Thailand Dive Sites
Phi Phi Islands
Thailand Dive Sites:
Phi Phi is made up of two main islands, Phi Phi Don which is inhabited and has all the resorts and dive centres on it plus Phi Phi Ley which is uninhabited and once acted as the film set for Leonardo DiCapro's movie, The Beach. Together these islands are a stunning natural wonder. Phi Phi Islands are part of Krabi province and can be reached by ferry from Phuket or Krabi.
Phi Phi islands are protected by national marine park status. A dive trip to Phi Phi is worth it just to view the amazing karste limestone rocks, the fantastic diving is an added bonus. The stunning scenery above the water carries on below and Phi Phi dive sites, on their day, are as good as anywhere in Thailand.
Phi Phi was very badly affected by the December 2004 Asian tsunami above the water but the island has recovered well. Underwater damage was minimal.
The main tourist and diving season is November to April although diving is possible all year round. Staying at a resort on Phi Phi Don means that divers are close to the dive sites by daytrip dive boat..
There are many dive centres to choose from in the Ton Sai Bay area and they all charge the same prices. Diving daytrips to Phi Phi are also possible from Krabi and Phuket as are some overnight trips. Dive liveaboards from Phuket island include Phi Phi on their schedule when they dive Hin Daeng and Hin Muang.
There are over 15 dive sites around the Phi Phi islands. There are walls, swim-throughs, caverns, caves, drift dives, and a wreck. Phi Phi is probably the best dive destination in Thailand to see leopard sharks, blacktip reef sharks, turtles and sea snakes. Whale sharks also visit Phi Phi each year with February to early May being the most likely months for an encounter with the gentle giants.
Visibility on Phi Phi dives can be fantastic at 30+ metres but it can also drop to just 10m during plankton blooms. Most dive sites are no deeper than 30m maximum and currents are mild. Phi Phi is a good place to learn to dive as it's good value and there is a great social scene around the dive centres.
Phi Phi Dive Sites
Garang Heng is another dive site that is only visited by Phi Phi day trip dive boats, it is a little too far for Phuket dive boats to reach. It lies on it's own 2km east of Phi Phi Ley and is a completey submerged reef starting at 6m below the surface and going down as deep as 24m. It is an easy dive site with mild currents although visibility is often only average.
This is another dive site where Leopard sharks are commonly seen.
The reef is a mixture of hard and soft corals with some barrel sponges, and lots of sea fans and anemones. Large schools of yellowtail barracuda are resident here.
Lionfish and scorpionfish are numerous as are dog faced pufferfish, moorish idols, bannerfish and many other reef fish. Banded sea snakes are also sometimes seen here.
Located 8km south east of Koh Phi Phi Ley, Hin Bida is often refered to as Phi Phi Shark Point. It should not be mistaken for another shark point that lies half way between Phuket Island and Phi Phi Islands and is also dived by daytrips from Phi Phi. Hin Bida is usually only visited by Phi Phi daytrip boats which take about 45m to reach the rock. It's named Shark Point because if the high likelyhood of seeing Leopard sharks here. During the day they are usually sleeping on the sandy bottom at the edge of the reef but can often be seen gracefully swimming as well.
The top of Hin Bida (Hin means rock in Thai) just breaks the water surface. Underwater the coral covered rocks stretch out in a north to south direction down to a maximum of 20m. Giant clams and barrel sponges are scattered around. Featherstars, christmas tree worms and tube worms fight for space on the corals. Schools of fish occupy the reef including snapper, bannerfish and butterflyfish. In the rock crevices are moray eels, octopus and crabs hide themselves.
Visibility varies here from 5m to 20m and currents are normally mild.
Loh Samah Bay is located on the east side of Phi Phi Ley and is actually seperated from Maya Beach by a very narrow cut in the rocks that it's possible to walk through. Loh Samah Bay is also popular with snorkelling trips.
The diving is done around a small islet that fills the bay. It is possible to circle the island at least once on one tank of air. It's a wall dive, on it's outer side reaching 20m and coming shallower on the inner side. There is a narrow channel that divers can just swim through without disturbing the beautiful soft corals and corgonian seafans on either side. The wall is covered in corals and clams and is home to all the usual Phi Phi dive site marine life. Turtles are common here too and are often seen ripping at the bubble coral.
Loh Samah bay is an excellent night dive spot when coral polyps come out to feed and torches really show up the colour of the wall. Shrimps, lobster and crabs are all over the wall. Moray eels are more active at night whereas parrotfish are sleeping in their protective cocoon.
Maya Bay was made famous by "The Beach" movie and these days tourists come here looking for the deserted paradise that the movie portrayed, only to find that hundreds of other tourists in speed boats are already there. Despite the crowds it's still easy to see why Hollywood chose this setting. The natural beauty of the island is breathtaking. The bay is a popular snorkelling spot but is good for diving also, especially for less experienced divers or for dive training.
Limestone rocks for cracks and crevices that are full of life and coral bommies scatter the sand. There are some swim-throughs and small caverns to explore.
The dive sites become more interesting when you venture outside of the bay either north or south.
Maya Wall North is more frequently dived than the south and is buoyed at several points along it's length. The dive site drops to a maximum depth of 30m in the sand but most of the dive will be spent around 10-20m depth. Around the northern most mooring buoy it is common to see schools of small blacktip reef sharks circling. Snorkellers can also see them from the surface. Leopard sharks are often seen here too and hawksbill turtles are common. Other fishy residents here are titan triggerfish, pufferfish, octopus, parrotfish and moray eels.
Hin Dot or Chimney Rock is located on the south west side of Ton sai bay which is the main harbour in the Phi Phi islands so only a short boat ride is required to reach the site. The pinnacle formation drops down to 30m and has pronounced shelves at 15m 12m and 3m making it an excellent multi-level dive.
The pinnacles attract huge numbers of schooling fish incuding snapper, fusiliers and jacks. Zigzag clams cover the lower portions of the dive site along with a few giant clams. Nurse sharks can be found under the rocks at the bottom. Soft corals, hard corals and crinoids are more vibrant towards the top of the pinnacle.
Wang Long is located on the south east edge of Phi Phi Don and is only dived by experienced and suitably trained divers. This is a cave dive. Two caves enter the rock wall and meet up in a larger inner cave where it is possible to surface. Currents are mild and the maximum depth is just 20m. Visibility is 5-15m.