If you enjoy wreck diving, if you prefer to escape from noisy and crowded Phuket, and to be located close to the starting point of most of the liveaboards in Thailand, then Khao Lak is the best location for you.
Some of the dive sites are perfect for beginners to practice and advance their wreck skills. Besides, these artificial reefs have become home for a large variety of the Andaman Sea fish. Whether you are taking a Deep Dive Course, a Nitrox Course or would like to practice your technical diver skills, then there are a few spots for you as well.
Khao Lak covers about 20km (12 miles) of the Southern Thailand coast. The easiest way to get there is from Phuket which is situated about 100 km (62 miles) to the south. You can arrange a transfer by taxi, bus or mini-van.
Though the water is warm it might be useful to take gloves for dives at Khao Lak, they will protect you if you try to hold on the wreck.
Officially you can go to the dive sites not far from the Khao Lak’s shore all the year round. However, as Similan National Park and Surin National Park close between June and October due to the monsoon season it might be not the best idea to arrive at this rainy and windy season. Moreover, most of the liveaboards leave this area and some of the dive clubs cease operation during the wet season.
Dive Map of Khao Lak
Best dive sites overview
Boonsung used to be a 60m (196ft.) long tin dredger. It sank in 1985, so there was plenty of time for soft corals to settle all around the artificial reef. Though 2004 tsunami broke the wreck into 5 pieces it only made it more interesting for divers of all levels. It is not allowed to penetrate the wreck because of sharp protruding parts.
The wreck stays on the sand with the maximum depth of 20m (65ft.) and her highest point is at 14m (45ft.). This dive site can be reached within 30 minutes by a speedboat from Khao Lak. As it is not far from the shore do not expect great visibility. Usually, it is about 5-10m (16-32ft.) with gentle currents. Nonetheless, the “fish nursery” around the wreck will excite you.
Try to spot Yellow and Bluestripe Snapper, Porcupinefish, Yellowtail Barracuda, Lionfish, Trevally, and Scorpionfish. Often you can find Cuttlefish, Crocodilefish, and Stingrays on the sandy area between the sections of the wreck. Look for a variety of Morays in the crannies, like Leopard, Zebra, and White-eyed Morays. If you take a closer look at the holes or at the soft corals you might be able to distinguish Mantis Shrimp, Pipefish, Goby, and Nudibranch.
Another old mining station formed Premchai Wreck when it sank in 2001. It is said that it was sunk on purpose to provide more spots for recreational diving around Khao Lak. It is located not far from Thai Muang Beach. The wreck can be recommended for all divers.
It settles at the depth of 22m (72ft.) on the sand going up to 12m (39ft.). The visibility is not very good because of the coastal tide influence. You should expect 5-10m (16-32ft.).
There is a line attached to the buoy to get in and out. If you take a closer look you will find small Mussels on the line surrounded by Juvenile Fish. From time to time Turtle is spotted near the buoy. Get ready to meet Lionfish, Scorpionfish, Snappers, Barracudas, Banded and Leopard Morays, Angelfish, Boxfish, and Pipefish.
Do not try to penetrate the wreck as there are many nets and cables.
Khao Lak Wreck Park
There are several US military ships which were deliberately sunk not far from Khao Lak thus creating Khao Lak Wreck Park. The first vessel was 98m (321ft.) long HMTS Prathong 715. She was sunk in 2013. She used to be a US military ship during the Second World War. The next one was T13 patrol boat which was sunk in 2014.
The maximum depth at T13 dive site is 15-18m (49-59 ft.), her upper deck is located at 8m (26m), so the dive is good for beginners.
Both wrecks are quite new and not much inhabited by the soft corals, but they already attract wildlife and divers.
Sea Chart 1 Wreck
Sea Chart 1 used to be an 84m (275ft.) long cargo ship. She sank due to bad weather conditions in 2009 during the transportation of teak wood from Myanmar to Vietnam. All crew and passengers were saved. The transfer to the dive site takes about 1 hour.
As the average depth of the dive is 24m (78ft.), the wreck is recommended only for advanced, Nitrox and technical divers. The maximum depth is 40m (131ft.) and you can face medium currents. The visibility in average is 10m (32ft.). You can examine the cargo on the sandy bottom, propeller, and wheelhouse.
Besides beautiful small staff like Nudibranchs, Octopus, and Ghost Pipefish there is a chance to find Frogfish on the ledgers. Be careful with Lionfish around. Barracudas are usually waiting for you near the buoy line.
Best dive season
It is best to arrive between February and April at Khao Lak as for most Thai dive destinations. The dry season ensures warm and calm waters.
The average temperature during the dry season is 28-31ºC (82-87ºF). The visibility at Khao Lak is about 10m (32ft.). The coat of Khao Lak is sandy and there is no house reef that is why snorkeling is not recommended here.
Khao Lak’s wrecks provide an overview of different pelagic fish typical for this area, like Yellow Snapper, Yellowtail Barracuda, and Batfish. A large number of Lionfish and Scorpionfish is usually living on the wrecks so you should take care not to touch any of them.
Other typical inhabitants will be schools of Glassfish, Fusiliers, Nudibranchs, and various species of Morays. At some dive sites, you might be lucky to spot rare guests or inhabitants like Turtle, Frogfish, and even Manta Ray.
You can find any type of accommodation at Khao Lak depending on your requests. Though it might be a good idea to stay at a Diving Resort integrated with a Dive Center.
Palm Garden Resort Khao Lak
This Dive Resort is serviced by See Bees Diving. There are 10 bungalows hidden in a tropical garden. Each bungalow has its own terrace with a hammock and a separate room for diving equipment drying. There is a 3m pool with a waterfall and Jacuzzi specifically built for diving courses. The Resort also offers Spa treatments and a library.
JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort and Spa
If you prefer to spend a few days at Khao Lak beach in a 5-star Resort than JW Marriott is the one for you. It can hardly disappoint you with 5 restaurants, 3 bars, and on-site Water sports center. The Resort is also serviced by See Bees Diving. If you are not yet tired of sports, you can also enjoy a tennis court, squash, and a fitness center. Free WiFi is provided in all areas of the Resort.
Khao Lak serves as a gateway for many liveaboards with itineraries to Similan Islands, Surin Islands, and the Mergui Archipelago. Among the most famous liveaboards, there are “The Junk”, “DiveRACE Class E”, “Giamani”, and “Thailand Aggressor”.
Other activities for non-divers
Take your time to explore Khao Sok National Park which is situated within 2-hour bus transfer from Khao Lak. You will have a chance to see one of the oldest rainforests of the World together with Gibbons, Elephants, Tapirs, and even Tigers at this unique Park.
Feeling inspired and raring to go? Check out our Khao Lak travel guide and start planning your next diving trip!