Diving The King Islands of Phuket – Racha Noi And Racha Yai

Diving The King Islands of Phuket – Racha Noi And Racha Yai

The Racha Islands Of Phuket Have Diving For Everybody

Whether you’re vastly experienced or a complete newbie the diving at Phuket’s Racha Islands will have something for you. The crystal clear and usually very calm waters offer the best of both worlds. The shallow areas are safe and fun for Open Water or Discover Scuba Diving students and the deeper areas have plenty for the more seasoned diver.

A Bit About The Islands

Racha or Raja in Thai means king/royal, Noi is little and Yai big. So we have big king and little king and apt name for these majestic islands. Both are covered in lush foliage, have beautiful beaches and stunning clear blue water.

Racha Noi (roughly 6km) is much longer than Yai (roughly 4km) but Yai is wider with higher peaks so you could be excused for thinking they’ve got it the wrong way around. Racha Uaan (fat) and Racha Phaawm (skinny) may have been a better choice.

Apart from a herd of scrawny yet enterprising goats, Racha Noi is completely uninhabited. The ultra clear water and healthier corals seem to revel in the lack of human interference. Racha Yai has quite a few resorts squeezed into a small area at the Northern end of the island. As a result the water quality and coral growth has suffered. Plenty of artificial structures have been placed underwater in an effort to attract marine life with some level of success.

friendly eagle ray at banana bay racha noi

friendly eagle ray at banana bay racha noi

What Will I See At Racha Noi?

Certainly the best place for the larger animals. Hawksbill turtles, dogtooth tuna, marbled grouper, eagle rays are reasonably common sightings. Much more infrequent but certainly possible are oceanic manta rays, Jenkins whip rays, black tip reef sharks and leopard sharks but you have to be super lucky.

If they’re not around there’s plenty of smaller stuff to keep you occupied. Banded sea kraits, reef octopus, stonefish, cockatoo waspfish, comets and plenty of nudi’s to list but a few. Have a good look around the coral bommies to find all these hidden gems.

The coral patches are home to colourful damsels and small wrasse as well as juvenile fish of many species. Lionfish and scorpionfish are usually close at hand waiting for the smaller fish to stray from the safety of the coral.

The topography is quite stunning on some of the dive sites. Huge granite boulders tumble down into the depths and are reminiscent of the Similan Islands although nowhere near on the same scale. Recently a wreck has turned up that’s so shallow even snorkelers can enjoy as you can see in the picture below

shallow wreck at racha noi phuket

shallow wreck at racha noi phuket

What Will I See At Racha Yai?

With 5 shipwrecks, two motorbikes and hundreds of concrete cubes between bays 1 & 2 it can feel more like a scrapyard than a dive site. These artificial structures certainly attract marine life to what would otherwise be a fairly barren area. They also take the pressure of the remaining coral and will hopefully give them a chance to regenerate.

It’s very rare to see large animals at Racha Yai but hidden among the junk there’s some very cool stuff. Huge morays eels, frogfish, peacock mantis shrimp, ornate ghost pipefish, some really colourful nudi’s and lots of cleaner shrimp. The structures also attract a large school of small barracuda, batfish and plenty of colourful fusiliers.

giant frogfish at racha yai phuket

giant frogfish at racha yai phuket

Come Rain or Shine

Phuket’s very uncomplicated weather pattern and the orientation of the islands allow us to find shelter at the islands at any time of year. There’s decent dive sites on both sides of the islands although most would have a preference for the east side. That’s generally where we go throughout the low season, so no matter what the weather gods sling at us we can always find somewhere to get you blowing bubbles at the two kings.

Shoot us an email at any time of year to arrange a dive tour with Phuket’s local experts and we’ll show you the very best of the Racha Islands.

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By Justin Hartrey

I've been enjoying the incredible marine life in our oceans for over 25 years. 13 years ago I became a PADI professional, hoping to introduce as many people as possible to the incredible beauty of the seas.

Having been fortunate enough to dive all over south east and especially Thailand, I enjoy sharing my experience and passion on this blog.

Posted in Amazing Local Dives on .

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