Snorkeling in Thailand – An Unforgettable Experience
You might ask where the best place for snorkeling in Thailand is, and while the question seems clear-cut, the answer is actually not so simple. The underwater world surrounding Thailand is home to such a diverse array of corals and marine life that it is hard to pick just one destination as the “best.” Each spot around the archipelago of islands offers its own unique set of marine life, conditions and fauna, so the answer to that question really depends on what exactly you are looking for. The finest coral reefs can be found far out in the Andaman Sea if you are willing to travel, but the Gulf of Thailand has some decent sets of coral reefs as well.
The country of Thailand, which is located on the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia, is known for its gorgeous beaches, stunning palaces, yummy food and unique culture. It hosts large metropolitan cities like Bangkok and tiny fishing villages where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The great thing about Thailand is that you can visit anytime of the year. The dry season begins in November, lasts until April, and during this time there is little rainfall, and temperatures range from 29°C to 34°C (84°F to 94°F). Thailand offers gorgeous weather, picturesque scenery and a unique underwater world that is begging to be explored.
The list of destinations that offer fantastic snorkeling in Thailand is practically endless, but here we try and pin point a few must-see locations for you. Whichever you choose, or even if you visit multiple areas, you will be delving into an underwater world unlike any other.
Snorkeling in Thailand
The Andaman Sea is home to some of the world’s most fantastic snorkeling and gorgeous coral reefs. Ko Surin has two distant islands located on the Andaman Sea that are uninhabited and encircled by long, beautiful coral reefs. The Surin Islands Marine National Park is teeming with underwater treasures that have been protected from major tourism development. The reefs are located close to the surface, which is why this spot is a great spot for snorkeling in Thailand. Here you can find sea turtles laying eggs along the pristine white sand beaches, manta rays, and huge schools of colorful reef fish, such as Parrotfish, Clownfish and Pipefish, swimming about. The east coast of the islands offer the best corals, while in February and March you can swim among whale sharks at Hin Pae. If you are interested in spending the night, you can sleep in a tent in the camp that is run by the marine park rangers and those looking for a bit more adventure can visit a tiny Moken sea gypsy settlement to get a deeper look into the unique culture of the archipelago.
Ko Phi Phi
If you want to have a guarantee of seeing sharks, then Ko Phi Phi Islands should definitely be explored on your trip to Thailand. These islands are perhaps the most beautiful in all of Thailand, but the underwater scenery makes them truly stand out. While there, take some time to explore Hin Klang, the underwater reef that is right off Laem Tong Beach. This reef has clear water, bountiful fish and beautiful corals, making it the best spot for snorkeling in Thailand. Maya Bay is also another great destination with clear water, but you can only enter the bay by boat between the months of November and April. This is a great place to see octopus, exotic fish, sea turtles and even some sharks. You can also try Loh Sama if you are looking to do some night diving while in Thailand. In the narrow cannon dotted with gorgonian sea fans, you can catch light reflecting in the eyes of all the crustaceans crawling about on the ocean floor and coral. You won’t soon forget this magical experience.
Similan islands are known for their variety of soft and hard corals and gorgeous beaches. You can enter right from the beach and the coral begins fairly close to shore and slopes down for about 10 meters until you reach a much steeper slope and the bottom floor drops to a depth of about 20 to 30 meters depending on the tide and winds. The coral mix here is almost unparalleled and you can see Brain, Table, Whip and Staghorn corals enveloping swaying species of soft corals. Making their way through the coral you can also catch glimpses of groupers, little shrimp, Napolean Wrasse and many other reef fish.
Ko Lipe is a little island surrounded by bountiful coral reefs. Snorkeling is available right off the beach, but for the best snorkeling, you will need to travel to the nearby islands, which are uninhabited. Sunrise Beach offers great snorkeling around two tiny islands, Koh Kra and Koh Usen. The beach is shallower until you get to the islands where there is a large drop off allowing for a variety of marine life. When the tide is low, if you want to see tropical fish without damaging coral, snorkel along the north side of Sunrise Beach. High tide is the best time to snorkel Ko Lipe though because the coral is very shallow. You can also check out Pattaya Beach on either end for great snorkeling. If you follow the rocky shore on the right, you will end up at Zanom Beach where there is an array of diverse marine life just offshore.
Ko Nang Yuan
Ko Nang Yuan is a great spot for a day trip if you are looking to do some snorkeling in between hitting the beach and exploring the local culture. You will need to pay a 100 Baht entrance fee and rent gear from the Ko Nang Yuan Resort’s Dive Shop, but the waters are protected which means there is little debris and a lot of sea life. There are a few spots to snorkel here that you will not want to miss. At the Japanese Gardens, you will slip into an underwater haven with a large variety of fish, coral, sea slugs, urchins and even some Barracudas. The maximum depth here is about 15 meters and while swimming about you can see Bannerfish, Parrotfish and even Giant Pufferfish. If you are looking for another great spot for diving or snorkeling in Thailand, then look no further than Twin Peak .The waters here are protected from the weather elements and current, and provide water visibility reaching up to 20 meters. While snorkeling here you can Barracudas and turtles making their way through the water.
No matter the time or location that you choose to do your snorkeling in Thailand, you will not leave disappointed. The underwater world is teeming with magical sea creatures and stunning scenery.