The Kingdom of Thailand is bordered by Malaysia to the south, Myanmar to the west, Laos to the north and Cambodia to the east. Thailand is divided into four distinct regions: the mountainous north, the vast northeast plateau, the central plains, and the narrow Isthmus of Kra to the south, stretching down to the border with Malaysia. It has an enormous amount to offer, from ancient temples to rainforests and remote islands with palm-fringed beaches – and, of course, coral reefs teeming with life for divers and snorkelers.
The Andaman sea is extending from coast of Burma down past the west coast of Thailand and Indian Islands of Andaman and Nicobar, to beyond Malaysian and Indonesia. Thailand’s most extensive, pristine, and best-developed reefs occur in the Andaman Sea, particularly in the Surin and Similan Islands.
Thailand is also bordered by the Gulf of Siam. Most known islands are Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan. Contrary to the sea of Andaman where the visibility can achieve until 30m, The Gulf, due to the turbid waters from river outlets coming from the continent, does not benefit from this chance, the water is rather green and blurry.
The most beautiful dives are in Andaman Sea. In the North extends a multitude of dive sites among which famous Richelieu Rock situated in The national park of Surin, The island of Bon renowned for its cleaning station of Mantas, and the archipelago of Similan famous for the macro submarine variety.
In the South of Phi Phi and Lanta, the “must-see” Koh Haa for its cave, its canyons and its chimney, and the impressive and colored Huge Outcrops of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. Another dive destination in the Andaman Sea is Mu Koh Tarutao Marine National Park (just north of the Malaysian border). Marine life in Andaman sea is so various, hard and soft corals, macro life, school of snappers or barracudas, and pelagic can been spotted… Well, it’s nowadays a new story…
The offshore marine life of Andaman was abundant, with several species of hard or soft corals, a microscopic fauna, schools of snappers or barracudas, reef sharks, manta rays and whale sharks. Regrettably, in April, 2010, the temperature of the water was so high, that the hard coral reefs bleach, then died. Most of the dives sites of Similan and Surin, lost their magnificent corals gardens and school of fishes. As for manta rays and sharks, they do not have time any more to reach the dive sites, the fishermen boats around intercept them in their nets.
Only the coral species, as soft corals or sea fans, stand up this global warming, and some dive sites, as Richelieu Rock always offers colourful dives and underwater species diversity. Koh Bon is always attractive when manta rays stay there and Koh Tachai is certainly the place where you have most luck to encounter some sharks, schools of barracudas and platax, as well as a macro fauna.
It is still possible to do some beautiful dives on the sites of Koh Haa for its caves, canyons and chimney passage, as well as the impressive pinnacles of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, where we can, when the chance smiles to us, encounter whale sharks and manta rays.
The best season to dive in Andaman Sea is from November till May, but dive is possible all year long in Thailand, by alternating with the gulf of Siam, when the monsoon occurs on the West Coast.
Certainly Thailand is not any more in the top 10 diving spot worldwide, but some dive sites still spared by the bleaching and the overfishing, offer a healthy coral reef and abound in surprises in macro fauna like sea horses, harlequin or mantis shrimps, ghost pipe fishes…