Best Local Diving Sites in Khao Lak
Besides being an excellent departure point for some of the best diving destinations in the world – Similan and Surin islands – Khao Lak has some outstanding local dive sites of its own; all easily accessible for a diving day-trip. With each offering an array of different marine life, coral and other sites to explore, they are worth exploring for the keen scuba diver. The three best ones are Bonsung, Premchai and MV Seachart. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced diver, taking a trip out here is an enjoyable thing to do and a great way to explore the local marine environment. Read on to discover a bit more about these world-class dive sites.
1. BOONSUNG WRECK
For this wreck, you’ll need to head off in a speedboat for approximately 12 nautical miles from Tap Lamp Pier. Easily reached and not considered a ‘difficult’ dive, this site is suitable for every level of diver. Visibility here is always good with a clear 5-10 metres available. The wreck rests peacefully (only mild current) on the flat sandy bottom of the seabed, covering a depth of 14 to 20 metres.
A buoy line provides a reference point to descend to the wreck through dense schools of fish. Although it’s possible to make a complete circuit of the wreck going inside is not allowed due for safety reasons. As the wreck is thickly encrusted with plant life, it’s a big buffet for all the local marine life, particularly moray eels, lionfish and nudibranch.
2. PREMCHAI WRECK
Premchai Wreck lies just a few hundred metres off Thai Muang Beach, meaning divers can easily get there via a very brief boat ride. With only a mild current this dive site is suitable for all levels of scuba diver. Lying at a maximum depth of 20 metres, close to shore and in good condition means this ship makes for an excellent first-time wreck diving experience.
Originally a 1970s Dutch vessel, the Premchai was converted into a tin dredger upon her arrival in the Land of Smiles. She worked in Phang Nga Province for many years before a cracked hull sent her to a watery death in 2000. The wreck is home to a large array of hard and soft coral, and the outside is festooned with clams. Due to a massive amount of nets and cables within, entering the ship is forbidden.
The wreck is still intact and is a shelter for many marine creatures with large shoals of fish to be found, including snappers, pipefish, barracudas, scorpion fish, moray eels, leopard sharks, cuttlefish, orangutan crabs, and a variety of nudibranchs.
Note: While the peak diving season in Khao Lak is usually October through April, it is possible to dive all-year-round, albeit with reduced visibility and rougher sea conditions.
3. MV SEACHART WRECK
In a zippy speedboat, it only takes 90 minutes from the mainland to reach this deep-level wreck suitable only for experienced divers. As it is best dived on Nitrox, it is often used for Technical and Deep Diver Courses. The wreck lies on her starboard side at a depth of 40 metres, with the uppermost part reaching 25 metres. There can be strong currents here, and visibility is usually around 10 metres.
Originally an 84m-long and 12m-wide cargo ship built in 1970 in Emden, Germany, before coming to Thailand, this fascinating shipwreck still contains the precious cargo (1,200 iron wood and teak logs from Burma) it was transporting on a fateful night in 2009 when it was assailed by unexpected rough weather and sank.
There is not much coral growth, but there is a lot of marine life, such as lionfish, puffer fish, bat fish, octopus, ghost pipefish, frog fish, sea urchins, shoals of snapper, fusilier, trevally, tuna, barracuda, rainbow runners and some other species.
One last thing… while it is possible to snorkel from Khao Lak beaches, this is dependent on sea conditions, and you may not see that much marine life. The majority of people join a snorkelling trip to one of the nine Similan islands to enjoy a spot of snorkelling and swimming. Travelling time by speedboat is normally around 90 minutes. Snorkelers typically see tropical coral fishes, turtles, whale sharks and manta rays.
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