The Ultimate Guide to Scuba Diving in Phuket

As Thailand's largest island, Phuket is a tropical paradise nestled in the Andaman Sea and renowned as one of the region's premier dive destinations. With its crystal-clear waters, vibrant marine life, fascinating wrecks and stunning coral reefs, Phuket diving offers an unforgettable experience for beginners all the way through to seasoned divers. Part of the 2000km of coastline surrounding Thailand, Phuket's diving conditions are ideal year-round with mild currents, 30m visibility, depths of up to 36m and water temperatures sitting between 28-30° C. However for the perfect diving conditions, the Andaman Sea is at its best from November to April. Prepare to be amazed as you dive into a world of breathtaking underwater landscapes and encounter a diverse array of marine creatures.

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Diving Hotspots for All Skill Levels

Phuket's diving culture is deeply ingrained in its identity, attracting divers from across the globe to experience its diverse marine life and the relaxed vibe of its sparkling coastlines. Most of the top dive sites are concentrated along the southwestern coast, with some hidden gems to be found in the waters surrounding the offshore islands. Here you'll encounter everything from colourful corals and friendly sea turtles to bashful barracuda and mesmerising manta ray.

Whether you crave exhilarating deep dives offering encounters with large marine creatures or prefer gentle shallow dives ideal for beginners or those seeking a more laid-back experience, the Phuket diving scene has something for everyone. With warm, clear waters and rich biodiversity, Phuket's dive spots provide the perfect setting for an unforgettable diving adventure.

Top Phuket Dive Sites

From remote dive sites accessible only by boat to easily reached shore dives, Phuket offers some of the most sought-after diving spots in the world.

1. Richelieu Rock

Nestled in the Andaman Sea, Richelieu Rock is one of Thailand's most iconic dive sites. Its fame stems from the vibrant marine life, including whale sharks, that frequent the area. Accessible via boat, Richelieu Rock is a magnet for experienced divers seeking an extraordinary underwater experience.

Location: Andaman Sea
Skill Level: Advanced
Best Time to Dive: February to April
How To Get There: Richelieu Rock is accessible by liveaboard boats departing from Phuket or Khao Lak. These trips typically range from 3 to 7 days and include multiple dive sites. Transfers are available from some resorts and Phuket International Airport to the departure point in Khao Lak.

2. King Cruiser Wreck

Located nearby, the King Cruiser Wreck is famous for its stunning underwater scenery and diverse marine life. This wreck dive offers an eerie yet fascinating experience that attracts skilled divers from around the world. Although not as vibrant as Richelieu Rock, the King Cruiser Wreck rewards divers with memorable explorations of the sunken ferry.

Location: Between Phuket and Phi Phi Islands
Skill Level: Advanced
Best Time to Dive: November to April
How To Get There: The King Cruiser Wreck can be reached by day trip boats from Phuket. Most dive shops in Patong, Kata and Karon offer packages that include transfers from your accommodation to the pier, a boat ride to the site and diving equipment.

3. Shark Point

For beginners and intermediate divers, Shark Point provides an ideal learning environment. Its coral gardens and gentle currents make it perfect for honing your skills or experiencing your first dive lesson. Dive schools line the shore, offering equipment rental and expert instruction.
Location: Near Phi Phi Islands

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Best Time to Dive: November to April
How To Get There: Shark Point is accessible by boat from Phuket. Dive shops offer day trips that include transportation, equipment and guided dives. Boats typically depart from Chalong Pier, with hotel pickups available.

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4. Similan Islands

The Similan Islands offer a variety of dive sites suitable for different skill levels. From the powerful currents of Elephant Head Rock to the mellow waters of Beacon Beach, divers of all abilities can find their perfect underwater adventure. The vibrant marine community and laid-back atmosphere add to the appeal of this diving destination.

Location: Similan Islands
Skill Level: All skill levels
Best Time to Dive: November to May
How To Get There: The Similan Islands are best accessed by liveaboard boats from Phuket or Khao Lak. Day trips are also available, departing from Thap Lamu Pier in Khao Lak. Transfers from Phuket to Khao Lak are commonly provided by dive operators.

5. Koh Racha Yai

Located south of Phuket, Koh Racha Yai is known for its clear waters and relaxed atmosphere. This dive site offers long, peaceful dives with excellent visibility, making it a favourite among photographers. While not as crowded as other spots, Koh Racha Yai still attracts divers seeking a tranquil session.

Location: South of Phuket
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Best Time to Dive: November to April
How To Get There: Koh Racha Yai is accessible by boat from Phuket. Dive shops offer day trips departing from Chalong Pier, including hotel transfers, equipment rental and guided dives.

When to Dive in Phuket

With its tropical climate, Phuket offers good diving conditions year-round. However, the best time to visit for optimal diving is during the dry season, from November to April. During this period, the water is clearer, and the weather is generally pleasant.

November to April: This period marks the dry season in Phuket, characterised by sunny days, calm seas and excellent visibility. Diving enthusiasts flock to the island during these months to experience some of the best underwater conditions Phuket has to offer. The southwestern coast, including popular sites like Richelieu Rock and the Similan Islands, provides world-class diving experiences that attract divers seeking vibrant marine life and clear waters.

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Nearby Accommodation

For those looking to be within walking distance of some of Phuket's most iconic dive sites, there are various accommodation options including top picks like Katathani Phuket Beach Resort, Sunwing Kamala Beach and Amari Phuket. These properties boast stunning ocean views and easy access to dive centres, making them ideal for divers seeking convenience and comfort.

The area around Patong Beach has emerged as a vibrant hub with a laid-back atmosphere and an eclectic mix of dive shops, cafes and top accommodation picks such as Andaman Beach Suites Hotel, Burasari Phuket and Courtyard by Marriott Phuket, Patong Beach Resort. Whether you're looking for a luxury retreat or budget-friendly accommodation, Patong has something for everyone.

For those seeking a lively atmosphere and easy access to shopping, dining and nightlife, Karon and Kata are popular choices. These areas offer a wide range of accommodation options, from beachfront hotels to boutique villas tucked away in quiet lanes. We recommend divers stay at Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket, Beyond Resort Kata and Phuket Orchid Resort & Spa. From beachfront resorts to cosy hotels, you'll find plenty of places to stay within easy reach of the dive centres.

Additional Information

In addition to knowing the best dive sites, how to access them and when to visit, here are some additional tips to enhance your Phuket diving experience:

What to Bring

  • Multiple dive masks
  • Dive computer
  • Reef-safe sunscreen
  • Wetsuit
  • Rash guard
  • Dive fins
  • Spare O-rings
  • Dive hat

Advice for Beginners

If you're new to the exhilarating world of diving, Phuket offers the perfect environment to learn and progress. However, there are some valuable tips that will help beginners make the most of their diving experience. Our top tip is to take lessons from a certified instructor before hitting the water on your own. Phuket is home to numerous dive schools that offer beginner-friendly programs to teach the fundamentals of diving. Be realistic with yourself about your abilities and start out on gentle dive sites. There are many beginner-friendly spots with sandy bottoms, good visibility and shallow waters ideal for practising your skills in a safe environment.

When starting out, it's also essential to use the right equipment suited to your skill level. Opt for a large, stable dive mask with a wide field of view, such as a full-face mask, which provides better visibility and comfort for beginners. Learning to dive takes time and dedication, so don't get discouraged if you don't progress as quickly as you'd like. Be patient with yourself, stay persistent and celebrate each small improvement along the way. Remember, diving is as much about enjoying the journey as it is about exploring underwater.

Of course, respecting dive etiquette is one of the most important parts of learning to dive. Familiarise yourself with basic dive etiquette to ensure a positive and safe experience in the water. Always yield to more experienced divers, wait your turn for entry points and avoid disturbing marine life. By showing respect for fellow divers, the environment and following proper etiquette, you'll contribute to a harmonious diving environment for everyone.

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Safety Information

While scuba diving in Phuket can be thrilling, it's important to prioritise safety. Be aware of your limits, wear appropriate safety gear and practice good dive etiquette to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Protect yourself and your investment by purchasing travel insurance before your trip to Phuket. Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost or stolen belongings and other unforeseen circumstances, giving you peace of mind while exploring the island's dive sites.

Equipment Hire

Renting dive gear and equipment is a convenient option for travellers who don't want to bring their own gear or for beginners looking to try diving for the first time. Here's what you need to know about gear and equipment hire in Phuket:

Dive Gear Rental: Phuket has no shortage of dive gear rental shops, particularly in popular diving areas like Patong, Kata and Karon. Whether you're looking for a beginner-friendly full-face mask, a high-performance dive computer or a classic set of dive fins, you'll find a variety of gear available for rent at affordable daily or weekly rates. Most rental shops also offer a selection of dive gear sizes and types to suit different skill levels and dive conditions.

Equipment Options: In addition to dive masks, many rental shops in Phuket also offer a range of diving accessories and equipment for hire, including wetsuits, rash guards, dive computers, fins and snorkels. If you're travelling light or don't have your own gear, renting these items locally is a convenient and cost-effective way to ensure you have everything you need for a successful dive session. Some rental shops even offer package deals that include multiple items at discounted rates.

Quality & Condition: When renting dive gear and equipment in Phuket, it's important to inspect the items carefully before committing to a rental. Check the dive mask for any scratches, cracks or fogging issues that could affect its performance in the water, and ensure that the fins and straps are securely attached.

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