Diving in Thailand: From SCUBA Shop To Ocean Floor

by Andrea Petkovic

Thailand is not only famous for its beautiful beaches, but for many passionate divers, it represents a real heaven on Earth. The country is world renowned for some of the best diving in the world, with amazing spots like Koh Phi Phi and Ko Lanta Islands in the Andaman Sea, and what makes it even better is: it comes at an affordable price!

Scuba diver underwater

How to Begin Diving in Thailand?  

If you have always wanted to dive in Thailand, you’re in the perfect place! Luckily, it’s really easy to start diving in Thailand. Simply walk into one of the many dive shops in almost any town on the coast and book a course. However, to make sure that the start date of the course fits your schedule, it can be beneficial to book online. 

Pick a Place, Not Any Place. Always check the reviews of the dive center or ask around. Then, choose the center or shop you feel the most comfortable with and provides a reliable reputation. Don’t pick the cheapest and first place you see because there will be a lot of them. It is always better to pay a little extra, but dive in a safe location with good instructors than be sorry later. Don’t forget – safety first! 

Class. The courses usually last three days so there is not much time to lose. The first day will be spent learning the theory (if you did not do it already online) and then you will spend a couple of hours in the pool practicing the skills. The real adventure starts on the second day of the course with the dives. All the skills come together on the third day when you know what to expect and finally feel relaxed and able to truly enjoy your surroundings.

Prepare To Be Obsessed. Once finished with the course, you will want more, and more, and more…SCUBA diving is like an addiction, but a healthy one that opens up a whole new world!

Where Should You Dive in Thailand?

A certification is like a ticket to the bottom of the sea and Thailand has a lot to offer below the surface. The most popular diving sites in Thailand are located on the Andaman Sea on the southeast coast of Thailand. These include Similan Islands, Surin Islands, Koh Lanta, and, of course, the most famous Koh Phi Phi Islands. On the east coast of Thailand, you can also visit Koh Tao.

Boats on the beach in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Similan Islands – These islands were declared a Marine National Park in 1982 and consist of a group of nine small islands. This site was ranked as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world by the National Geographic Society.

Surin Islands – These islands are also considered to be one of the best diving spots in the world. There are many interesting diving spots in and around the Surin Islands. The eastern and western sides offer a multitude of exciting dives at a variety of depths. 

Koh Lanta – This island is not only famous for its white sand beaches and stunning sunsets, but also for the spectacular diving sites. It actually consists of two islands: Koh Lanta Noi and Koh Lanta Yai. They are both part of the Koh Lanta National Park and archipelago which consists of over 50 islands in the Andaman Sea. For the adventurous divers interested in an adrenaline rush, there is a shark point! 

Koh Phi Phi – In 2011, the Phi Phi Island was voted into TripAdvisor’s Top Twenty destinations worldwide and was also declared No. 1 in their “Must See Islands in the World” list. The Phi Phi Islands National Park consists of six beautiful islands, each one uniquely different, and with the most amazing dive sites in the world. Whichever dive site you choose, there’s no going wrong. 

Koh Tao – This island is without a doubt the best destination for diving in Thailand; among divers, it is known as one of THE places to take an open water diving course. 

When is the Best Time to Dive in Thailand?

One of the advantages of diving in Thailand is that you can dive all year round, because when it is the low season on the west coast, it is the high season on the east coast. In addition, Thailand is a tropical island and the weather is mostly hot all year with temperatures ranging from 77°F to 87°F. The average water temperature is around 84°F. However, there are certain things you should take into consideration when deciding when to dive:

Crowds. First of all, you may want to avoid high tourist season as it is difficult to find accommodations, and even if you find it, you will pay a small fortune for a room. Furthermore, dive sites are packed with divers so it is harder to fully enjoy and experience a dive site. If you must travel during this period, make sure to book accommodation and dives well in advance.

Seasons. In Thailand, there are two seasons: wet and dry. Even though there is not much of a difference in temperatures, if you can avoid rainy season, then avoid it! Nothing terrible will happen, as Thai rainy season usually includes a 2 hour long shower in the late afternoon. Even though this rain will definitely not destroy diving plans, you will go by a boat to many of the sites and return later in the afternoon and possibly be caught in a storm somewhere.  Also, rain sometimes does fall during the day and thus can influence visibility while diving.

Scuba Divers looking at coral and fish

Not Sure About Scuba Diving? Try Discovery Dive or Snorkeling! 

Not sure if diving is for you? A discovery dive course will introduce you to how to use SCUBA equipment in shallow water and offer a taste of what diving is like.

If you are totally convinced that diving is NOT for you, then there is another possibility to explore the underwater world – snorkeling! It is easy, affordable, and even more accessible. Most of the islands and coastal towns offer snorkeling day trips with local people that are easy to arrange and take little to no planning.

In the end, no matter what type of activity interests you, there is an adventure in Thailand just waiting for you!