Koh
Lanta and Phuket.

dive trips
Trips run twice daily, departing at around 08.00hrs and
14.00hrs: most offer light refreshments, fruit, lunch and
Divemaster services. Not all operators include equipment in
the price.

The larger dive boats carry fresh water tanks for rinsing
photographic equipment, but longtail boats do not.
Snorkellers and non-divers are welcome to join any of the
scheduled diving trips; masks and fins are available for
hire.
154 155
direCtOry POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh lanta
Koh Phi Phi
Koh Lanta
If you want to organise your own snorkelling trip you can
hire a longtail from Ao Ton Sai or Hat Yao for a reasonable
charge.

dive courses
Courses for the complete beginner are very popular here, as
there is a good selection of shallow sites. Local instruction
follows CMAS, PADI, NAUI and SSI diver training programmes;
prices are similar and are fully inclusive of all equipment and
certification. 1
3

Hospitals 2

The nearest hospitals are those in Krabi Town and on


4
Phuket. It’s advisable, if possible, to get to one of the
hospitals on Phuket.
5
6
Krabi Provincial Hospital: Tel. +66 (0)75 611227-8
recompression chambers 7
The nearest recompression chambers are on Phuket.
For details see page 112. 8

Mu Koh Lanta Marine National Park


For more information on Koh Phi Phi contact Tourism There are dozens of islands off the Krabi coast. Of these,
Authority of Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)76 212213, (0)76 211036. 15 make up the Mu Koh Lanta Marine National Park, which
covers about 135 sq km across four main island groups – Koh
Coral trout Lanta Yai and Koh Lanta Noi, Koh Muk, Koh Rok Nok and Koh
Rok Nai, and the Koh Ha group of islands.

The most tourist facilities are found on Koh Lanta Yai; there
are numerous bungalow resorts and even a couple of luxury
spa and resorts, and even more on the way.

The island is around 25km long, with a hilly central section


and a string of superb sandy beaches along its western
coastline. The main hub of activity on the island remains at
the northern port of Saladan. Here you will find a post office,
clinic and banking facilities. There is also a nice selection
of restaurants and, of course, a number of the island’s dive
operators.

diving around Koh Lanta


The diving to the south of Koh Lanta and the adjacent islands
is exceptionally good. This is regarded as one of the best
areas in Thailand. There’s a great variety of walls, fringing
reefs, caves and a wreck to explore around the offshore
islands, islets and rocks.

Marine life is abundant, with a healthy cross-section of reef


species and pelagics. Only the local operators and a few from
Krabi, Koh Phi Phi and Phuket currently utilise these sites, so
they remain uncrowded.
156 157
dive sites
Koh Lanta
1 Koh Ha Nua
Location: Northernmost outcrop of the Koh Ha island group.
depth: Average 20m / Maximum 34m
One point of individuality is that the site is characterised
by a scattering of geometrically shaped rocks. Sea whips
and sea fans are much in evidence, as are featherstars and
nudibranchs. This is as good a place as any to see Indian and
spotfin lionfish, bearded scorpionfish and imperial angelfish.
There is a small cave off the southwest wall, which twists
down to its exit in a lovely area of large submerged boulders
carpeted in radiant soft corals and large gorgonian sea fans.
The gaps between offer exciting swim-through experiences.

2 Koh Ha yai
Location: Southernmost of the Koh Ha island group.
depth: Average 18m / Maximum 25m
There is excellent adventure here. The south western face
has a cave with two large entrances. The western of these is a
hole in the rock at a depth of 5m. This immediately enters the
larger of two connected cathedrals, which rise an impressive
30m above sea-level. The other entrance/exit, at the eastern
end, is deeper, at 16m. It is not dark in the cathedrals; light
enters from the waters below. Directly in front of the cave
are a number of large rocks highlighted by sea fans and soft
corals. There are also plenty of sea whips, which are worth
closer inspection as it will reveal a variety of tiny camouflaged
invertebrates.

3 Koh Muk
Location: Outcrop off Koh Muk’s northwest point.
depth: Average 5m / Maximum 10m
The rock is covered in splendid purple and red soft corals,
with holes and cracks providing hiding places for reef
inhabitants. You can head either south along the west
coast or east along the north coast – both options offer

Koh Ha Yai

158 see listing on Page 165


dive sites POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh lanta
Koh Lanta
overhangs, but the latter is the most interesting. More 7 Hin daeng
significant than the diving on offer, there’s an interesting Location: 500m from Hin Mouang.
adventure for snorkellers – assuming they feel brave depth: Average 25m / Maximum 35m
enough to navigate the winding cave/tunnel, 60m long, A series of wall dives with intermittent shelves at varying
which has been cut through the western rocky cliff. depths. There are more soft corals than hard, but the main
attraction is the seemingly endless diversity of marine
Known as Morukut (Emerald Cave), this penetrates the inhabitants, including leopard sharks, turtles, moray eels,
mountain and eventually emerges into a beautiful lagoon, lionfish, bannerfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, pipefish, sea kraits,
about 60m across, fringed by tropical forest, and with a crabs, shrimps and lobsters. This is due to the fact that this, and
superb beach. The tunnel affords the only access by water neighbouring Hin Mouang, are the only reef-type communities
to this lagoon; the water at its entrance is only about 4m or feeding grounds within the area. Individually, though, they
deep and becomes shallower as the tunnel goes deeper into have different attractions. For instance, the deeper waters
the mountain, while there is always at least 1m airspace and around this site are one of the few remaining places in the
sometimes as much as 15m. country where grey reef sharks can be encountered. Manta
rays and whale sharks are also regular visitors.
4 Koh Kraden wreck
Location: Off the southwest coast of Koh Kraden. 8 Hin Mouang
depth: Average 24m / Maximum 28m Location: 27km west of Koh Rok.
The wreck is believed to be of a 60-70m Japanese destroyer depth: Average 23m / Maximum 70m+
sunk by air attack in 1944. It sits in 28m of water. As the This is one of the best dive sites in Thai waters. A series of six or
visibility here generally worsens below 20m, the way to find more submerged pinnacles heads southwest, the shallowest
the wreck is to follow the many fish that frequent what has being about 8m beneath the surface. The site gets its name
become an artificial reef. Those experienced in wreck-diving courtesy of the carpet of purple sea anemones which cloak
can penetrate the bow sections, but it is not advisable to its upper surfaces. This is a very colourful and exciting site.
attempt entry to the stern section, which is draped with Large pelagics often visit, including enormous barracuda
fishing nets and subject to much silting. and very large tuna. Manta rays and whale sharks regularly
frequent the surrounding waters, as do large stingrays.
5 Koh rok Nai
Location: The northern of the two Koh Rok islands. Harlequin shrimp
depth: Average 12m / Maximum 20m
This is a good site at all depths. The diving is around the
southern coast, heading slightly northeast. This is also a
reasonable snorkelling site, and offers good night-diving,
since conditions are almost always calm at night. The reef
slopes gently and there are lots of hard corals, including
brain and table staghorn, and many barrel sponges. The reef-
fish are reasonably plenteous; they include bannerfish, large
schools of moorish idols, a good variety of anemonefish and
on occasion, turtles. Away from the reef, large barracuda,
tuna and jacks pass by.

6 Koh rok Nok


Location: The southern of the two Koh Rok islands.
depth: Average 14m / Maximum 20m
Around the wall, look out for morays, lionfish, invertebrates
and nudibranchs, plus many zigzag oysters. Further around
the headland you come across a terrain of big boulders that
extends all the way to the cliff face. This section is interesting
in that a freshwater stream has, because of its high iron
content, coloured the rocks bright orange; for the same
reason, though, healthy coral growth is restricted.

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Koh Lanta

blue planet divers ko lanta diving center


Saladan Saladan
tel/fax. +66 (0)75 684165 dive Centre. +66 (0)75 684065
e. blueplanetdivers@gmail.com Hotline. +66 (0)86 983 6118
w. www.blueplanetdivers.net e. info@kolantadivingcenter.com
w. www.kolantadivingcenter.com
Blue Planet offers the highest
quality courses, guiding and
customer service by PADI instruction | day trips | Nitrox | rebreather
professionals conducted in small Gear rental | retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
groups. Their priority is safety and Ko Lanta Diving Center was the first dive shop on the island
lots of fun. Beginners, snorkellers and was established in 1992 by underwater photographer
and kids are all welcome onboard and author Christian Mietz. They were the first TDA Diving
their spacious boat. Association and CMAS 5 Star Examiner Academy in the
country. They are also a CMAS 5 Star TEC Academy and PADI
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental Dive Center.
retail | Freediving | snorkelling | Accommodation The full range of recreational and TEC diving courses up
to Instructor level are available under each of the training
This PADI 5 Star Dive Center teaches all PADI courses from agencies including Nitrox and rebreather courses.
Open Water Diver to Assistant Instructor, through their multi-
lingual instructors. There are two fully equipped classrooms Daily trips visit all the best spots in the southern Andaman
in the main centre in Saladan and swimming pool access. Sea including Hin Daeng and Mouang and the Koh Ha Yai
They also have branches in Kaw Kwang (Klong Dao Beach) group onboard their purpose built 20m diving boat M/V
and Phrae Ae (Long Beach). Choksomboon 1.
Diving is conducted in small led groups, or those experienced
Adventure & Fun enough can explore the reefs without direct guidance. Nitrox
and rebreathers are available for qualified divers.
Blue Planet also provides technical, cave & cavern dive
training under, DSAT, TDI and IANTD. For more information Special cave diving tours around the provinces of Phang Nga
on the programmes, visit Blue Planet’s website. and Krabi are also scheduled.

Freediving, breath holding (Apnea) is exclusively offered


at Blue Planet and is a sport especially suitable for those
who love the feeling of being underwater without artificial
breathing equipment. When you talk about freediving,
you talk about sensation, beauty, personal experience and
challenge.

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Koh Lanta

kon-tiki lanta lanta diver


Saladan Saladan
tel/fax. +66 (0)75 684694 dive Centre. +66 (0)75 684208
e. info@kontiki-lanta.com Hotline. +66 (0)81 272 9050
w. www.kontiki-lanta.com Fax. +66 (0)75 684057
e. scuba@lantadiver.com
Kon-Tiki Lanta is a fully
equipped 5-Star IDC Center. w. www.lantadiver.com
With more than 30 years experience providing top-quality Established in 1998, Lanta Diver are
diving and snorkelling trips throughout Thailand, Kon-Tiki has a PADI 5 Star IDC Center, offering a
become one of the most respected dive centres in the country. full range of PADI courses (up to and
They promise you will learn something new on every trip and including the level of Instructor),
for your comfort and safety, they offer Nitrox for Free. liveaboard excursions and daily diving trips to a number of
the best dive sites and reefs in Thailand. They are also a Reef
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
Check Centre.
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Kon-Tiki has won several awards for its commitment
and work towards a better understanding of the marine Gear rental | retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
environment, with the latest being the ‘Project AWARE Lanta Diver specializes in quality education, small groups and
Marine Environmental Award 2008’. diver safety. Lanta Diver’s Instructors, Divemasters and staff
Kon-Tiki offer the full range of PADI Dive education from are all highly experienced professionals, who aim to ensure
entry-level to Instructor courses with highly trained, multi- that your diving holiday is as enjoyable and safe as possible.
lingual staff, which will make sure you have good fun and the Lanta Diver has the largest and best stocked equipment retail
experience of a lifetime. You will find Kon-Tiki on all major store on the island, is an authorized dealer for all major brand
dive destinations in Southern Thailand from Khao Lak and names, and is able to service and repair most equipment in
Phuket to Krabi and Koh Lanta. its comprehensive service centre.
Accommodation, snorkelling and other activities on Koh
Lanta can also be booked through the dive centre. They can
also take care of travel and accommodation reservations
elsewhere in Thailand.

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Koh Lanta direCtOry Koh Lanta
palm beach divers How to get there
Koh Lanta Yai can be reached by scheduled boat services
Long Beach from Krabi Town, Koh Phi Phi Don, Phuket and Ban Baw
tel/fax. Muang pier northwest of Trang Town. To reach the island via
+66 (0)75 684603 the town, transfer by minibus or taxi to the pier at Ban Baw
Muang, around 40km north of town. The recommended way
Hotline. +66 (0)87 806 4314, e. info@palmbeachdivers.com to access Koh Lanta Yai is to arrive at Krabi Town and transfer
w. www.palmbeachdivers.com to the boat service or arrive at the airport and have the dive
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental operator arrange the connecting road transfer.
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
to trang town from Bangkok
At Palm Beach Divers the heart and focus is both on fun and By air: Koh Lanta can be reached from the nearby airports
diving. The centre is located in the beautiful resort of Lanta in Krabi and Trang. Whichever airport is used, a transfer will
Palm Beach where they specialize in the personal approach
by offering diving services to fit everybody’s wishes. need to be arranged to the island. This takes around an hour
from either airport and is best arranged in advance through
As a PADI 5 Star IDC Center dive courses are conducted by a one of the dive operators.
team of experienced instructors who are all passionate about
diving. All courses are conducted around their students with Via Trang. Daily flights depart Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi
particular attention being paid on Divemaster and Instructor International and Don Muang airports. Flight time is 90 minutes.
certifications. Allowing students to take their career in diving For more information contact Nok Air: Within Thailand,
to the limit. Packages including accommodation are possible. Tel. 1318; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 900 9955.
Dive trips are limited to small groups and depart on the Via Krabi. Daily flights depart both Bangkok airports. Flight
centre’s dive or speed boat directly from the beach and are times average 80 minutes. There are also flights from Koh
run by experienced international staff that ensure high service Samui. The three main carriers are: Bangkok Airways: Within
& safety standards and above all lot’s of fun and adventure! Thailand, Tel. 1771; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2
The centre is an Aqua Master outlet and therefore stocks 265 5555. Nok Air: Within Thailand, Tel. 1318; from outside
high standard diving gear at competitive prices. Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 900 9955. Thai Airways International:
Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111.
By bus: VIP air-conditioned buses leave Bangkok’s Southern
Bus Terminal twice daily. Journey time is 17hrs. For
information on the bus service contact Bangkok Southern
Bus Terminal: Tel. +66 (0)2 435 1199, (0)2 435 1200.
By Boat: There are daily boat transfers to and from Krabi
Town, Koh Phi Phi and Phuket.
By train: Three types of service run from Bangkok to Trang
and as it is a 15hr journey it is advisable to travel sleeper
class. Trains can be booked up to 90 days in advance –
recommended as they fill up quickly. For information
regarding train service contact Hua Lumphong Railway
Station, Tel. +66 (0)2 223 7010.

Where to eat
Virtually all the island’s resorts have their own eateries. If
they don’t, it’s only a short stroll along the beach to one that
does! There are a few independent restaurants and bakeries
around the island. The port of Saladan has a worthy selection
of local fare, seafood restaurants, pizzerias and bakeries.
For best information and insight on where and what to eat,
PG see Pocket Guide FOOd thailand − launching first quarter of
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com
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dive sites - koh tao
Koh Lanta
Koh tao
dive facilities
2
There are around a dozen operators on the island. The
majority are located in Saladan. The main operators also
3
have booking offices at a number of the island’s resorts.
1 4
5
All the operators on the island offer dive education and daily 6
dive trips. Some of the more established dive centres carry a
retail selection.
9
dive trips
All trips depart from the northern fishing port of Saladan
at around 08.00hrs and return during the late afternoon.
Included in the price are refreshments, fruit, drinking water,
lunch and Divemaster(s) services.
7
The cost of day trips varies depending on the destination. 8
Snorkellers and non-divers are welcome to join scheduled
diving trips; snorkelling equipment is available. The larger
dive boats will carry fresh water tanks for rinsing diving and
photographic equipment.

Hospitals Koh Tao – or Turtle Island as it’s affectionately referred to


The nearest hospitals are in Trang Town. – is the northernmost and smallest in the chain of the three
racha damnern Hospital, Tel. +66 (0)75 211203 ‘inhabited’ islands in the Samui Archipelago, with an area
Watana Pat Hospital, Tel. +66 (0)75 218332 of 21 sq km. The south and west coastlines are dotted with
white sandy beaches: the north and east coasts have a couple
trang Chatasongkroh Hospital, Tel. +66 (0)75 218060 of small sandy bays but are predominantly formed by large
Note that, if possible, it is better to head for the amenities granite boulders stacked high above the water and rising to
and emergency services on Phuket. The Bangkok Phuket fringe the island’s forests.
Hospital has a permanent ambulance based in Krabi
Town which serves Koh Lanta, Tel. 1719 The island’s single town, Mae Haad, is located on the
western coast. There’s a bold selection of restaurants with
recompression chambers international and local menus, and a post office, internet
The nearest recompression chambers are on Phuket. services, general provisions shops and a handful of diving
For details see page 112. centres and credible retail outlets purveying diving
equipment and accessories.

diving around Koh tao


dive courses
The diving around Koh Tao is amongst the best in the Gulf
Local instruction has a choice of CMAS, PADI and SSI training of Thailand with enough variety to satisfy all levels of divers.
programs, the complete range of which is available, including There are deep shipwrecks, (some only suitable for technical
the professional levels of Divemaster and Instructor. There divers) and towering submerged pinnacles, with their craggy
are also a number of specialty courses, which run over two rock faces seemingly alive with various hard and soft corals.
to three days. The courses’ timetables are structured to suit These sites are constantly visited by large pelagics. In contrast
both students and dive centres. are dives along gentle sloping coral reefs. These are good
places to see many different species of laminate and foliaceous
corals and a rich diversity of marine life. There’s a few good
For more information on Koh Lanta contact Tourism Authority snorkelling sites which can be reached off the beach of Nang
of Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)76 212213, (0)76 211036. Yuan island.
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1 Chumphon Pinnacles
Location: About 5km northwest of Nang Yuan.
depth: Average 20m / Maximum 36m
This is Koh Tao’s most impressive site, and without doubt
one of the most popular. Divers revisiting the island
always ask when the earliest scheduled trip to Chumphon
Pinnacles is!

The site consists of four interconnected underwater


pinnacles which tower up from around 34m; the highest
peaks are 16m Below the surface. This is an ideal place to
spot many pelagics. Large schools of great barracuda, big-
eyed jacks, tuna, mackerel, goldbody and giant trevally
are all frequent visitors. Whale sharks, with accompanying
striped remoras and pilot fish are sighted here with more
frequency than any other site in the Gulf. Bulky grey reef
sharks are seen in the depths away from the base of the
rocky structure.

2 Green rock
Location: 50m off the northern shore of Nang Yuan.
depth: Average 12m / Maximum 25m
Divers come here for the tremendous selection of
adventurous swimthroughs provided by large archways,
caverns, caves and crevices which cut through the matrix of
submerged rocks. There are many groupers, blue-spotted
ribbontail rays and yellowmargin triggerfish, which can be
aggressive – especially if protecting their nests during the
spawning season.

This is a good place to see green and hawksbill turtles.


Green Rock makes an interesting night-dive. The triggerfish
secure themselves in the smaller crevices for the night and
the parrotfish sleep in their cocoons while the nocturnal
community comes to life.

3 Nang yuan – Northwest Bay


Location: Northwest bay off Nang Yuan.
depth: Average 6m / Maximum 12m
Follow the rocks northwards to find large numbers of black
sea cucumbers scattered around rocks and lesser star
boulder corals, heavily pitted with multicoloured plume
worms and bivalves. The larger rocks, rich in foliaceous
and soft corals, provide small-scale wall-dives and swim-
arounds. Neptune barrel sponges are covered in long white
alabaster tubeworms. The rocks are interspersed with small
elevated sections hosting gardens of sea anemones.

Around and beyond the rocks the fish life becomes more
prolific. There are lots of bullethead parrotfish, checkerboard
wrasse, red-tailed butterflyfish and emperor angelfish, and
large white snappers, cuttlefish and jacks.
see listing on Page 178 171
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dive sites - koh tao
Koh Tao
4 Nang yuan – Japanese Gardens 7 Ao Leuk
Location: Nang Yuan’s southeastern bay. Location: Koh Tao’s southeast coast.
depth: Average 6m / Maximum 12m depth: Average 6m / Maximum 12m
Although the general conditions may be the same, this site is This is really a diver-training site, and provides an excellent
not a replica of the previous site. As you head south towards alternative to the two at Nang Yuan: if weather makes one
the rocks, the sand is slowly replaced by boulder corals rich inaccessible, the other will not be. The seascape is ideal for
in small bivalves and plume worms. Beyond the boulder those taking their first breaths beneath the ocean’s surface.
corals is a shallow sloping reef formed of table staghorns
and various leaf corals; black-banded sea kraits intertwine The sand is broken by small mounds of staghorn corals
around the branches, while pufferfish and damselfish create and numerous patches of long-spined black sea urchins.
their own blankets of colour. Mushroom corals lie individually scattered, as do small
sponge-encrusted rocks.
Following the reef east, you approach a number of small
caves and overhangs; these serve as shelters for many The dominating species among the many fish around these
blue-spotted ribbontail rays. A good selection of Phyllidia undulating rocks are parrotfish, wrasse, juvenile snappers,
nudibranchs feed on the rock-encrusting sponges. This is a squirrelfish and soldierfish. Away from the rocks, numbers of
good site for observing passing turtles. yellowtail barracuda and schooling bannerfish pass by.

5 White rock 8 red rock (shark island)


Location: About 1km south of Nang Yuan. Location: 1km off the southern tip of Koh Tao.
depth: Average 9m / Maximum 22m depth: Average 15m / Maximum 28m
This is a very enjoyable dive, suitable for both novice The good thing about this site, provided access is possible,
and experienced divers. The site consists mainly of two is that you can virtually always have a pleasant dive; it also
submerged pinnacles, the higher of which is covered by only offers very good night-diving. The site consists of a steeply
2m of water. sloping reef.

The surfaces are broken by a number of elevated shelves The shallower part, around the northeast section, varies
graced with a host of honeycomb groupers, long-spined from 4m to 2m and is an excellent place to snorkel. Lavish
black sea urchins, nudibranchs and various sea anemones. sea anemone gardens and table corals are interspersed
Radiant trees of soft corals mix with knob and pore corals, and with large flat-topped rocks, providing a playground for a
are rich with colourful plume worms. Small moray eels, crabs multitude of reef-fish: titan triggerfish, pairs of blue-ringed
and shrimps have taken up residence in the many cracks and angelfish, lunar and bicolour wrasse, large parrotfish and
crannies of the rock faces. There are also many titan triggerfish, fusiliers. In the sand, blue-spotted stingrays can be seen.
some of which occasionally act quite aggressively. White There have also been reliable sightings of hawksbill and
Rock is the area’s most popular night-diving destination. You green turtles, and as the name implies, reef sharks!
can see a large resident green turtle, hermit crabs and giant
barracuda, attracted to the rock by smaller fish. 9 southwest Pinnacles
Location: About 7km southwest of Koh Tao.
6 Hin Wong depth: Average 17m / Maximum 28m
Location: About 100m off Hin Wong Bay. These three submerged pinnacles represent a series of short
depth: Average 12m / Maximum 26m wall-dives. The more noticeable of the surrounding reef-life
The site consists mainly of a large tabletop rock formation includes groupers, schooling bannerfish, moorish idols and
with an array of soft corals scattered over the surrounding humpback snappers. In the gulleys between the rocks are
area. The rocky plateau is almost completely obscured by fire many bushy black corals, sea whips and gorgonian sea fans,
corals. East of it, the sandy bottom slopes steeply down to all in relatively good health. Butterflyfish, including raccoon
the site’s maximum depth past other, slightly smaller granite and threadfin, share these waters. The walls of the pinnacles
structures. have many Neptune barrel sponges, which increase in size the
deeper they are.
The resident fish are dominated by blue-spotted and red
coral groupers, bannerfish and moorish idols. Fusiliers and Away from the rocks there are many pelagics, including great
snappers are found in small groups in the deeper waters. This barracuda and juvenile yellowtails, mackerel, trevallies, dog-
is a fairly reliable place to see green and hawksbill turtles. faced tuna, rainbow runners and big-eye jacks.
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dive centres - koh tao
Koh Tao

big blue diving resort buddha view


Sairee Beach Chalok Baan Kao
tel. +66 (0)77 456415 tel. +66 (0)77 456074
+66 (0)81 920 5698 Fax. +66 (0)77 456210
Fax. +66 (0)77 456772 e. Buddha@samart.co.th
e. info@bigbluediving.com w. www.buddhaview-diving.com
w. www.bigbluediving.com,
www.bigbluelog.blogspot.com Buddha View is a PADI 5 Star IDC Dive
Resort that specialises in day trips and
dive education with courses from beginner up to a selection
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental | retail
of instructor level programs.
snorkelling | Accommodation
Big Blue Diving Resort, on Sairee Beach has three dive boats instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
to cater for all levels of diving experience and offers up to 10 retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
different dive sites each day. Dive professional education at Buddha View is often praised
They offer all PADI & SSI dive courses from the beginner by PADI representatives. The courses are fun, relaxed and
certification course of Open Water up to the professional thorough. An experienced, friendly and multi-lingual team
level of Instructor training. They also have a lively beach ensure that everyone’s Koh Tao experience is as memorable
bar with a great restaurant with free wi-fi, that is offered to and enjoyable as possible and will bring them back time and
everyone diving or staying in either their beach bungalows time again. There’s a range of accommodation packages
or fan & air-conditioned rooms. from beachfront fan-cooled bungalows to luxury rooms
aimed to suit all budgets.
Big Blue Resort also offers a laundry service and free taxi
services to and from the pier twice a day. Experienced divers travel on a separate dive boat and
Great reputation, great service, great diving. They also have schedule in order to visit the more challenging dive sites.
their own profile on the social networking website ‘Facebook’ Special speedboat dive trips are regularly scheduled to Sail
where they regularly share all the latest updates. Rock and the Ang Thong Marine National Park. After diving
unwind at the resort’s beach bar and evening BBQ, which is
held seven days a week!

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dive centres - koh tao
Koh Tao

crystal dive resort planet scuba


Mae Haad & Sairee Beach Mae Haad
tel. +66 (0)77 456106-7 tel/fax. +66 (0)77 456110
Fax. +66 (0)77 456105 e. planet-scuba-kt@planet-scuba.net
e. info@crystaldive.com w. www.planet-scuba.net
w. www.crystaldive.com
Planet Scuba, a PADI 5 Star IDC Center
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox has over 20 years of experience in
Gear rental | retail | snorkelling | Accommodation scuba diver education and dive tours
in Thailand and were the first Dive Centre on the island of Koh
This award winning dive centre is the only PADI Career Tao to be awarded the prestigious PADI Career Development
Development Center and Go Eco Operator on Koh Tao. Center Rating (CDC).
Crystal is also a Reef Check Training Facility, running regular
reef management and ecology programs. instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental
The centre offers the full range of PADI courses, from retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
Bubblemaker’s through to IDC, including IDC Staff Instructor. Regular diving courses, from beginner to professional,
Crystal also offers the largest range of PADI specialty conducted with the highest level of instruction are all
courses on the island along with the full range of DSAT and available on a daily basis. The ‘Go Pro’ entry level to Instructor
TDI Technical diving courses and on site Nitrox blending packages can take participants from being a complete
facilities. European managed, resident PADI Course Director beginner up to diving professional.
Matt Bolton oversees all aspects of diver training whilst their
Operations Manager is the only fully qualified compressor Planet Scuba also offers unbeatable diving and
technician on Koh Tao. accommodation deals with a choice of fan-cooled rooms
right on the beach, deluxe garden bungalows with cable TV
All courses are run in small personalised groups and
and hot water or air-conditioned superior sea view studio
conducted in all European languages plus Japanese, Chinese
suites and up to five boat dives. Whatever your budget, they
and Hebrew.
are committed in taking good care of you.
Crystal Dive has two resorts. The main one on Mae Haad has a
private swimming pool. Rooms range from fan-cooled through
to high end VIP. The second is on stunning Sairee Beach.

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Koh Tao direCtOry Koh Tao
scuba Junction How to get there
Koh Tao can be reached directly by sea and indirectly by air,
Sairee Beach rail and road.
tel. +66 (0)77 456164
By air and boat: There are no airports on Koh Tao, but
Fax/tel. +66 (0)77 456013
planes fly to neighbouring Koh Samui, providing a relatively
e. info@scuba-junction.com
comfortable, though indirect, access to the island. Daily
w. www.scuba-junction.com
domestic flights with Bangkok Airways depart from Krabi,
ssi Platinum Facility Phuket and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental They also schedule daily flights directly to and from
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation Singapore. Thai Airways International serves Koh Samui
from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport. For more
Since opening 16 years ago, Scuba Junction’s emphasis has information contact Bangkok Airways: Within Thailand, Tel.
been on quality, service and safety. ALL dive groups are 1771; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 265 5555. Thai
limited to FOUR divers and a complimentary dive computer Airways International: Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111..
is supplied to all of their divers. Diving equipment is serviced
every 6 months to the highest EUROPEAN Standards. Transfer to connecting boat services is by air-conditioned
This extra level of service is well documented on Internet minibus. Two high speed catamarans depart twice daily
forums. They’ve been nominated by www.i-escape.com four (weather permitting). Both boats stop off at Koh Phangan to
straight years as ‘Best Dive Operator on Koh Tao’ and are pick up and drop off passengers. The overall trip takes around
highly recommended by www.lonleyplanet.com. two hours and is the preferred way to reach Koh Tao from
Scuba Junction take marine conservation close to their heart. Koh Samui. The catamarans also sail between Chumphon
As an active member of Green Fins Thailand, they help to and Koh Tao on a daily basis. For further information contact
promote sustainable dive tourism, eco friendly dive techniques Lomprayah High Speed Catamaran: Tel. +66(0)77 247401 or
and conduct regular beach and underwater clean-ups. Seatran Discovery: Tel. +66 (0)77 246086-8.
Reef Ecology lectures are organized on a weekly basis, By bus and boat: All-in packages from Bangkok to Koh
including Coral Reef Monitoring programs . Data collected is Tao are available daily. They generally depart Khao San
transmitted in the UN International Reef Data base. Road early evening and travel overnight to arrive on Koh
They also offer dives on BIOROCK, the new artificial Coral Tao the following morning. Packages include both bus
Reef installed off Koh Tao. and boat. For more information contact Seatran Discovery:
Tel. +66 (0)77 246086-8.
Alternatively, VIP air-conditioned buses travel from Bangkok
daily. The journey breaks in Chumphon Town; the passenger
ferry pier on the Thapao River is 30 minutes by local bus or
taxi. For more information on bus services contact Bangkok
Southern Bus Terminal: Tel. +66 (0)2 435 1199, 02 435 1200.
By train and boat: Express and Sprinter trains depart
Bangkok Hua Lumphong Railway Station daily. For further
information regarding train services contact Hua Lumphong
Railway Station: Tel. +66 (0)2 223 7010.

Where to eat
The majority of the dive resorts are self-contained with their
own restaurants. If they are not, it is a short walk to the nearest
eatery – and it’s not all local fare! If you fancy sampling a
delicious meal of international favourites, including Indian,
Italian and Mexican, drop into one of the many restaurants in
Mae Haad and on Sairee Beach.
For best information and insight on where and what to eat,
PG see Pocket Guide FOOd thailand − launching first quarter of
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com
178 179
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dive sites - koh phangan
Koh Tao
Koh Phangan
dive facilities
Many operators display high certifications of merit from their
various affiliated training agencies for all-round service, and
rightly so; the average standards found throughout the island’s
diving community are very impressive. All operators have their 1
own or are associated to a nearby source of accommodation,
which is generally used as an incentive to use their diving
services, particularly diver training. The larger resorts all have
their own restaurants. If they don’t there is one very close by. KOH PHANGAN
Internet services are also becoming more commonplace in
the island’s dive centres.
2
dive trips
Most of the diving facilities have their own dive boats. Some
3
trips include fruit and soft beverages whereas others provide
only drinking water. Weather permitting, local dive sites are 4
visited twice daily, once in the morning and again in the
afternoon. Day trips to Sail Rock and the Samran Pinnacles
As Koh Samui has gradually succumbed to mainstream
leave only in the morning and include lunch. All trips offer
tourism, Koh Phangan remains the most popular backpackers’
two dives and include equipment.
island in the Gulf of Thailand. Covering around 190 sq km, its
mountainous terrain is covered in dense jungle, with granite
Hospitals & recompression chambers outcrops scattered around the coast. There are plenty of nice
The nearest hospitals and recompression chambers are beaches, many in small, picturesque bays. Most of the island’s
those located on Koh Samui. See page 195 for details. amenities are found in around the town of Thong Sala and the
two Haad Rin beaches.
Although hospitals do not exist on Koh Tao, there is a
physicians clinic on Sairee Beach which is affiliated with It was not until the inauguration of the island’s infamous
the Bankok samui Hospital on Koh Samui. The clinic’s ‘Full Moon’ parties in the 1980s that travellers began arriving
resident doctor is proficient in diving medicine and in large numbers. Clubbers and ravers stayed on, earning
regularly consults with the Badalveda diving Medicine Koh Phangan its reputation as the ‘Ibiza of the Orient’ but
Network. there is also a well established alternative scene, with Tai Chi,
meditation, open-air yoga and other New Age pursuits. Most
The clinic has a number of beds and there is an evacuation of these activities are centred on the Haad Rin beaches on
procedure to the recompression chamber at Bangkok the southeast coast.
samui Hospital, which can be contacted via the Diving
Medicine Hotlines. diving around Koh Phangan
Tel. +66 (0)86 272 4618, (0)81 989 9482 Koh Phangan, like Koh Samui, is an ideal departure point
for sites in the Ang Thong Marine National Park, the Samran
Pinnacles and Sail Rock. But, as they are nearer, divers benefit
dive courses from shorter journey times and being first to arrive at the
This is a great place to indulge in diver training; the facilities sites. It also exclusively opens up night diving opportunities
are good, the accommodation comfortable and the courses at Sail Rock! Two-day excursions run to the sites around Koh
are both enjoyable and economical. Instruction on the island Tao. It takes about 3hrs to reach Koh Tao’s southern sites.
follows BSAC, CMAS, PADI and SSI training structures. It’s
possible to become certified to all levels of recreational and Visibility around Koh Phangan averages only about four
technical training, including instructor. metres; the highest expectancy is 25m. Marine life around
the reefs is fair, particularly with small-medium sized fish,
but sites are seldom visited by large pelagics. There are
For more information on Koh Tao, contact Tourism Authority occasional sightings of small juvenile reef sharks, turtles and
of Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)77 281828. stingrays.
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dive sites POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh phangan
Koh Phangan
1 Koh Ma 3 Haad yuan
Location: Off the northwest coast of Koh Phangan. Location: The headland at the north end of Haad Rin.
depth: Average 9m / Maximum 30m depth: Average 6m / Maximum 12m
This is considered the most interesting Koh Phangan site. Primarily used as a diver-training site, this is in fact quite an
The marine life is good and the corals reasonably healthy. acceptable dive around a wide, shallow undulating reef.
Away from the reef are schools of fusiliers, red snappers and It is broken by many large domed rocks that lie in forests
blue-striped grunts; groups of cuttlefish occasionally mingle of black sea whips. Many of the rocks are, in addition,
with pairs of Imperial and blue-ringed angelfish. Honeycomb highlighted by small trees of soft coral. This makes a suitable
groupers, parrotfish, wrasse and butterflyfish stay closer to area for snorkellers, who will also enjoy its array of colourful
the reefs, and anemones and sponges encrust it. The reef itself reef-fish and diverse invertebrates, including featherstars,
consists mainly of numerous boulders of lesser star, double nudibranchs and several species of cowrie shells.
star and brain corals of varying sizes; the deeper waters have
black corals dividing up the rocky borderline. The usual reef-fish, like parrotfish and wrasse, are present but
in small numbers. Nurse sharks and blue-spotted ribbontail
2 Koh tae Nok stingrays are sometimes seen away from the reef. For those
Location: Outer of the two islands off the west coast. trained in cave diving, is a narrow dog-legged cave, 15m
depth: Average 16m / Maximum 25m long.
When the visibility is good this rarely dived site can be very
enjoyable. There is little coral damage around this site, and 4 Koh Kon rin
the specimens are reasonably healthy. The reef-flat consists Location: South of Koh Phangan’s southeastern cape.
of various table corals and small boulders of star corals pitted depth: Average 15m / Maximum 27m
with bivalves. The waters provide interesting snorkelling, a The eastern half of this dive circumnavigates a large rocky
rainbow of colours being added by wrasse, parrotfish and outcrop; the rock’s northern side has an average depth
various chromis and damselfish. The steep, sometimes of 12m while the southern face drops off to the site’s
sheer reef here consists mainly of gorgonian sea fans and maximum depth. This, the best section of the site, is a
encrusting coraline. wall with numerous barrel sponges, oysters and clams on
the rock face. Spiny lobsters and moray eels can often be
On the wall-like reef-slope are many barrel sponges covered seen concealing themselves in the nooks and crannies. As
in tubeworms and these continue right down to the sea-bed, you head east the wall disappears and you find instead,
which they share with black sea cucumbers and patches of at about 15m, an area of large rocks intermixed with sea
sea urchins. Fusiliers, rabbitfish and snappers hang in mid- whips. Black-tip reef sharks have been spotted along the
water and black-tip reef sharks occasionally sweep past. site’s southern perimeter.
Grouper Anemonefish with eggs

184 185
dive sites POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - koh phangan
Koh Phangan

haad yao divers phangan divers


Haad Yao Haad Rin
tel. +66 (0)86 279 3085, dive Centre. +66 (0)77 375117
(0)84 841 2102 Hotline. +66 (0)8 892 4835
Fax. +66 (0)77 349119 e. info@phangandivers.com
e. contact@haadyaodivers.com w. www.phangandivers.com
w. www.haadyaodivers.com
Phangan Divers, an SSI Instructor
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental Training Facility and PADI Dive Centre,
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation has been providing a five star service
since the early 1990s. Offering courses
Haad Yao Divers is a PADI 5 Star Gold Palm Resort on Koh from entry level through to Instructor and, for the more
Phangan’s northwest coast. As the first dive centre on the adventurous divers, Technical Diving, Phangan Divers present
west coast, it was the pioneer. The main office is on Haad Yao new challenges and plenty of excitement for all ages.
with two more in Mae Haad and Haad Chao Phao.
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental
As a relatively small dive outfit, Haad Yao Divers promises retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
small groups with a maximum of four divers, who enjoy
high standards of teaching in a relaxed friendly atmosphere. Situated in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Phangan sits in a
Courses range from half or full day ‘discover scuba’ prime location for diving and snorkelling and unlike the
experiences, right up to the professional level of Assistant neighbouring islands, it has a lower volume of tourists. With
Instructor qualification. Specialities include Nitrox and un-spoilt beaches, breathtaking local reefs and easy access to
underwater photographer courses, all of which are conducted the diving around Ang Thong Marine National Park, Koh Tao
in English, Deutsch, Francais or Svenska. Divemasters are also as well as Sail Rock and the Samran Pinnacles. Koh Phangan
available in all these languages. is an island not to be overlooked.
Haad Yao Divers visit all the local sites, as well as those
around the Ang Thong Marine National Park and Sail Rock,
which is also offered as a night dive!

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directory - koh phangan
Koh Phangan
How to get there dive facilities
Koh Phangan can be reached indirectly by air, rail and road Koh Phangan is becoming an increasingly popular diving
and directly by sea. destination and there’s a selection of facilities on the island
ranging from small dive centres up to 5-star resort operations
By air: There are no airports on Koh Phangan, but planes fly to
to meet the growing demand. These are backed up by
neighbouring Koh Samui, providing a relatively comfortable,
numerous booking offices, which − although found along the
though indirect, access to the island. Daily domestic flights
island’s beaches − mainly concentrate along the west coast.
with Bangkok Airways depart from Krabi, Phuket and
Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. They also
dive trips
schedule daily flights directly to and from Singapore. Thai
Airways International serves Koh Samui from Bangkok The price per diver for visiting the local sites is inclusive of
Suvarnabhumi International Airport. For more information all equipment, boat, Divemaster, fruit and soft drinks. Day
contact Bangkok Airways: Within Thailand, Tel. 1771; from trips to the further destinations of Ang Thong Marine Park,
outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 265 5555. Thai Airways the Samran Pinnacles and Sail Rock are also all-inclusive and
International: Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111. you even get lunch and breakfast! Local dive trips include
a number of sites accessed directly off the beach as well as
By bus: Daily VIP air-conditioned buses from Bangkok’s some dived from Longtail boats.
Southern Bus Terminal. The journey to Surat Thani takes 12
hours. Buses connect with the Express Boat in Surat Thani,
Hospitals & recompression chambers
or continue for an extra hour’s journey to join the ferry boat
in Donsak. For information contact Bangkok Southern Bus The nearest hospitals and recompression chambers are
Terminal: Tel. +66 (0)2 435 1199, (0)2 435 1200. those located on Koh Samui. See page 195 for details.
Phangan Medical Center in Ban Tai, to the south of
By boat: Express boats depart five times daily from Surat
Thong Sala, is run by Bangkok Hospital Samui and is open
Thani pier, and there is a passenger ferry (day and night)
24 hours. Tel. +66 (0)75 239599
from Donsak. The journey to Koh Phangan takes two and a
half hours. All boats arrive at Thong Sala jetty. Express Boats Diving Medicine Hotlines
leave Koh Samui’s Na Thon pier regularly between 07.00hrs Tel. +66 (0)86 272 4618, (0)81 989 9482.
and 17.00hrs and arrive at Thong Sala 45 minutes later.
Boats also depart from the pier in Bo Phut and arrive at Haad dive courses
Rin beach 30 minutes later. Two high speed catamarans The full range of dive courses is available on the island, up
depart Koh Samui twice daily (weather permitting). For further to and including the level of Instructor. There is also a range
more contact Seatran Discovery: Tel. +66 (0)77 246086-8 or of technical diver training. On the whole course prices are
Lomprayah High Speed Catamaran: Tel. +66(0)77 247401. typical of the area and there are good deals available for
group and multiple bookings. Courses are available in a
By train: There are two worthy train services from Bangkok
variety of languages.
to Surat Thani. The ‘Express’ train, which leaves Bangkok Hua
Lumphong Railway Station every hour or so and takes around
For more information on Koh Phangan contact Tourism
12 hours, and the ‘Sprinter’ train, which departs five times
Authority of Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)77 281828.
daily and takes around nine hours. For further information
regarding train services, contact Hua Lumphong Railway Sail Rock
Station: Tel. +66 (0)2 223 7010.

Where to eat
Aside from all the eateries and bustling activity found at the
two Haad Rin beaches, the majority of the island’s resorts
have their own restaurants. Most have a good selection of
dishes following Thai and European recipes, and of course
there’s always the delicious local seafood.
For best information and insight on where and what to eat,
see Pocket Guide FOOd thailand − launching first quarter of PG
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com
188 189
dive sites POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh samui
Koh Samui
diving around Koh samui
2 There are several enjoyable dives to be had around Koh Samui
1
itself, all but one of which are reached by 10-90 minutes boat
trips. However, the best sites are further north, requiring
boat trips. More experienced divers can enjoy exciting and
exhilarating deep wall-dives; divers of all levels can enjoy a
variety of fringing reefs.

1 samran Pinnacles
Location: About 19km north of Koh Phangan.
depth: Average 18m / Maximum 28m
Pelagic enthusiasts will find this site terrific, as you encounter
school after school of great barracuda, threadfin trevally, big-
eyed jacks, Spanish mackerel and dog-faced tuna. There are
three main pinnacles – the top of the tallest is 12m below the
surface – plus a mountainous terrain of scattered rocks large
enough to swim around and explore. The larger of these
rocks are obscured by healthy masses of soft corals, featuring
3 shimmering whites, reds, oranges and yellows. Marine life
around the pinnacles consists mainly of honeycomb groupers,
juvenile morays and schooling bannerfish. Large red and white
5 snappers and fusiliers wander in the deeper waters.
6
4
2 sail rock
Location: 8km east of the Samran Pinnacles.
depth: Average 22m / Maximum 34m
This site is probably the finest in the Gulf of Thailand. It is a wall-
dive surrounded by a number of smaller but still impressive
pinnacles. On the northern wall; at a depth of 16m, is a great
example of a Neptune barrel sponge. This impressive section
of the wall is also heavily encrusted with orange sponges;
many oysters and clams cling to the craggy surface.

The southeast face has a natural chimney eroded into the


The fabulous beaches of Koh Samui have been attracting rock. You enter a wide orifice at 18m and ascend the chimney
visitors for decades. The island – the third largest in Thailand to come out at 10m. Poisonous bearded scorpionfish and sea
– is now firmly on the international tourist map. Covering urchins abound, so dive slowly and carefully, and pay special
247 sq km, the island lies 35km off the coast of Surat Thani. attention to your buoyancy!
Koh Samui’s central region, comprising almost two-thirds of
the island, consists of thickly wooded mountainous terrain, Next to the chimney lies an elevated plateau busy with many
with coconut palms interspersed by gushing streams and forms of marine life. There are gardens of sea anemones
waterfalls. tenanted by pink anemonefish. Winding yellow margined
morays explore the holes and crevices, while cleaner and
Finding somewhere to stay on the island couldn’t be painted shrimp, along with medium-sized reef crabs, remain
easier and you don’t have to look far to find luxury hotels, in their shelters.
boutique resorts, villas and natural spas; unexpectedly
most are reasonably priced. There’s also all manner of major At the eastern end of the wall you can often see great
retail chains and fast food outlets nestled under a blaze of barracuda – occasionally 3m long – patrolling the depths.
neon signs. Thankfully, that’s not the case all around the Schools of big-eye jacks, tuna and rainbow runners mingle
island. In a nutshell, these changes have transformed Koh with threadfin trevally in the shallower waters. Whale sharks
Samui from what was once a ‘backpacker haven’ to a ‘family are often spotted here.
friendly’ resort island.
190 191
dive sites POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
Koh Samui dive CeNtres Koh Samui
3 Matlang island
Location: Off Chaweng Beach’s northern apex.
samui international diving school
depth: Average 8m / Maximum 9m Chaweng Beach
The reef-flat is built up mainly of table staghorns, interspersed tel. +66 (0)77 413049-50
with gardens of sea anemones. The waters above these Fax. +66 (0)77 231242
structures provide some enjoyable snorkelling. e. info@planet-scuba.net
w. www.planet-scuba.net
The dive continues along a shallow, sloping reef consisting
mainly of elkhorn, vase and foliaceous corals. Small rocks Established back in 1982, Samui
International Diving School
play both anchor and host to numerous gorgonian sea fans (incorporating Planet Scuba), has
and whips. The marine life is sporadic but, at the eastern over 20 years experience in scuba
point of the reef, you can occasionally see black-tip reef diver education and dive tours in Thailand. They operate
sharks passing by. a chain of full service dive centres on Koh Samui offering
personal attention, high quality dive tours, professional
4 Chaweng reef education and an extensive range of retail products. Whatever
Location: Towards the northern end of Chaweng Beach. your diving needs are the team will do their utmost to ensure
depth: Average 5m / Maximum 7m you’ll have a diving experience of a lifetime.
A very simple, shallow dive and the only one on the island instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
that is accessed directly from the beach. The reef-flat is Gear rental | retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
popular with snorkellers as there is plenty to see. The corals
have sustained slight damage from boats and siltation, but Samui International Diving School were the first in South
are still fairly healthy. Parrotfish, wrasse and groupers are all East Asia to be awarded the prestigious PADI Career
Development Center Rating (CDC). The GoPro Entry level
common residents, with the larger specimens being more
to Instructor packages can take participants from being a
apparent towards the northern end of the reef. complete beginner up to a diving professional.
5 Hin Nippon – Japanese rock They run both daily and overnight tours to all the popular dive
Location: Northernmost point of the Ang Thong Marine destinations ranging from the depths of Sail Rock, frequently
National Park. home to the illusive whale shark, to the Ang Thong National
Marine Park and Koh Tao with their sloping coral reefs and
depth: Average 12m / Maximum 30m abundance of exotic and colourful marine life.
Many large fallen rocks and boulders form alleyways for
adventurous swim-throughs. Closer inspection reveals a
diversity of invertebrates and crustaceans. The rocks are
dominated by a gradually sloping reef of healthy coral
laminates. Jacks, tuna and juvenile yellowtail barracuda are
familiar passers-by.

6 Koh Wao
Location: To the southwest of Hin Nippon
depth: Average 6m / Maximum 20m
The bottom composition comprises of small mounds of
lesser star boulder corals punctuated with plume worms:
there are also mixed table staghorns and good examples of
cauliflower, lettuce and vase corals. Into the deeper waters,
the reef becomes steeper. There are many sea anemones,
and pink anemonefish.

Among the selection of colourful butterflyfish are raccoon,


red-tailed and copperband. Around the island’s northern tip
are schools of snappers and fusiliers, and you may be able to
watch great barracuda and trevallies patrolling the depths.
During January and February this is a good place to observe
mating cuttlefish.
192 193
dive CeNtres POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
directory - koh samui
Koh Samui
How to get there dive trips
Koh Samui can be reached indirectly by air (Surat Thani Dive trips run on a daily basis and 2-day/1-night excursions to
airport), rail and road and directly by air and sea. Koh Tao are available. All trips come complete with transfers
between the dive boat and resort, light refreshments, fruit
By air: Daily domestic flights with Bangkok Airways
and drinks throughout the trip, lunch, Divemaster(s) services,
depart from Krabi, Phuket and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi
all equipment and two full tanks.
International Airport. They also schedule daily flights directly
to and from Singapore. Thai Airways International serves Koh
Included in Koh Tao trips are all meals and accommodation
Samui from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
on the island. Snorkellers and non-divers are welcome on
For more information contact Bangkok Airways: Within
any of the scheduled dive trips – equipment and instruction
Thailand, Tel. 1771; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 265
available. Many dive boats carry fresh water for rinsing
5555. Thai Airways International: Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111.
diving and photographic equipment. Most have toilets and a
By bus: VIP air-conditioned buses leave Bangkok’s Southern sheltered area away from the sun.
Bus Terminal daily. The journey to Surat Thani takes 12 hours.
Buses connect with boats services as described below. For Hospitals
further information on buses contact Bangkok Southern There are four hospitals on Koh Samui. The better two
Bus Terminal: Tel. +66 (0)2 435 1199, (0)2 435 1200. are listed here.
By boat: Express boats depart five times daily from Surat the Bangkok samui Hospital just outside Chaweng
Thani pier for the two and a half hour journey to Na Thon on Beach. Tel. +66 (0)77 429500
Koh Samui. Car and passenger ferries depart every half hour samui international Hospital on Chaweng Beach
from Donsak, east of Surat Thani town, and take 90 minutes Tel. +66(0)77 230781-2
to the piers at Ban Na Sai and Na Thon. Both are met by local
transfer buses. From Koh Phangan to Koh Samui there are recompression chambers
regular Express Boat and speedboat services from Thong Badalveda diving Medicine Network in Bangkok Samui
Sala and Haad Rin Beach, and two high speed catamarans Hospital
from Thong Sala twice daily. Diving Medicine Hotlines
By train: There are two main train services from Bangkok Tel. +66 (0)86 272 4618, (0)81 989 9482
to Surat Thani. The ‘Express’ train leaves Bangkok Hua e. vedainfo@badalveda.com, w. www.badalveda.com
Lumphong Railway Station every hour or so and takes Hyperbaric services of thailand on Big Buddha Beach
around 12 hours. The ‘Sprinter’ train departs five times Tel. +66 (0)77 427427.
daily and takes around nine hours. For further information
regarding train services contact Hua Lumphong Railway
dive courses
Station: Tel. +66 (0)2 223 7010.
Courses for the complete beginner are very popular here and
Where to eat there is a good selection of suitable locations for that first
experience of breathing underwater. Courses are available
There are hundreds of restaurants on the island, mostly
right up to professional qualifications. All the instruction on
around the beaches. Chaweng has a selection of International
the island is taught by qualified instructors following BSAC,
restaurants as does Lamai. Service can be slow but the food is
CMAS, PADI and SSI diver training programs.
good and reasonably priced. Koh Samui is particularly noted
for its delicious seafood and creamy coconut dishes. Resorts
On the whole, course prices on the island remain relatively
also have their own restaurants and many are worth a visit.
stable. Due to the location of the better dive sites, courses
For best information and insight on where and what to eat, are slightly more expensive here than they are on the two
see Pocket Guide FOOd thailand − launching first quarter of PG neighbouring islands, but most people are happy to pay
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com extra to stay on the more comfortable and lively island of
Koh Samui.
dive facilities
Koh Samui has a selection of dive operators. Most provide For more information on Koh Samui contact Tourism
diving education in some form or another. Authority of Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)77 281828.

194 195
dive sites POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - pattaya
Pattaya
1 Koh Luam
Location: Around the southern headland of the island.
depth: Average 10m / Maximum 18m
The reef − fairly typical of the area − is frequently punctuated
1 by sponge-encrusted rocks and large mounds of lesser
and greater star corals, occasionally split by clusters of
3 smaller, less hardy corals. The hard corals tend to dominate
4 the shallower waters: coral laminates form terraces that
descend to deeper-water areas where long, spiralling sea
whips are embedded among larger rocks.
2
5
2 HtMs Kut 731 wreck
Location: 300m off the northeast apex of Koh Sak.
depth: Average 26m / Maximum 31m
56m former USS LSM-333 Landing craft sunk during
September 2006 by the Royal Thai Navy. The ship has been
6
cleared of all explosives and ammunition and there is plenty
of natural light penetrating the structure. The top of the
wheelhouse on this upright wreck is at 14m. The bridge and
radio room still have the captain’s chair and instrumentation.
Both the engines have been removed but entry to the engine
7 room is through a large hole cut in the centre of the deck.

3 HtMs Khram wreck


8 Location: 300m off the southeast apex of Koh Phai.
10 9
11
depth: Average 24m / Maximum 30m
12 This 90m LSM-1 Class landing ship was sunk on the 1st
13
February 2003. It has been cleared of all explosives and
ammunition; there is also plenty of natural light penetrating
the structure.
Some 145km (90 miles) southeast of Bangkok, the bustling
metropolis that is Pattaya City shot up during the past 35 The bridge of this upright wreck is reached in a depth of 15m
years, having started primarily as a vast recreational complex and affords an unchallenging entry. The port and starboard
catering for the US Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. sides provide interesting passageways in which to explore.
Although the engines have been removed the dials, gauges
Growing demands for accommodation were met by the and pipes all remain in the engine room.
construction of guesthouses, which quickly grew into hotels
Pattaya bay
and then resort complexes. Local fishermen sold fish to the
numerous new restaurants, and increased their income by
offering fishing trips to tourists.

In due course, Pattaya became the massive entertainment


centre it is today: quite literally, whatever people want, by day
or night, Pattaya has it!

diving around Pattaya


The local diving served by Pattaya is concentrated around
two areas: the aptly named Near and Far Islands, and the
group of islands accessed from Samaesan 50km south. Local
diving operators use the Near Islands for training and, more
significantly, for night-diving. The Far Island sites offer much
better diving conditions. Pattaya also offers wreck diving.
196 197
dive sites POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - pattaya
Pattaya
4 Koh Klung Baden – west reef 8 Hardeep (or suddhadib) wreck
Location: About 5km south of Koh Hu Chang. Location: Off the south headland of Koh Samaesan.
depth: Average 8m / Maximum 12m depth: Average 28m / Maximum 32m
Numerous mounds and heads of coral abound, notably This wreck is believed to be of an Indonesian steamship
staghorn, as well as coral laminates. This is a very good requisitioned by the Japanese during World War II and sunk
location for snorkelling. To the northwest the reef becomes by Allied bombing in 1942. The recommended (and often
a relatively shallow fringing reef whose flat and slope consist only) way to dive the Hardeep is to descend down a mooring
mainly of rocks and sponges. Compressed barrel sponges line directly onto the structure; free descents are not advised.
shelter small crustaceans and invertebrates. The fish life at When currents are stronger you might limit exploration to
this site is reasonable with numbers and varieties of chromis, the wreck’s leeward side. The ship’s structures are radiantly
basslet, blenny, gobies and bannerfish, plus a few resident coloured by a multitude of soft corals, encrusting sponges, sea
bicolour parrotfish and wrasse. whips and white bushes of stinging hydroids.

5 Koh Man Wichai – east reef Associated reef inhabitants are also plentiful. As you arrive,
Location: About 2km south of Koh Klung Baden. moorish idols, fusiliers and snappers often shy away into
depth: Average 12m / Maximum 15m the darker recesses. This wreck can be penetrated, although
The sea-bed is littered with numerous clumps and mounds of a number of snagged nets restrict some passageways and
smooth porite corals. Most of the corals are in large patches, caution is required. Many of the steel plates, doors and
not fringing reefs, as with most of this area’s sites. The water portholes remain in place, and the engine is intact.
deepens towards the south; an elongated plateau is covered
in gardens of sea anemones, together with their abundant 9 Koh rong Khon
symbiotes: Three-spot dascyllus and pink anemonefish. The Location: Off the northeast tip of east of Koh Chuang.
waters are good for snorkellers. depth: Average 9m / Maximum 60m
When entering the water in an incoming tide start at the
6 Koh rin Bay southern end of the rocks and drift in the current along the
Location: About 1km southwest of Hin Khao. length of the two islands. When reaching the northern end
depth: Average 7m / Maximum 14m follow the rocks around to the other side and into calmer
A steadily sloping reef, consisting of fallen rocks covered waters. The northern tip of these islands is very deep and is
with a few foliaceous corals, falls dramatically to the north popular with Tech divers.
in the south east bay. A higher percentage of corals slowly
begin to dominate the rocks to a depth of 12m, where you Xeno crab on a whip coral
find sea whips and black coral bushes.

The diversity of marine life is above average for the area, with
many examples of harlequin sweetlips, snappers, squirrelfish
and lionfish. Communities of magnificent sea anemones,
three-spot dascyllus, basslets and chromis are restricted
to the rocky ledges. Neptune barrel sponges lodge among
the crevices and are inhabited by moray eels and a range of
invertebrates. The shallow bay is ideal for snorkelling.

7 Petchbury Bremen wreck


Location: Between Koh Khram Yai and Sattahip.
depth: Average: 19m / Maximum 24m
This 60m steel freighter sank during the 1930s, and has settled
upright on the sandy sea-bed; its highest point is just under
17m below the surface. Almost totally encrusted with marine
growth, this wreck has now become an impressive artificial
reef. Soft corals add a colourful frame around the eroding
structures and portholes. You can still see, around the wreck,
the forms of multiple pulley systems and broken parts of heavy
machinery – there’s even a bathtub!
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dive sites POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
Pattaya dive CeNtres Pattaya
10 shark Fin rock
Location: Approx 2km to the west of Koh Rong Khon. aquanauts dive centre
depth: Average 15m / Maximum 28m
Although on first sight this looks to be a very small dive site, it Pattaya
is in fact a large reef. The main attraction is the southeastern
side which features a 16m wall that almost breaks the surface. tel. +66 (0)38 361724, e. info@aquanautsdive.com
The northwestern reef features areas of staghorn and brain w. www.aquanautsdive.com, www.divingInstructortraining.com
corals, barrel sponges and sea anemones.
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental
The northeastern side has a single rock formation that is retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
vertical on the west and has a large sand bank sliding down From fun diving to PADI instructor training to technical
to 25m, this is home to some large black-spotted stingrays. diving, Aquanauts Dive Centre is Pattaya’s most-complete
Marine life is plentiful and varied. scuba diving centre. A PAdi 5-star Career development
Center, Aquanauts has been training divers for 13 years.
11 Koh Chuang
Location: Around 8km south of Samaesan. British-owned and operated, Aquanauts offers all PADI
courses from novice to professional, including full technical
depth: Average 6m / Maximum 14m dive instructor courses. They also operate the area’s largest
Koh Chuang offers several shallow dive sites and is an ideal and most-modern dive boat offering all-day dive excursions
training site for beginner divers. Follow the fringing coral daily to Pattaya’s Near and Far Islands and all the area’s
reef down to a sandy bottom with sporadic patches of corals. shipwrecks.
Common encounters include turtles rays, moral eels as well
Led by two PADI Course Directors, Aquanauts is one of
as fusiliers, angel and butterflyfish.
Thailand’s most-active Instructor and Divemaster training
centres. Both individual courses and all-inclusive, 2-6 month
12 Koh Chan internships are available. The latter includes unlimited diving,
Location: Directly east of Koh Chan full accommodation, a set of new equipment, all courses,
depth: Average 12m / Maximum 25m manuals, certification fees and full job placement from their
The southernmost tip of the island features huge fallen exclusive Jobs4Divers.com job placement service.
rocks and is a great place for snorkellers to explore - it’s not Finally, Aquanauts is the area’s leader for tech diving, offering
uncommon to see small black-tip reef sharks in the shallow novice to instructor courses in technical diving, tri-mix and
waters. both semi-closed and fully-closed rebreathers. The tech
programme is backed by a state-of-the-art workshop with
For divers, the preferred place is along the reefs following on-demand nitrox/tri-mix blending and certified Mares and
along the southeast section of the island. Upon reaching Scubapro technicians.
the bottom, head south into the deeper waters where
large rocks are covered with a selection of soft and hard
corals − including sea fans and sea whips. Blue spotted
stingrays, lionfish and schools of yellowtail fusiliers can be
seen here.

13 Koh Chuang Bay


Location: Around the southernmost tip of Koh Chuang.
depth: Average 9m / Maximum 24m
Both hard and soft coral formations are abundant in the
shallows. There is one large rock in the centre of the bay
in 14m. A deeper 24m is encountered around the rocky
outcrops at the east and western extremities of the bay.
These deeper areas are subject to fast tidal flows which make
ideal places to observe fish feeding action.

Large numbers of blue-ringed angelfish are another


attraction of this enjoyable site.

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dive CeNtres POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
Pattaya direCtOry Pattaya
pattaya dive centre How to get there
It’s possible to access the Pattaya area by air, road and rail; air
Pattaya and road are the better options.
tel/fax.
+66 (0)38 710918 By air: Pattaya is best served by Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi
International Airport. Journey time to central Pattaya by
road is between one-two hours. The three main carriers are:
e. info@divecentrepattaya.com Bangkok Airways: Within Thailand, Tel. 1771; from outside
w. www.divecentrepattaya.com Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 265 5555. Nok Air: Within Thailand,
Tel. 1318; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 900 9955. Thai
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental
Airways International: Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111. There is also
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
an airport at U-Tapao served by Bangkok Airways.
Pattaya Dive Centre, a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development
Center, is right on the beachfront road, and it’s not just the By bus: Air-conditioned buses leave Bangkok every 30
location that’s the best in Pattaya. minutes from the Eastern Bus Terminal. The journey takes
just under three hours. From Pattaya bus terminal to the city
They stock and sell all the best brand names in diving centre and Jomtien, take one of the local taxi-buses from the
equipment, including Mares, Ocean Dynamics, Sunnto dive
terminal. For more information contact Bangkok Eastern
computers, Coltri-Sub compressors and a comprehensive
range of PADI training materials; in fact they’re the main Bus Terminal: Tel. +66 (0)2 391 2504, (0)2 391 4900.
distributor in the area and welcome trade enquires! And, of
course, they teach PADI too. Where to eat
For qualified divers, Pattaya Dive Centre schedule daily dive While the majority of Pattaya’s hotels have good restaurants,
trips to all the Pattaya and Samesan prime dive sites and the general trend is to eat out. Locals claim that it’s possible
wrecks. PDC owns and operates the only fast catamaran to eat in a different restaurant every night of the year and
dive boat, purpose built to international standards, leaving still miss some!
at 09:00 everyday. Whatever your diving needs, Pattaya Dive
Centre can fulfill them, so next time you’re in the area, why The range of eateries is vast; all the well known fast food
not drop in to Pattaya’s most complete and friendly dive establishments have premises here. There’s also a good
centre and say hello. selection of economical restaurants with plenty of Pizza
parlours, steak houses, brasseries, bistros and bakeries.
Upmarket restaurants are also countless, with menus from
virtually every country in the world. Local fare is also well
represented with specialities including extravagant lobster
dishes and hot and spicy dry curries, originating from Laos.
A similar scenario exists along Jomtien Beach.
For best information and insight on where and what to eat,
PG see Pocket Guide FOOd thailand − launching first quarter of
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com

dive facilities
While the diving is divided into two main areas, the operators
are based in Pattaya and Jomtien, and there’s a variety to
choose from. Services range from small booking kiosks in
the street up to multi-lingual 5-Star facilities and training
centres. A few of the more established centres maintain a
healthy retail selection.

dive trips
Dive trips are scheduled on a daily basis and are particularly
popular during the weekends, when you will see a quite a
few dive boats heading out to sea.
202 203
direCtOry
Pattaya

Trips are all-day affairs which depart in the morning and


return in the late afternoon, they include transfers to and from
the dive boat, two dives and lunch onboard. For the trips to
the southern sites divers are transferred to the fishing village
of Samaesan by local bus where they join the dive boats at
one of the jetties. There are also occasional overnight trips to
the sites around Koh Chang.

Hospitals
There are three main hospitals that serve the area. Two
are in the city centre, the other is slightly north of the
town on the main route (Sukhumvit Road) to Bangkok.
Bangkok Pattaya Hospital on Sukhumvit Road
24 Hr Contacts Centre: Within Thailand, Tel. 1719; from
outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)38 259999
Pattaya international Hospital on Beach Road
24 Hr Emergency contact: Tel. +66 (0)38 428374
Pattaya Memorial Hospital on Central Road
Tel. +66 (0)38 429422-4

recompression chambers
The nearest chamber is part of the Badalveda diving
Medicine Network and is located in the Bangkok Pattaya
Hospital.
Diving Medicine Hotlines
+66 (0)81 989 9482, (0)86 272 4618
e. vedainfo@badalveda.com, w. www.badalveda.com

dive courses
PADI and NAUI recreational and IANTD diving courses are
offered in a variety of languages. Prices can vary between
agencies and individual operators. Diving Internships are
big news in Pattaya and Jomtien, where individuals get the
chance to go from complete beginner to the professional
level of diving Instructor or Divemaster over a defined period
of time.

These all-in packages can include all training, materials,


equipment and accommodation. Aside from the recreational
dive training, technical training is a big thing here. There
is also an Association of Scuba Service Engineers and
Technicians (ASSET) training centre in Jomtien for those
wishing to become dive industry technicians, or increase
their current level of qualification.

For more information on Pattaya contact Tourism Authority


of Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)38 427667.
204 see listing on Page 215
dive sites POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh chang
Koh Chang
The islands amenities mainly focus around the perimeter,
particularly the larger beaches which are all easily accessed by
road. Getting around the island is simple as there are plenty
of pickup trucks and taxis, as well as minibuses travelling to
and from Trat airport. There are also tourist amenities and
accommodation on the island of Koh Mak.

diving around Koh Chang


The diving here still has an exciting exploratory feel to it and,
1 as they’re spread over a large area, the sites are uncrowded.
Mu Koh Chang Marine National Park has a large selection of
healthy fringing reefs, pinnacles and walls, as well as several
very enjoyable snorkelling sites.

In general, visibility averages around 10m, although it can be


2
in excess of 20m, especially at the sites further south. Marine
life is also more prolific in these areas. There are plenty of
3 colourful reef-dwellers, from minute invertebrates up to
4
giant clams. The waters also attract many large pelagics, rays
5 6 and – quite regularly – whale sharks.

1 Hin saam sao


Location: About 1km west of Chai Chet.
7 depth: Average 10m / Maximum 16m
9 8 Off the northwest coast of Koh Chang, this dive site has some
10
11 nice corals and rich fish life, but sometimes has poor visibility
due of its close proximity to land. One side of the reef was
destroyed by dynamite but it is recovering nicely.

Pipefish

Mu Koh Chang Marine National Park


In the country’s easternmost province of Trat, the Mu Koh
Chang Marine National Park comprises 52 islands scattered
along the coastline close to the Camodian border.

Established in 1982, it covers just over 650 sq km and is one


of Thailand’s least visited national parks. Koh Chang is the
second largest island in Thailand, with a footprint covering
240 sq. km.

Blanketed in almost impenetrable virgin rainforest, the hilly


interior rises to a peak at Khao Join Prasat, which climbs to
reach 744m as it dominates the centre of the island. Although
wildlife is sparse, there are wild boars, hornbills, parrots and
sunbirds − all of which can be seen in the forest.

Many of the island’s inhabitants still make their living from


fishing, although tourism is increasingly making its mark.
Nowadays quite a few of the once-familiar small resorts of
bungalows and bamboo huts are being replaced, or joined,
by high-end hotels, resorts and spas.

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dive sites POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh chang
Koh Chang
2 Hin Luk Bat place for spotting nudibranchs, batfish, groupers, stingrays
Location: Around 3km southwest of Koh Chang. and morays making it well worth visiting.
depth: Average 11m / Maximum 18m
This is one of the prime dive sites around Koh Chang. The 5 Hin rap
dive is around a pinnacle that acts as refuge to plenty of Location: Around 300m south of Blueberry Hill.
schooling fish, making it enjoyable for snorkellers too. The depth: Average 11m / Maximum 16m
steeply sloping walls feature numerous barrel sponges and This site can be divided into two dives. The first is around the
shelves of relatively healthy soft corals, colour is added by rock, and is a good place to spot turtles, batfish, stonefish,
large areas of Christmas tree worms. porcupine fish, stingrays, and morays amongst both hard and
soft corals.
The pinnacle itself is surrounded by huge boulders that
offer great swim-throughs. In the deeper waters are Away from the reef barracudas frequently pass by. The
crown of thorn starfish, bushy black corals, sea whips and second, northern section is a bit deeper and displays more
small gorgonian sea fans. The plankton-enriched waters corals along with a lovely small canyon. Fish life in evidence
afford a good diversity of marine life, including angelfish, includes anemonefish, angelfish, groupers, parrotfish and
bannerfish, butterflyfish, fusiliers, groupers, parrotfish, triggerfish. Rays and morays are also regular encounters as is
snappers, morays, stingrays, and barracuda. This is also a the occasional turtle.
good site for night diving.
The waters here are more often than not very clear and are
3 Hin rua tek popular with snorkellers.
Location: 3km south of koh Chang.
depth: Average 10m / Maximum 20m 6 Koh Wai
This rocky dive site, also referred to as Banana Rock, is in Location: Immediately east of Koh Khlum.
nice surroundings, which also makes it a popular snorkelling depth: Average 9m / Maximum 20m
destination. Many crevices shelter small critters such as This is a nice shallow fringing reef, consisting of mainly hard
shrimps, lobsters and nudibranchs. Although corals are not corals with soft corals along the deeper part of the reef-slope.
in abundance there is a good variety including large tables of The best features are at depths shallower than 12m, making
staghorns, gorgonian sea fans, soft corals and sponges. the site suitable for the less experienced.

4 Blueberry Hill The shallower parts of the reef are characterised by a plentiful
Location: Around 5km south of Koh Chang. range of reef-fish and small invertebrates. An attraction of
depth: Average 10m / Maximum 16m the deeper waters is that you may be lucky enough to spot
This site is best described as a bare rock full of fish, although a leopard shark or a stingray on the sandy bottom. Being
the south side does have corals! However, this is a great reasonably sheltered, this is a fine site for night diving.

Koh Chang west coast

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dive sites POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
Koh Chang dive CeNtres Koh Chang
7 Koh Kra
Location: Off the northeast shore of Koh Rang Yai. kalypso
depth: Average 7m / Maximum 12m Bang Bao
Although snorkelling is the major appeal here, these islands tel. +66 (0)39 558134
also offer some beautiful diving. The rocks are pitted with Hotline. +66 (0)80 077 7830
numerous crevasses rich in marine life, and the corals are e. info@divessiclub.com
very healthy and varied, including big tables of staghorn w. www.divessiclub.com
corals co-existing with anemones of all sizes and colours.
Further down, on the sandy bottom, you should be able to instruction | day trips | Nitrox | tec diving | retail
spot a blue-spotted ribbontail and blotched rays idling. internships | snorkelling
Kalypso welcomes you as the first SSI Instructor Trainer Center
8 Koh tien West on the beautiful island of Koh Chang. This ECO-friendly Dive
Location: Off the northwest coast of Koh Rang. Club is situated in Bang Bao near the end of the pier.
depth: Average 10m / Maximum 16m
With an in-house Course Director they are the only dive
On the south side of the island is an enormous staghorn coral centre on the island that can offer instructor courses all year
formation well worth exploring, as many fish shelter amongst round. Together with the multilingual and well-qualified
the sharp coral branches. Also a great snorkelling site. team, Kalypso SSI Dive Club stands for first class service and
state of the art facilities.
9 Koh rang Pinnacles
All diving courses and diving and snorkelling trips are
Location: West of Koh Tien West.
conducted on a choice of either a large dive boat complete
depth: Average 15m / Maximum 30m with sundeck, shower and toilet or luxury speedboat and
A great multi-level site and a strong favourite with underwater include full insurance and complementary pick-up service
photographers. Of the two main pinnacles, one is at 12m, the from anywhere on the island. Besides all the SSI courses,
other at 5m; the seabed between them is at 21m. There is a Kalypso can offer courses from SDI, TDI and PADI as well.
good shelf of coral on the deeper pinnacle, at about 15m.
The site’s western side consists of coral drop-offs. Parrotfish
are plentiful and reef sharks are often spotted. Smaller blue-
spotted ribbontail rays are on view at about 12m. Pelagics
often intrude into the surrounding waters, most of which are
barracuda, but there are also cobias.

10 Koh yak and Koh Laun


Location: About 1 km to the east of Koh Rang.
depth: Average 8m / Maximum 12m
These small islands are fringed with a very beautiful coral
reef, with a rich diversity of marine life. Both islands are small
enough to dive around, and due to the shallow depths there
should be enough time to explore them in detail.

11 Hin Kuak Ma
Location: About 1km east Koh Yak and Koh Laun.
depth: Average 10m / Maximum 16m
This is one of the best dives in this area. The south side of
the site is a rocky wall, where it is good to spot a variety of
marine life such as eels, nudibranchs and stonefish. The
opposite side of the rock is a slope, covered in coral, and
with an abundance of fish. Amongst the common residents
of reef fishes, blue-spotted ribbontail rays and morays are
occasionally encountered, along with bamboo sharks and
turtles. The waters around this site, also referred to as Three
Finger Rock, are good for snorkelling.

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dive centres - koh chang
Koh Chang

dolphin divers koh chang dive supply


Klong Prao Pearl Beach
dive Centre tel/fax. +66 (0)39 557030
Hotline (english, French) tel.
+66 (0)87 028 1627
w. www.scubadivingkohchang.com
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Gear rental | retail tel. +66 (0)39 551518, Fax. +66 (0)39 551519
snorkelling | Accommodation e. kohchangdivesupply@gmail.com
Swiss owned and managed, Dolphin Divers has been w. www.kohchangdivesupply.com
operating on the island for over 5 years and is a professionally
run dive centre and school concentrating on offering a dive and snorkel equipment sales and service
personalised service. This is the main wholesale and retail outlet for all kinds of diving
Being a PADI dive centre it offers the full range of diving courses and snorkelling equipment on Thailand’s eastern seaboard,
from beginner to instructor level, as well as providing fun stretching from Pattaya to Koh Chang into Cambodia.
diving to all the best local spots. All the courses are conducted Koh Chang Dive Supply offers and stocks a wide variety of
by a strong team of multilingual instructors and the fun dives major brand names including Bauer, Deep Blue, Luxfer, PADI,
are guided by qualified PADI Dive Masters. Pelican, Saekodive, Scubapro, Seac Sub, Suunto, Trident and
The centre’s equipment is regularly serviced and is replaced many more, ensuring that customers have a really good
on a yearly basis to ensure a high level of comfort and safety. choice.
Dolphin Divers prides itself on providing personal attention
to all its guests. Groups are kept small to provide individual With experience and qualifications, they also provide a
service and attention to detail. Dolphin also has a centre at repair and service centre for all types and brands of dive
the Amari Emerald Cove Resort, also on Klong Prao Beach. equipment.

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dive centres - koh chang
Koh Chang

scuba-evolution the dive adventure


White Sand Beach Bang Bao
tel. +66 (0)87 926 4973 tel. +66 (0)39 558134
e. info@tecevolution.com Hotline. +66 (0)85 279 7627
e. info@thedivekochang.com
w. www.scuba-evolution.com, www.tecevolution.com
w. www.thedivekochang.com
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | retail | snorkelling | Accommodation instruction | day trips | internships | Nitrox | tec diving
Gear rental | retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
English owned and operated Scuba-evolution has evolved
from Tecevolution and is now based on the island of Koh The Dive Adventure is a PADI 5 star Instructor Development
Chang, offering everything from snorkelling to rebreather Center located in Bang Bao at the beginning of the pier.
diving. PADI and TDI courses run throughout the year with a
100% safety record around fantastic corals and wrecks. The highly experienced multilingual team offers dive courses
and guidance in your own language. The number of students
The standard of the boat and all equipment are high, the per class is limited so individual guidance and professionalism
latter being replaced every 12 months. The dive boat, M/V is guaranteed. The dive school has air-conditioned classrooms
Evolution has two spacious decks offering a huge kitting and a large training pool. Recreational courses are offered as
up area and massive platform for easy entries. Different are IDC’s and internship packages.
dive sites are visited everyday to suit beginner to advanced
divers. Breakfast is served on the comfortable upper deck All diving courses, daily diving and snorkelling are conducted
and a lunch of Thai and western food between dives. Free on a choice of either a large dive boat complete with
soft drinks are available all day long. sundeck, shower and toilet or luxury speedboat and include
full insurance and complementary pick-up service from your
There are three centres on the island; White Sand Beach, Kai hotel or resort.
Bae and Lonely Beach, each packed full of equipment for
snorkellers to tec-divers. Scuba-evolution is also the island’s Tailor-made diving packages and trips are available for
main suppliers of Apeks, Beuchat, Mares, Technisub, Ripcurl groups and companies.
and Ocean Dynamics brand names.

photo © Oakleydiver.com

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dive CeNtres POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - koh chang
Koh Chang

water world diving white sand dive centre


Chai Chet Bay White Sand Beach
dive Centre. tel/fax. dive Centre.
+66 (0)39 551321 +66 (0)39 551096
24 hr Hotline. Hotline.
+66(0)81 842 9230 +66 (0)86 106 5020 (English)
+66 (0)85 218 2153 (Thai)
e. waterworldkohchang08@gmail.com
e. bealeydon@yahoo.com, w. www.whitesandsdc.com
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental | retail instruction | day trips | Gear rental
snorkelling | Accommodation snorkelling | Accommodation
One of the foremost dive centres on the island, Water World White Sand Dive Centre offers a comprehensive range of PADI
Diving is centrally situated in Koh Chang Plaza in beautiful Chai diving courses in a professional yet friendly environment.
Chet Bay − often described as the best beach on Koh Chang. These run from introductory courses all the way to becoming
a PADI professional. Daily dive trips include 2 dives with
The centre offers a good range of dive and snorkelling full equipment, lunch and a qualified PADI Divemaster or
equipment, including some of the biggest brand names Instructor to supervise both in the water and on the boat.
in the industry. PADI dive courses − all readily available,
including specialities − are regularly conducted in a variety The air-conditioned office is conveniently situated in the
of languages, and adhere to stringent PADI standards. The centre of White Sand Beach, and on the beach at 15 Palms
centre’s classroom is air-conditioned, as is the centre itself, for Restaurant and Bar where post diving refreshments can be
maximum comfort. enjoyed whilst looking back on an enjoyable day out.
The daily dive and snorkelling trips depart in a fast fully There is also excellent air-con accommodation and a travel
equipped custom built dive boat to all the top sites as well as service to take care of leisure and travelling needs. White
to a few not normally visited by other centres. Sand Dive Centre gives a fun, memorable and stress free
holiday.
To round off their services Water World Diving also provides
an accommodation booking service.

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direCtOry POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
directory - koh chang
Koh Chang

How to get there Nitrox is available for those qualified, and for those not,
Koh Chang can be reached indirectly by air and road and instruction is available. Night diving is offered, but its best
directly by sea. to enquire in advance as timetables vary. Overnight diving
safaris to the area are occasionally organized by Pattaya Dive
By air: Bangkok Airways fly to Trat airport on a daily basis, Centre in Pattaya City.
where taxis can be arranged for the transfer to the island. For
more information contact Bangkok Airways: Within Thailand,
dive courses
Tel. 1771; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 265 5555. Dive courses are available in several languages. Full equipment
and certification is included in all the course prices. Courses
By bus: Air-conditioned buses leave daily from Bangkok’s available are non-certification try-out experiences as well as
Eastern Bus Terminal. The journey to Trat Town takes around the full range of recreational courses from beginner up to the
five hours. On arrival, passengers transfer to the pier as Laem professional level of instructor are scheduled on a daily basis.
Ngop. For further information contact Bangkok Eastern Bus
Terminal: Tel. +66 (0)2 391 4900.
Hospitals
By boat: Car and passenger ferries depart every 30 minutes There is one hospital and one international clinic on Koh
from Laem Ngop for the short crossing. Chang.
Koh Chang Government Hospital in Ban Dan Mai, on
Where to eat the northern section of the western coast
The island’s resorts have their own eating facilities, and most Tel. +66 (0)39 521657, (0)39 586131.
have a good choice of local seafood dishes and a European Koh Chang international Clinic on White Sand Beach
menu. There are also plenty of independent eateries on all (associated with the Bangkok Trat Hospital)
the main beaches and dotted along the roads in-between. Tel. +66 (0)39 551151-2, (0)81 863 3609.
Bangkok trat Hospital in Trat Town on the mainland
One particular place worth checking out is the series of 24 Hr Contacts Centre: Within Thailand, Tel. 1719; from
seafood restaurants along the narrow jetty at Bang Bao, here outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)39 532735
you can pick and choose your menu from what’s on display.
recompression chambers
For best information and insight on where and what to eat, There is a hyperbaric chamber in the Koh Chang
see Pocket Guide FOOd thailand − launching first quarter of PG Government Hospital, with a trained nurse on standby,
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com but not a qualified doctor.
Koh Chang Government Hospital
dive facilities
Tel. +66 (0)39 521657, (0)39 586131.
There’s a good selection of operators, large and small, mainly
The next nearest chamber is located over 160km away
down the western coastline. Most have associated booking
in Pattaya’s Bangkok Pattaya Hospital and is part of the
offices and facilities in various resorts and shopping plazas.
Badalveda diving Medicine Network.
Testamant to the warm, friendly atmosphere is the high level Bangkok Pattaya Hospital
of repeat business making up a large part of the clientele. Many 24 Hr Contacts Centre: Within Thailand, Tel. 1719; from
dive centres also offer a retail selection; if they don’t have an outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)38 259999
item in stock, they can have it delivered on the same day.
Diving Medicine Hotlines
dive trips Tel. +66 (0)81 989 9482, +66 (0)86 272 4618
vedainfo@badalveda.com | www.badalveda.com
Dive trips visit all the local sites, either on dedicated dive
boats or speedboats. Trips commence in the morning
when divers and snorkellers are collected from the various
resorts around the island and taken to the awaiting dive
boats. Trips return in the afternoon at various times For more information on Koh Chang, contact Tourism
depending on which destination has been visited. Authority of Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)38 427662.
218 219
ALPHABetiCAL iNdex POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
alphabetical index

dive Centres destination introductions


All 4 Diving, Phuket ...................................................................................................... 98 Chang (Koh) ................................................................................................................... 206
Ao Nang Divers, Krabi ............................................................................................... 140 Khao Lak ............................................................................................................................ 113
Aqua Vision Dive Center, Krabi ........................................................................... 141
Krabi ..................................................................................................................................... 135
Aquamarine Divers, Phuket ..................................................................................... 99
Aquanauts Dive Center, Pattaya ...................................................................... 201 Lanta (Koh) ...................................................................................................................... 157
Big Blue Diving, Khao Lak ....................................................................................... 114 Mergui Archipelago ( The)....................................................................................... 131
Big Blue Diving Resort, Koh Tao ......................................................................... 174 Pattaya ................................................................................................................................ 196
Blue Planet Divers, Koh Lanta ............................................................................. 162 Phangan (Koh) ............................................................................................................... 181
Buddha View, Koh Tao ............................................................................................. 175
Phi Phi (Koh) .................................................................................................................... 148
Crystal Dive Resort, Koh Tao ................................................................................. 176
Phuket ................................................................................................................................... 93
Dive Asia, Phuket .......................................................................................................... 100
Dolphin Divers, Koh Chang ................................................................................. 212 Samui (Koh) ..................................................................................................................... 190
Eden Divers, Phuket ................................................................................................... 1 01 Similan Marine National Park (Mu Koh) .......................................................... 122
Haad Yao Divers, Koh Phangan ......................................................................... 186 Surin Marine National Park (Mu Koh) ............................................................... 129
iQ Dive, Khao Lak ......................................................................................................... 115 Tao (Koh) ........................................................................................................................... 169
Kalypso, Koh Chang .................................................................................................. 211
Ko Lanta Diving Center, Koh Lanta ................................................................. 163 destination directories
Koh Chang Dive Supply, Koh Chang ............................................................. 213
Chang (Koh) ................................................................................................................... 218
Kontiki Krabi, Krabi ...................................................................................................... 142
Kontiki Lanta, Koh Lanta ......................................................................................... 164 Khao Lak ............................................................................................................................ 120
Lanta Diver, Koh Lanta ............................................................................................. 165 Krabi ..................................................................................................................................... 145
Manta Point Dive Center, Krabi .......................................................................... 143 Lanta (Koh) ...................................................................................................................... 167
Mermaid Liveaboards, Phuket ............................................................................. 102 Pattaya ............................................................................................................................... 203
Ocean Geo Divers, Phuket ..................................................................................... 103
Phangan (Koh) ............................................................................................................... 188
Palm Beach Divers, Koh Lanta ............................................................................ 166
Phi Phi (Koh) .................................................................................................................... 155
Pattaya Dive Centre, Pattaya .............................................................................. 202
Phangan Divers, Koh Phangan ........................................................................... 187 Phuket ................................................................................................................................ 111
Phi Phi Scuba Diving Center, Koh Phi Phi .................................................... 152 Samui (Koh) ..................................................................................................................... 194
Phra Nang Divers, Krabi ........................................................................................... 144 Tao (Koh) ........................................................................................................................... 179
Planet Scuba, Koh Tao .............................................................................................. 177
Princess Divers, Koh Phi Phi .................................................................................. 153 Features
Samui International Diving School, Koh Samui ....................................... 193 About Pocket Guide DIVE Thailand ................................................................... 14
Santana Diving & Canoeing, Phuket ............................................................... 104
About the author ............................................................................................................ 12
Scandanavian Divers, Phuket ............................................................................... 105
Diving and snorkelling in and around Thailand .......................................... 42
Scandanavian Divers, Khao Lak .......................................................................... 116
Scuba Cat Diving, Phuket ....................................................................................... 106 Health and safety for divers ..................................................................................... 32
Scuba Junction, Koh Tao ........................................................................................ 178 Introduction to Thailand ............................................................................................. 16
Scuba-evolution, Koh Chang .............................................................................. 214 Learning to dive in Thailand .................................................................................... 52
Sea Bees Diving, Phuket .......................................................................................... 107
Travelling to and around Thailand ....................................................................... 24
Sea Bees Diving, Khao Lak ..................................................................................... 117
Sea Dragon Dive Center, Khao Lak .................................................................. 118

PG
Sea World Dive Team, Phuket ............................................................................. 108
Siam Adventure Divers, Khao Lak .................................................................... 119
Sunrise Diving, Phuket ............................................................................................. 109
The Dive Adventure, Koh Chang ...................................................................... 215
Viking Divers, Koh Phi Phi ....................................................................................... 154
Water World Asia, Phuket ....................................................................................... 110
Water World Diving, Koh Chang ...................................................................... 216
White Sand Dive Centre, Koh Chang ............................................................. 217
220 221