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Scuba Diving in The Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Situated in the southwest of Thailand in the Andaman Sea, the picturesque Phi Phi Islands offers stunning landscape views, unique dive spots, a wide variety of marine life, and numerous chances to party from sunup to sundown.

Geography of the Phi Phi Islands

The Phi Phi Islands are located between the large island of Phuket and the Straits of Malacca coast. Administratively, the islands are part of Krabi province. The largest and most populated islands are Ko Phi Phi Don and Ko Phi Phi Le, while the rest of the islands—including Ko Bida Nok, Ko Bida Nai, and Ko Mai Phai (Bamboo Island)—are basically large limestone rock islands that rank among the best spots for scuba diving in Thailand.

Hin Muang

Hin Muang is just one of the many popular Koh Phi Phi diving sites. Boasting the island’s highest vertical wall, it features a steep 60-meter dive where you can encounter a variety of large pelagic species, including leopard sharks, whale sharks, manta rays, and reef sharks. Watch out for strong currents and the huge purple rock, which serves as this dive site’s crowning glory.

Shark Point

Shark Point (or Hin Bida) is a famous dive site that you definitely shouldn’t miss. It’s the best destination for spotting resting leopard sharks in all of Koh Phi Phi. Classified as a drift dive, it features a very colorful reef that’s home to other marine animals, like various species of snapper, cuttlefish, zebra sharks, turtles, octopus, moray eels, sea snakes, puffer fish, and a host of other reef swimmers that make it a great spot for underwater photographers.

Anemone Reef

Snorkelers and divers will love observing the undeniable beauty of Anemone Reef. Clownfish and lionfish sightings are ensured, thanks to beautiful ocean flowers decorating the ocean floor up to 24 meters deep. Rare and unknown species of moray eel, nudibranchs, and other interesting marine life are tucked and are waiting to be discovered within and near the reefs.

King Cruiser Wreck

Resting on the ocean floor at 32 meters deep, it has been over two decades since the famous MS King Cruiser sank off the west coast of southern Thailand after colliding with a nearby reef 10 miles off the Phi Phi Islands. The submerged car ferry has since turned into a huge artificial reef that attracts enormous schools of fish. Its depth makes it suitable for Advanced Divers or experienced deep divers.

Turtle Rock

If you’ve come to the Phi Phi Islands with the intention of diving with turtles, then Turtle Rock is the perfect dive site for you. You’re sure to find multiple species of sea turtles feeding on the shallow shelves and bubble corals along the Koh Phi Phi Ley wall, making them visible even to snorkelers. Observe or dive with the sea turtles—either way, they’d love your company.

Marine Life

Situated in the center of the Andaman Sea, the Phi Phi Islands are home to a stunning array of pelagic animals and reef fish.
  • Leopard Sharks - You’ll find species of leopard sharks in several dive spots in the Phi Phi Islands, most especially at Hin Muang and Shark Point. With so many divers swimming in these areas, these sharks have gotten so used to humans that you’ll often find them resting and sleeping at sandy bottoms.
  • Hawksbill Turtles - It’s common to find species of sea turtles, particularly the Hawksbills. These friendly marine creatures make for lovely encounters in the clear blue waters of the Phi Phi Islands.
  • Whale Sharks - For most divers in the Phi Phi Islands, diving with a whale shark is at the top of their wish list. Whale shark sightings are normal in April, February, and March.
  • Giant Manta Rays - The Phi Phi Islands have dive spots that are considered hotspots for manta rays. Their sheer size, unique shape, and graceful movements in the water make them wonderful and soothing to watch.
Wherever you decide to go snorkeling or diving, it’s common to find sea turtles, moray eels, wrasse, sea snakes, varied species of rays, schools of large fish, giant clams, angelfish, clownfish, butterflyfish, lobsters, shrimps, as well as an extensive display of soft coral reefs.

Other Attractions

  • Maya Bay - Made famous by the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach, Maya Bay boasts crystal clear waters, white sand, and lush tropical greenery that’s simply unforgettable for visitors. Unfortunately, it was announced indefinitely closed to tourists in October 2018.
  • Captain Bob's Sailing Booze Cruise - A place for partygoers and friends, Captain Bob’s Sailing Booze Cruise offers a fun way to visit some of Phi Phi Islands’ most beautiful sites, like Maya Bay, Monkey Beach, Pi-Leh Bay, Loh Samah, and Wang Long Cove—with lunch, fruits, snacks, and unlimited beer, no less. Make sure to also catch the sunset view from Wang Long Cove.
  • Pum's Thai Cooking School - To really experience Thai cuisine, this renowned cooking school offers the best way to learn all the secret cooking techniques and ingredients. You’ll find the main branch in Patong Beach, a second branch in Tonsai Village on Koh Phi Phi Don island, and a third branch in the central part of Chiang Mai.
  • Phi Phi View Point - Located to the east of the flat strip of sand that forms an H, this high point overlooks the village and the two bays of the connected islands. It offers the chance to see the islands from above and take impressive “postcard” photos to remember them by. It only takes 20 to 40 minutes to follow the paved path up an altitude of 186 meters, preferably before lunchtime so you can get the best lighting.

How to Get to There

Visitors from most countries will be granted a 30-day tourist visa upon arriving in nearby Thai access points. From there, you can get to the main island of Ko Phi Phi by air or by sea.

By Air
You can take a short plane ride from the nearest airports in Krabi, Trang, and Phuket. Both airports in Krabi and Phuket also serve an array of international flights, so you can conveniently book a connecting flight on the way to the Phi Phi Islands.

By Sea
Ferry boats frequently travel from the towns of Phuket, Ko Lanta, and Krabi during the day, so it’s best to check their schedules and book seats ahead of time.

Getting Around
Because the Phi Phi Islands have no motorized transport for tourists, you’re mostly going to be walking or riding rented bicycles. You can go beach hopping by foot, via long-tail taxi boats, or by renting out a complete boat to yourself for at least 200 baht. Fortunately, transport from the pier to your room is often free.

Best Time to Visit

For the best diving conditions in the Phi Phi Islands, you’ll want to go between February to May, when the waters are at their calmest, warmest (29-30°C), and clearest. Water temperatures can drop to 27°C in January and December, visibility can be reduced from 30 meters to 10 meters between April and January, and the changing weather can bring some waves and heavy rains in October. Nevertheless, scuba diving here is good all year long and diving trips rarely get canceled due to bad weather.

Required Trainings & Certifications

As one of the top scuba diving locations in Thailand, the Phi Phi Islands is open to both certified and inexperienced divers. If you are already certified, you can access a number of dive sites and great liveaboard packages (maximum depths ranging between 30-50 meters) with just your logbook and c-card. But if diving is new to you, there are numerous dive shops that are affiliated with international scuba certification agencies so you can become a certified Open Water Diver.

Miscellaneous Information

Currency
Like the rest of Thailand, the Phi Phi Islands uses the baht (abbreviated as THB and denoted by the symbol ฿) as the primary form of currency. You’ll need it for everything—boat rides, food, beverages, activities—so it would be convenient to always have Thai baht on hand. There are ATM machines when you need to get quick cash, but you can get the best rates by having your money exchanged before getting to the islands.

Language
The official language of the Phi Phi Islands is Thai. English may be spoken in most hotels, restaurants, and in other tourist areas but it would really help to be ready with a dictionary or portable translator, just in case..

Time Zone
The Phi Phi Islands observes Indochina Time (ICT) all year.

Driving Side
Thailand drives on the left-hand side of the road.

Calling Code
Dialing +66 will allow you to call the Phi Phi Islands and the rest of Thailand from another country.

ISO 3166 code
ISO 3166-2:TH is the entry for the Phi Phi Islands in ISO 3166-2.

Internet TLD
.th is the Internet country code top-level domain for the Phi Phi Islands and the rest of Thailand.