Diving & Snorkelling

This tropical paradise which lies in the Gulf of Thailand provides an unbelievable wealth of sites where you can safely go diving and snorkelling. For many thousands of visitors who come to Koh Phangan, diving or snorkelling is their number one pastime. The long coral reef spreading along the west coast beaches provides many easily accessible sites for snorkelling. Then only 20km off the shores of the island, you will find some of the best dive sites in this part of Thailand. If you are a beginner, and you want to learn to scuba dive, along with Ko Tao, this is one of the best places in the world to learn. The people involved in running and teaching scuba diving, have a relaxed but highly professional attitude. The PADI Open Water diving courses are amongst the cheapest you will find anywhere. Diving groups are usually quite small, ranging from 1 to 4 persons, which again make it a more friendly and enjoyable experience, as you receive more personal attention from your dive leader or instructor. Under Thai Law, all dive operators and instructors are members of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), and must be registered with the TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand). This ensures they are all properly qualified, provide a professional service, observe all internationally recognised safety rules, and do not overcharge. So check that you book through a TAT recognised dive centre. Snorkelling As most of the island is surrounded by shallow coral reefs, you don't need to be a scuba diver to enjoy the amazing aquatic life on the seabed and admire the magnificent corals. Snorkelers can swim out from beaches - some of the best being Mae Head, Ko Ma, Haad Salad, Haad Ya, Haad Khom, and Haad Chaophao - or sign up for an organised snorkelling tour. Alternatively, just hire a boat to take you to some good snorkelling spots. The boatmen know where's good. Check out the Boat Trips highlight for further details. TrueVoyage (www.truevoyage.com), organise catamaran snorkelling cruises for half or full day trip, and prices start at 1500B. Another good way to go snorkelling is to book one of the "around the island" boat trips from Haad Rin. They start at 12:00pm and return at 6:00pm. The dive shops will often take snorkellers along with them on the dive boats. Just be aware that good dive spots do not necessarily mean good snorkelling. If the wonderful marine life is 10+ metres down, that's not going to be great from the surface. Check that there is a healthy reef in shallow depths for snorkellers before signing up with a dive boat. If you don't want to snorkel alone, check that there will be somebody else in the water with you. Scuba Diving There are many sites around the island which are ideal for both beginners and experienced divers. In some areas, you can dive straight off the beach, or you can go by boat to some of the best dive sites in the world. The waters around the coast contain superb hard corals in a wide range of reefs, and there is an abundance of tropical fish and other colourful marine life. A little further afield is Sail Rock, located between Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, one of the most famous dive sites in the gulf. This stunning site can be explored by divers of all levels of proficiency. The huge rock which rises out of the water provides a great wall dive with excellent diving from 6m down to 35m. It's an incredible display of underwater scenery with fascinating rock formations and a wealth of tropical marine life. Whale Sharks are often spotted around here! Other popular dive sites include: • Koh Ma, diving depth 24m, in the Northwest corner of the island, connected to Koh Phangan by a sandbar. • Haad Salad, Haad Yao and Haad Chao Phao, diving depth 19m - three beaches bordered by coral reefs along the west coast. • Koh Tae Nok, diving depth 19m, near Thong Sala on the south coast, very popular with its reef fish, hard corals and small reef shark. • Ang Tong National Park, diving depth 25m. Further afield, this archipelago of 42 islands is a 2-hour boat trip, but you will be more than rewarded by diving amongst the widest range of fish in the Gulf of Siam. You may also spot sea turtles, sea snakes, black corals and hydroids up to 2m. Perfect for beginners and experienced divers alike. For those of you wishing to learn how to dive, there a number of options; including a one-day introductory course to see if diving is for you, as well as a full beginner's course. You can attain the internationally recognised PADI Open Water Certificate that will allow you to dive anywhere in the world. The Open Water course involves a few hours classroom learning. PADI now allows you to do this online before the practical part if you wish. Just look on the PADI website for more details. SSI is another internationally recognised diving certification offered by some schools. There are also many different courses for experienced divers such as Rescue Diver, EFR, Nitrox Enriched Air, and even courses for those wish to become professional instructors. There are many dive operators and schools spread around the island. Be to check the reviews online for any dive shop you look at going with. Here are a just a few highly rated ones listed by area: Chaloklum - The Dive Inn Email: info@the-diveinn.com Tel: +66 77374262 Website: www.the-diveinn.com Chaloklum - Chaloklum Diving Email: info@chaloklum-diving.com Tel: +66 77374025 Website: www.chaloklum-diving.com Chaloklum - Lotus Dive resort Email: info@lotusdiving.com Tel: +66 77374142 Website: www.lotusdiving.com Haad Yao - Reefers Diving Email: reefersdiving@gmail.com Tel: +66 878940637 Website: www.reefersdiving.com Haad Yao - Haad Yao Divers Email: contact@haadyaodivers.com Tel: +66 62793085 Website: http://haadyaodivers.com

Map of Lower Gulf of Thailand

Lower Gulf of Thailand-Map