Neon lights, bright colors, unusual forms… no, this is not a description of a nightlife activity, it’s a night dive at Phuket!
When traveling to one of the Thai archipelagoes most likely you will be staying at Phuket before and after your departure. Why not spend a few more days here? You will have a chance to get acquainted with one of the wrecks in the nearby area or to perform a night dive.
On the occasion that you are just beginning your diving adventure, Phuket will be an unforgettable gateway to the underwater world.
Easily reachable by a direct flight from most of the world’s airports Phuket is a 50 km (31 miles) long Island. There are 3 main districts in Phuket: Thaland in the northern part, Kathu (famous for Patong beach) in the western part and Mueang Phuket (with Phuket town and all other famous beaches like Karon, Kata, Rawai and others) in the southern part.
The best transportation on the Island is a taxi, bus or mini-van. If you are thinking of hiring a scooter, abandon this idea. It is too dangerous due to a hectic traffic, better rent a car then.
Phuket welcomes divers all the year round with its warm water which hardly goes below 25ºC (77ºF). But National Marine Parks are closed for diving in the wet season which is between June and October. Thus, it’s better to consider the other months.
Most of Phuket’s dive sites are located either near the coast with shore entry or within a short transfer by a speedboat or a longtail boat.
If you are planning some wreck dives, better take your gloves and a torch. A torch will come in handy for night dives as well.
Best dive sites overview
There are plenty of locations for beginners with shore entry dives from Kata and Karon Beaches. It is common to see Lionfish, Wrasse, Snapper, and Stingrays there. Try to visit Koh Poo, Kata Noi Reef or Karon Rok for a selection of hard corals, Octopus, Batfish and Anemones.
Night dive at Yanui Beach
When the moon is full it might be the best idea to try a night dive at Yanui Beach. The maximum dive depth is 9m (29ft.) and the reef goes up to 3m (9ft.) which is ideal for a night dive. The moonlight turns a dive site into an alien planet. On such nights, it’s great to turn off your torch for a while to admire the fluorescence of plankton and nocturnal underwater life. Night hunters, like Lionfish, Morays, and Crabs, will be moving around. Do not forget to control your buoyancy.
Tin Mining Barge (Wreck)
Tin Mining Barge is a 30m (98ft.) long wreck located not far from Bang Tao Bay in the northern part of Phuket. The bottom lies at 12-16m (ft.) and the upper part is located at 4m (13ft.). Not many dive clubs know or organize trips to this dive site, so it will not be crowded. At the same time, underwater inhabitants will please you with their diversity. The average visibility is about 8m (26ft.).
Have you ever seen a plane or a helicopter wreck? If not yet, then War Birds dive site is waiting for you. Upon Buddist and Thai Defense Department blessing 4 Dakota Airplanes and 6 Sikorsky Helicopters were drowned in the western part of Bang Tao Bay in 2008. The average depth of the dive is 17m-20m (55-65ft.) with visibility of 10m (32ft.).
Technical divers can practice their skills at HMS Squirrel dive site. After hitting Japanese mine this 65m (213ft.) long British vessel sank in 1945 in the southern part of Phuket. She is settled at the depth of 65-72m (213-236ft.) on her starboard.
Best dive season
You’d better arrive between November and April to enjoy the warmest and the calmest water around Phuket. February and March are the best months.
The visibility is around 10m (32ft.) during November and April as most of the dive sites around Phuket are influenced by the tide. The water temperature reminds taking a warm shower because of 28-31ºC (82-87ºF).
Wrecks usually attract such fish as Batfish, Lionfish, Scorpionfish, Snappers, Glassfish, Fusiliers, and Barracudas.
On house reefs not far from the shore you’d better concentrate on smaller creatures like Nudibranchs, Crabs, and Shrimps. Maybe you are lucky to find Seahorse and Ghost Pipefish. They try to masquerade as soft corals, so you need patience and a quick eye to spot them. Even when diving at house reefs not far from the shore it is worth looking into the sandy spots for Stingrays or upper layers for Turtles.
The selection of an accommodation at Phuket usually depends on the budget and the level of privacy which you would like to have as the choice is large.
If you prefer a peaceful and luxury environment with lagoons at a 6km (miles) long beach, then you’d better choose a resort in Bangtao. The high-end accommodations will provide everything you might desire for, even a Golf course.
Moving further from the Airport your will find Kamala on the western side of the Island. Here you can escape from the crowds on a 1.5 km (0.93 miles) long beach. It is targeting families and those with a preference of a relaxation at the beach.
Patong is the busiest, most famous location, especially between backpackers. Young people love it due to the largest number of bars, discos, restaurants and shops on the Island. So it can be quite noisy during the nights unless there are windows with sound insulation at the hotel.
Small towns of Karon and Kata are much quieter than Patong providing mid-priced pleasant accommodations. But whenever you wish to find yourself back in a center of Brownian motion, just take a 30-minutes drive to Patong.
Rawai and Phuket town might be not the best places to stay. The first one is not good for swimming while the latter is a business center.
Many liveaboards (for example, DiveRACE Class E, Giamani, The Junk, Thailand Aggressor) heading to Similan Islands, Surin Islands, and the Mergui Archipelago leave either from Phuket or from the nearby Khao Lak.
Other activities for non-divers
Phuket gives a chance for good snorkeling, like the nearby Coral Island. The transfer time is about 15 min by a speedboat from Chalong. Or you can put on your mask and fins at Nai Harn Bay located not far from Rawai. Here you will find brain corals with their regular companions, Christmas Tree Worms, and plenty of reef fish.
If you are a devoted eco-activist you might be interested in giving your support to Gibbons. For this, you need to visit Gibbon Rehabilitation Center which is located in the eastern part of Phuket next to Bang Pae Waterfall.
Feeling inspired and raring to go? Check out our Phuket travel guide and start planning your next diving trip!