Along with its beautiful beaches and exotic culture, Thailand is enormously popular for its high-quality diving. The country has access to two separate seas in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. No matter what time of year it is, one or the other of these seas has good weather and high visibility. Among the many dive sites available in Thailand, some truly stand out.
Sail Rock (Gulf of Thailand)
Sail Rock is so named because from a distance and from certain angles it resembles a sail. Its location means the dive boat trips from both the islands of Koh Tao and Koh Phangan make regular visits, and it is arguably the most popular dive site in an area filled with them. It is a rocky knob jutting up out of the sea, the capstone of a beautiful coral-encrusted tower that extends 115 feet to the sandy bottom below. The rock is a good place to see all sorts of tropical sea life, including tuna, moray eels, groupers and barracuda. The rock also includes a "chimney," or tube with one opening at the surface and another about 60 feet below.
If you are diving in the Koh Tao/Koh Phangan area and have already done Sail Rock a couple of times, speak with your dive company about diving the big submerged rock that is about a hundred yards away from it. The chain of parked dive boats on the site usually sits above it anyway. This site lacks the colorful corals of Sail Rock itself, but it is infrequently dived and reliably has a lot more sea life around it.
Richelieu Rock (Andaman Sea)
Richelieu Rock figures prominently in live-aboard dive trips to the Similian Islands and larger Andaman Sea, but there are very few day trips going there. It barely juts above the surface at low tide on a calm day, so depending on when you go there the rock may be invisible from the dive boat. It is horseshoe-shaped, with one leg of the shoe always sitting well below the surface. The typical dive plan is to drop to between 90 and 115 feet and then spiral around the rock and back up to the surface. The corals are lovely, and grouper, barracuda and nurse sharks are regularly sighted there. It is also widely considered to be one of the best places in Thailand to see a manta ray or whale shark. However, it should be noted that the currents around Richelieu Rock are usually strong, and visibility has been known to be fickle.
Christmas Point (Andaman Sea)
If a beautiful coral landscape is what you want to see on a dive, then this site in the Similian Islands should be at the top of your list. The site has several arches, creating more swim-through opportunities than you will find anywhere else in Thai waters. Divers here tend to spend most of their time at 65 feet, but the maximum depth is around 130 feet. This is also one of the better places to go looking for harmless-but-big sharks. In addition to the smallish white tip reef shark, nurse and leopard sharks are frequent visitors.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.