Best Dive Sites in the Gulf of Thailand
What Are the Best Dive Sites in the Gulf of Thailand?
Some friends and I recently visited Koh Tao, a picturesque speck of an island located in the Gulf of Thailand, just North of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui and 2 hours by boat to the nearest mainland at Chumphon. I was excited to revisit Koh Tao having been 12 years since my last visit and I was eager to get back in the water for a spot of scuba diving – what Koh Tao is famous for.
As we got a taxi from the pier to Sairee beach I couldn’t actually recognize anything about the island, construction had obviously been fairly rampant and like most Thai islands it was rough around the edges. I don’t recall there being a paved road 12 years ago but now there is a network of small roads throughout the island connecting the many small beaches and whilst this didn’t ruin it, it had taken the charm away from what was a laid back and quiet island.
We booked 4 dives for the next couple of days, we opted for a couple of shallow reef dives on day one followed by what we really came for, a dive at Chumphon Pinnacles, considered among the best dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand. The first dives were nice enough with 15-20m visibility, we visited Mango Bay and the Twins, just off Koh Nang Yuan. The reef was actually in better condition than I recall and the fish life was abundant. Highlights include morays, spotted rays, a peacock sole and some rather large trigger fish. We started the dives at midday and were back on the island by 4.30 so it was an easy way to ease back into diving having not been for a few months.
The next day we were up at the crack of dawn and set off for the Chumphon Pinnacles at 6am. This was my first trip to this site and so was excited for potential sightings of the elusive whale shark which was in the area. Although these days I tend to temper expectations having never seen one in 15 years of diving!
Our boat was the first to arrive and we were soon in the water with fantastic visibility and surrounded by all kinds of fish, from chevron barracudas, to schools of travelly. It was better than I thought, and certainly up there with the best dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand. I would even compare it to Richelieu rock which for me is the best dive site in Thailand. We saw more morays, a crocodile fish, titan triggerfish and several giant groupers – real giants! The dive twisted and turned through the large pinnacles and even a couple of small swim through’s.
By midday we were heading back to the island which is an hour / hour 30 from the dive site and we were done by midday and enjoying the rest of the day after a memorable dive trip.