Phuket’s Top 5 Dive Sites – Where to See the Mantas

Ko Racha Noi is one of the best places in Thailand to see manta rays. Photo: Dean Croshere, Flickr CC

Phuket is a great place for divers – thanks to its good transportation connections and central location close to Thailand’s main diving hot spots. There are dozens of daily flights from Bangkok and around the Asia, and even if Phuket’s own coastal waters don’t offer much for divers, you can easily do day-trips to great dive sites both on the island’s southern and northern side.

Both beginners and experienced divers will find satisfying dive sites, and tough competition keeps prices low.

Read more on Liveaboards in Thailand

As rewarding as day trips from Phuket can be, the best diving is enjoyed on multi-day liveaboard trips, which will take to some of Thailand’s best dive sites. Phuket is Thailand’s most important port for liveaboards.

Diving can be done year round in Phuket, thanks to the abundance of choices of diving destinations, which leaves a plenty of room to choose a suitable dive site according to the weather conditions. Only access to the famous Ko Similan Islands is restricted during the summer months’ monsoon season.

In spite of Phuket’s popularity and huge visitor numbers, coral reefs have remained in surprisingly good conditions. Phuket’s dive centers have taken the conservation seriously; among other means of marine protection they get together regularly to clean the reefs from debris.

Arto Koivunen from Phuket’s Noste Asia dive center reveals us his top 5 list for best dive sites around Phuket for day trips.

Ko Similan is not included in the list, since the distant archipelago is best enjoyed on a liveaboard trip. Some dive shops organize also day trips to Ko Similan, but with all the traveling time you will end up spending 14 hours for just two dives.

1 Ko Racha Noi

Ko Racha Noi reminds quite a lot of the Similan Islands. If the currents are not strong the visibility is around 20 meters. There are not that much terrific corals, but this is a place to come for the big creatures. Area known as South Tip is a so called cleaning station, where handsome manta rays gather to let smaller fish clean them from parasites.

The mantas can be seen throughout the year by almost 50 percent probability, January and February having the biggest concentration of these fabulous creatures.

Ko Racha Noi belongs definitely to all of Thailand’s top 10 dive destinations (not to be confused to neighboring Ko Racha Yai island).

2 King Cruiser

King Cruiser wreck is one of Phuket’s most colorful underwater sights being covered with corals and inhabited by large shoals of fish. The wreck has already collapsed and cannot be entered inside, but the spectacular schools of fish generously make up for it. Trevallies, barracudas, moray eels, groupers and small fish fight for survival in the shelter of the wreck.

3 Ko Phi Phi

A favorite for many, and fits well both beginners and experienced divers. Ko Phi Phi’s numerous dive sites have impressive coral reefs, lots of fish and the region’s best chance to see sharks, both leopard sharks and black tips. Usually done as a long day-trip with three dives.

4 Shark Point

Not that much sharks, despite the name, but otherwise a beautiful and colorful dive spot. The safety stop is done next to a rock full of soft corals in the colors of the rainbow.

5 Ko Dok Mai

This nice wall dive is great for admiring small critters such as seahorses.


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