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Best Diving in South East Asia

Having been scuba diving in various countries around Asia, I am often asked where is the best place to scuba dive in South East Asia. Taking into account countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, here are my top scuba dive sites and the marine life you can spot during the dives such as sharks, manta rays, whale sharks and turtles. The following places are the best dive sites in my personal experience and I can’t wait to add more to the list. Consider these top diving destinations when booking your next scuba diving trip for some impressive underwater adventures.

Best Diving in South East Asia: Indonesia – Scuba Diving in Komodo National Park

scuba diving with frogfish komodo national park

To this date, Komodo remains the most exciting and awesome place to scuba dive that I have been so far. Healthy, brightly coloured corals and a whole range of marine life from manta rays, to sharks to turtles and macro life, Komodo has such an incredible underwater world. After a holiday trip here, I decided to do my divemaster course here and enjoyed every dive. There are strong currents so it’s a great place to improve your skills. You will be expected to pay extra national park fees whenever you enter Komodo National Park whether it’s for scuba diving or snorkelling trips.  The most impressive dive sites are probably Batu Balong which is always a clear favourite, and you will see why once you jump in the water, but also the North of Komodo for crazy currents and lots of sharks.

Best Diving in South East Asia – Best place to dive with Manta Rays in Nusa Lembongan

manta ray in nusa lembongan indonesia scuba diving

Indonesia is one of the best countries to scuba dive in, both for learning to dive, like doing the Open Water course and also for the diversity of marine life you can see there. Nusa Lembongan boasts manta rays all year round and you would be extremely unlucky not to experience a dive or even a snorkel with a manta ray there. It also has some enjoyable drift dives and some dive sites with fairly healthy coral and a lot of frogfish!

Best diving in the Philippines – Thresher Sharks in Malapascua, Cebu

scuba diver waiting for thresher sharks in malapascua cebu philippines

If, like me, you are a shark addict then definitely head to Malapascua, Cebu in the Philippines to dive with the thresher sharks. There’s an extremely high chance of seeing these 3 metre long sharks at around 25 metres so this is aimed for Advanced divers or those who have completed a deep dive speciality. The tails are so impressive and I’ll never forget the early morning experience of kneeling in the sand at the bottom of the sea being circled by these amazing thresher sharks.

Best place to see whale sharks in Thailand – Richelieu Rock and Koh Bon, Thailand

Whale shark at richelieu rock in Thailand

Scuba diving Richelieu Rock is arguably one of the best places to dive in Thailand. Not far from the Similan Islands or Koh Similan off the west coast of Thailand, it has lovely purple corals and a fairly good chance of whale sharks when in season. You can only visit during dry season, approximately October to May as this area and the Similan Islands are closed over the monsoon period.

For more Thailand Scuba Diving tips check out this blog post

Best diving in the Gili Islands, Indonesia – “Turtle city”

scuba diving with green turtle in the gili islands Indonesia

For those seeking turtles, head to the Gili islands off of Bali and the dive site they nickname ‘turtle city’. I was told by my dive instructor that if I only saw 10 that was considered unlucky!

Scuba diving in Tulamben, Bali – World War 2 Wreck Dive – The Liberty Bell

angel fish diving wreck dive in tulamben liberty bell

One of the best wreck dives that I did in Bali is the Liberty Bell in Tulumben, close to Amed and the jumping off point to the Gili Islands. The wreck is a shore dive so I strongly recommend diving at sunrise as there were no other divers around when I did and these huge bumphead/humphead parrotfish circle around the wreck in a school.

Next up, I’m exploring the Maldives so read more here about the best diving in the Maldives/EVER!

For ideas and suggestions of what you should take on a dive boat click here

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Photo for Pinterest of scuba diving underwater pictures

 

 

 

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Best Diving in Thailand

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Best Dive Sites in Thailand : Scuba Diving Thailand

Thailand has some great dive spots and while some of them may not be as incredible and colourful as they once were, the reasonable prices and wide availability of dive centres will always keep visitors coming back and exploring more of the best dive sites in Thailand.

If you are not a qualified scuba diver yet, then consider doing your Open Water course through SSI or SSI at a dive centre in Thailand. Koh Tao still claims to be one of the cheapest places in Thailand to get scuba certified.

Best Dive Sites in Thailand : Diving Koh Phi Phi

Known as a party island, Koh Phi Phi often surprises divers with some great underwater marine life. Koh Phi Phi is home to some of the best dive sites in Thailand around their Marine National Park.

On some of these amazing dive sites in Thailand I have been lucky enough to see a leopard shark. Turtles and black tip reef sharks are often fairly common on these top dive sites in Thailand. The coral reefs are fairly healthy for Thailand. In between Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh it always seems to be a bit choppy so I recommend taking some seasickness travel bands like these from Amazon Travel Sickness Wristbands (Black).

diving with turtles in Thailand
Diving with turtles in Thailand – best dive sites in Thailand

Getting there: Fly or take a night bus to Krabi, then approx 2 hour ferry to Koh Phi Phi. You can book joint bus and ferry tickets here. The more tickets you book the cheaper they get.

Best Dive Sites in Thailand : Diving Koh Similan  or The Similan Islands

Diving the Similan Islands is usually on the bucket list for divers in Thailand. While the Similan islands are no longer covered on coral and marine life, they still have some of the best dive sites in Thailand. Whale sharks and manta rays can be spotted around this area. Day trips here are extremely expensive (last trip I paid 6000 baht for two dives, compared with 2500 baht average in other dive spots around Thailand). Similan Liveaboards are very popular here and you can often get great deals at the end of the season (April, May) if you can be flexible. This whole area is closed during the rainy season (end of May to October) and even in October you are not guaranteed diving (my liveaboard was cancelled due to enormous waves one October). If you are considering a liveaboard around the Similan Islands then make sure it includes Richelieu Rock or Koh Bon for a chance of manta rays. Koh Similan is one of the best place to scuba dive with whale sharks in Thailand.

whale shark thailand
Best Dive sites in Thailand : Diving with a whale shark at Richelieu Rock, Thailand

Best Dive Sites in Thailand : Similan Islands Diving Richelieu Rock

Arguably the best dive site in Thailand, I was lucky enough to spot my first whale shark here and therefore it will forever by up there in my memories of great dives. The dive site has lots of pretty purple coral and is claimed to be one of the best spots for whale sharks in Thailand. North of the Similan Islands, it’s about a two hour, fairly bumpy, speed boat ride to get there. It is possible to do this via a diving day trip.

diving thailand
4 metre ‘baby’ whale shark at Richelieu Rock, the best dive site in Thailand

Best Dive Sites in Thailand : Dive Sail Rock Koh Phangan

Diving on Koh Phangan can be both great and disappointing in my experience. Sail Rock dive site has a lot of shoals of fish so if you’re looking for quantity then diving here can be impressive.  The coral is fairly pretty, although expect a lot of divers underwater around the time of the Full Moon Party.  The visibility is always worse around Full Moon and, unsurprisingly, there is no diving on the whole island for the day after the Full Moon party. 

Best dive sites in Thailand

Stay: I loved staying at Seaboard Bungalows in the North and Sail Rock Divers also had some good value, nice rooms. I always use Agoda for finding the best deals.

Don’t miss:  Bottle Beach Koh Phangan, it’s one of my favourite quiet beaches in Thailand. Read more about it and other quiet beaches here

Best Dive Sites in Thailand : Chumpon & Diving Koh Tao

Koh Tao remains one of the cheapest places to get your Open Water Certificate as a beginner scuba diver in Thailand and there are 75+ dive centres to choose from. If you just arrive on the island, use your negotiation skills to get your diving qualification and accommodation throw in together. Be prepared for it to get very busy underwater. Koh Tao is one of the best places to scuba dive with whale sharks in Thailand.

Best Dive Sites in Thailand : Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe dive sites are the best dive sites in Thailand in my humble opinion. Stonehenge is one of the most beautiful coral reef dive sites in Thailand and I thoroughly recommend a visit to Koh Lipe as it is an amazing island to stay on and dive from. Read my full Koh Lipe Guide here.

Frogfish spotting in Koh Lipe dive sites – some of the best dive sites in Thailand

 

 

For more about marine life in Thailand, read the following articles:

Into sea animals? Read about how and where to see pink dolphins in Thailand year round.

Whale watching in Bangkok

And for more island advice, check out my honest island summaries here to help you decide where to visit

For what to take on a dive boat when scuba diving and experiencing the best dive sites in Thailand read this article

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