Situated just a short distance off the mainland coast, Phuket is widely celebrated as the gem of the Andaman Sea. The island destination also has a sterling reputation for watersports and adventures, including snorkeling and diving. From gentle boat excursions for the whole family to intense live aboard diving adventures, Phuket offers an array of spectacular underwater sights and an abundance of marine life. The period form November to April tends to offer better visibility for visitors that want to capture some underwater photography.
PADI on Phuket
Phuket is a great destination for those that want to learn how to dive by taking a PADI certification course. The island is home to a multitude of reputable dive schools, and anyone above the age of 12 is eligible to take the course. The scheme is divided into classroom theory and pool, open water practical sessions, and students not only learn various diving techniques, but also how to use the scuba equipment. By the end of the course qualified divers are free to dive independently in the ocean, although using an experienced guide is still recommended.
Phuket Dive Sites
Once visitors have a PADI license, they’re spoilt for choice with the range of diving locations at their fin-tips off Phuket. Those with limited experience of diving tend to book day-long excursions which take them to dive at a number of different sites located within easy reach of the Phuket coast. Situated just an hour’s speed boat ride from Phuket, Koh Phi Phi’s Shark Point is one of the region’s most popular dive sites, and divers on a trip there might be lucky enough to glimpse a leopard shark. Other attractive local options for divers exploring the Andaman include the isolated islands of Racha Yai and Racha Noi, just south of Phuket. Crisp visibility and exhilarating drift dives are among the highlights there.
Live Aboard Diving
For those that have a little more time set aside to discover the delights below the surface of the Andaman Sea, live aboard dive excursions may be the ideal option. The Similan Islands offer a rare tropical oasis ripe for exploration around 95km northwest of Phuket. These charming isles boast numerous vibrant coral reefs that are home to an array of quirky sea creatures. If you’re in the region, Koh Bon and Koh Tachai are just 20km north of the Similans and offer a different underwater scene, with world class marine scenery. Even further on are the Surin Islands and Richelieu Rock, which are less visited and therefore more stunning making them increasingly popular destinations for live aboard dive boats.
Phuket Snorkeling Trips
For those that don’t fancy the complete experience of scuba diving, an afternoon of snorkeling on Phuket is an altogether more relaxed affair. On the island’s northwest coast, Banana Beach is one of the top destinations for some laid back snorkeling thanks to its secluded location. Ao Sane Beach is also popular for those that want to leisurely explore the underwater world, and there is a small dive centre where equipment can be rented out. Most snorkelers book onto day-long marine excursions to get away from busier beach areas and explore the Phuket’s offshore reefs. The most popular destinations are the same as those visited by day tripping divers, and most snorkeling tours include pick-up and drop-off service.
Updates by Wayne Hue