T h a i l a n d - Dive Guide Thailand Scuba Diving Information Dive

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T h a i l a n d - Dive Guide Thailand Scuba Diving Information Dive
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
About the author
About Pocket Guide dive Thailand
Introduction to Thailand
Travelling to & around Thailand
Health & safety for divers
Diving & snorkelling in & around Thailand
Learning to Dive in Thailand
The Andaman Sea Phuket
Khao Lak
Mu Koh Similan Marine National Park
Mu Koh Surin Marine National Park
The Mergui Archipelago
Krabi
Koh Phi Phi
Mu Koh Lanta Marine National Park
10
12
14
16
24
32
42
52
93
113
122
129
131
135
147
157
The Gulf of Thailand
Western Seaboard
Koh Tao
Koh Phangan
Koh Samui
Eastern Seaboard
Pattaya
Mu Koh Chang Marine National Park
Alphabetical index of dive centres
169
181
190
196
206
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.
[email protected], 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.
photo by Wilai Suksalee
Paul currently lives in Thailand with his family.
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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: [email protected]
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!
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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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InTrODUCTIOn
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Taiwan, Korea and Japan, it’s excellent value for money. As
a result, many Asian and European tourists now visit in the
winter months from November to March and enjoy a wide
range of impressive golf facilities all around the country.
For best information and insight on where, when and how to
play, see Pocket Guide GOLF Thailand and its online version,
www.golfguidethailand.com
bangkok and the regions of Thailand
The population of Thailand is around 60 million, with
approximately 10 million people living in the capital,
Bangkok. This massive, vibrant, traffic-bound city dominates
the country’s central region and functions as the cultural,
religious, economic and political centre of the country.
Thailand is divided into four distinct regions: the mountainous
north, the vast northeast plateau, the central plains, and the
narrow Isthmus of Kra to the south, stretching down to the
border with Malaysia.
Once covered in teakwood forests, the mountainous
northern region appeals to the adventurous traveller, with
one of the main attractions being the prospect of trekking
through remote – and not so remote – villages inhabited by a
diversity of tribal peoples. The main focal point for the region
is the growing centre of Chiang Mai, Thailand’s ‘second’ city.
From the viewpoint, just south of Kai Bae on Koh Chang
Separated from Laos by the Mekong River, the northeast
plateau is dominated by agriculture (rice, fruit and vegetables)
and is one of the poorest regions in the country.
PG
Known as Isan, this region has a distinct culture and dialect
(reflecting its proximity to Laos), and although it is the least
developed area in Thailand, this part of the country is well
worth visiting, with ancient stone temples dating back
almost 10 centuries. Isan is growing in importance as the
gateway to Laos.
Central Plains
The central plains are another important rice-growing area
and, although most visitors tend to pass them by on their
way further north, there are ancient cities, such as Ayutthaya
and Sukhothai, which repay exploration.
The Andaman Sea
It’s the islands and beaches of southern Thailand that hold the
greatest appeal for tourists and, whether you’re looking for
solitude or sophisticated nightlife, there is plenty of choice.
The Andaman coastline, to the west of the Kra Isthmus,
boasts fabulous scenery and dazzling beaches. The largest
and best-known of the island destinations here is Phuket,
which has been attracting tourists for a number of years and
is now in full swing, high-rise hotels appear inexorably above
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
More than 50 international airlines serve the country with
daily direct flights to Bangkok from most major cities in
Europe, USA and Australia. There are also frequent flights
from all over South East Asia to Bangkok and Phuket.
You can drive into Thailand from Malaysia and Laos – the
latter journey takes you over the famous Thai-Laos Friendship
Bridge across the Mekong, at Nong Khai. If you are coming
into the country from Singapore or Malaysia – and if you
have a great deal of money to spare – think about the 34hr
journey on the luxurious Eastern & Oriental Express, sister to
the legendary Orient Express.
visas
People of most nationalities can obtain free visas, valid 30
days, on arrival at Bangkok International Airport and other
entry points; these will be issued only if you have a current
passport and ticket to take you out of the country at the end
of your stay. Longer-stay visas are available, for a fee, from Thai
embassies and consulates around the world: specify whether
you want a transit visa (valid 30 days), a tourist visa (valid 60
days) or a non-immigrant visa (valid 90 days and difficult to
obtain). If you have a tourist visa you can, once in Thailand,
apply for a 30 day extension. If you plan to leave Thailand
temporarily during your stay, you must obtain a re-entry visa,
available from the Immigration Department in Bangkok. These
rules are subject to change so check current regulations prior
to departure
Customs
Customs are usually no trouble, unless you are carrying
pornography, political propaganda, firearms, large amounts of
cash (over $10,000), or illicit drugs – for possession of which
A day trip dive boat returns to Phuket
the penalties are draconian. The allowances for the usual
luxury goods – perfume, alcohol and the like – vary, so check
them before departure. Please note that you are required to
bring a minimum amount of currency into the country which
varies depending on your visa.
Getting around
For longer distances air travel is the easiest option and
not prohibitively expensive. Nok Air and Thai Airways
International both have extensive domestic networks;
Bangkok Airways has a smaller one. Recent years have seen
deregulation of air travel in Thailand and a number of new
low-cost domestic carriers. Reliability may be factor.
Thailand has a good rail service: the fares are inexpensive,
timetables are usually adhered to, and the trains themselves
are comfortable and clean – with four classes covering
four main lines; Northern, North-eastern, Southern and
Eastern – so that you can choose between economy and air
conditioned luxury. One pitfall to avoid is that of not booking
early enough: on the trunk routes you should do so at least
a month in advance. The main railway station in Bangkok
serving all destinations is Hua Lumphong Railway Station.
Long-distance buses are a cheaper alternative, but you take
your life in your hands on one of these; the driving is often
atrocious. If you decide to risk it, opt for an air-conditioned
service; the comparatively small cost difference is worth it. In
remote areas you may be able to go to the opposite extreme
– from air-conditioning to just plain air – by travelling on a
Songthaew. This is essentially an open-backed pick-up truck
with a couple of wooden benches in the back.
Taxis, Tuk tuks (three-wheeled scooters) and pedal-tricycles
operate in most parts of Thailand. You use these much as
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 antimalarial 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.
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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
April 6 Chakri Memorial Day
April 13 – 15 Songkran
May 1 Labour Day
May 5 Coronation Day
May 8 Visakha Puja
July 1 Mid-year Day
July 7 Buddist Lent
August 12 HM The Queen’s
Birthday/Mother’s Day
October 23 Chulalongkorn
Day
november full moon Loi
Krathong
December 5 HM The King’s
Birthday / Father’s Day
December 10 Constitution
Day
December 31 New Year’s
Eve
Chaweng beach on Koh Samui
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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
for divers
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
for divers
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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in and around
Thailand
T
hailand has much to offer the visiting diver and
snorkeller. There is a vast range of exhilarating sites of
many different kinds, providing something for both
recreational and technical divers alike, regardless of their
qualification levels or experience.
With over 2,000km of coastline and hundreds of offshore
islands, the variety is phenomenal, encompassing everything
from extensive fringing reefs to deep drop-offs and wrecks,
dramatic granite walls, caves and tunnels, coral-covered
pinnacles, and open ocean seamounts. Spectacular hard and
soft corals abound, and the marine life is prolific, ranging
from minute and colourful reef dwellers to manta rays, sharks
and pelagic visitors such as giant barracuda, tuna, trevally
and the mighty whale shark.
With the Andaman Sea to the west and the Gulf of Thailand
to the east, Thailand is unique in that it borders two distinct
oceanic zones, each with their own peculiarities and marine
life. Many dive sites all around the coast share common
species, but on others the underwater terrain and reef
communities show marked differences between the two
sides of the peninsula’s coastline.
Andaman Sea
Extending from Myanmar down past the west coast of
Thailand to beyond the Malaysian border, the Andaman Sea
forms part of the Indian Ocean. Many of the 155 islands in
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the Andaman Sea are uninhabited (apart from communities
of Chao Ley – ‘sea gypsies’), and are crowned by lush primary
vegetation tumbling down to a shoreline punctuated by
idyllic sandy beaches.
Most of the diving in this region is organized from the popular
holiday island destination of Phuket, with a wide variety of
operators offering recreational and technical training, day
trips, and liveaboard options. The best time for diving is
between October and May.
In general the Andaman Sea has more extensive coral reefs
but similar visibility to the Gulf of Thailand, with most of
the reefs around the offshore islands occurring on the east
sides of the islands, due to the influence of the southwest
monsoon; the west coasts tend to have rocky slopes
descending to 10-30m in depth.
Towards the northern end of the Thai coastline, a series of
granitic outcrops lie in deep, clear water with reefs descending
to 25-30m and beyond in depth. These are the Similan and
Surin Islands, whose breathtaking underwater scenery and
great diversity of marine life have gained them a considerable
reputation in the diving community.
Given their proximity to Phuket, it is not surprising that these
two island groups are among the country’s most popular
destinations for day trips and liveaboard excursions.
Anemonefish
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Further to the north in Myanmar is the Mergui Archipelago,
recently opened to foreigners, offering real wilderness diving
over unusual underwater terrain, with the added attraction
of shark encounters.
The coastline of Phuket itself offers little for the experienced
diver, although there are dive sites that can be (and are) used
for training and are also a good option if bad weather prevents
boats getting to the better sites.
These offshore sites are mostly to the south, and can be
reached by relatively short boat rides of between one and
two hours. They are all well worth the journey, but two in
particular (Shark Point and Anemone Reef) stand out as
being special in terms of the abundance of marine life.
The most southerly established dive sites in the country are
to the south of Koh Lanta. They feature pristine corals and
spectacular fringing reefs in potentially excellent visibility.
Here are some of the finest dive sites in the country, such as
Hin Mouang, which features the deepest drop-off in Thailand,
with depths in excess of 70m, and Hin Daeng, one of the
few remaining dive sites where both manta rays and whale
sharks are regularly encountered. Another dive destination in
the Andaman Sea that is still in its infancy is Mu Koh Tarutao
Marine National Park (just north of the Malaysian border),
where dugongs have been seen.
The Gulf of Thailand
Further south, the coastline at Krabi offers shallow fringing
reefs around impressive limestone formations (ranging in
size from underwater pillars to whole islands). Some of the
best snorkelling sites in the country are to be found here.
The Gulf of Thailand coast, at 1,840km well over twice as
long as the Andaman Sea coastline, follows a great parabola
from the border with Malaysia on the south coast around to
Cambodia and the southwest tip of Vietnam. The Gulf itself
is a vast, shallow depression – generally less than 60m deep
and reaching a maximum of 85m – which, while incredibly
productive, does not have continually great visibility.
Offshore, the Phi Phi islands, with their palm-fringed beaches,
have been growing in popularity as a dive base for the last two
decades. This is not surprising as the local waters experience
great visibility complemented with a rich variety of corals and
marine life; shallow fringing and patch reefs are an added
attraction for snorkellers.
This is largely due to the turbid waters from river outlets being
trapped in the Gulf by an underwater shelf that stretches
across the mouth of the Gulf from Malaysia to Vietnam. True
reefs do not occur further north than those found in the Ban
Krut area in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, just over 300km
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
northeast monsoon, and diving and snorkelling is at its best
from November to April. Underwater visibility ranges from 5m
to 30m or more during this period. From May to October the
southwest monsoon strikes this region, bringing in its wake
towering seas and strong currents and increased turbidity.
Conversely, the dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand are at their
best during this season, with only minimal winds and light
showers to disturb the tranquillity of the beaches and seas.
Visibility can sometimes equal that of the Andaman Sea
during this period. There are always dive sites on either
side of the Isthmus that are sheltered enough to be dived
whatever the weather so, if you find in the wrong place at the
wrong time, don’t despair!
Water temperatures in Thailand generally range from 27˚C to
31˚C. A thin wetsuit or lycra suit is recommended, not simply
for protection from exposure but also as a barrier to marine
hazards such as stinging cells which can be present. Oceanic
sites (such as the Similans and the Burma Banks) are subject
to sudden cold currents or thermoclines which can chill the
water by up to 10˚C and, although these temperature dips
are localized, most divers still prefer to don 3-4mm wetsuits
for thermal protection.
Blue ribbon eel
Dive operators
There are many top-notch dive centres in both the Andaman
Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. PADI and SSI are the main
certification agencies, in both recreational and technical
diving tuition. There are also a number of BSAC, CMAS and
NAUI training facilities along with IANTD, ANDI and TDI
for the ‘Tekkies’. Entry-level courses through to Instructor
programmes and specialties like cave diving and underwater
photography are widely available.
Most of the larger and better-established dive operators
maintain their equipment to high standards, with a good
selection of sizes. BCDs, masks, fins, regulator and pressure
consoles are obtainable everywhere; however, wetsuits,
diving computers and underwater cameras are generally
only available at the more established facilities.
renting equipment
When you rent equipment − for your own safety and
comfort − you should remember to check the following:
buoyancy Control Device (bCD)
• Select the correct size. The last thing you want is a
BCD that restricts your breathing because it is too tight.
Conversely, if it is too large, you may feel you are about to
slip out of it.
• Select a style or make that you are familiar with and take
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
seem to hear it everywhere around Thailand these
days; in coastal resorts, on boats during passages to
coral fringed tropical islands and even in the larger cities!
But when talking about taking that memorable first breath
underwater, the sales pitch is not only inaccurate, it can be
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?
Simple. The water is clear and warm and filled with exciting
adventures and creatures to meet and explore. Golden
opportunities arise all year round and your dive course will be
fun and relaxing without the hustle and bustle of city life.
What with great training facilities and calm and warm waters
complemented by a second-to-none diversity of marine life,
all readily available in many picture-postcard destinations,
this has to be one of the world’s top places to learn, continue
learning or even create a career based around the planet’s
fastest growing recreational pastime of scuba diving.
Instruction is available in a number of forms, from freelance
instructors providing a small and personal service up to
five-star training centres with self-contained resort facilities
offering career development services allowing those who
want to learn to choose the style that best suits them.
Learning to dive is not something that can be self-taught.
Instruction is essential and standard safety practices need
to be applied and upheld throughout, no matter the size of
operation. Thankfully this is the case in Thailand. There are
also a number of award-winning facilities around the country
proudly displaying their credentials − fine role models for
others to follow.
Students prepare to descend for the first time
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All the top training agencies are omni-present in Thailand and,
wherever there’s diving, there will be dive centres affiliated
to one of them. Training mainly comes ‘The Professional
Association of Diving Instructors’ (PADI) and ‘Scuba Schools
International’ (SSI), followed by the British Sub Aqua Club
(BSAC) in third place. CMAS and NAUI are here too, but with
a much smaller presence.
Starting slowly
Not everyone feels comfortable or has the time to jump
in at the deep end and enrol in a multi-day commitment
without first getting a taste of the fun. But not to worry as,
in appreciation of this, the major training agencies offer
non-certified experience programmes. These are still under
the guidance of a qualified dive professional and obviously
follow the highest of safety standards.
Experiences range from taking that first breath underwater
in a swimming pool or just off the beach, to going on a dive
with an instructor in the open ocean. No corners are cut and
training covers all the basic skills needed to submerge and
ascend safely. The only difference between these experience
programmes and a certifying course is that, after completion,
you must still be accompanied by a diving professional at all
times and you cannot dive anywhere else. The advantage
is that the course takes a short time and, even better, your
experience may count toward your certification (depending
on the training agency) and you’ll be more than ready to sign
up for a certifying course when time permits.
For the family
As the interest and participation in scuba is on the increase,
images of black rubber-clad men immersing themselves
in the abyss, whilst groups of ladies anxiously look on, are
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
enjoy the tropical waters here for some time, some so regularly
that they’re now being accompanied by their families.
And the youngsters are not left out at all. PADI’s ‘Bubble Maker’
and ‘Seal Team’, along with SSI’s ‘Scuba Ranger’, programmes
give boys and girls aged eight years upwards the opportunity,
under professional guidance, to enjoy an exciting scuba
experience whilst learning some cool underwater tricks into
the bargain. Programmes last around an hour or two in the safe
surroundings of a swimming pool or similar water conditions
in a protected area, and are a great way to get the youngsters
hooked, either with or without their parents in tow! These
fabulous introductions to the underwater world are a great
way for kids to share valuable learning experiences, whilst
meeting new friends along the way, and are widely available
in all of Thailand’s diving destinations.
Convenience
Thailand flaunts a comprehensive range of dive centres and
services, the majority in the southern provinces, but with
several in Pattaya and Koh Chang too. There’s also a small
selection in Bangkok (generally branches or booking offices).
Having a city base is particularly useful for providing academic
and shallow in-water tuition to the local community or to those
that have not yet reached their intended diving destination
and are taking their time checking out the city sights first.
The one factor these dive centres all have in common is the
equally impressive selection of courses they offer.
For those working in full-time jobs and therefore tied up
during office hours, knowledge development training can be
completed on line and practical training can be completed
In the classroom
Originating in the UK, the bSAC
was formed in 1953, making it
the world’s largest dive club, with
1,000s of branches and over 33,000 members worldwide,
making it one of the most experienced diving agencies.
The ethos of the BSAC is to train divers to a level where
they are competent to dive in UK waters. Courses are
comprehensive in their content, but this doesn’t mean
they are any more difficult to complete.
Over the last few years the BSAC has been steadily growing
throughout Asia. There are now currently 11 BSAC centres
in Thailand located both on the east and west coasts.
To learn more about the BSAC visit: www.bsac.com
PADI was founded in 1966. It is the world’s
largest recreational diving membership
organisation. The membership includes
dive businesses, resort facilities, academic
institutions, instructor trainers, dive
educators, divers, snorkellers and other
water sports enthusiasts.
Professional PADI members teach the vast majority of
the world’s recreational divers, issuing approximately
a million certifications every year, whilst maintaining
the highest industry standards for dive training, safety
and customer service. The total number of PADI dive
centres and resorts (IRRA Members) located worldwide is
approximately 5,300, with over 1,000 of these in the AsiaPacific region and over 250 located in Thailand.
For more about PADI, visit: www.padi.com
SSI is a worldwide diver certification
agency and educational support
organisation and is recognised as an
innovative leader in diver education.
Founded in 1970, SSI provides state-ofthe-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
[email protected] : 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
convenient. Once the required skills and knowledge have
been mastered, students can then be referred to an affiliated
branch or dive centre to complete the open water sections
of the course, or any other uncompleted part of it for that
matter!
alongside those in other popular diving destinations around
the world. Very few compare favourably to Thailand.
Continuation does not need to be done immediately but there
is a timescale involved; the instructor will advise how long the
completed training is valid for before it would need repeating.
On a broader scale, this popular option of splitting the training
(known as a referral) over more than one destination is
available internationally.
Entry level courses introduce students to the underwater
environment and how to comfortably adapt to the newfound surroundings, how to use the unfamiliar equipment
and above all else – how to dive safely and relax.
As long as all the training is completed within the designated
period and successful completion of the initial training can
be proved, students from literally anywhere in the world
can complete their courses here, taking advantage of what
diving in Thailand has to offer, without committing to a full
course during their stay.
However, the majority of visitors opt to do the whole course
here – a sensible decision, as prices are extremely competitive
Students repeating safety skills in the ocean (photo courtesy of SSI Thailand)
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Courses
At the end of the day, whichever training agency you adopt,
they all operate to high safety standards.
On successful completion the newly certified divers are
qualified to dive unaccompanied by a diving professional, in
the same conditions and to the maximum depth experienced
during training. However, with the great selection of dive
centres around, you have the choice of joining any number
of daily trips with the option of dives being led by trained
diving professionals.
There’s no extra charge for this service as it’s included as
standard in the dive trip price and it’s a great way to build
confidence and familiarity for novice divers. Plus, if you don’t
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
Bounty Island - Coral Island
Phi-Phi Islands - Similan Islands
Diving Day Trips
Racha Yai - King Cruiser - Shark Point
Anemone Reef - Phi-Phi Islands
Similan Islands
You and your family and friends are
always welcome on one of our two day
trip boats, join one of our popular
snorkel trips to one of the local tropical
islands around Phuket and Khao Lak.
For bookings contact us in our shops in
Kata Beach, Patong Beach or Khao Lak
See listings on Pages 105 & 116
Take the next step...
and become a Pro
As a PADI 5-Star Instructor
Development Center, we provide
only the very best of diver training up
to and including the professional
levels of Dive Master or Instructor
Scandinavian Divers
58/6 Soi Patong Resort, Patong Beach
Tel: +66 (0)76 294225-6
Fax: +66 (0)76 292408
[email protected]
www.diving-phuket-thailand.com
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: [email protected]
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
learnt to dive in warm and inviting waters, are seeing things
you once could only dream of and are rapidly making new
friends – not a bad start really. It’s no wonder diving is so
popular!
The next step is to fine-tune those skills already learned, and
be introduced to new ones. Advanced diving courses are
really great underwater adventures. Even though the term
‘advanced’ may imply they are demanding and stressful – in
reality they are quite the opposite.
Safety and fun are high on the agenda and the results are
extremely rewarding. In fact, it’s surprising they aren’t
compulsory, especially as some dive sites are restricted to
divers certified as advanced and above.
There’s a stream of associated speciality courses that open up
the chance to take the knowledge learned during advanced
training to an even more in-depth level. Thailand’s tropical
waters make particular courses extremely attractive; for
instance, the warm waters are more appealing to deep and
night diving enthusiasts; the water has been exposed to high
levels of warming sunlight during the day, thus reducing the
likelihood of uncomfortable chilly encounters.
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‘Enriched Air Diver’. After all, dives are not likely to be cut
short or be few and far between due to cold conditions!
The list of speciality topics is endless; there are even special
courses that have been individually written to suit the very
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!
Next on the list are rescue courses which should seriously
be mandatory for every diver. Course topics covered include
self-rescue, problem management and how to help divers in
stressful situations and, better still, how to avoid them in the
first place.
As any diver will know, you never dive without a buddy!
But are you both actually capable of looking after each
other? If not, then learn! The rescue diver courses are great
value in Thailand and are just as comprehensive as they
are anywhere else in the world. Certification requires CPR
and First Aid training, which is also available alongside the
course. In a nutshell, what you learn is all you need to know
in order to look after yourself and others, both under the
water and on the surface during everyday life. So you might
as well learn in comfort and at a good price.
The generally high water clarity opens up splendid vistas of
colourful reefs and curious inhabitants, making ideal subject
matter for underwater photographers and videographers,
two more popular choices of speciality dive courses on offer
at many of Thailand’s dive centres.
The highest level of recreational diver certification is ‘Master
Scuba Diver’ or equivalent, depending on the training
agency’s certification title. To achieve this rating, or status,
divers need to complete all the above courses and be certified
in a pre-determined number of different specialities, as well as
have completed a designated number of dives. There’s also a
‘Junior Master Scuba Diver’ rating for the over 12 year olds!
With such enjoyment on the cards, divers may wish to
increase their safety levels and obtain the qualification of
Thailand also provides a comprehensive range of technical
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 listings on Pages 107 & 117
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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.
Photo by Mark Strickland
LEArnInG TO DIvE
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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 215
See listing on Page 211
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taught over a longer period, thus allowing participants to gain
some work experience along the way. As the whole focus of
the qualification is based around taking care and control of
others, rather than just to display a badge of completion, this
is a great way to learn. And, with plenty of places in which do
a course, it’s a popular option indeed.
Setting up a temporary base in one of the diving destinations
is not really a problem − more of a dream. The weather’s good,
the food tasty, the social life usually relaxed and friendly −
and prices for everything are reasonable. In fact, the perfect
conditions in which take the next step of qualifying to be a
diving instructor.
There are several levels of instructor, with the top of the
ladder being a ‘Course Director’, who trains divers to be
instructors. Course Directors cannot certify instructors
though; this has to be done by examiners from the training
agencies themselves, who are flown in from all over the
world. Instructor courses, termed as Instructor Development
Courses, or IDCs for short, are scheduled on a regular basis,
as are the Instructor Examinations (IE).
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Many operators include complimentary accommodation
for the duration of a diving course, especially for beginners.
However, a number of the larger centres have taken things
one step further and created tailor-made internship packages
which, in some cases, include everything needed to sign up
as a non-diver and leave as a qualified diving professional
complete with a job, either locally or in another country!
These packages can also be joined at anytime during a
diver’s career, no matter where they are qualification-wise;
and, as they can include equipment and accommodation in
the overall ‘package’, it’s a great opportunity to focus on the
matter in hand without all the worry of having to plan dayto-day expenses and practicalities.
The standard of training is high, as is the essential advice on
how to survive in the diving industry after completion. Once
again, these centres are situated in all of the country’s diving
destinations.
In fact the only thing difficult about learning to dive in
Thailand is deciding where to sign up!
An instructor takes a pair of students through their pre-dive ‘Buddy Check’
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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: [email protected]
A minute anemone crab peers out between the stinging tentacles of its host sea anemone
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - phuket
Phuket
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
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Creative Innovation
Above & Below
the Water
Dive World (Thailand) Co. Ltd.
Authorised Cressi Dealer & Wholesaler
Head Office Bangkok:
Tel: 027 139 151-3 Fax: ext 4
Email: [email protected]
Krabi Office:
Tel: 080 533 8772
Email: [email protected]
www.diveworld-thailand.com
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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
them from the neighbouring beaches. With an international
airport and good transport links to the rest of the country,
Phuket makes a good base for exploring further afield or as
the jumping-off point for other popular destinations such as
Khao Lak, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta.
Diving around Phuket
Phuket is the largest dive centre in Thailand and the
main base for liveaboards heading for destinations in the
Andaman Sea. For those not having the free time to join a
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dive sites - phuket
Phuket
dive boat to the sites further afield, all is not lost as there are
a few good dive sites off the shores of Phuket Island itself.
These local sites also open up opportunities for night diving
and polishing up those diving skills.
Conditions improve considerably around the outcrops,
islets and islands off the south of Phuket; the currents here
carry away algae and silt and the corals have more chance
of flourishing. The reefs are generally in a healthy condition
with good hard, as well as colourful soft, corals. Marine life is
plentiful, with visits from large pelagics adding spice to the
diving. Some sites are quite deep with ripping currents often
present, but there are plenty of other locations suitable for all
levels of both recreational and technical divers.
1
Meridien Reef
Location: Between Patong and Karon Beaches.
Depth: Average 7m / Maximum 18m
This site has comparatively few hard and soft corals and fishlife is only sporadically present – although you might discover
a blue-spotted ribbontail ray hiding beneath one of the rocks,
and very occasionally may encounter a small white-tip reef
shark. However, the site is a very good one for training or for
introducing new divers to scuba: students can concentrate on
learning to dive, without their attention being distracted by
deep waters, strong currents or too many fish!
2
Kata House Reef
Location: Western end of Kata Beach.
Depth: Average 5m / Maximum 12m
Entry to the site off the beach brings you to the fringing
reef, at a depth of 5m. As you follow it around the headland
the depth gradually increases to 12m. This is a training and
introduction site similar to meridian reef, but shallower
and slightly more enjoyable. Barracuda, tuna, and trevally
are often present. The reef just breaks the surface in low
water. Blue-spotted ribbontail rays and white-tip reef sharks
are sometimes seen. Reef-fish are present but tend to be
scattered over the area rather than dominating particular
areas. The site is accessible during inclement weather
conditions and suitable for night-diving enthusiasts.
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Koh Dok Mai
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Anemone Reef
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Shark Point
Location: 10km west of Shark Point.
Depth: Average 19m / Maximum 31m
The east side of the island offers a wall rich in invertebrates
and a good representation of tube corals. There are large
moray eels, black-banded sea kraits, honeycomb groupers
and angelfish, and you’ve a good chance of seeing leopard
sharks out on the sand. Bivalves cling to sea whips along the
deeper sections of the wall, which also features two caves.
The walls and ceiling of the larger one are rich in soft corals,
but it’s best to remain outside, exploring the cave’s interior
safely by torch light. The western side of the island features
a steeply sloping reef rather than the sheer drops that
dominate elsewhere. Black-tip and white-tip reef sharks can
be seen. There are healthy sea fans and barrel and encrusting
sponges. Visiting pelagics often pass by.
Location: 30km east of Chalong Bay on Phuket.
Depth: Average 17m / Maximum 26m
Anemone Reef is a small submerged rocky plateau about 4-7m
deep at the shallowest parts. The top of the reef is smothered
in sea anemones; there are many resident clownfish, shrimps
and porcelain crabs. Elsewhere you find large clusters of soft
corals and enormous gorgonian sea fans – the latter sheltering
dense groupings of Indian lionfish. There’s a healthy crosssection of marine life. At its deepest point a solitary rock is
home to a number of juvenile moray eels.
Location: 1km southeast of Anemone Reef.
Depth: Average 19m / Maximum 24m
This site was named for the leopard sharks that are often found
either resting on the sandy sections around the perimeter of
the main structure or freely swimming around the surrounding
waters. Three pinnacles are dense with colourful marine
Hawkfish
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
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - phuket
Phuket
life, from impressive sea fans to honeycomb groupers,
vivid encrusting sponges, moray eels, lobsters, lionfish and
harlequin ghost pipefish. Slightly to the west of the northern
pinnacle is a large, spectacular arch saturated in the brilliant
colours of the soft corals growing on its surfaces. The reefs
here also display bushy black corals, sea whips and gorgonian
sea fans, with barracuda, snapper, trevally and mackerel all
patrolling the fringes.
7
King Cruiser Wreck
Location: 1 km southeast of Anemone Reef.
Depth: Average 20m / Maximum 32m
In 1997 the King Cruiser, a car ferry operating between Phuket
and Koh Phi Phi, bottomed on Anemone Reef, splitting it in
two. The impact also tore a large hole in the vessel’s hull.
The sunken vessel attracts a high diversity of marine life;
invertebrates have taken up residence and juvenile reef fish
hover around the now barnacle-encrusted frame. Daylight
penetrates the majority of the wreck, though there are some
areas that can only be explored with an artificial light source.
Beware that quite a few areas have collapsed ceilings – these
should not be entered at all.
8
Coral island
9
Koh Racha Yai – Bungalow Bay
Location: Outer of two islands south of Chalong Bay.
Depth: Average 14m / Maximum 20m
The south of the island is the best area to dive at this primarily
training site, not only in terms of safety (no threat from erratic
jetskiers!) but also because there’s a more diverse presence
of marine life, plus it displays the healthiest corals which are
mainly foliaceous interspersed with bubble, staghorn and star.
Location: 90 minutes from Chalong Bay.
Depth: Average 17m / Maximum 30m
This site can be split; you can opt to follow either of the bay’s
shorelines. The rocky formations visible above the surface
continue underwater, with a good presence of reef-fish.
Around the rocks swim surgeonfish and fusiliers, while below
you can see inquisitive paired goatfish, nudibranchs, urchins
and plenty of blue-spotted ribbontail rays.
10
Koh Racha Yai – eastern Coast
Location: 90 minutes from Chalong Bay.
Depth: Average 12m / Maximum 22m
This is a popular diving destination and is suitable for all levels
of diver. There’s also enjoyable snokelling around the rocks
in the shallow waters off the island’s coastline. The shallower
sections of the reef feature tables and smaller examples
of leaf corals; the deeper waters have similar species, but
larger. There are many featherstars, lionfish, puffers and a few
parrotfish and wrasse. The site’s southern end has the bonus
96
of encountering mating cuttlefish along with a greater display
of reef creatures, including good-sized titan triggerfish, moray
eels and octopus; plus on a smaller scale, a better selection of
colourful fish and invertebrates. Leopard sharks and hawksbill
turtles are occasionally seen around this coastline.
11
Koh Racha Noi – Northern tip
12
Koh Racha Noi – Southern tip
Location: Approximately two hours from Chalong Bay.
Depth: Average 17m / Maximum 30m
A reasonable multi-level dive site, which takes divers around
pinnacles and large rocks. There’s a fair display of hard and
soft corals and the usual reef-fish are present in reasonable
quantities. If you’re lucky you should be able to sight small
reef sharks, but the main attraction is probably the presence
of large bullethead parrotfish. However, diving here can be
extremely hazardous because of the hostile currents under
no circumstances should this site be attempted by any but
experienced divers.
Location: Just over two hours from Bay Chalong Bay.
Depth: Average 23m / Maximum 40m+
This is a great dive for experienced divers – in fact, good
operators will bring only divers of advanced level and above!
The underwater terrain is similar to that around the island’s
northern tip, but much deeper – the shallowest part of
any consequence is at 18m. Fine soft corals highlight the
smooth-sided boulders. Crinoids and featherstars are well
represented. There are fairly plentiful, reasonably sized
fish, including lionfish, parrotfish, wrasse and triggerfish, as
well as large visiting pelagics such as barracuda, rainbow
runners and trevally. Manta and marbled rays are frequently
seen here, as are whale sharks – although with slightly less
regularity. All in all, this site can be compared with some sites
found around Mu Koh Similan Marine National park.
SHARK PoiNt MARiNe SANCtuARY
Shark Point Marine Sanctuary consists of Shark Point
and Anemone Reef, 1km to the north-west. Since 1997
it has included the wreck of the King Cruiser car ferry.
Designated a Marine Sanctuary in 1992, the sheer
profusion of marine life here is justification enough for
protected status. The marine park zone covers a radius
of 2.5km around the western limit of Shark Point and
all commercial fishing, collecting of marine life, or other
harmful activity is prohibited.
Official mooring buoys have been installed but if they
are in use (which is often the case, given the popularity
of these sites), divers must execute a live-boat dive. On
no account should anchors be dropped here.
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DIve ceNTReS
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - phuket
Phuket
all 4 diving
aquamarine divers
Patong Beach
Chalong
Tel. +66 (0)76 344611
Fax. +66 (0)76 343015
e. [email protected]
w. www.all4diving.com
Tel: +66 (0)76 383083
Fax: +66 (0)76 280397
Mobile: +66 (0)81 584 8502
Instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Being a member of the Andaman Diving Group, All 4 Diving
take care of their visitors and guests from the moment they
arrive on Phuket until departure.
This is the largest and most comprehensive dive centre
on the island and is run by divers for divers. All of the
knowledgeable staff are either Thai Nationals or long-time
Phuket residents who combined, are more than capable of
helping with virtually all aspects of diving in Thailand.
All 4 Diving provides an extensive range of liveaboard and
day trip diving options, as well as conducting the full range
of PADI dive courses. On top of all that the centre has the
largest retail selection in the country, which includes most
major and popular brands, all of which can be promptly
serviced at the onsite service centre.
Philkade Liveaboard Diving cruises
e. [email protected], w. www.philkade.com
Atitara Day cruises
w. www.atitara.com, e. [email protected]
Instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Operating since 2004, Aquamarine Divers’ is raising the bar
for dive operations on Phuket. Owning and operating their
own vessels, M/V Atitara and M/V Philkade, Aquamarine
offers both day trip and liveaboard cruises.
M/V Atitara offers daily scuba diving and snorkelling trips to
local sites such as Racha Yai, Shark Point, the King Cruiser
Wreck, and the Phi Phi islands as well as having facilities to
cater for individual private overnight charters and corporate
functions.
M/V Philkade operates in Thai waters from October to May
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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Dive CeNtReS
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - phuket
Phuket
dive asia
eden divers
Kata Beach
Patong Beach
tel. +66 (0) 76 330598
Fax. +66 (0) 76 284033
e. [email protected]
w. www.diveasia.com
tel/fax: +66 (0)76 290474
w. www.edendivers.com
e. [email protected]
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Dive Asia was founded in 1988, one of the first dive shops
on Phuket. As the first PADI 5 Star Career Development
Center in Phuket, one of only four in all of Thailand, they’re
a recognised leader in diver training and proudly operate a
world-class facility. The company offers a full range of awardwinning scuba diving services in one of the top ten dive
destinations in the world. Liveaboard excursions onboard the
luxurious M/V Dive Asia dive the waters around the legendary
Similan Islands and relaxing day trips visit Phuket’s best local
dive sites including Phi Phi, Racha, and Shark Point with the
comfortable M/V Diva Asia II.
‘Tauchen,’ Europe’s largest diving magazine, have honoured
Dive Asia several times as one of the best dive centres in
South East Asia. They are also the first dive centre worldwide
to be honoured twice with PADI’s prestigious ‘Hallmark of
Excellence Award’.
Dive Asia’s philosophy is quite simple. Personal attention,
high quality diving, professional education, affordable prices
and all the fun that is great diving.
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instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Located in the heart of Patong Beach, the main resort area
of Phuket, Eden Divers offfers luxurious, fun-filled daytrips
and liveaboard safaris to some of South East Asia’s best dive
sites.
Guests can choose from daytrips around the Phuket area or
to the famous Similan Islands or Koh Bon, or liveaboard safari cruises which cover the best dive sites from the Similan
Islands, Koh Bon, Ko Tachai and Richelieu Rock.
Eden Divers pride themselves in having a multi-lingual staff
comprising English, German, Russian, Thai, Spanish, and
Italian languages - just to name a few.
Their professional dive staff all comply to strict safety principles with guests always diving in modern, well-serviced
diving equipment. You can be assured that a journey with
Eden will always be a safe and enjoyable experience.
Their guests will always be their focus, so join them and
experience the difference.
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Dive CeNtReS
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - phuket
Phuket
mermaid liveaboards
ocean geo divers
Patong Beach
Nai Harn
Booking Centre
+66 (0)76 344612
Hotline
+66 (0)87 274 8348
tel/fax. (+66) 076 613253
Hotline. (+66) 089 586 3879
e. [email protected]
w. www.oceangeodivers.com
e. [email protected]
w. www.mermaid-liveaboards.com
instruction | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental | Snorkelling
Accommodation
Mermaid Liveaboards – Asia’s premier liveaboard fleet – owns
and operates two liveaboard vessels, M/V Mermaid I and M/V
Mermaid II. Large spacious dive decks and dive platforms are a
treat. Photographers are catered for with large rinse tubs and
camera tables on the deck. Both vessels are equipped with
full safety equipment, dinghies and life rafts. Air-conditioned
comfort, sundecks, saloon and party deck with lounges and
restaurant-style dining. Mermaid, a member of the Andaman
Diving Group, offers a choice of CMAS & PADI diver training.
Combine this luxury with the experienced dive crew and you
will enjoy a liveaboard trip of a lifetime.
Scheduling offers a choice of cruises from 2 days/3 nights
up to 9 days/9 nights; you can combine cruises to enjoy a
discount and the best diving throughout the Andaman
Sea at sites including the Similans, Richelieu Rock, Mergui
Archipelago and Hin Daeng, Phi Phi and Koh Ha to the south.
Or join a trip in Indonesia which departs from Bali every
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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instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear Rental
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Ocean Geo Divers is a dedicated International team of
instructors & divemasters. Day trips visit Koh Racha Yai and
Racha Noi, Shark Point, Anemone Reef, King Cruiser Wreck,
Koh Doc Mai and Phi Phi. Liveaboard excursions visit all the
best sites around the Similan Islands and Mergui Archipelago
including the Burma banks, with trips up to 14 days/13 nights.
The centre also has an extensive selection of equipment for
sale and rent with top brand names including Sunnto, Mares
and Scubapro; they are the only stockists of Waterproof
Wetsuits in Thailand.
The full range of PADI courses are offered from the
introduction level of Discover scuba Diving through to
one of the most sought after PADI ratings of Dive Master.
Not forgetting the kids, they offer Bubble Maker courses
through to Seal Team for ages from eight up. The family
friendly services also extend to arranging and booking local
excursions to all the popular attractions.
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Dive CeNtReS
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - phuket
Phuket
santana diving & canoeing
Patong Beach
scandinavian divers
Patong Beach
tel. +66 (0)76 294225-6
Fax. +66 (0)76 292408
tel. +66 (0)76 294220, (0)76 340360
Fax. +66 (0)76 340360, e. [email protected]
w. www.santanaphuket.com
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Santana is Phuket’s most experienced dive centre with more
then 25 years in business! Back in the late 70s they were the
pioneers of scuba diving on Phuket and the Similan Islands
and were responsible for naming many of the established
dive sites, including ‘Elephant Head’.
These days, Santana heads out to dive the Andaman Sea’s
finest dive sites aboard their spacious and air-conditioned
liveaboard vessel, M/V Discovery. The schedule offers regular
departures to the Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock, the
Southern Islands including Hin Daeng and Mouang, and
Burma’s (Myanmar) Mergui Archipelago including the Burma
Banks. They also run a daily day trip service which opens up
the local hotspots around Phuket and Phi Phi.
As you would expect from an established PADI 5 Star
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.
104
e. [email protected]
w. www.scandinavian-divers.com
instruction | Daytrips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Scandinavian Divers is a PADI 5 Star IDC Center managed
by a Danish, Norwegian and Swedish team. Their goal is
to ensure a memorable experience for the whole family,
whether diving, snorkelling or just enjoying a cruise.
As a multi-lingual company with trained PADI professionals
they offer dive courses for guests from all four corners of
the globe. The Scandinavian standard of service and safety
coupled with Thailand’s hospitality and charm is an excellent
and safe way to add adventures to an enjoyable holiday –
and it can all be booked online.
The company runs two diving boats which visit all the popular
local dive sites on a daily basis. Those who want to enjoy the
sites further afield can join one of a selection of multi-day
liveaboard cruises which sail from 2 - 10 days around both
Thailand and the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar.
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Dive CeNtReS
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - phuket
Phuket
scuba cat diving
Chalong
tel. +66 (0)76 293120/121
Fax. +66 (0)76 293122
e. [email protected]
w. www.scubacat.com
tel. +66 (0)76 381765
Fax. +66 (0)76 280467
e. [email protected]
w. www.sea-bees.com
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Scuba Cat Diving was established back in 1992 and is now
under British ownership, with a multi-national management
team running the day to day operations. The company has
steadily grown over the years and is now operating as a PADI
5 Star CDC Center, Go ECO Operator and Reef Check Centre.
Their goal is to provide a specialised quality service in relaxed
and friendly surroundings and to ensure their guests get the
most out of their holiday all year round.
If you want to further your dive education, Scuba Cat regularly
schedules the full range of PADI Courses from Bubble Maker
for the kiddies, right up to the professional certification of
Instructor, with their own award-winning PADI Platinum
Course Director.
Scuba Cat has two liveaboard boats. Enjoy the worldrenowned Similan Islands following your own personal
schedule onboard M/V Scuba Cat or join a regular excursion on
M/V Scuba Adventure, which includes the sites further afield.
106
sea bees diving
Patong Beach
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
The Sea Bees international team of dive guides and instructors
at their PADI 5 Star Gold Palm IDC Center are highly experienced
and trained to the highest standards. Each has a minimum of
250 dives, so divers are in safe hands. Also, their knowledge of
the local dive sites and aquatic life is second to none. Sea Bees
has a fleet of six dive boats which are individually kitted out for
day trips or liveaboard excursions.
The comprehensive dive centre in Chalong is equipped
with a customer service centre, comfortable reception area,
workshop, and equipment room where guests can store their
own equipment.
Their resort, the Palm Garden Resort is unique in that was built
to house the See Bees Dive Academy which offers a complete
range of courses from beginner to a variety of Instructor
qualifications. The Acadamy has its own purpose-built 3m
training pool with four air-conditioned classrooms complete
with full multimedia support.
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Dive CeNtReS
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - phuket
Phuket
sea World dive team
sunrise diving
Patong Beach
tel. +66 (0)76 341595
Fax. + 66 (0)76 342510
e. [email protected], w. www.seaworld-phuket.com
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
With their motto of, “Our first priority is your satisfaction”, Sea
World Dive Team is a member of the Andaman Diving Group,
and is a 5 Star PADI IDC Center located right in the heart of
Patong Beach. They have been operating since 1997.
The professional, multi-lingual team of diving instructors
regularly schedules the full range of diving courses, from
beginner up to, and including, the professional level of
instructor. All courses are conducted in the centre’s airconditioned classrooms with the in-water training modules
taking place in the purpose built on-site training pool.
As well as organising day-trip diving to all the best local
sites, Sea World Dive Team offers liveaboard excursions
to all the prime diving destinations in the Andaman Sea,
including Thailand’s legendary Similan Islands and the Mergui
Archipelago to the west of Myanmar (Burma). Trips are also
scheduled around the diving Mecca of Komodo in Indonesia.
108
Patong Beach
tel. +66 (0)76 292 052
Fax. +66 (0)76 293 034
e. [email protected]
w. www.sunrisediving.net
Sunrise Diving is a PADI 5-Star National
Geographic Instructor Development
Centre conveniently located opposite the Jungceylon
shopping complex in Patong. It caters for all levels of diver,
from complete beginners to those wishing to pursue a career
in the diving industry, with regularly scheduled IDC’s.
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
The dive centre boasts three air-conditioned classrooms
equipped with the latest multi-lingual training aids; a retail
store stocking a comprehensive range of equipment and
diving accessories at competitive prices; and the friendly
multi-lingual staff are always on-hand to give advice.
Safety is paramount at Sunrise Diving. All instructors have
many years diving and teaching experience from around the
world and are all First Aid trained. All equipment is regularly
maintained by European technicians.
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
Phuket
DiReCtoRY Phuket
Water World asia
How to get there
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
directory - phuket
Phuket can be reached directly by air, road and sea.
Patong Beach
By air: It’s possible to directly access the island’s international
airport from a number of neighbouring countries, or via
Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Bangkok’s
Don Muang Airport also operates flights to Phuket.
tel. +66 (0)76 342511
Fax. +66 (0)76 342512
e. [email protected]
w. www.waterworldasia.com
Conveniently located in Patong
and with ample parking space
around, Water World welcomes you to one of Thailand’s
largest and complete dive centres.
A few budget airlines serve the Bangkok–Phuket route but
timetables change regularly. There are also direct flights
between Koh Samui and Pattaya. The three main carriers are:
Bangkok Airways: Within Thailand, Tel. 1771; from outside
Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 265 5555. Nok Air: Within Thailand,
Tel. 1318; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 900 9955. Thai
Airways International: Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111.
instruction | Daytrips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Service Centre
They provide diving trips to all of Phuket’s dive sites every
day with a choice of speedboat or full size dive boat. There’s
also a wide selection of boats available to leave the Island
and join a liveaboard trip to the Similan Islands or even
further north to Myanmar. Trips offered run between 4 to 14
days and there’s something for every budget.
By bus: VIP air-conditioned buses depart from Bangkok’s
Southern Bus Terminal daily to Phuket City. Trip time is
around 14 hours. At Phuket City bus terminal visitors continue
their journeys by taxi or local bus, unless 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.
As a PADI 5 Star Center, they offer the full range of diving
courses and have training materials in most languages. Daily
programs are available from Bubble Maker to those who
want to take their diving to a professional level.
Where to eat
At Water World they pride themselves on being well stocked
with the world’s best names in diving equipment and in
the 350 m2 dive store you will find all the most renowned
top quality brand names. Last but not least they also are an
authorized service centre.
There are countless restaurants across the island; for the
best up-to-date information on the island’s eateries, look
for Image Asia’s comprehensive publication Where to Eat in
Phuket. It’s also an online at: www.wheretoeat-phuket.com.
PG
For more information and insight on where and what to eat,
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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111
DiReCtoRY
Phuket
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
and necessary service.
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - khao lak
khao Lak
Page 129
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
beverages or scuba equipment.
Page 128
Hospitals
Bangkok Phuket Hospital, in Phuket City
24 Hr Contacts Centre: Within Thailand, Tel. 1719; from
outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)76 254425
Page 128
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
Hospital Phuket, Phuket City
Diving Medicine Hotlines
Tel. +66 (0)81 989 9482, +66 (0)86 272 4618
[email protected] | www.badalveda.com
Hyperbaric Services of thailand, in Phuket International
Hospital
Hotline Tel. +66 (0)89 871 2335
Dive courses
Local diver training follows BSAC, CMAS, PADI and SSI systems.
The majority of internationally-recognised certifications are
accepted in any of the dive centres; certification cards and log
books will be requested. The course price structures are mostly
the same at different operators. The open water sections of
the courses can be completed locally or amalgamated with a
liveaboard excursion.
Generally prices are inclusive of instruction, study materials,
equipment, dive trips and certification. Introduction courses
include full equipment, whereas other courses are inclusive of
tanks and weight systems only. Additional equipment can be
rented from all centres at a discounted price. You’ll need two
passport sized photographs for certification in all courses.
For more information on Phuket, contact Tourism Authority of
Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)76 212213, (0)76 211036
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Page 122
Khao Lak Marine National Park boasts 12km of casuarinas and
palm fringed coastline. Behind the glorious beaches are palm
and rubber plantations, which continue to meet green foothills
and mountainous terrain divided by cascading waterfalls.
One thing that sets Khao Lak aside from many other seaside
destinations is that you don’t have to cross a road to reach
the beach! Tourism is slowly but surely taking off here,
particularly for divers, which is hardly surprising as some of
the county’s best diving is right on its doorstep.
Diving around Khao Lak
The majority of diving offered visits the sites around the Mu
Koh Similan and Surin Marine National Parks. However there
are a few local sites, including a recently discovered reef that
is still to be properly explored.
There are also a couple of wrecks of tin mining boats; the
‘Boonsong’ lies just off the coast and can be a real treat to
dive. All manner of marine life can be encountered from tiny
and endemic nudibranchs up to, on the odd occasion, whale
sharks. The second wreck, the ‘Premchai’, lies upside down
but remains in one piece allowing penetration.
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Dive SiteS
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - khao lak
Khao Lak
big blue diving
iq
dive
Khao Lak
Khao Lak
tel/fax. +66 (0)76 485544
e. [email protected]
w. www.bigbluedivingkhaolak.com
tel. +66 (0)76 485614
Fax. +66 (0)76 485613
e. [email protected]
w. www.iq-dive.com
Located in the very heart of Khao
Lak, Big Blue Diving offers day trips
by luxury speedboat to explore
both above & below the water the beauty of the world
renowned diving destination of the Similan Islands.
instruction | Day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental
Retail | Snorkelling
The centre runs two speedboats offering daily diving trips to
a number of the best dive sites around, including the sites
around Koh Bon, Koh Tachai & Richelieu Rock. They also run a
comprehensive liveaboard booking service offering a variety
of multi-day excursions.
Big Blue Diving offers the full range of both PADI & SSI diving
courses from beginner to the professional certification of
Dive Master.
They also have their own profile on the social networking
website ‘Facebook’, where they regularly share all the latest
updates.
iQ-DIVE is a PADI 5 Star Dive Center
located in Khao Lak, Thailand,
just some 60 minutes north from
Phuket International Airport. They offer scuba diving and
snorkelling daytrips, overnight and liveaboard cruises to the
famous Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, Richelieu Rock,
Myanmar (Burma) and Indonesia and of course the complete
PADI educational programme from beginner to pro!
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
iQ-DIVE has been successfully operating in Khao Lak, on
Thailand’s West Coast, since 1996. The iQ-DIVE centre is
managed by Swiss scuba diving instructor Ernst Schläpfer
and his Thai wife Meaw.
The iQ-DIVE fleet consists
of two boats: A fast
11m long fibreglass hull
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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Dive CeNtReS
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - khao lak
Khao Lak
scandinavian divers
Khao Lak
tel. +66 (0)76 429800
ext. 1074 and 1075
tel. +66 (0)76 485174
Fax. +66 (0)76 485175
e. [email protected]
w. www.sea-bees.com
e. [email protected]
w. www.scandinavian-divers.com
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Along with the main office on Patong Beach, Phuket,
Scandinavian Divers’ new PADI Dive Center in Khao Lak,
achieves a high standard of Scandinavian-style service and
a high level of safety, not only in diving adventures but as
an enjoyable holiday experience for the whole family. Diving
instruction is also available for the complete beginner to
professional level of Instructor.
The team schedules daily snorkelling excursions to the
Similan and Surin Islands to enjoy encounters with all
manners of marine life and colourful fish along the tropical
island reefs. The trips also present opportunities to try scuba
diving in shallow waters with experienced instructors.
Scandinavian Divers also offer a selection of liveaboard
cruises, which depart from the Khao Lak area, and are an
ideal way to explore a variety of different destinations. Trips
include onboard accommodation and all meals.
116
sea bees diving
Khao Lak
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Sea Bees Khao Lak is a PADI 5 Star Gold Palm IDC Center.
Their all-inclusive service includes a unique way of diving the
Similans, onboard their own spacious catamaran providing
fast and comfortable day trips to the island group. The trips,
and also multi-day liveaboard excursions, onboard M/V
Genesis, conveniently depart from nearby Thap Lamu. The
staff here all have a minimum of 250 dives and are highly
experienced and trained to the uppermost standards so
divers are in safe hands.
The comprehensive dive centre supports its resort in Khao
Lak, the Palm Garden Resort, which has comfortable rooms,
a good restaurant and purpose-built diver training pool,
making it a great base either before or after liveaboard
excursions. It is also an ideal place for the whole family,
particularly if anyone is undertaking training, which is done
on site. Courses from beginner to a variety of instructor
qualifications are all regularly scheduled.
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Dive CeNtReS
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - khao lak
Khao Lak
sea dragon dive center
Khao Lak
tel. +66 (0)76 485420
Fax. +66 (0)76 485418
office. tel/fax.
+66 (0)76 485632
e. [email protected]
w. www.seadragondivecenter.com
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Gear rental
Retail | Snorkelling
Being established in 1993 Sea Dragon were the first dive
centre to be based in Khao Lak. They are located only an hour
north of Phuket International Airport on the picturesque
west coast of Thailand, which is easily accessible from all
major towns. The local harbour, Thap Lamu, is conveniently
the closest departure point to Thailand’s finest dive sites, the
Similan Islands.
Sea Dragon’s three unique boats were specifically designed
to complement their various styles of liveaboard trips to
Richelieu Rock and both the Similan and Surin Islands.
Additionally, they operate three different day dive trips to
the local reefs and the two charming tin mining wrecks. For
those who wish to begin or advance their diving, the friendly
and professional staff at this PADI 5 Star IDC Center conduct
the full range of PADI dive courses in many languages, from
beginner through to Instructor - And they are open all year
round.
118
siam adventure divers
Khao Lak
e. [email protected]
w. www.siamadventuredivers.com
Hotline.
+66 (0)81 874 3262
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling
Siam Adventure Divers is a British owned and operated
company that has been servicing the diving community,
and in fact all water enthusiasts, for over seven years in
and around Thai waters. They have continually changed to
accommodate the styles of all water activities and adopt
flexible schedules in order to fit in with their guests’ budgets
and, just as importantly, their travel plans.
From November through May, Siam Adventures have an
array of vessels to transport divers and holiday-makers
to the tropical paradise of the Similan islands. The range
of packages on offer includes speedboat transfers and
snorkelling trips, day-boat diving, overnight packages and
liveaboard safaris to both the Similan islands & the Mergui
Archipelago in Myanmar.
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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,
many of which have booking offices or their own facilities in
the larger hotels and resorts. Several centres provide their
own, or can arrange, transfers to and from Phuket and Krabi.
Phuket, the main gateway to the area, is a 90-minute drive
away. Phuket’s international airport is directly accessible from
most neighbouring countries, or via Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi
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
the sites around Mu Koh Similan and Surin Marine National
Parks as well as the local wrecks and the Mergui Archipelago.
All trips include transfers to and from resorts, tanks, weight
system and Divemaster services, light refreshments and
beverages. Day trips include lunch.
By air: A few budget airlines serve the Bangkok–Phuket route
but their timetables change regularly. There are also direct
flights between Koh Samui and Pattaya. The three main
carriers are: Bangkok Airways: Within Thailand, Tel. 1771;
from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 265 5678. Nok Air: Within
Thailand, Tel. 1318; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 900
9955. Thai Airways International: Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111.
Hospitals & Recompression Chambers
Bangkok Phuket Hospital has a permanent ambulance
stationed in Khao Lak which serves the area. Tel. 1719
By bus: VIP air-conditioned buses depart from Bangkok’s
Southern Bus Terminal daily to the bus terminal in Phuket
City. Trip time is around 14 hours. At Phuket City bus terminal
visitors may continue their journeys by taxi or local bus, unless
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.
The nearest recompression chambers are those on
Phuket. For details see page 112.
Dive courses
Where to eat
The majority of local hotels and resorts have their own eateries
with international and local menus. However, those wishing
to sample the local fare outside of these will find a range of
worthy bakeries, restaurants, coffee shops and snack bars
along the main highway running parallel to the beach.
For best information and insight on where and what to eat,
see Pocket Guide FooD thailand − launching first quarter of
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com
PG
The full range of PADI and SSI programmes, up to and
including the professional level of Instructor, are available and
in several languages. Prices generally include instruction, study
materials, equipment, dive trips and certification. The in-water
sections of the courses can be completed during day trips or
amalgamated with a liveaboard excursion. The majority of
internationally-recognised certifications are accepted in any
of the dive centres; certification cards and log books will be
requested as proof of certification and experience.
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
4
5
11
6
10
7
8
9
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 southwesterly monsoons and are more commonly characterized
by rugged weather-beaten boulders, a pattern that continues
underwater.
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See listing on Page 102
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Dive SiteS
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - mu koh similan
Mu Koh Similan
Diving around the Similans
The Similans can certainly lay claim to being one of the Asia
Pacific’s top dive destinations. The dramatic underwater
terrain is highlighted by thriving reefs and abundant soft
corals, and the tremendous diversity of marine life includes
many of the more exciting, larger pelagics.
During late March and early April, Thailand’s hottest period,
rising sea temperatures cause plankton blooms, which attracts
a wealth of the larger animals into the area, resulting in
chance encounters with, amongst others, schooling chevron
barracuda, giant trevally, rainbow runners and reef sharks.
There’s also a selection of rays including eagle, marbled and
enormous but graceful manta.
In general, the east-facing dive sites feature gently
sloping reefs and drop-offs with impressive gardens of sea
anemones, flourishing hard and soft corals, and teeming fish
populations. With negligible currents and mostly moderate
depths, these sites are suitable for any level of diver. The
sheltered conditions are also ideal for snorkelling.
1
North Point
Location: The northern apex of island #9.
Depth: Average 20m / Maximum 34m
The walls and sides of large boulders are highlighted by
radiant soft corals. Around these are numerous parrotfish of
all sizes, small dog-faced pufferfish and larger solitary clown
triggerfish. Sharing the area are mixed amounts of leafy, brain,
slipper and lip corals. Further down, giant sea cucumbers and
blue seastars decorate the rocky surfaces. The prolific fishlife includes varieties of butterflyfish, parrotfish, lionfish and
wrasse. To the north, manta rays and barracuda are frequent.
2
Breakfast Bend
Location: South-eastern apex of island #9.
Depth: Average 16m / Maximum 34m
Breakfast Bend is so-called because it is generally the first
dive on a live-aboard excursion – after breakfast! The western
section is relatively shallow, averaging 8m; its sandy bottom
is punctuated with scattered rocks. Southeast of here are
the beginnings of a reef flat, primarily staghorns; these
eventually achieve garden-like proportions. They are bigger
but much less frequent on the steep reef-slope.
The archipelago’s western sites are quite the opposite. Here
giant boulders tumble down to the seabed in depths of 40m
or more. Currents have kept the gaps between the boulders
free from build-ups of sand, leading to the development of
tunnels, archways and caverns that provide exciting swimthroughs. The currents also provide nutrients for masses of
gorgonians, crinoids, sea fans and lush soft corals.
The reef-slope – also formed by small boulders and coral
shelves, with many branches of tree, leafy and brain corals.
Moorish idols, raccoon butterflyfish and Indian lionfish –
paired rather than solitary – are all present en masse. Colonies
of garden eels can be seen on the sandy patches. The seabed
has widespread coral mounds.
The Similans are dived as both multi-day liveaboard
excursions and daily dive trips, scheduled from Phuket and
Khao Lak. For details of dive centres, see pages 98 and 114.
Location: In the small sheltered bay on the northwest coast
of island #8.
Depth: Average 8m / Maximum 14m
A popular night diving site. Scattered coral mounds and
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.
Fire goby
3
Donald Duck Bay
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.
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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
and carnation, with many colourful reef-fish: bird and lunar
wrasse, powder-blue surgeonfish, squirrelfish, soldierfish
and Indian lionfish are all plentiful. The bottom is punctuated
with large, impressive coral mounds and rocks, which are
covered with soft corals in diverse hues, encrusting sponges
and various tubeworms and featherstars.
5
Beacon Point
Location: The southern extension of Beacon Beach Reef.
Depth: Average 16m / Maximum 55m
The site is very like Beacon Beach Reef but with more fish
and larger corals, especially in the deeper waters. Also, you
have a good chance of seeing manta and eagle rays, plus
large pelagics, in the deeper southern waters, away from
the headland. The reef-flat features many small boulders of
lesser star and brain corals, interspersed with familiar clusters
of staghorn corals, all rich in colourful reef-fish like chromis,
wrasse, parrotfish and surgeonfish. The coral cover remains
constant around the apex, with individuals increasing in size
with depth – especially gorgonian sea fans at about 30m.
6
elephant Head
Location: The giant rocky outcrop off island #8’s southern tip.
As you approach the site from the west the outcrop resembles
a partially submerged elephant – hence the name.
Depth: Average 24m / Maximum 70m
Huge boulders, some with frames measuring over 30m, sit
individually or are stacked to form daring swim-throughs
comprising arches, caverns, gullies and tunnels at all depths.
There’s plenty of marine life residing in the site’s shallower
sections. Around the boulders are angelfish, triggerfish and
schools of fusiliers and juvenile snappers. This is an ideal
place for spotting small reef sharks.
7
east of eden
Location: South-eastern fringing reef of island #7.
Depth: Average 22m / Maximum 34m
This is a steep sloping hard coral reef consisting of mostly hardcoral laminates. Unusually for an east-facing reef, there are
soft corals in the shallower waters at about 12m. Also on view
are schools of snappers and fusiliers, and occasionally turtles
and leopard sharks. There’s a stunning bommie (coral head)
in the middle of the reef, starting in around 9m and going
down to 30m; it features one of the finest concentrations of
corals in the Similans and should not be missed.
8
Shark Fin Reef
9
Boulder City
Location: Around the rocks that break the water at low tide;
3km southeast of island #3.
Depth: Average 16m / Maximum 40m
The north-eastern side features a sloping reef, whereas the
south-western side is a more dramatic sheer drop-off: rocks
resembling fallen hexagonal pillars, are the highlight of this
side of the site. At the south-eastern end of these formations
is a large swim-through; this provides an almost purposebuilt opening to the site’s opposite side. Large Napoleon
wrasse have also been seen around this section as have
passing sharks and rays.
Location: Immediately south of Shark Fin Reef.
Depth: Average 19m / Maximum 32m
The site consists of a collection of enormous submerged
granite boulders running southeast-northwest, which are
more typical of a west-facing coastal rock formation. They
fancifully resemble rocky mountains separated by wide
valleys, their sheer sides punctuated occasionally by clusters
of soft coral and radiant crinoids; with small crevices housing
a diversity of marine life.
East of Eden - Mu Koh Similan
126
127
Dive SiteS
Mu Koh Similan
10
Koh Bon
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - surin
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
marine life. This is also a great location for regular encounters
with manta rays and leopard sharks.
11
Koh tachai
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.
Off the island’s southern point, two submerged pinnacles
stand proud of many large boulders and smaller rocks,
providing great swim-throughs. This, the southernmost area
of the site, is part of the deepest of the three reefs, ranging
from 25m to 30m. This section is a fairly reliable spot for
catching glimpses of manta rays and whale sharks which
both frequent the area.
The second, or central, section of the reef is slightly shallower
and is constructed mainly of hard corals and large rocks,
around which schools of spadefish – such as pinnate batfish
– are tended to by common cleanerfish. Clinging to the rocks
are gorgonian sea fans, featherstars, colourful crinoids and
areas of carpet sea anemones. Large bullethead parrotfish
and even larger Napoleon wrasse share these waters with
moorish idols, schooling bannerfish, juvenile snappers and a
variety of triggerfish, including titan and orange-striped.
The third and shallowest section of the site sits in 12m. Here
you will encounter many Indian lionfish amongst backdrops
of gorgonian sea fans and giant clams. Other schooling fish
life includes batfish, sweetlips and juvenile yellowtail and
chevron barracuda.
128
1
2
3
Mu Koh Surin Marine National Park is located 80km due west
of Ranong Province along Thailand’s west coast.
The largest island is Koh Surin Nua which has an area of
19 sq. km and a highest point 240m above sea level. To its
immediate southwest lies the slightly smaller Koh Surin Tai;
between the two is a strait only 200m wide, which can be
crossed on foot during low waters.
The only residents on Koh Surin Nua are the park officials,
although Koh Surin Tai has small communities of Chao Ley
sea gypsies on some of its eastern beaches.
Diving around Surin
Sites follow along fringing reefs that slope gently to the seabed and in contrast along the walls of sheer pinnacles. The
reefs and their inhabitants are thankfully now protected,
but this hasn’t always been the case. Sadly there are isolated
areas of damage which have restricted the selection of listed
sites. However, the jurisdiction extends to include the whale
shark magnet of Richelieu Rock.
The sites are dived as both multi-day liveaboard excursions
from Phuket and Khao Lak, as well as daily dive trips from
Khao Lak. For details of dive centres, see pages 98 and 114.
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Dive SiteS
Mu Koh Surin
1
turtle Ledge
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - mergui archipelago
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
of bullethead parrotfish. Green turtles are frequently
encountered here.
2
Koh torinla
Location: Off the southwest tip of Koh Surin Tai.
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
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
rocks.
The rocks in the shallows host hermit crabs, urchins and
cleaner shrimps, and are rich with colourful featherstars.
This is one of the few locations in Thai waters where large
numbers of bumphead parrotfish are still frequently seen.
3
Richelieu Rock
Location: 14km east of Koh Surin Nua and Tai.
Depth: Average 19m / Maximum 45m
As this is the only food source in the immediate area, it is
excellent for encountering large pelagics. Rainbow runners,
great and chevron barracuda, trevallies and tuna are all
frequently seen. The rock is also among the world’s top listed
locations for sighting whale sharks.
Predominantly, this is a wall-dive which follows around a
main outcrop surrounded by smaller submerged pinnacles
whose peaks range from 3m to 10m below the surface. In the
deeper waters around the three southernmost pinnacles is a
collection of large gorgonian sea fans, immediately beneath
radiant hermetypic corals.
Around the corals is a wide diversity of marine life: residents
include schooling bannerfish, a variety of snappers and
lionfish, moorish idols, titan triggerfish, and even shovelnose
rays. Also present are bearded scorpionfish, stonefish, moray
eels, seahorses, shrimps, crabs and nudibranchs.
130
1
2
3
4
In 1997 the Mergui Archipelago in the south of Myanmar
(Burma) was opened up to foreigners for the first time in over
fifty years. Back in the 17th Century the port of Mergui used
to be the main gateway to the Gulf of Siam and beyond – all
passing boats came to the port to offload cargo or replenish
supplies.
Since then the Mergui Archipelago has been left largely alone
and today it is an area of some mystery. Numerous islands
remain unexplored, and the region presents the possibility
of hundreds of exciting new dive sites. Even now, trips here
maintain an exploratory feel, with visitors being amongst the
first foreign faces ever seen by local nomadic Moken people
(Burmese sea gypsies).
Diving the Mergui Archipelago
Coral representation is sporadic, and the underwater terrain
is quite rugged and not as colourful as that around Mu Koh
Similan Marine National Park. However, the area’s waters are
certainly not without their own special attractions. Sites such
as Black Rock attract a variety of sharks as well as manta, eagle
and marbled rays, whilst The Three Islets has a healthy array of
smaller reef life which is second to none. Virtually all the diving
around the Archipelago is done from liveaboard excursions
operating out of Phuket and Khao Lak. For details of dive
centres, see pages 98 and 114.
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
Mergui Archipelago
The waters away from the island appear to be part of one
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
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - krabi
krabi
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
and marbled rays as they pass through. The whole site is
literally teeming with shrimps, eels, seahorses, anglerfish
and basketstars. Macro photographers could spend days
here and still not photograph everything.
4
2
3
4
Western Rocky
Location: A collection of small rocky outcrops 82km
southwest of the departure point of Kaw Thaung.
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
low exit; the tunnel itself is filled with painted lobsters, crabs
and small invertebrates. The smaller exit of the tunnel is best
avoided since its exit is occasionally blocked by a couple
of large though harmless resident tawny nurse sharks. The
presence of tiny invertebrates continues around the other
pinnacles in the form of porcelain crabs, harlequin shrimps
and squat lobsters. There’s also a variety of other smaller
attractions around this site, including cowrie shells, seahorses
and ribbon eels. A variety of small reef sharks can be seen in
the deeper waters.
Black Rock
1
5
6
9
7
8
10
Had Nopparat Marine National Park
Krabi Province is 940km south of Bangkok and has long been
a popular destination for budget travellers. The addition of
an international airport and high end resorts now attract a
much broader spectrum of visitors to the area, particularly
families.
The area features some of Thailand’s most stunning landscape.
Sheer limestone cliffs are crowned with elevated jungles and
coconut palms clad the hillsides above glorious beaches.
The rugged cliff-faces are scarred with numerous caves and
crevices, many of which are climbed by adventurous sports
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 swimthroughs.
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.
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Dive SiteS
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - krabi
Krabi
1
Koh Ma tang Ming
4
Koh Mae urai
5
Hin Bia Rhlua
Location: Immediately north of Koh Podah Nai.
Depth: Average 6m / Maximum 14m
Although this is not one of the area’s better sites, it merits a
mention as it has reasonable diversities of both marine life and
hard corals making it a rewarding introduction dive to the area.
Close inspection of the submerged rocks is recommended,
as numerous members of the scorpaenidae family – such as
bearded scorpionfish and stonefish – are concealed on the
rocky ledges. Small yellow boxfish, rock basslets, moorish idols
and bannerfish add colour, as do trees of soft corals.
Location: 1km southwest of Koh Podah Nai.
Depth: Average 9m / Maximum16m
This rocky outcrop features two underwater tunnels. As you
pass through the easternmost tunnel its exit acts as a natural
frame for glorious soft corals in whites, pinks, blues, oranges
and yellows. Beyond this coral garden, the sea-bed tapers
gradually down past shelves of rocks crowned with colourful
featherstars and orange encrusting sponges. Magnificent
sea anemones host a variety of anemonefish.
Hard corals are represented by staghorn, brain and some small
boulders of coral porites. The best area for snorkellers is around
the eastern side where, close to the rock, there are many sea
whips, large plate corals and associated reef inhabitants.
Location: 500m southeast of Koh Mae Urai.
Depth: Average 9m / Maximum 16m
One of the local favourites. The southern side of the main
outcrop is the deepest section of the dive, which gradually
gets shallower as it heads north and is mainly dominated
by terraces of foliaceous corals. Below these are many small
boulders of lesser and greater star corals with the familiar
punctuation of plume worms and sea whips. There’s a
narrow gorge in the northern apex of this site. Along its floor
parrotfish peck away at hard corals and black-banded sea
kraits weave in and out of the nooks and crannies along its
walls. Some sections of this site are relatively shallow, and
are suitable for snorkellers to enjoy.
2
Koh Podah Nai
Location: The largest of the offshore islands and islets, just
over 6Km south of Ao Nang Beach.
Warning: Due to high volume of boat traffic, extreme care must
be taken when snorkelling at this site.
Depth: Average 5m / Maximum 12m
The northern beach of Koh Podah Nai slopes gently down to
an extensive reef-flat, which continues outwards for a further
50m before it reaches an almost sheer slope which drops to
12m. At high tide the corals are covered with only 2m of water
or less; at lower tides many coral heads actually break the
surface. These conditions render the particular area suitable
only for snorkelling.
Better corals and marine life are found a little way out. The
reef consists mainly of small clusters of staghorn, cauliflower
and a number of leaf and plate corals. There are many narrow
crevices and ledges that cut into the rocky walls of the island
itself, these are well worth investigating as tigertail seahorses
often conceal themselves within.
3
6
Koh Ya Wa Sam
Location: About 2km west of Podah Nok.
Depth: Average 9m / Maximum 17m
The reef-slope off the southern outcrop climbs over many
rocks which provide the main structure of the site. Juvenile
black-tip reef and grey nurse sharks often rest among the
rocks, with leopard sharks out on the sand.
Anemone crab
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 reeffish, 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
Location: Outcrop to the southeast of Podah Nok.
Depth: Average 12m / Maximum 20m
The seascape around the western side of the outcrop features
numerous terraced shelves which drop down to an area of
large rocks. The gaps between the rocks act as shelters for a
selection of medium-sized vertebrates including large dogfaced pufferfish and groupers. Moorish idols and schooling
bannerfish patrol among many sea whips and bushy black
corals.
There’s also a small cave, the shallower exit of which leads
to an elevated rocky plateau dense with magnificent sea
anemones, themselves occupied by groups of saddleback
and tomato anemonefish.
8
Koh Ya Wa Bon
Location: To the west of Koh Podah Nok.
Depth: Average 12m / Maximum 20m
In the north of this site an impressive archway cuts through
the face of the rock for about 10m; there are two entrances at
6m and 12m. This is a good swim through, although it is only
wide enough for a single diver at a time. The site’s northern
area gradually slopes down over coral laminates interspersed
with sea anemones (with a variety of tenants) and rocks.
Away from the reef are three large submerged boulders, whose
southern faces are carpeted in anemones; their many crevices
act as homes and lairs to a variety of invertebrates, including
banded, boxing and hinge shrimps. This is also a good location
for spotting juvenile snowflake morays and black-banded sea
kraits as they meander in and out of the rocks.
9
Koh See
Location: Three outcrops south of Koh Ya Wa Sam.
Depth: Average 6m / Maximum 16m
There’s a tremendous diversity of corals and marine life here.
Off the eastern face you find a wall. To the west this gradually
declines into close formations of large rocks. Back along the
reef-slope itself, at a steady depth of 11m, a ribbon like effect
is created by a series of brain corals which have anchored
themselves into the limestone.
The coral assortment changes towards the site’s western
section where the familiar hard species are replaced by
bubble corals and zoanthids. These continue back to the
western apex, which is highlighted by a spectacular shelved
slope of leaf corals. There’s a fair representation of reef
fish around Koh See, including titan and yellow-margined
triggerfish, moorish idols, dog faced pufferfish, lunar wrasse
and harlequin sweetlips.
10
Koh Haa
Location: Outcrop to the southeast of Koh See.
Depth: Average 12m / Maximum 20m
Two large rocks in a depth of 9m are covered in soft corals,
with oysters clinging to the rocky surface and also to sea
whip corals. The craggy surfaces of these small pinnacles host
various moray eels. There are many sea anemones, mainly
magnificent and gigantic; there’s an equally impressive
number of tenant anemonefish. If you look closely at the
anemones you usually find other, smaller hosts such as
anemone crabs and translucent shrimps. This is also a good
site for spotting colourful mantis shrimps in their burrows in
the coral substrate.
Koh Poda Nok with mainland Krabi in the background
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Dive CeNtReS
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - krabi
Krabi
ao nang divers
aqua vision dive center
Ao Nang
Ao Nang
tel. +66 (0)75 637245
Fax. +66 (0)75 637246
tel/fax.
+66 (0)75 637415
e. [email protected]
w. www.aonang-divers.com
On a total shop area of about 150sqm, Swiss managed Ao
Nang Divers now offers a full range of all diving and snorkelling
equipment. Whatever you need diving equipment-wise, Ao
Nang Divers will be able to help.
instruction | Daytrips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear Rental
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
If you are thinking of taking a diving course, or are already
a qualified diver, the professional and friendly staff will
be pleased to look after you. 12 years of experience and
professionalism were endorsed when Ao Nang Divers were
announced as the winner of the 2006 PADI Tourism Award
for the Asia Pacific Region, which recognises excellence in
the planning of tourism infrastructure and services.
As a certified diver or a snorkeller, enjoy daytrips onboard Ao
Nang Divers, purpose built, comfortable and spacious 25m
diving vessel the Petchmanee 10.
e. [email protected], w. www.aqua-vision.net
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Established in 1997, Aqua Vision is one of the biggest and
best-established dive centres on Ao Nang beach, offering
daily dive trips to all the world class dive sites in the Andaman
Sea on its own boats. The dive centre exclusively offers whale
shark and manta ray trips to the southern sites of Hin Daeng
and Hin Mouang on a luxury diving speedboat.
Aqua Vision is a PADI 5 Star Dive Center offering a wide range
of PADI scuba diving courses from beginner up to professional
levels. It has experienced and multi-lingual staff who are
passionate about diving and teaching. Spoken languages
are English, German, Russian, Swedish and French.
You can rely on Aqua Vision in and out of the water to make
your Scuba Diving experience a memorable one for all the
right reasons!
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
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - krabi
Krabi
kon-tiki krabi
manta point dive center
Ao Nang
Ao Nang
Dive Centre.
+66 (0)75 637675
Booking. +66 (0)75 637826
Fax. +66 (0)75 637676
e. [email protected]
w. www.kontiki-krabi.com
Dive Centre tel/fax.
+66 (0)75 638441
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
Kon-Tiki Krabi in Ao Nang is a fully equipped 5-Star IDC and
National Geographic Dive Center. With more than 30 years of
experience providing top-quality diving and snorkelling trips
throughout Thailand, Kon-Tiki have become one of the most
respected dive centres in the country. They promise you will
learn something new on every trip with them and for your
comfort and safety, they offer Nitrox for Free.
Kon-Tiki has won several awards for its commitment
and work towards a better understanding of the marine
environment, with the latest being the ‘Project AWARE
Marine Environmental Award 2008’.
Kon-Tiki offers the full range of PADI Dive education from
entry-level to Instructor courses with highly trained, multilingual staff, who will make sure you have good fun and the
experience of a lifetime. You’ll find Kon-Tiki in all major dive
destinations in Southern Thailand from Khao Lak and Phuket
to Krabi and Koh Lanta.
Hotline (english)
+66 (0)87 629 8586
Hotline (French, Russian)
+66 (0)87 468 6940
e. [email protected]
w. www.mantapoint-aonang.com
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
Retail | Snorkelling | Accommodation
A professional dive centre under British management. The
team has an international outlook focusing on individual and
friendly service. They cater primarily for small groups and limit
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.
Their daytrip boat, Enterprise 1, visits the major destinations
available from Ao Nang including the local islands with blacktip reef sharks and seahorses, the splendour of Phi Phi and the
outstanding sites in the Shark Point Marine Sanctuary.
This is the only centre in Ao
Nang that offers night diving
from their own boat. There are
also competitive private charter
rates. With associates in Khao
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
Krabi
DiReCtoRY Krabi
phra nang divers
How to get there
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
directory - krabi
Krabi can be reached directly by air, road and sea.
Ao Nang
By air: Krabi International Airport can be accessed from
a number of neighbouring countries, or via Bangkok’s
Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Domestic flights are
also scheduled between Krabi and Bangkok’s Don Muang
Airport. Domestic flight times average 80 minutes. There are
also flights between Krabi and Koh Samui.
tel/fax. +66 (0)75 637064
e. [email protected]
w. www.phranangdivers.com
Established in 1992, Phra Nang
Divers are the most experienced
PADI dive centre in Ao Nang.
Their experience lends itself to
maintaining a high level of quality through all dive courses
and dive excursions. From half day beginner courses,
daytrips to the sites of Koh Phi Phi, King Cruiser Wreck/Shark
Point and Koh Ha Yai to liveabords in the Similans, Phra Nang
Divers will take care good of you.
The three main carriers are: Bangkok Airways: Within
Thailand, Tel. 1771; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2
265 5555. Nok Air: Within Thailand, Tel. 1318; from outside
Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 900 9955. Thai Airways International:
Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111.
By boat: Longtail boats from Krabi Town to Ao Nang and
Railae take 40 minutes to reach Railae and another 5 minutes
to Ao Nang. Longtail boats also provide a regular service
between the two beaches.
instruction | Day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Retail | Snorkelling
Their beachside centre offers a superb selection of diving
and snorkelling equipment in Ao Nang, including Mares,
Ocean Dynamics, Ripcurl and Quiksilver.
Large passenger boats depart daily from Ao Nang, Railae
and Krabi Town to Koh Phi Phi, and to Koh Lanta from Krabi
Town.
Phra Nang Divers looks forward to diving with you!
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.
PG
144
For best information and insight on where and what to eat,
see Pocket Guide FooD thailand − launching first quarter of
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com
145
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
The nearest recompression chambers are those on
Phuket. For details see page 112
Dive Courses
Courses for the complete beginner are very popular here,
as there’s a good selection of shallow sites. Local instruction
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.
PADI & SSI Instruction
Day trips
Live-aboards
Tel: +66 (0)75 612665
www.ppscuba.com
For more information on the Krabi area contact Tourism
Authority of Thailand, Tel. 076 212213, 076 211036.
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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
2
In contrast, the western section comprises a wall that descends
to 20m to meet a jumble of rocks. The wall features a wealth of
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,
between which the more experienced divers can explore a
number of relatively tight swim-throughs.
3
4
5
6
7
8
Mu Koh Phi Phi Marine National Park
50 km to the south west of Krabi, the Phi Phi island group
has been drawing visitors from all four corners of the globe
for over a decade. It is an extremely popular international
destination, and one that is well and truly established on
Thailand’s diving and snorkelling map.
The islands’ raw natural beauty, fabulous beaches and ease of
access all together add to the lure of this family destination,
which continues to flourish without the eyesore of high-rise
development.
The topography of the larger and only inhabited island of
Koh Phi Phi Don comprises two dramatic limestone outcrops
divided by a narrow flat isthmus. This stretch of land is where
the vast majority of the island’s amenities and services are
found, of which there are plenty to choose from.
148
Ao Nui
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
interspersed with a multitude of plume worms.
1
2
Hin dot
3
table Coral City
Location: Submerged pinnacle off Koh Phi Phi Don’s
southwestern headlands.
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
hard corals are represented by tubes and laminates. The
deeper sections have numerous oysters and clams. Many
reef-fish are in evidence, including lunar wrasse, parrotfish,
honeycomb groupers and spotfin and Indian lionfish. There
are also bearded scorpionfish lurking among the rocks as
they await their prey of tiny fish.
Location: Off the eastern side of Phi Phi Ley next to the
Viking Cave.
depth: Average 9m / Maximum 28m
This is an interesting place to dive, and there is much to see.
The topography of the site is a sloping reef with sand and
coral patches interspersed with a range of pinnacles. In the
shallower reefs, there are some excellent examples of sea
fans, whips and table corals, under the larger of which a
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
blocks stacked from 18m to around 6m covered with algae
and an increasing amount of sea anemones. Regular marine
life encounters include leopard sharks, scorpionfish, ghost
pipefish, peacock flounders, tiger tail seahorses and a variety
of nudibranchs.
4
Ao Maya
Location: West coast of Koh Phi Phi Ley.
depth: Average 16m / Maximum 24m
The dive follows the coast along a steep shelved reef, with
occasional sections of wall; hard corals, sea whips and various
species of sea anemones cover the elevated shelves. There are
also small offshore pinnacles and submerged rocks to explore.
Wrasse, moorish idols and bannerfish constantly pass by.
5
Ao Losamah
Location: The southern bay of Koh Ph Phi Ley.
depth: Average 14m / Maximum 20m
The sandy bottom is punctuated by rocky ledges among
which are numerous bearded scorpionfish. Fringing the
rocks are sea whips, some bent over by the aggregations of
wing oysters clinging to them. The southern section of the
site is deeper, at 20m, and follows a wall where many bivalves
and clusters of soft corals are in evidence. Pairs of large blueringed angelfish explore the nooks and crannies.
6
Koh Bida Nai
Location: The nearer of the two outcrops directly south of
Phi Phi Ley.
depth: Average 16m / Maximum 35m
A hugely diverse range of hard and soft corals. One area, known
as Fantasy Reef, comprises mostly branching and hard coral
laminates, punctuated with soft corals. The reef attracts a high
variety of marine life, including small reef sharks, schooling
pelagics (barracudas, trevally, kingfish and tuna) and, for sharkspotters, bamboo, black-tip reef and leopard sharks. Reef
inhabitants include angel and butterflyfish, morays, octopus,
seahorses and the occasional turtle!
7
Koh Bida Nok
Location: Outer outcrop directly south of Phi Phi Ley.
depth: Average 19m / Maximum 30m
Gorgonian sea fans, sea whips and colourful soft corals
abound. Small scorpionfish disguise themselves amid the
rocks; lionfish hover between. Varying sizes and species of
colourful parrotfish and wrasse, along with large schools of
moorish idols and hunting trumpetfish, are at all depths. On
the higher ledges are numerous sea anemones populated by
clownfish. Expect encounters with leopard sharks and, on a
grander scale, manta rays and whale sharks.
8
Hin Bida
Location: Outcrop 8km southeast of Koh Phi Phi Ley.
depth: Average 12m / Maximum 18m
Relatively shallow at around 5m, the area due north of the
outcrop is covered with scattered rocks; in calm conditions
snorkellers and divers can enjoy schools of colourful reeffish, including blue-lined snappers and harlequin sweetlips,
and more static attractions like multi-coloured plume worms,
featherstars and crinoids.
This location’s secondary name (Phi Phi’s Shark Point) refers
to the overwhelming presence of leopard sharks. There
are also lots of cuttlefish, squid and titan triggerfish. Large
undulated and golden morays, spiny lobsters and octopi
attempt to obscure themselves within the many craggy
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
Ton Sai Bay
tel. +66 (0)75 612665
e. [email protected]
w. www.ppscuba.com
Just a minute and a half’s
stroll from the pier, the bright yellow 2-storey dive centre
covers all aspects of diving service whilst maintaining a
sociable relaxed atmosphere.
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Gear rental
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
Established in 1989 Phi Phi Scuba has plenty of experience
and with six dive boats and a power boat chartering
service they offer a choice of diving destinations every day,
separating boats for qualified and student divers. Trips visit
all the local dive sites, including the King Cruiser Wreck and
the manta ray and whale shark magnets of Hin Daeng and Hin
Mouang. These sites are perfect for advanced and speciality
dives, such as underwater photography and videography,
two services offered by centre.
PADI and SSI dive courses up to and including the professional
certification of instructor start daily in a variety of languages
with classes being kept to small groups, providing students
with a comforting introduction to the Andaman Sea. Dive
professional internship packages are also available.
Above the dive centre, the ‘Deco Bar’ is a great place for
logging dives and relaxing whilst wrapping up a great day
of diving.
152
princess divers
Loh Dalum Bay
tel . +66 (0)75 601168
e. [email protected]
w. www.princessdivers.com
Princess Divers offers a choice of two
superb diving locations, on Koh Phi
Phi & Koh Mook (Muk), which allow
you to dive all southern Thailand’s best
dive sites, including Hin Daeng & Hin
Mouang, Shark Point, the King Cruiser
Wreck, Phi Phi Islands, Koh Kradan & Koh Rok. Experienced
multilingual dive staff offer courses for complete beginner to
professional from PADI or SSI starting daily.
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | retail | snorkelling | Accomodation
Princess Divers is Phi Phi’s premier resort-based dive centre,
located within PP Princess and PP Charlie Resorts, only a
one-minute walk from the main pier. Established in 2001
they offer a relaxed friendly atmosphere with the emphasis
on small groups for maximum attention and safety. The
facilities include air-con classrooms and the largest range of
retail equipment on the island.
If it’s peace and quiet you want, look no further than the
newly-opened island of Koh Mook in Trang Province. Located
within Charlie Beach Resort, on Haad Farrang beach, Princess
Divers are the island’s only dive centre, with daily dive trips
and dive courses for beginners. Koh Mook and its surrounding
islands offer stunning unspoilt diving opportunities where
the only crowds are the marine life! New dive sites are being
discovered regularly.
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Koh Phi Phi
direCtOry Koh Phi Phi
viking divers
How to get there
Ton Sai Bay
There are daily boat transfers to and from Krabi, Koh Lanta
and Phuket. These are the main options.
dive Centre. +66 (0)75 601110
Hotline. +66 (0)81 719 3375
e. [email protected]
w. www.vikingdiversthailand.com
Other options include private boat charter or the Phuket
Seaplane Service operated by Destination Air:
Tel. +66 (0)76 328637-39, +66 (0)85 785 1889.
Viking Divers believe you will not
find a better partner for your diving
needs and over the years they have
gained a good reputation as a
friendly professional dive centre.
For information on how to get to: Krabi see p145, Koh Lanta
p167 and Phuket p111.
Where to eat
Narrow streets and walkways on Koh Phi Phi Don traverse
both the isthmus and follow along the two coastlines and
are substantially punctuated by a range of restaurants, cafes
and bakeries purveying a broad selection of European and
Thai menus. Pizzerias, hamburger and steak joints, ice cream
parlours and, as you would expect, seafood restaurants are
all but a short stroll away from each other.
instruction | day trips | Gear rental | retail | snorkelling
Accomodation
They are mentioned in the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet
as well as several other well known guide books, their aim is
to give customers the best possible service and experience
underwater that they can. To ensure that they meet this,
group sizes are kept to no more than four people on any
diving course or guided dive trip.
PADI and SSI dive courses commence on a daily basis along
with three different scheduled dive trips to the local sites, the
wreck of the King Cruiser or Hin Daeng and Hin Mouang, all
of which are visited onboard the centre’s two custom built
dive boats.
PG
For best information and insight on where and what to eat,
see Pocket Guide FOOd thailand − launching first quarter of
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com
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.
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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.
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh lanta
Koh Lanta
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
Hospitals
The nearest hospitals are those in Krabi Town and on
Phuket. It’s advisable, if possible, to get to one of the
hospitals on Phuket.
4
6
Krabi Provincial Hospital: Tel. +66 (0)75 611227-8
recompression chambers
The nearest recompression chambers are on Phuket.
For details see page 112.
For more information on Koh Phi Phi contact Tourism
Authority of Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)76 212213, (0)76 211036.
Coral trout
3
2
5
7
8
Mu Koh Lanta Marine National Park
There are dozens of islands off the Krabi coast. Of these,
15 make up the Mu Koh Lanta Marine National Park, which
covers about 135 sq km across four main island groups – Koh
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.
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157
dive sites
Koh Lanta
1
Koh Ha Nua
2
Koh Ha yai
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.
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
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dive sites
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh lanta
Koh Lanta
overhangs, but the latter is the most interesting. More
significant than the diving on offer, there’s an interesting
adventure for snorkellers – assuming they feel brave
enough to navigate the winding cave/tunnel, 60m long,
which has been cut through the western rocky cliff.
Known as Morukut (Emerald Cave), this penetrates the
mountain and eventually emerges into a beautiful lagoon,
about 60m across, fringed by tropical forest, and with a
superb beach. The tunnel affords the only access by water
to this lagoon; the water at its entrance is only about 4m
deep and becomes shallower as the tunnel goes deeper into
the mountain, while there is always at least 1m airspace and
sometimes as much as 15m.
4
Koh Kraden wreck
Location: Off the southwest coast of Koh Kraden.
depth: Average 24m / Maximum 28m
The wreck is believed to be of a 60-70m Japanese destroyer
sunk by air attack in 1944. It sits in 28m of water. As the
visibility here generally worsens below 20m, the way to find
the wreck is to follow the many fish that frequent what has
become an artificial reef. Those experienced in wreck-diving
can penetrate the bow sections, but it is not advisable to
attempt entry to the stern section, which is draped with
fishing nets and subject to much silting.
5
Koh rok Nai
Location: The northern of the two Koh Rok islands.
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 reeffish 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
7
Hin daeng
Location: 500m from Hin Mouang.
depth: Average 25m / Maximum 35m
A series of wall dives with intermittent shelves at varying
depths. There are more soft corals than hard, but the main
attraction is the seemingly endless diversity of marine
inhabitants, including leopard sharks, turtles, moray eels,
lionfish, bannerfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, pipefish, sea kraits,
crabs, shrimps and lobsters. This is due to the fact that this, and
neighbouring Hin Mouang, are the only reef-type communities
or feeding grounds within the area. Individually, though, they
have different attractions. For instance, the deeper waters
around this site are one of the few remaining places in the
country where grey reef sharks can be encountered. Manta
rays and whale sharks are also regular visitors.
8
Hin Mouang
Location: 27km west of Koh Rok.
depth: Average 23m / Maximum 70m+
This is one of the best dive sites in Thai waters. A series of six or
more submerged pinnacles heads southwest, the shallowest
being about 8m beneath the surface. The site gets its name
courtesy of the carpet of purple sea anemones which cloak
its upper surfaces. This is a very colourful and exciting site.
Large pelagics often visit, including enormous barracuda
and very large tuna. Manta rays and whale sharks regularly
frequent the surrounding waters, as do large stingrays.
Harlequin shrimp
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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dive centres - koh lanta
Koh Lanta
blue planet divers
ko lanta diving center
Saladan
Saladan
tel/fax. +66 (0)75 684165
e. [email protected]
w. www.blueplanetdivers.net
dive Centre. +66 (0)75 684065
Hotline. +66 (0)86 983 6118
e. [email protected]
w. www.kolantadivingcenter.com
Blue Planet offers the highest
quality courses, guiding and
customer service by PADI
professionals conducted in small
groups. Their priority is safety and
lots of fun. Beginners, snorkellers
and kids are all welcome onboard
their spacious boat.
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
retail | Freediving | snorkelling | Accommodation
This PADI 5 Star Dive Center teaches all PADI courses from
Open Water Diver to Assistant Instructor, through their multilingual instructors. There are two fully equipped classrooms
in the main centre in Saladan and swimming pool access.
They also have branches in Kaw Kwang (Klong Dao Beach)
and Phrae Ae (Long Beach).
Adventure & Fun
Blue Planet also provides technical, cave & cavern dive
training under, DSAT, TDI and IANTD. For more information
on the programmes, visit Blue Planet’s website.
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | rebreather
Gear rental | retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
Ko Lanta Diving Center was the first dive shop on the island
and was established in 1992 by underwater photographer
and author Christian Mietz. They were the first TDA Diving
Association and CMAS 5 Star Examiner Academy in the
country. They are also a CMAS 5 Star TEC Academy and PADI
Dive Center.
The full range of recreational and TEC diving courses up
to Instructor level are available under each of the training
agencies including Nitrox and rebreather courses.
Daily trips visit all the best spots in the southern Andaman
Sea including Hin Daeng and Mouang and the Koh Ha Yai
group onboard their purpose built 20m diving boat M/V
Choksomboon 1.
Diving is conducted in small led groups, or those experienced
enough can explore the reefs without direct guidance. Nitrox
and rebreathers are available for qualified divers.
Special cave diving tours around the provinces of Phang Nga
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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dive centres - koh lanta
Koh Lanta
kon-tiki lanta
lanta diver
Saladan
Saladan
tel/fax. +66 (0)75 684694
e. [email protected]
w. www.kontiki-lanta.com
dive Centre. +66 (0)75 684208
Hotline. +66 (0)81 272 9050
Fax. +66 (0)75 684057
e. [email protected]
w. www.lantadiver.com
Kon-Tiki Lanta is a fully
equipped 5-Star IDC Center.
With more than 30 years experience providing top-quality
diving and snorkelling trips throughout Thailand, Kon-Tiki has
become one of the most respected dive centres in the country.
They promise you will learn something new on every trip and
for your comfort and safety, they offer Nitrox for Free.
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
Kon-Tiki has won several awards for its commitment
and work towards a better understanding of the marine
environment, with the latest being the ‘Project AWARE
Marine Environmental Award 2008’.
Kon-Tiki offer the full range of PADI Dive education from
entry-level to Instructor courses with highly trained, multilingual staff, which will make sure you have good fun and the
experience of a lifetime. You will find Kon-Tiki on all major
dive destinations in Southern Thailand from Khao Lak and
Phuket to Krabi and Koh Lanta.
Established in 1998, Lanta Diver are
a PADI 5 Star IDC Center, offering a
full range of PADI courses (up to and
including the level of Instructor),
liveaboard excursions and daily diving trips to a number of
the best dive sites and reefs in Thailand. They are also a Reef
Check Centre.
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
Lanta Diver specializes in quality education, small groups and
diver safety. Lanta Diver’s Instructors, Divemasters and staff
are all highly experienced professionals, who aim to ensure
that your diving holiday is as enjoyable and safe as possible.
Lanta Diver has the largest and best stocked equipment retail
store on the island, is an authorized dealer for all major brand
names, and is able to service and repair most equipment in
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
from Krabi Town, Koh Phi Phi Don, Phuket and Ban Baw
Muang pier northwest of Trang Town. To reach the island via
the town, transfer by minibus or taxi to the pier at Ban Baw
Muang, around 40km north of town. The recommended way
to access Koh Lanta Yai is to arrive at Krabi Town and transfer
to the boat service or arrive at the airport and have the dive
operator arrange the connecting road transfer.
Long Beach
tel/fax.
+66 (0)75 684603
Hotline. +66 (0)87 806 4314, e. [email protected]
w. www.palmbeachdivers.com
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
to trang town from Bangkok
By air: Koh Lanta can be reached from the nearby airports
in Krabi and Trang. Whichever airport is used, a transfer will
need to be arranged to the island. This takes around an hour
from either airport and is best arranged in advance through
one of the dive operators.
At Palm Beach Divers the heart and focus is both on fun and
diving. The centre is located in the beautiful resort of Lanta
Palm Beach where they specialize in the personal approach
by offering diving services to fit everybody’s wishes.
As a PADI 5 Star IDC Center dive courses are conducted by a
team of experienced instructors who are all passionate about
diving. All courses are conducted around their students with
particular attention being paid on Divemaster and Instructor
certifications. Allowing students to take their career in diving
to the limit. Packages including accommodation are possible.
Via Trang. Daily flights depart Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi
International and Don Muang airports. Flight time is 90 minutes.
For more information contact Nok Air: Within Thailand,
Tel. 1318; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 900 9955.
Via Krabi. Daily flights depart both Bangkok airports. Flight
times average 80 minutes. There are also flights from Koh
Samui. The three main carriers are: Bangkok Airways: Within
Thailand, Tel. 1771; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2
265 5555. Nok Air: Within Thailand, Tel. 1318; from outside
Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 900 9955. Thai Airways International:
Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111.
Dive trips are limited to small groups and depart on the
centre’s dive or speed boat directly from the beach and are
run by experienced international staff that ensure high service
& safety standards and above all lot’s of fun and adventure!
The centre is an Aqua Master outlet and therefore stocks
high standard diving gear at competitive prices.
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.
PG
166
For best information and insight on where and what to eat,
see Pocket Guide FOOd thailand − launching first quarter of
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com
167
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dive facilities
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh tao
Koh tao
2
There are around a dozen operators on the island. The
majority are located in Saladan. The main operators also
have booking offices at a number of the island’s resorts.
3
1
5
All the operators on the island offer dive education and daily
dive trips. Some of the more established dive centres carry a
retail selection.
dive trips
4
6
9
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.
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
The nearest hospitals are in Trang Town.
racha damnern Hospital, Tel. +66 (0)75 211203
Watana Pat Hospital, Tel. +66 (0)75 218332
trang Chatasongkroh Hospital, Tel. +66 (0)75 218060
Note that, if possible, it is better to head for the amenities
and emergency services on Phuket. The Bangkok Phuket
Hospital has a permanent ambulance based in Krabi
Town which serves Koh Lanta, Tel. 1719
recompression chambers
The nearest recompression chambers are on Phuket.
For details see page 112.
dive courses
Local instruction has a choice of CMAS, PADI and SSI training
programs, the complete range of which is available, including
the professional levels of Divemaster and Instructor. There
are also a number of specialty courses, which run over two
to three days. The courses’ timetables are structured to suit
both students and dive centres.
For more information on Koh Lanta contact Tourism Authority
of Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)76 212213, (0)76 211036.
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8
Koh Tao – or Turtle Island as it’s affectionately referred to
– is the northernmost and smallest in the chain of the three
‘inhabited’ islands in the Samui Archipelago, with an area
of 21 sq km. The south and west coastlines are dotted with
white sandy beaches: the north and east coasts have a couple
of small sandy bays but are predominantly formed by large
granite boulders stacked high above the water and rising to
fringe the island’s forests.
The island’s single town, Mae Haad, is located on the
western coast. There’s a bold selection of restaurants with
international and local menus, and a post office, internet
services, general provisions shops and a handful of diving
centres and credible retail outlets purveying diving
equipment and accessories.
diving around Koh tao
The diving around Koh Tao is amongst the best in the Gulf
of Thailand with enough variety to satisfy all levels of divers.
There are deep shipwrecks, (some only suitable for technical
divers) and towering submerged pinnacles, with their craggy
rock faces seemingly alive with various hard and soft corals.
These sites are constantly visited by large pelagics. In contrast
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
snorkelling sites which can be reached off the beach of Nang
Yuan island.
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dive sites - koh tao
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, bigeyed 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 swimarounds. 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
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dive sites - koh tao
Koh Tao
4
Nang yuan – Japanese Gardens
Location: Nang Yuan’s southeastern bay.
depth: Average 6m / Maximum 12m
Although the general conditions may be the same, this site is
not a replica of the previous site. As you head south towards
the rocks, the sand is slowly replaced by boulder corals rich
in small bivalves and plume worms. Beyond the boulder
corals is a shallow sloping reef formed of table staghorns
and various leaf corals; black-banded sea kraits intertwine
around the branches, while pufferfish and damselfish create
their own blankets of colour.
Following the reef east, you approach a number of small
caves and overhangs; these serve as shelters for many
blue-spotted ribbontail rays. A good selection of Phyllidia
nudibranchs feed on the rock-encrusting sponges. This is a
good site for observing passing turtles.
5
White rock
7
Ao Leuk
Location: Koh Tao’s southeast coast.
depth: Average 6m / Maximum 12m
This is really a diver-training site, and provides an excellent
alternative to the two at Nang Yuan: if weather makes one
inaccessible, the other will not be. The seascape is ideal for
those taking their first breaths beneath the ocean’s surface.
The sand is broken by small mounds of staghorn corals
and numerous patches of long-spined black sea urchins.
Mushroom corals lie individually scattered, as do small
sponge-encrusted rocks.
The dominating species among the many fish around these
undulating rocks are parrotfish, wrasse, juvenile snappers,
squirrelfish and soldierfish. Away from the rocks, numbers of
yellowtail barracuda and schooling bannerfish pass by.
8
red rock (shark island)
Location: About 1km south of Nang Yuan.
depth: Average 9m / Maximum 22m
This is a very enjoyable dive, suitable for both novice
and experienced divers. The site consists mainly of two
submerged pinnacles, the higher of which is covered by only
2m of water.
Location: 1km off the southern tip of Koh Tao.
depth: Average 15m / Maximum 28m
The good thing about this site, provided access is possible,
is that you can virtually always have a pleasant dive; it also
offers very good night-diving. The site consists of a steeply
sloping reef.
The surfaces are broken by a number of elevated shelves
graced with a host of honeycomb groupers, long-spined
black sea urchins, nudibranchs and various sea anemones.
Radiant trees of soft corals mix with knob and pore corals, and
are rich with colourful plume worms. Small moray eels, crabs
and shrimps have taken up residence in the many cracks and
crannies of the rock faces. There are also many titan triggerfish,
some of which occasionally act quite aggressively. White
Rock is the area’s most popular night-diving destination. You
can see a large resident green turtle, hermit crabs and giant
barracuda, attracted to the rock by smaller fish.
The shallower part, around the northeast section, varies
from 4m to 2m and is an excellent place to snorkel. Lavish
sea anemone gardens and table corals are interspersed
with large flat-topped rocks, providing a playground for a
multitude of reef-fish: titan triggerfish, pairs of blue-ringed
angelfish, lunar and bicolour wrasse, large parrotfish and
fusiliers. In the sand, blue-spotted stingrays can be seen.
There have also been reliable sightings of hawksbill and
green turtles, and as the name implies, reef sharks!
6
Hin Wong
Location: About 100m off Hin Wong Bay.
depth: Average 12m / Maximum 26m
The site consists mainly of a large tabletop rock formation
with an array of soft corals scattered over the surrounding
area. The rocky plateau is almost completely obscured by fire
corals. East of it, the sandy bottom slopes steeply down to
the site’s maximum depth past other, slightly smaller granite
structures.
The resident fish are dominated by blue-spotted and red
coral groupers, bannerfish and moorish idols. Fusiliers and
snappers are found in small groups in the deeper waters. This
is a fairly reliable place to see green and hawksbill turtles.
172
9
southwest Pinnacles
Location: About 7km southwest of Koh Tao.
depth: Average 17m / Maximum 28m
These three submerged pinnacles represent a series of short
wall-dives. The more noticeable of the surrounding reef-life
includes groupers, schooling bannerfish, moorish idols and
humpback snappers. In the gulleys between the rocks are
many bushy black corals, sea whips and gorgonian sea fans,
all in relatively good health. Butterflyfish, including raccoon
and threadfin, share these waters. The walls of the pinnacles
have many Neptune barrel sponges, which increase in size the
deeper they are.
Away from the rocks there are many pelagics, including great
barracuda and juvenile yellowtails, mackerel, trevallies, dogfaced tuna, rainbow runners and big-eye jacks.
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dive CeNtres
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - koh tao
Koh Tao
big blue diving resort
Chalok Baan Kao
tel. +66 (0)77 456415
+66 (0)81 920 5698
Fax. +66 (0)77 456772
e. [email protected]
w. www.bigbluediving.com,
www.bigbluelog.blogspot.com
tel. +66 (0)77 456074
Fax. +66 (0)77 456210
e. [email protected]
w. www.buddhaview-diving.com
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental | retail
snorkelling | Accommodation
Big Blue Diving Resort, on Sairee Beach has three dive boats
to cater for all levels of diving experience and offers up to 10
different dive sites each day.
They offer all PADI & SSI dive courses from the beginner
certification course of Open Water up to the professional
level of Instructor training. They also have a lively beach
bar with a great restaurant with free wi-fi, that is offered to
everyone diving or staying in either their beach bungalows
or fan & air-conditioned rooms.
Big Blue Resort also offers a laundry service and free taxi
services to and from the pier twice a day.
Great reputation, great service, great diving. They also have
their own profile on the social networking website ‘Facebook’
where they regularly share all the latest updates.
174
buddha view
Sairee Beach
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
of instructor level programs.
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox | Gear rental
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
Dive professional education at Buddha View is often praised
by PADI representatives. The courses are fun, relaxed and
thorough. An experienced, friendly and multi-lingual team
ensure that everyone’s Koh Tao experience is as memorable
and enjoyable as possible and will bring them back time and
time again. There’s a range of accommodation packages
from beachfront fan-cooled bungalows to luxury rooms
aimed to suit all budgets.
Experienced divers travel on a separate dive boat and
schedule in order to visit the more challenging dive sites.
Special speedboat dive trips are regularly scheduled to Sail
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
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - koh tao
Koh Tao
crystal dive resort
planet scuba
Mae Haad & Sairee Beach
Mae Haad
tel. +66 (0)77 456106-7
Fax. +66 (0)77 456105
e. [email protected]
w. www.crystaldive.com
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
This award winning dive centre is the only PADI Career
Development Center and Go Eco Operator on Koh Tao.
Crystal is also a Reef Check Training Facility, running regular
reef management and ecology programs.
The centre offers the full range of PADI courses, from
Bubblemaker’s through to IDC, including IDC Staff Instructor.
Crystal also offers the largest range of PADI specialty
courses on the island along with the full range of DSAT and
TDI Technical diving courses and on site Nitrox blending
facilities. European managed, resident PADI Course Director
Matt Bolton oversees all aspects of diver training whilst their
Operations Manager is the only fully qualified compressor
technician on Koh Tao.
All courses are run in small personalised groups and
conducted in all European languages plus Japanese, Chinese
and Hebrew.
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.
176
tel/fax. +66 (0)77 456110
e. [email protected]
w. www.planet-scuba.net
Planet Scuba, a PADI 5 Star IDC Center
has over 20 years of experience in
scuba diver education and dive tours
in Thailand and were the first Dive Centre on the island of Koh
Tao to be awarded the prestigious PADI Career Development
Center Rating (CDC).
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
Regular diving courses, from beginner to professional,
conducted with the highest level of instruction are all
available on a daily basis. The ‘Go Pro’ entry level to Instructor
packages can take participants from being a complete
beginner up to diving professional.
Planet Scuba also offers unbeatable diving and
accommodation deals with a choice of fan-cooled rooms
right on the beach, deluxe garden bungalows with cable TV
and hot water or air-conditioned superior sea view studio
suites and up to five boat dives. Whatever your budget, they
are committed in taking good care of you.
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dive CeNtres
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
Koh Tao
direCtOry Koh Tao
scuba Junction
How to get there
Koh Tao can be reached directly by sea and indirectly by air,
rail and road.
Sairee Beach
tel. +66 (0)77 456164
Fax/tel. +66 (0)77 456013
e. [email protected]
w. www.scuba-junction.com
By air and boat: There are no airports on Koh Tao, but
planes fly to neighbouring Koh Samui, providing a relatively
comfortable, though indirect, access to the island. Daily
domestic flights with Bangkok Airways depart from Krabi,
Phuket and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
They also schedule daily flights directly to and from
Singapore. Thai Airways International serves Koh Samui
from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport. For more
information contact Bangkok Airways: Within Thailand, Tel.
1771; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 265 5555. Thai
Airways International: Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111..
ssi Platinum Facility
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
Since opening 16 years ago, Scuba Junction’s emphasis has
been on quality, service and safety. ALL dive groups are
limited to FOUR divers and a complimentary dive computer
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
minibus. Two high speed catamarans depart twice daily
(weather permitting). Both boats stop off at Koh Phangan to
pick up and drop off passengers. The overall trip takes around
two hours and is the preferred way to reach Koh Tao from
Koh Samui. The catamarans also sail between Chumphon
and Koh Tao on a daily basis. For further information contact
Lomprayah High Speed Catamaran: Tel. +66(0)77 247401 or
Seatran Discovery: Tel. +66 (0)77 246086-8.
This extra level of service is well documented on Internet
forums. They’ve been nominated by www.i-escape.com four
straight years as ‘Best Dive Operator on Koh Tao’ and are
highly recommended by www.lonleyplanet.com.
Scuba Junction take marine conservation close to their heart.
As an active member of Green Fins Thailand, they help to
promote sustainable dive tourism, eco friendly dive techniques
and conduct regular beach and underwater clean-ups.
By bus and boat: All-in packages from Bangkok to Koh
Tao are available daily. They generally depart Khao San
Road early evening and travel overnight to arrive on Koh
Tao the following morning. Packages include both bus
and boat. For more information contact Seatran Discovery:
Tel. +66 (0)77 246086-8.
Reef Ecology lectures are organized on a weekly basis,
including Coral Reef Monitoring programs . Data collected is
transmitted in the UN International Reef Data base.
They also offer dives on BIOROCK, the new artificial Coral
Reef installed off Koh Tao.
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.
PG
178
For best information and insight on where and what to eat,
see Pocket Guide FOOd thailand − launching first quarter of
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com
179
direCtOry
Koh Tao
dive facilities
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh phangan
Koh Phangan
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
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.
Internet services are also becoming more commonplace in
the island’s dive centres.
dive trips
Most of the diving facilities have their own dive boats. Some
trips include fruit and soft beverages whereas others provide
only drinking water. Weather permitting, local dive sites are
visited twice daily, once in the morning and again in the
afternoon. Day trips to Sail Rock and the Samran Pinnacles
leave only in the morning and include lunch. All trips offer
two dives and include equipment.
Hospitals & recompression chambers
The nearest hospitals and recompression chambers are
those located on Koh Samui. See page 195 for details.
Although hospitals do not exist on Koh Tao, there is a
physicians clinic on Sairee Beach which is affiliated with
the Bankok samui Hospital on Koh Samui. The clinic’s
resident doctor is proficient in diving medicine and
regularly consults with the Badalveda diving Medicine
Network.
The clinic has a number of beds and there is an evacuation
procedure to the recompression chamber at Bangkok
samui Hospital, which can be contacted via the Diving
Medicine Hotlines.
Tel. +66 (0)86 272 4618, (0)81 989 9482
dive courses
This is a great place to indulge in diver training; the facilities
are good, the accommodation comfortable and the courses
are both enjoyable and economical. Instruction on the island
follows BSAC, CMAS, PADI and SSI training structures. It’s
possible to become certified to all levels of recreational and
technical training, including instructor.
For more information on Koh Tao, contact Tourism Authority
of Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)77 281828.
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1
KOH PHANGAN
2
3
4
As Koh Samui has gradually succumbed to mainstream
tourism, Koh Phangan remains the most popular backpackers’
island in the Gulf of Thailand. Covering around 190 sq km, its
mountainous terrain is covered in dense jungle, with granite
outcrops scattered around the coast. There are plenty of nice
beaches, many in small, picturesque bays. Most of the island’s
amenities are found in around the town of Thong Sala and the
two Haad Rin beaches.
It was not until the inauguration of the island’s infamous
‘Full Moon’ parties in the 1980s that travellers began arriving
in large numbers. Clubbers and ravers stayed on, earning
Koh Phangan its reputation as the ‘Ibiza of the Orient’ but
there is also a well established alternative scene, with Tai Chi,
meditation, open-air yoga and other New Age pursuits. Most
of these activities are centred on the Haad Rin beaches on
the southeast coast.
diving around Koh Phangan
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
from shorter journey times and being first to arrive at the
sites. It also exclusively opens up night diving opportunities
at Sail Rock! Two-day excursions run to the sites around Koh
Tao. It takes about 3hrs to reach Koh Tao’s southern sites.
Visibility around Koh Phangan averages only about four
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
occasional sightings of small juvenile reef sharks, turtles and
stingrays.
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dive sites
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh phangan
Koh Phangan
1
Koh Ma
Location: Off the northwest coast of Koh Phangan.
depth: Average 9m / Maximum 30m
This is considered the most interesting Koh Phangan site.
The marine life is good and the corals reasonably healthy.
Away from the reef are schools of fusiliers, red snappers and
blue-striped grunts; groups of cuttlefish occasionally mingle
with pairs of Imperial and blue-ringed angelfish. Honeycomb
groupers, parrotfish, wrasse and butterflyfish stay closer to
the reefs, and anemones and sponges encrust it. The reef itself
consists mainly of numerous boulders of lesser star, double
star and brain corals of varying sizes; the deeper waters have
black corals dividing up the rocky borderline.
2
Koh tae Nok
Location: Outer of the two islands off the west coast.
depth: Average 16m / Maximum 25m
When the visibility is good this rarely dived site can be very
enjoyable. There is little coral damage around this site, and
the specimens are reasonably healthy. The reef-flat consists
of various table corals and small boulders of star corals pitted
with bivalves. The waters provide interesting snorkelling, a
rainbow of colours being added by wrasse, parrotfish and
various chromis and damselfish. The steep, sometimes
sheer reef here consists mainly of gorgonian sea fans and
encrusting coraline.
On the wall-like reef-slope are many barrel sponges covered
in tubeworms and these continue right down to the sea-bed,
which they share with black sea cucumbers and patches of
sea urchins. Fusiliers, rabbitfish and snappers hang in midwater and black-tip reef sharks occasionally sweep past.
Grouper
184
3
Haad yuan
Location: The headland at the north end of Haad Rin.
depth: Average 6m / Maximum 12m
Primarily used as a diver-training site, this is in fact quite an
acceptable dive around a wide, shallow undulating reef.
It is broken by many large domed rocks that lie in forests
of black sea whips. Many of the rocks are, in addition,
highlighted by small trees of soft coral. This makes a suitable
area for snorkellers, who will also enjoy its array of colourful
reef-fish and diverse invertebrates, including featherstars,
nudibranchs and several species of cowrie shells.
The usual reef-fish, like parrotfish and wrasse, are present but
in small numbers. Nurse sharks and blue-spotted ribbontail
stingrays are sometimes seen away from the reef. For those
trained in cave diving, is a narrow dog-legged cave, 15m
long.
4
Koh Kon rin
Location: South of Koh Phangan’s southeastern cape.
depth: Average 15m / Maximum 27m
The eastern half of this dive circumnavigates a large rocky
outcrop; the rock’s northern side has an average depth
of 12m while the southern face drops off to the site’s
maximum depth. This, the best section of the site, is a
wall with numerous barrel sponges, oysters and clams on
the rock face. Spiny lobsters and moray eels can often be
seen concealing themselves in the nooks and crannies. As
you head east the wall disappears and you find instead,
at about 15m, an area of large rocks intermixed with sea
whips. Black-tip reef sharks have been spotted along the
site’s southern perimeter.
Anemonefish with eggs
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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,
(0)84 841 2102
Fax. +66 (0)77 349119
e. [email protected]
w. www.haadyaodivers.com
dive Centre. +66 (0)77 375117
Hotline. +66 (0)8 892 4835
e. [email protected]
w. www.phangandivers.com
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
Haad Yao Divers is a PADI 5 Star Gold Palm Resort on Koh
Phangan’s northwest coast. As the first dive centre on the
west coast, it was the pioneer. The main office is on Haad Yao
with two more in Mae Haad and Haad Chao Phao.
As a relatively small dive outfit, Haad Yao Divers promises
small groups with a maximum of four divers, who enjoy
high standards of teaching in a relaxed friendly atmosphere.
Courses range from half or full day ‘discover scuba’
experiences, right up to the professional level of Assistant
Instructor qualification. Specialities include Nitrox and
underwater photographer courses, all of which are conducted
in English, Deutsch, Francais or Svenska. Divemasters are also
available in all these languages.
Phangan Divers, an SSI Instructor
Training Facility and PADI Dive Centre,
has been providing a five star service
since the early 1990s. Offering courses
from entry level through to Instructor and, for the more
adventurous divers, Technical Diving, Phangan Divers present
new challenges and plenty of excitement for all ages.
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
Situated in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Phangan sits in a
prime location for diving and snorkelling and unlike the
neighbouring islands, it has a lower volume of tourists. With
un-spoilt beaches, breathtaking local reefs and easy access to
the diving around Ang Thong Marine National Park, Koh Tao
as well as Sail Rock and the Samran Pinnacles. Koh Phangan
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
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
directory - koh phangan
Koh Phangan
How to get there
dive facilities
Koh Phangan can be reached indirectly by air, rail and road
and directly by sea.
Koh Phangan is becoming an increasingly popular diving
destination and there’s a selection of facilities on the island
ranging from small dive centres up to 5-star resort operations
to meet the growing demand. These are backed up by
numerous booking offices, which − although found along the
island’s beaches − mainly concentrate along the west coast.
By air: There are no airports on Koh Phangan, but planes fly to
neighbouring Koh Samui, providing a relatively comfortable,
though indirect, access to the island. Daily domestic flights
with Bangkok Airways depart from Krabi, Phuket and
Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. They also
schedule daily flights directly to and from Singapore. Thai
Airways International serves Koh Samui from Bangkok
Suvarnabhumi International Airport. For more information
contact Bangkok Airways: Within Thailand, Tel. 1771; from
outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 265 5555. Thai Airways
International: Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111.
dive trips
The price per diver for visiting the local sites is inclusive of
all equipment, boat, Divemaster, fruit and soft drinks. Day
trips to the further destinations of Ang Thong Marine Park,
the Samran Pinnacles and Sail Rock are also all-inclusive and
you even get lunch and breakfast! Local dive trips include
a number of sites accessed directly off the beach as well as
some dived from Longtail boats.
By bus: Daily VIP air-conditioned buses from Bangkok’s
Southern Bus Terminal. The journey to Surat Thani takes 12
hours. Buses connect with the Express Boat in Surat Thani,
or continue for an extra hour’s journey to join the ferry boat
in Donsak. For information contact Bangkok Southern Bus
Terminal: Tel. +66 (0)2 435 1199, (0)2 435 1200.
Hospitals & recompression chambers
The nearest hospitals and recompression chambers are
those located on Koh Samui. See page 195 for details.
Phangan Medical Center in Ban Tai, to the south of
Thong Sala, is run by Bangkok Hospital Samui and is open
24 hours. Tel. +66 (0)75 239599
By boat: Express boats depart five times daily from Surat
Thani pier, and there is a passenger ferry (day and night)
from Donsak. The journey to Koh Phangan takes two and a
half hours. All boats arrive at Thong Sala jetty. Express Boats
leave Koh Samui’s Na Thon pier regularly between 07.00hrs
and 17.00hrs and arrive at Thong Sala 45 minutes later.
Diving Medicine Hotlines
Tel. +66 (0)86 272 4618, (0)81 989 9482.
dive courses
Boats also depart from the pier in Bo Phut and arrive at Haad
Rin beach 30 minutes later. Two high speed catamarans
depart Koh Samui twice daily (weather permitting). For further
more contact Seatran Discovery: Tel. +66 (0)77 246086-8 or
Lomprayah High Speed Catamaran: Tel. +66(0)77 247401.
The full range of dive courses is available on the island, up
to and including the level of Instructor. There is also a range
of technical diver training. On the whole course prices are
typical of the area and there are good deals available for
group and multiple bookings. Courses are available in a
variety of languages.
By train: There are two worthy train services from Bangkok
to Surat Thani. The ‘Express’ train, which leaves Bangkok Hua
Lumphong Railway Station every hour or so and takes around
12 hours, and the ‘Sprinter’ train, which departs five times
daily and takes around nine hours. For further information
regarding train services, contact Hua Lumphong Railway
Station: Tel. +66 (0)2 223 7010.
For more information on Koh Phangan contact Tourism
Authority of Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)77 281828.
Sail Rock
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
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com
188
PG
189
dive sites
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh samui
Koh Samui
1
diving around Koh samui
2
There are several enjoyable dives to be had around Koh Samui
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
3
5
6
4
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, bigeyed 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
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
snappers and fusiliers wander in the deeper waters.
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 walldive 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 fabulous beaches of Koh Samui have been attracting
visitors for decades. The island – the third largest in Thailand
– is now firmly on the international tourist map. Covering
247 sq km, the island lies 35km off the coast of Surat Thani.
Koh Samui’s central region, comprising almost two-thirds of
the island, consists of thickly wooded mountainous terrain,
with coconut palms interspersed by gushing streams and
waterfalls.
Finding somewhere to stay on the island couldn’t be
easier and you don’t have to look far to find luxury hotels,
boutique resorts, villas and natural spas; unexpectedly
most are reasonably priced. There’s also all manner of major
retail chains and fast food outlets nestled under a blaze of
neon signs. Thankfully, that’s not the case all around the
island. In a nutshell, these changes have transformed Koh
Samui from what was once a ‘backpacker haven’ to a ‘family
friendly’ resort island.
190
The southeast face has a natural chimney eroded into the
rock. You enter a wide orifice at 18m and ascend the chimney
to come out at 10m. Poisonous bearded scorpionfish and sea
urchins abound, so dive slowly and carefully, and pay special
attention to your buoyancy!
Next to the chimney lies an elevated plateau busy with many
forms of marine life. There are gardens of sea anemones
tenanted by pink anemonefish. Winding yellow margined
morays explore the holes and crevices, while cleaner and
painted shrimp, along with medium-sized reef crabs, remain
in their shelters.
At the eastern end of the wall you can often see great
barracuda – occasionally 3m long – patrolling the depths.
Schools of big-eye jacks, tuna and rainbow runners mingle
with threadfin trevally in the shallower waters. Whale sharks
are often spotted here.
191
dive sites
Koh Samui
3
Matlang island
Location: Off Chaweng Beach’s northern apex.
depth: Average 8m / Maximum 9m
The reef-flat is built up mainly of table staghorns, interspersed
with gardens of sea anemones. The waters above these
structures provide some enjoyable snorkelling.
The dive continues along a shallow, sloping reef consisting
mainly of elkhorn, vase and foliaceous corals. Small rocks
play both anchor and host to numerous gorgonian sea fans
and whips. The marine life is sporadic but, at the eastern
point of the reef, you can occasionally see black-tip reef
sharks passing by.
4
Chaweng reef
Location: Towards the northern end of Chaweng Beach.
depth: Average 5m / Maximum 7m
A very simple, shallow dive and the only one on the island
that is accessed directly from the beach. The reef-flat is
popular with snorkellers as there is plenty to see. The corals
have sustained slight damage from boats and siltation, but
are still fairly healthy. Parrotfish, wrasse and groupers are all
common residents, with the larger specimens being more
apparent towards the northern end of the reef.
5
Hin Nippon – Japanese rock
6
Koh Wao
Location: Northernmost point of the Ang Thong Marine
National Park.
depth: Average 12m / Maximum 30m
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.
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive CeNtres Koh Samui
samui international diving school
Chaweng Beach
tel. +66 (0)77 413049-50
Fax. +66 (0)77 231242
e. [email protected]
w. www.planet-scuba.net
Established back in 1982, Samui
International Diving School
(incorporating Planet Scuba), has
over 20 years experience in scuba
diver education and dive tours in Thailand. They operate
a chain of full service dive centres on Koh Samui offering
personal attention, high quality dive tours, professional
education and an extensive range of retail products. Whatever
your diving needs are the team will do their utmost to ensure
you’ll have a diving experience of a lifetime.
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
Samui International Diving School were the first in South
East Asia to be awarded the prestigious PADI Career
Development Center Rating (CDC). The GoPro Entry level
to Instructor packages can take participants from being a
complete beginner up to a diving professional.
They run both daily and overnight tours to all the popular dive
destinations ranging from the depths of Sail Rock, frequently
home to the illusive whale shark, to the Ang Thong National
Marine Park and Koh Tao with their sloping coral reefs and
abundance of exotic and colourful marine life.
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.
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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
airport), rail and road and directly by air and sea.
Dive trips run on a daily basis and 2-day/1-night excursions to
Koh Tao are available. All trips come complete with transfers
between the dive boat and resort, light refreshments, fruit
and drinks throughout the trip, lunch, Divemaster(s) services,
all equipment and two full tanks.
By air: Daily domestic flights with Bangkok Airways
depart from Krabi, Phuket and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi
International Airport. They also schedule daily flights directly
to and from Singapore. Thai Airways International serves Koh
Samui from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
For more information contact Bangkok Airways: Within
Thailand, Tel. 1771; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 265
5555. Thai Airways International: Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111.
Included in Koh Tao trips are all meals and accommodation
on the island. Snorkellers and non-divers are welcome on
any of the scheduled dive trips – equipment and instruction
available. Many dive boats carry fresh water for rinsing
diving and photographic equipment. Most have toilets and a
sheltered area away from the sun.
By bus: VIP air-conditioned buses leave Bangkok’s Southern
Bus Terminal daily. The journey to Surat Thani takes 12 hours.
Buses connect with boats services as described below. For
further information on buses contact Bangkok Southern
Bus Terminal: Tel. +66 (0)2 435 1199, (0)2 435 1200.
Hospitals
There are four hospitals on Koh Samui. The better two
are listed here.
the Bangkok samui Hospital just outside Chaweng
Beach. Tel. +66 (0)77 429500
By boat: Express boats depart five times daily from Surat
Thani pier for the two and a half hour journey to Na Thon on
Koh Samui. Car and passenger ferries depart every half hour
from Donsak, east of Surat Thani town, and take 90 minutes
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
regular Express Boat and speedboat services from Thong
Sala and Haad Rin Beach, and two high speed catamarans
from Thong Sala twice daily.
samui international Hospital on Chaweng Beach
Tel. +66(0)77 230781-2
recompression chambers
Badalveda diving Medicine Network in Bangkok Samui
Hospital
Diving Medicine Hotlines
Tel. +66 (0)86 272 4618, (0)81 989 9482
e. [email protected], w. www.badalveda.com
By train: There are two main train services from Bangkok
to Surat Thani. The ‘Express’ train leaves Bangkok Hua
Lumphong Railway Station every hour or so and takes
around 12 hours. The ‘Sprinter’ train departs five times
daily and takes around nine hours. For further information
regarding train services contact Hua Lumphong Railway
Station: Tel. +66 (0)2 223 7010.
Hyperbaric services of thailand on Big Buddha Beach
Tel. +66 (0)77 427427.
dive courses
Courses for the complete beginner are very popular here and
there is a good selection of suitable locations for that first
experience of breathing underwater. Courses are available
right up to professional qualifications. All the instruction on
the island is taught by qualified instructors following BSAC,
CMAS, PADI and SSI diver training programs.
Where to eat
There are hundreds of restaurants on the island, mostly
around the beaches. Chaweng has a selection of International
restaurants as does Lamai. Service can be slow but the food is
good and reasonably priced. Koh Samui is particularly noted
for its delicious seafood and creamy coconut dishes. Resorts
also have their own restaurants and many are worth a visit.
For best information and insight on where and what to eat,
see Pocket Guide FOOd thailand − launching first quarter of
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com
PG
On the whole, course prices on the island remain relatively
stable. Due to the location of the better dive sites, courses
are slightly more expensive here than they are on the two
neighbouring islands, but most people are happy to pay
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
diving education in some form or another.
194
For more information on Koh Samui contact Tourism
Authority of Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)77 281828.
195
dive sites
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - pattaya
Pattaya
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2
1
Koh Luam
2
HtMs Kut 731 wreck
Location: Around the southern headland of the island.
depth: Average 10m / Maximum 18m
The reef − fairly typical of the area − is frequently punctuated
by sponge-encrusted rocks and large mounds of lesser
and greater star corals, occasionally split by clusters of
smaller, less hardy corals. The hard corals tend to dominate
the shallower waters: coral laminates form terraces that
descend to deeper-water areas where long, spiralling sea
whips are embedded among larger rocks.
5
6
7
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
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
room is through a large hole cut in the centre of the deck.
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8
10 9
11
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Some 145km (90 miles) southeast of Bangkok, the bustling
metropolis that is Pattaya City shot up during the past 35
years, having started primarily as a vast recreational complex
catering for the US Armed Forces during the Vietnam War.
Growing demands for accommodation were met by the
construction of guesthouses, which quickly grew into hotels
and then resort complexes. Local fishermen sold fish to the
numerous new restaurants, and increased their income by
offering fishing trips to tourists.
HtMs Khram wreck
Location: 300m off the southeast apex of Koh Phai.
depth: Average 24m / Maximum 30m
This 90m LSM-1 Class landing ship was sunk on the 1st
February 2003. It has been cleared of all explosives and
ammunition; there is also plenty of natural light penetrating
the structure.
The bridge of this upright wreck is reached in a depth of 15m
and affords an unchallenging entry. The port and starboard
sides provide interesting passageways in which to explore.
Although the engines have been removed the dials, gauges
and pipes all remain in the engine room.
Pattaya bay
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.
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POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - pattaya
Pattaya
4
Koh Klung Baden – west reef
5
Koh Man Wichai – east reef
Location: About 5km south of Koh Hu Chang.
depth: Average 8m / Maximum 12m
Numerous mounds and heads of coral abound, notably
staghorn, as well as coral laminates. This is a very good
location for snorkelling. To the northwest the reef becomes
a relatively shallow fringing reef whose flat and slope consist
mainly of rocks and sponges. Compressed barrel sponges
shelter small crustaceans and invertebrates. The fish life at
this site is reasonable with numbers and varieties of chromis,
basslet, blenny, gobies and bannerfish, plus a few resident
bicolour parrotfish and wrasse.
Location: About 2km south of Koh Klung Baden.
depth: Average 12m / Maximum 15m
The sea-bed is littered with numerous clumps and mounds of
smooth porite corals. Most of the corals are in large patches,
not fringing reefs, as with most of this area’s sites. The water
deepens towards the south; an elongated plateau is covered
in gardens of sea anemones, together with their abundant
symbiotes: Three-spot dascyllus and pink anemonefish. The
waters are good for snorkellers.
6
Koh rin Bay
Location: About 1km southwest of Hin Khao.
depth: Average 7m / Maximum 14m
A steadily sloping reef, consisting of fallen rocks covered
with a few foliaceous corals, falls dramatically to the north
in the south east bay. A higher percentage of corals slowly
begin to dominate the rocks to a depth of 12m, where you
find sea whips and black coral bushes.
8
Hardeep (or suddhadib) wreck
Location: Off the south headland of Koh Samaesan.
depth: Average 28m / Maximum 32m
This wreck is believed to be of an Indonesian steamship
requisitioned by the Japanese during World War II and sunk
by Allied bombing in 1942. The recommended (and often
only) way to dive the Hardeep is to descend down a mooring
line directly onto the structure; free descents are not advised.
When currents are stronger you might limit exploration to
the wreck’s leeward side. The ship’s structures are radiantly
coloured by a multitude of soft corals, encrusting sponges, sea
whips and white bushes of stinging hydroids.
Associated reef inhabitants are also plentiful. As you arrive,
moorish idols, fusiliers and snappers often shy away into
the darker recesses. This wreck can be penetrated, although
a number of snagged nets restrict some passageways and
caution is required. Many of the steel plates, doors and
portholes remain in place, and the engine is intact.
9
Koh rong Khon
Location: Off the northeast tip of east of Koh Chuang.
depth: Average 9m / Maximum 60m
When entering the water in an incoming tide start at the
southern end of the rocks and drift in the current along the
length of the two islands. When reaching the northern end
follow the rocks around to the other side and into calmer
waters. The northern tip of these islands is very deep and is
popular with Tech divers.
Xeno crab on a whip coral
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
Pattaya
10
shark Fin rock
Location: Approx 2km to the west of Koh Rong Khon.
depth: Average 15m / Maximum 28m
Although on first sight this looks to be a very small dive site, it
is in fact a large reef. The main attraction is the southeastern
side which features a 16m wall that almost breaks the surface.
The northwestern reef features areas of staghorn and brain
corals, barrel sponges and sea anemones.
The northeastern side has a single rock formation that is
vertical on the west and has a large sand bank sliding down
to 25m, this is home to some large black-spotted stingrays.
Marine life is plentiful and varied.
11
Koh Chuang
Location: Around 8km south of Samaesan.
depth: Average 6m / Maximum 14m
Koh Chuang offers several shallow dive sites and is an ideal
training site for beginner divers. Follow the fringing coral
reef down to a sandy bottom with sporadic patches of corals.
Common encounters include turtles rays, moral eels as well
as fusiliers, angel and butterflyfish.
12
Koh Chan
Location: Directly east of Koh Chan
depth: Average 12m / Maximum 25m
The southernmost tip of the island features huge fallen
rocks and is a great place for snorkellers to explore - it’s not
uncommon to see small black-tip reef sharks in the shallow
waters.
For divers, the preferred place is along the reefs following
along the southeast section of the island. Upon reaching
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
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive CeNtres Pattaya
aquanauts dive centre
Pattaya
tel. +66 (0)38 361724, e. [email protected]
w. www.aquanautsdive.com, www.divingInstructortraining.com
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
From fun diving to PADI instructor training to technical
diving, Aquanauts Dive Centre is Pattaya’s most-complete
scuba diving centre. A PAdi 5-star Career development
Center, Aquanauts has been training divers for 13 years.
British-owned and operated, Aquanauts offers all PADI
courses from novice to professional, including full technical
dive instructor courses. They also operate the area’s largest
and most-modern dive boat offering all-day dive excursions
daily to Pattaya’s Near and Far Islands and all the area’s
shipwrecks.
Led by two PADI Course Directors, Aquanauts is one of
Thailand’s most-active Instructor and Divemaster training
centres. Both individual courses and all-inclusive, 2-6 month
internships are available. The latter includes unlimited diving,
full accommodation, a set of new equipment, all courses,
manuals, certification fees and full job placement from their
exclusive Jobs4Divers.com job placement service.
Finally, Aquanauts is the area’s leader for tech diving, offering
novice to instructor courses in technical diving, tri-mix and
both semi-closed and fully-closed rebreathers. The tech
programme is backed by a state-of-the-art workshop with
on-demand nitrox/tri-mix blending and certified Mares and
Scubapro technicians.
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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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
and road are the better options.
Pattaya
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:
Bangkok Airways: Within Thailand, Tel. 1771; from outside
Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 265 5555. Nok Air: Within Thailand,
Tel. 1318; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 900 9955. Thai
Airways International: Tel. +66 (0)2 356 1111. There is also
an airport at U-Tapao served by Bangkok Airways.
e. [email protected]
w. www.divecentrepattaya.com
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental
retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
Pattaya Dive Centre, a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development
Center, is right on the beachfront road, and it’s not just the
location that’s the best in Pattaya.
By bus: Air-conditioned buses leave Bangkok every 30
minutes from the Eastern Bus Terminal. The journey takes
just under three hours. From Pattaya bus terminal to the city
centre and Jomtien, take one of the local taxi-buses from the
terminal. For more information contact Bangkok Eastern
Bus Terminal: Tel. +66 (0)2 391 2504, (0)2 391 4900.
They stock and sell all the best brand names in diving
equipment, including Mares, Ocean Dynamics, Sunnto dive
computers, Coltri-Sub compressors and a comprehensive
range of PADI training materials; in fact they’re the main
distributor in the area and welcome trade enquires! And, of
course, they teach PADI too.
Where to eat
While the majority of Pattaya’s hotels have good restaurants,
the general trend is to eat out. Locals claim that it’s possible
to eat in a different restaurant every night of the year and
still miss some!
For qualified divers, Pattaya Dive Centre schedule daily dive
trips to all the Pattaya and Samesan prime dive sites and
wrecks. PDC owns and operates the only fast catamaran
dive boat, purpose built to international standards, leaving
at 09:00 everyday. Whatever your diving needs, Pattaya Dive
Centre can fulfill them, so next time you’re in the area, why
not drop in to Pattaya’s most complete and friendly dive
centre and say hello.
The range of eateries is vast; all the well known fast food
establishments have premises here. There’s also a good
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.
PG
For best information and insight on where and what to eat,
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.
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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. [email protected], 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.
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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,
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.
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2
3
4
5
6
In general, visibility averages around 10m, although it can be
in excess of 20m, especially at the sites further south. Marine
life is also more prolific in these areas. There are plenty of
colourful reef-dwellers, from minute invertebrates up to
giant clams. The waters also attract many large pelagics, rays
and – quite regularly – whale sharks.
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8
7
10
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Hin saam sao
Location: About 1km west of Chai Chet.
depth: Average 10m / Maximum 16m
Off the northwest coast of Koh Chang, this dive site has some
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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POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive sites - koh chang
Koh Chang
2
Hin Luk Bat
Location: Around 3km southwest of Koh Chang.
depth: Average 11m / Maximum 18m
This is one of the prime dive sites around Koh Chang. The
dive is around a pinnacle that acts as refuge to plenty of
schooling fish, making it enjoyable for snorkellers too. The
steeply sloping walls feature numerous barrel sponges and
shelves of relatively healthy soft corals, colour is added by
large areas of Christmas tree worms.
The pinnacle itself is surrounded by huge boulders that
offer great swim-throughs. In the deeper waters are
crown of thorn starfish, bushy black corals, sea whips and
small gorgonian sea fans. The plankton-enriched waters
afford a good diversity of marine life, including angelfish,
bannerfish, butterflyfish, fusiliers, groupers, parrotfish,
snappers, morays, stingrays, and barracuda. This is also a
good site for night diving.
3
Hin rua tek
Location: 3km south of koh Chang.
depth: Average 10m / Maximum 20m
This rocky dive site, also referred to as Banana Rock, is in
nice surroundings, which also makes it a popular snorkelling
destination. Many crevices shelter small critters such as
shrimps, lobsters and nudibranchs. Although corals are not
in abundance there is a good variety including large tables of
staghorns, gorgonian sea fans, soft corals and sponges.
4
Blueberry Hill
Location: Around 5km south of Koh Chang.
depth: Average 10m / Maximum 16m
This site is best described as a bare rock full of fish, although
the south side does have corals! However, this is a great
place for spotting nudibranchs, batfish, groupers, stingrays
and morays making it well worth visiting.
5
Hin rap
Location: Around 300m south of Blueberry Hill.
depth: Average 11m / Maximum 16m
This site can be divided into two dives. The first is around the
rock, and is a good place to spot turtles, batfish, stonefish,
porcupine fish, stingrays, and morays amongst both hard and
soft corals.
Away from the reef barracudas frequently pass by. The
second, northern section is a bit deeper and displays more
corals along with a lovely small canyon. Fish life in evidence
includes anemonefish, angelfish, groupers, parrotfish and
triggerfish. Rays and morays are also regular encounters as is
the occasional turtle.
The waters here are more often than not very clear and are
popular with snorkellers.
6
Koh Wai
Location: Immediately east of Koh Khlum.
depth: Average 9m / Maximum 20m
This is a nice shallow fringing reef, consisting of mainly hard
corals with soft corals along the deeper part of the reef-slope.
The best features are at depths shallower than 12m, making
the site suitable for the less experienced.
The shallower parts of the reef are characterised by a plentiful
range of reef-fish and small invertebrates. An attraction of
the deeper waters is that you may be lucky enough to spot
a leopard shark or a stingray on the sandy bottom. Being
reasonably sheltered, this is a fine site for night diving.
Koh Chang west coast
208
209
dive sites
Koh Chang
7
Koh Kra
Location: Off the northeast shore of Koh Rang Yai.
depth: Average 7m / Maximum 12m
Although snorkelling is the major appeal here, these islands
also offer some beautiful diving. The rocks are pitted with
numerous crevasses rich in marine life, and the corals are
very healthy and varied, including big tables of staghorn
corals co-existing with anemones of all sizes and colours.
Further down, on the sandy bottom, you should be able to
spot a blue-spotted ribbontail and blotched rays idling.
8
Koh tien West
Location: Off the northwest coast of Koh Rang.
depth: Average 10m / Maximum 16m
On the south side of the island is an enormous staghorn coral
formation well worth exploring, as many fish shelter amongst
the sharp coral branches. Also a great snorkelling site.
9
Koh rang Pinnacles
10
Koh yak and Koh Laun
11
Hin Kuak Ma
Location: West of Koh Tien West.
depth: Average 15m / Maximum 30m
A great multi-level site and a strong favourite with underwater
photographers. Of the two main pinnacles, one is at 12m, the
other at 5m; the seabed between them is at 21m. There is a
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 bluespotted 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.
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive CeNtres Koh Chang
kalypso
Bang Bao
tel. +66 (0)39 558134
Hotline. +66 (0)80 077 7830
e. [email protected]
w. www.divessiclub.com
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | tec diving | retail
internships | snorkelling
Kalypso welcomes you as the first SSI Instructor Trainer Center
on the beautiful island of Koh Chang. This ECO-friendly Dive
Club is situated in Bang Bao near the end of the pier.
With an in-house Course Director they are the only dive
centre on the island that can offer instructor courses all year
round. Together with the multilingual and well-qualified
team, Kalypso SSI Dive Club stands for first class service and
state of the art facilities.
All diving courses and diving and snorkelling trips are
conducted on a choice of either a large dive boat complete
with sundeck, shower and toilet or luxury speedboat and
include full insurance and complementary pick-up service
from anywhere on the island. Besides all the SSI courses,
Kalypso can offer courses from SDI, TDI and PADI as well.
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.
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.
210
211
dive CeNtres
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - koh chang
Koh Chang
dolphin divers
Klong Prao
koh chang dive supply
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
snorkelling | Accommodation
Swiss owned and managed, Dolphin Divers has been
operating on the island for over 5 years and is a professionally
run dive centre and school concentrating on offering a
personalised service.
Being a PADI dive centre it offers the full range of diving courses
from beginner to instructor level, as well as providing fun
diving to all the best local spots. All the courses are conducted
by a strong team of multilingual instructors and the fun dives
are guided by qualified PADI Dive Masters.
The centre’s equipment is regularly serviced and is replaced
on a yearly basis to ensure a high level of comfort and safety.
Dolphin Divers prides itself on providing personal attention
to all its guests. Groups are kept small to provide individual
service and attention to detail. Dolphin also has a centre at
the Amari Emerald Cove Resort, also on Klong Prao Beach.
212
tel. +66 (0)39 551518, Fax. +66 (0)39 551519
e. [email protected]
w. www.kohchangdivesupply.com
dive and snorkel equipment sales and service
This is the main wholesale and retail outlet for all kinds of diving
and snorkelling equipment on Thailand’s eastern seaboard,
stretching from Pattaya to Koh Chang into Cambodia.
Koh Chang Dive Supply offers and stocks a wide variety of
major brand names including Bauer, Deep Blue, Luxfer, PADI,
Pelican, Saekodive, Scubapro, Seac Sub, Suunto, Trident and
many more, ensuring that customers have a really good
choice.
With experience and qualifications, they also provide a
repair and service centre for all types and brands of dive
equipment.
213
dive CeNtres
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - koh chang
Koh Chang
scuba-evolution
the dive adventure
White Sand Beach
Bang Bao
tel. +66 (0)87 926 4973
e. [email protected]
tel. +66 (0)39 558134
Hotline. +66 (0)85 279 7627
e. [email protected]
w. www.thedivekochang.com
w. www.scuba-evolution.com, www.tecevolution.com
instruction | day trips | Liveaboard | Nitrox
Gear rental | retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
English owned and operated Scuba-evolution has evolved
from Tecevolution and is now based on the island of Koh
Chang, offering everything from snorkelling to rebreather
diving. PADI and TDI courses run throughout the year with a
100% safety record around fantastic corals and wrecks.
The standard of the boat and all equipment are high, the
latter being replaced every 12 months. The dive boat, M/V
Evolution has two spacious decks offering a huge kitting
up area and massive platform for easy entries. Different
dive sites are visited everyday to suit beginner to advanced
divers. Breakfast is served on the comfortable upper deck
and a lunch of Thai and western food between dives. Free
soft drinks are available all day long.
There are three centres on the island; White Sand Beach, Kai
Bae and Lonely Beach, each packed full of equipment for
snorkellers to tec-divers. Scuba-evolution is also the island’s
main suppliers of Apeks, Beuchat, Mares, Technisub, Ripcurl
and Ocean Dynamics brand names.
instruction | day trips | internships | Nitrox | tec diving
Gear rental | retail | snorkelling | Accommodation
The Dive Adventure is a PADI 5 star Instructor Development
Center located in Bang Bao at the beginning of the pier.
The highly experienced multilingual team offers dive courses
and guidance in your own language. The number of students
per class is limited so individual guidance and professionalism
is guaranteed. The dive school has air-conditioned classrooms
and a large training pool. Recreational courses are offered as
are IDC’s and internship packages.
All diving courses, daily diving and snorkelling are conducted
on a choice of either a large dive boat complete with
sundeck, shower and toilet or luxury speedboat and include
full insurance and complementary pick-up service from your
hotel or resort.
Tailor-made diving packages and trips are available for
groups and companies.
photo © Oakleydiver.com
214
215
dive CeNtres
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
dive centres - koh chang
Koh Chang
water world diving
Chai Chet Bay
dive Centre. tel/fax.
+66 (0)39 551321
24 hr Hotline.
+66(0)81 842 9230
e. [email protected]
instruction | day trips | Nitrox | Gear rental | retail
snorkelling | Accommodation
One of the foremost dive centres on the island, Water World
Diving is centrally situated in Koh Chang Plaza in beautiful Chai
Chet Bay − often described as the best beach on Koh Chang.
The centre offers a good range of dive and snorkelling
equipment, including some of the biggest brand names
in the industry. PADI dive courses − all readily available,
including specialities − are regularly conducted in a variety
of languages, and adhere to stringent PADI standards. The
centre’s classroom is air-conditioned, as is the centre itself, for
maximum comfort.
The daily dive and snorkelling trips depart in a fast fully
equipped custom built dive boat to all the top sites as well as
to a few not normally visited by other centres.
To round off their services Water World Diving also provides
an accommodation booking service.
216
white sand dive centre
White Sand Beach
dive Centre.
+66 (0)39 551096
Hotline.
+66 (0)86 106 5020 (English)
+66 (0)85 218 2153 (Thai)
e. [email protected], w. www.whitesandsdc.com
instruction | day trips | Gear rental
snorkelling | Accommodation
White Sand Dive Centre offers a comprehensive range of PADI
diving courses in a professional yet friendly environment.
These run from introductory courses all the way to becoming
a PADI professional. Daily dive trips include 2 dives with
full equipment, lunch and a qualified PADI Divemaster or
Instructor to supervise both in the water and on the boat.
The air-conditioned office is conveniently situated in the
centre of White Sand Beach, and on the beach at 15 Palms
Restaurant and Bar where post diving refreshments can be
enjoyed whilst looking back on an enjoyable day out.
There is also excellent air-con accommodation and a travel
service to take care of leisure and travelling needs. White
Sand Dive Centre gives a fun, memorable and stress free
holiday.
217
direCtOry
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
directory - koh chang
Koh Chang
How to get there
Nitrox is available for those qualified, and for those not,
instruction is available. Night diving is offered, but its best
to enquire in advance as timetables vary. Overnight diving
safaris to the area are occasionally organized by Pattaya Dive
Centre in Pattaya City.
Koh Chang can be reached indirectly by air and road and
directly by sea.
By air: Bangkok Airways fly to Trat airport on a daily basis,
where taxis can be arranged for the transfer to the island. For
more information contact Bangkok Airways: Within Thailand,
Tel. 1771; from outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)2 265 5555.
dive courses
Dive courses are available in several languages. Full equipment
and certification is included in all the course prices. Courses
available are non-certification try-out experiences as well as
the full range of recreational courses from beginner up to the
professional level of instructor are scheduled on a daily basis.
By bus: Air-conditioned buses leave daily from Bangkok’s
Eastern Bus Terminal. The journey to Trat Town takes around
five hours. On arrival, passengers transfer to the pier as Laem
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
from Laem Ngop for the short crossing.
There is one hospital and one international clinic on Koh
Chang.
Where to eat
Koh Chang Government Hospital in Ban Dan Mai, on
the northern section of the western coast
Tel. +66 (0)39 521657, (0)39 586131.
The island’s resorts have their own eating facilities, and most
have a good choice of local seafood dishes and a European
menu. There are also plenty of independent eateries on all
the main beaches and dotted along the roads in-between.
Koh Chang international Clinic on White Sand Beach
(associated with the Bangkok Trat Hospital)
Tel. +66 (0)39 551151-2, (0)81 863 3609.
Bangkok trat Hospital in Trat Town on the mainland
24 Hr Contacts Centre: Within Thailand, Tel. 1719; from
outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)39 532735
One particular place worth checking out is the series of
seafood restaurants along the narrow jetty at Bang Bao, here
you can pick and choose your menu from what’s on display.
For best information and insight on where and what to eat,
see Pocket Guide FOOd thailand − launching first quarter of
2009 − and its online version, www.foodguidethailand.com
dive facilities
There’s a good selection of operators, large and small, mainly
down the western coastline. Most have associated booking
offices and facilities in various resorts and shopping plazas.
Testamant to the warm, friendly atmosphere is the high level
of repeat business making up a large part of the clientele. Many
dive centres also offer a retail selection; if they don’t have an
item in stock, they can have it delivered on the same day.
dive trips
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
depending on which destination has been visited.
218
recompression chambers
PG
There is a hyperbaric chamber in the Koh Chang
Government Hospital, with a trained nurse on standby,
but not a qualified doctor.
Koh Chang Government Hospital
Tel. +66 (0)39 521657, (0)39 586131.
The next nearest chamber is located over 160km away
in Pattaya’s Bangkok Pattaya Hospital and is part of the
Badalveda diving Medicine Network.
Bangkok Pattaya Hospital
24 Hr Contacts Centre: Within Thailand, Tel. 1719; from
outside Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)38 259999
Diving Medicine Hotlines
Tel. +66 (0)81 989 9482, +66 (0)86 272 4618
[email protected] | www.badalveda.com
For more information on Koh Chang, contact Tourism
Authority of Thailand, Tel. +66 (0)38 427662.
219
ALPHABetiCAL iNdex
dive Centres
All 4 Diving, Phuket ...................................................................................................... 98
Ao Nang Divers, Krabi ............................................................................................... 140
Aqua Vision Dive Center, Krabi ........................................................................... 141
Aquamarine Divers, Phuket ..................................................................................... 99
Aquanauts Dive Center, Pattaya ...................................................................... 201
Big Blue Diving, Khao Lak ....................................................................................... 114
Big Blue Diving Resort, Koh Tao ......................................................................... 174
Blue Planet Divers, Koh Lanta ............................................................................. 162
Buddha View, Koh Tao ............................................................................................. 175
Crystal Dive Resort, Koh Tao ................................................................................. 176
Dive Asia, Phuket .......................................................................................................... 100
Dolphin Divers, Koh Chang ................................................................................. 212
Eden Divers, Phuket ................................................................................................... 1 01
Haad Yao Divers, Koh Phangan ......................................................................... 186
iQ Dive, Khao Lak ......................................................................................................... 115
Kalypso, Koh Chang .................................................................................................. 211
Ko Lanta Diving Center, Koh Lanta ................................................................. 163
Koh Chang Dive Supply, Koh Chang ............................................................. 213
Kontiki Krabi, Krabi ...................................................................................................... 142
Kontiki Lanta, Koh Lanta ......................................................................................... 164
Lanta Diver, Koh Lanta ............................................................................................. 165
Manta Point Dive Center, Krabi .......................................................................... 143
Mermaid Liveaboards, Phuket ............................................................................. 102
Ocean Geo Divers, Phuket ..................................................................................... 103
Palm Beach Divers, Koh Lanta ............................................................................ 166
Pattaya Dive Centre, Pattaya .............................................................................. 202
Phangan Divers, Koh Phangan ........................................................................... 187
Phi Phi Scuba Diving Center, Koh Phi Phi .................................................... 152
Phra Nang Divers, Krabi ........................................................................................... 144
Planet Scuba, Koh Tao .............................................................................................. 177
Princess Divers, Koh Phi Phi .................................................................................. 153
Samui International Diving School, Koh Samui ....................................... 193
Santana Diving & Canoeing, Phuket ............................................................... 104
Scandanavian Divers, Phuket ............................................................................... 105
Scandanavian Divers, Khao Lak .......................................................................... 116
Scuba Cat Diving, Phuket ....................................................................................... 106
Scuba Junction, Koh Tao ........................................................................................ 178
Scuba-evolution, Koh Chang .............................................................................. 214
Sea Bees Diving, Phuket .......................................................................................... 107
Sea Bees Diving, Khao Lak ..................................................................................... 117
Sea Dragon Dive Center, Khao Lak .................................................................. 118
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
POCKET GUIDE dive thailand
alphabetical index
destination introductions
Chang (Koh) ................................................................................................................... 206
Khao Lak ............................................................................................................................ 113
Krabi ..................................................................................................................................... 135
Lanta (Koh) ...................................................................................................................... 157
Mergui Archipelago ( The)....................................................................................... 131
Pattaya ................................................................................................................................ 196
Phangan (Koh) ............................................................................................................... 181
Phi Phi (Koh) .................................................................................................................... 148
Phuket ................................................................................................................................... 93
Samui (Koh) ..................................................................................................................... 190
Similan Marine National Park (Mu Koh) .......................................................... 122
Surin Marine National Park (Mu Koh) ............................................................... 129
Tao (Koh) ........................................................................................................................... 169
destination directories
Chang (Koh) ................................................................................................................... 218
Khao Lak ............................................................................................................................ 120
Krabi ..................................................................................................................................... 145
Lanta (Koh) ...................................................................................................................... 167
Pattaya ............................................................................................................................... 203
Phangan (Koh) ............................................................................................................... 188
Phi Phi (Koh) .................................................................................................................... 155
Phuket ................................................................................................................................ 111
Samui (Koh) ..................................................................................................................... 194
Tao (Koh) ........................................................................................................................... 179
Features
About Pocket Guide DIVE Thailand ................................................................... 14
About the author ............................................................................................................ 12
Diving and snorkelling in and around Thailand .......................................... 42
Health and safety for divers ..................................................................................... 32
Introduction to Thailand ............................................................................................. 16
Learning to dive in Thailand .................................................................................... 52
Travelling to and around Thailand ....................................................................... 24
PG
221

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