Koh Lanta has some of Thailand’s best dive sites located just off its coastline and on liveaboard trips to the Similan Islands. Here are some of the dive site highlights accessible from Koh Lanta.
Koh Lanta Dive Site Highlights
Hin Daeng and Hin Muang
Two pinnacles in the middle of the ocean, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang (Red Rock and Purple Rock) are both havens for passing marine life. Famous as a hotspot for encountering majestic manta rays and on occasion the biggest fish in the world – the whale shark – Hin Daeng and Hin Muang have no shortage of other interesting sights if the big guys don’t make an appearance.
Their respective names come from the carpet of stunning soft corals that cover each of the pinnacles, and surrounding them are usually shoals of yellow snapper, squadrons of barracuda and plenty of clownfish, moray eels and other smaller critters living in the cracks of these huge underwater mountains.
Given their location, there can be strong currents at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang and sometimes poor visibility. It’s a dive for advanced divers only – or beginners under supervision – but it’s widely acknowledged as one of Thailand’s greatest dive sites.
Actually a collection of dive sites under one name, Koh Haa is one of the most picturesque dive sites in all of Asia thanks to its stunning top side scenery. Koh Haa is made up of a circle of six massive rocks that jut out of the ocean.
The rocks are so big they have formed a natural lagoon inside the circle which is the perfect sheltered nursery for many smaller creatures. On the outside walls of Koh Haa’s rocks are a huge variety of different environments, with gardens of soft coral, steep walls, serried rows of hard lettuce coral and also the natural wonder of the Cathedral, the hollowed insides of Koh Haa Yai, the biggest of the six rocks. Koh Haa is a remarkable dive destination that repays repeat visits.
The dive site located nearest to Koh Phi Phi, Koh Bida is a popular spot for Phi Phi dive boats to visit. A horseshoe shaped rock under the water, the natural aquatic harbour it forms beneath the surface provides a place for marine life to congregate and propagate.
There is usually a smorgasbord of different creatures to see here, usually on the smaller side – seahorses are spotted quite often along with cuttlefish and octopus. There have even been very occasional large visitors to Koh Bida, but as a place for species-spotting it really shines
The wreck of a passenger ferry that crashed into a reef (everyone escaped unhurt), King Cruiser is an interesting wreck that is now covered in coral growth and marine life.
The wreck is deterioriating quite rapidly now, so no interior penetration is allowed, but there’s still plenty there to show it’s unmistakably a ship – including the toilets!
Similan Island Dive Site Highlights
Elephant Head Rock
A stunning underwater environment, Elephant Head Rock is made up of giant boulders that rest together forming aquatic canyons and labyrinths.
With some beautiful hard and soft corals amongst the rocks and turtles often swimming around between them, it’s a strange and beautiful experience.
Just north of the Similan Islands is the island of Koh Bon (literally, “The Island Of Hope”) which has a steep wall drop off beneath the waves and is famous as a place where manta rays like to cruise in from the blue.
There’s never any guarantees, but the chances of spotting a manta ray here is quite high, especially during February to April. If you do the seven day trip, then you get two good chances of seeing manta rays, at Hin Daeng and Koh Bon.
Widely regarded as the best dive site in all of Thailand, Richelieu Rock is a remote horseshoe-shaped ocean pinnacle that provides a safe haven for hundreds of creatures
It also is covered in absolutely stunning red and purple soft corals, and is known as a whale shark and manta ray hotspot. The big guys don’t put in an appearance often, but there is enough at Richelieu to occupy even the most experienced diver for several dives – there is an endless variety of stuff to see here.
A broken up tin dredger in shallow waters, Boonsung Wreck is usually not that great viz wise but is incredibly fishy – sometimes it’s hard to see the wreck for all the fish!
All the cracks and cervices formed by the Boonsung’s wreckage provide the perfect home for scores of critters – moray eels particularly, including the rarely spotted Honeycomb Moray. Sea moths (pegasus), lionfish, cuttlefish, stingrays, scorpion and stonefish are also commons sites, as well as large schools of juvenile barracuda and fast moving rainbow runners, snappers and jacks.