The reefs and islands within sailing distance of Phuket rate among the most spectacular in the world, and diving and snorkelling trips are both good value and hugely popular. Many trips operate year-round, though some of the more remote islands and reefs become too dangerous to reach during part or all of the monsoon season, roughly June to October.
Andaman coast dive and snorkel sites
About 22km east of Phuket. Submerged reef of soft coral and sea anemones starting about 5m deep. Lots of fish, including leopard sharks, tuna and barracuda. Usually combined with a dive at nearby Shark Point. Unsuitable for snorkellers.
About 250km northwest of Phuket; only accessible on live-aboards. A series of submerged “banks”, well away from any landmass and very close to the Burmese border. Only worth the trip for its sharks. Visibility up to 25m.
Hin Daeng and Hin Muang
56km southwest of Ko Lanta. Hin Daeng is an exceptional reef wall, named after the red soft corals that cover the rocks, with visibility up to 30m. One hundred metres away, Hin Muang also drops to 50m and is good for stingrays, manta rays, whale sharks and silvertip sharks. Visibility up to 50m. Because of the depth and the current, both places are considered too risky for novice divers who have logged fewer than twenty dives. Unsuitable for snorkellers.
Near Shark Point, between Phuket and Ko Phi Phi. Dubbed the Thai Tanic, this became a wreck dive in May 1997, when a tourist ferry sank on its way to Ko Phi Phi. Visibility up to 20m, but hopeless for snorkellers because of the depth, and collapsed sections make it dangerous for any but the most experienced divers.
Ko Phi Phi
48km east of Phuket’s Ao Chalong. Visibility up to 30m. The most popular destination for Phuket divers and snorkellers. Spectacular drop-offs; good chance of seeing whale sharks.
Ko Racha Noi and Ko Racha Yai
About 33km and 28km south of Phuket’s Ao Chalong respectively. Visibility up to 40m. Racha Yai (aka Raya Yai) is good for beginners and for snorkellers; at the more challenging Racha Noi there’s a good chance of seeing manta rays, eagle rays and whale sharks.
Ko Rok Nok and Ko Rok Nai
100km southeast of Phuket, south of Ko Lanta. Visibility up to 18m. Shallow reefs that are excellent for snorkelling.
96km northwest of Phuket; easiest access from Khao Lak. One of the world’s top diving spots. Visibility up to 30m. Leopard sharks, whale sharks and manta rays, plus caves and gorges.
174km northwest of Phuket; easiest access from Khuraburi. Shallow reefs of soft and hard corals that are good for snorkelling.
Just east of Ko Surin, close to Burmese waters. A sunken pinnacle that’s famous for its whale sharks. Considered by many to be Thailand‘s top dive spot.
Shark Point (Hin Mu Sang)
24km east of Phuket’s Laem Panwa. Protected as a marine sanctuary. Visibility up to 10m. Notable for soft corals, sea fans and leopard sharks. Often combined with the King Cruiser dive and/or Anemone Reef; unrewarding for snorkellers.