Spotlight on Koh Bon diving
Koh Bon is one of the best dive sites in Thailand to see manta rays. They are very common in the high season from November to April. You can dive in the bay or on the plateau, the mantas tend to hang out in currents on the plateau and diving can be challenging at times. Snorkelers can also see the mantas from the surface as they tend to stay shallow.
There is also plenty to see on the south wall which is covered with sponges, seafans and clams. Moray eels, crabs, sea snakes, octopus and cuttlefish can all be seen along with all the usual reef fish common to the area. The occasional white tip reef or black reef shark cruise by. It can make a very nice night dive when the open coral polys and reflective shrimps eyes make the wall really colourful..
There are several dive sites in Thailand which allow divers close encounters with manta rays. The best are Koh Bon and Koh Tachai, two small islands just north of the Similan Island chain, about 50km from Khao Lak. Equally good are Hin Daeng, Hin Muang, two small rocks in the Andaman sea close to Koh Lanta. These dive sites are accessible from November to April when the south east monsoon brings calm seas to the west coast of Thailand. Racha Noi south plateau, two hours boat ride south of Phuket, can be dived year round and gets occasional manta ray visits.
Manta rays come in to feed and be cleaned when currents are strong. Diving with them can be challenging at times.
Mantas spend a lot of their time in shallow water so snorkelers can enjoy encounters with them too.
The best way to dive these excellent dive sites is by liveaboard from Phuket or Khao Lak. Day trips to Koh Bon are available every Wednesday and Sunday from Phuket or Khao Lak. Day trips are available to Hin Daeng/Hin Muang from Koh Lanta or Phi Phi.