Phuket is famous worldwide for so many reasons: its white-sand beaches, all-night parties, amazing rock formations, iconic Buddhist icons, rich culture and history, dense jungles and breathtaking dive spots. Diving in Phuket is a one-of-a-kind experience that expert divers from all over the world come here to have. In fact, Phuket is one of the top 10 diving destinations in the world.
Phuket is situated on the southwest coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea, which leads to the Atlantic Ocean. The Andaman Sea is rich with a variety of marine life forms the island was hit by the devastating tsunami that rocked the island in 2004 coming from an earthquake in the Atlantic Ocean. Phuket today, however, is best known for its spectacular dive points rather than the 2004 tsunami. The popular and highly respected Rodale’s Scuba Diving Magazine says, “…it’s hard to beat the Andaman Sea for clear seas, spectacular reefs and animal encounters.”
Sought-after dive sites such as the Merqui Archipelago in Myannmar, Similan Islands, Phi Phi Islands and Hin Daeng are all located in the Andaman Sea. From the many beaches of Phuket, a visiting diver could avail of live-aboard tours, day trips, or overnight tours to these islands.
The most popular live-aboard trips are those to Similan Islands on board M/V Scuba Explorer, M/V Colona VI, or M/V Nautica among many others. Live-aboard trips allow you to stay on the sea off the islands for 4 to 5 days. This allows you to go for a dive on several occasions and unhurriedly. Typically, there are 3 to 5 dives every day. The beautiful Similan Islands is 90 kilometers away from Phuket and getting there deserves more than just a day.
On the other hand, the most popular day-trip dive sites are Anemone Reef, King Cruiser Wreck, and Koh Racha Noi. The Anemone Reef’s highlight attraction is an underwater limestone pinnacle that is about 30 meters high from the seafloor all the way to the surface. Oysters and anemones cling to this rock and as they move with the waves they create an illusion of the rock being alive and breathing. The Anemone Reef is about 26 kilometers and 90 minutes away from Phuket.
Meanwhile, the nearby King Cruiser Wreck is also popular. But if not for the Anemone Reef, this interesting dive spot could not have existed. On May 4, 1997, the King Cruiser passenger ferry hit the Anemone Reef and sank. Underwater, its many cabins and rooms are now teeming with marine wildlife and are interesting to see. From end to end, the wreck is 12 to 30 meters deep. The most common fish here are groupers, eels, and crabs.
Finally, the Koh Racha Noi dive site is for experienced divers. The water is deeper and the currents stronger, but the rewards are also greater. The most common marine life forms here are whale sharks, leopard sharks, rays, barracuda, and schools of smaller fish. Seeing the rare whale shark even once makes all the trouble of going to Koh Racha Noi worth it.
There are many other dive spots for expert and beginning divers in Phuket. Dive centers abound all over the major beaches such as Kata, Karon and Kamala. Diving in Phuket is a staple activity in the island that all tourists should learn, try and enjoy.