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Phuket and surrounds has many dive sites located along its stretch of the gorgeous Andaman coast, including reefs – with both hard and soft coral – to pinnacles, banks and walls. Dive sites in Phuket are very well known and there are enough of them to ensure they don’t become too crowded. Part of the attraction of Phuket dive sites is the unbeatable scenery nearby, such as in and around the Phi Phi Island and the Similan Islands.
In Phuket, dive sites are well known to the many dive operators based here and they run regular excursions to these. By shopping around, you will invariably find an outfit that is running a dive to a site near Phuket some time during your stay.
The Similan Islands
Undoubtedly the most famous of Phuket dive sites in the Andaman Sea are the Similans. This archipelago consists of nine islands that offer amazing conditions and stunning undersea beauty. The visibility has been known to reach 100m and the sea life includes a vast array of colourful tropical fish and even whale sharks. Note: Keep abreast of scuba news, however, as authorities have been restricting access due to coral bleaching.
Shark Point is so named after the population of leopard sharks that make their home near this large rock pinnacle. Despite their fierce title, leopard sharks are small and docile and pose little danger to divers. Shark Point offers a great dive at multiple depths as the pinnacle rises from 24-6 metres and is home to large schools of tropical fish, along with spectacular sea fans and soft coral. It’s one of the most rewarding dive sites in Phuket.
Koh Phi Phi
Phi Phi is another much loved dive destination in the Andaman Sea and a two-hour cruise from Phuket brings divers to this spectacular group of islands. Tree-covered limestone monoliths rise straight out of the sea, reaching heights of 150m or more. The undersea landscape is just as interesting, with diverse dive profiles, ranging from reefs and walls to shallow caves. Phi Phi Don is the main island and a great base for a few days of exploring the local dive sites while in the Phuket area.
Richelieu Rock is about 18kms east of the Surin Islands and is possibly the best place in the world to swim with one of the most amazing creatures in the sea – the whale shark. Whale sharks are spotted around 60 per cent of the time here, with the most sightings during February, March and April. They are gentle creatures, despite their enormous size (20m) and somewhat ferocious title, and a swim with one is an unforgettable experience.
Racha Yai and Racha Noi
Racha Yai and Racha Noi, also Raya or Rajah, are small islands just off the coast of Phuket that offer excellent, year-round diving. Racha Yai has two small bays near its northern tip with tranquil conditions and good temperatures all year, while the east side of the island features an excellent leisurely-drift dive. Racha Noi, the smaller of the two, has deeper waters and strong currents, making it less suitable for beginners. For the experienced diver, however, it’s an excellent deep dive place to see manta rays and whale sharks.
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