The Best Phuket Diving Season Depends On The Divers Needs
We have two distinct scuba diving seasons in Phuket, imaginatively named low and high. The low season runs from mid May to mid October and high season the remainder of the year. The two seasons are governed by the monsoon winds that blow across South East Asia. It’s fairly straightforward; in high season it blows from the east and low season from the west.
May to October
Well let’s start with the low season. The predominant west to east winds bring weather fronts from the Indian Ocean towards Phuket. With no other land mass for shelter it means that the swell on the sea is pretty much a permanent fixture during this period. I doesn’t mean we can’t go diving in fact it’s very rare at any time of year that our boat can’t get out but what it does mean is that very often the journey can be a bit bumpy and those prone to motion sickness might have an uncomfortable day.
We tend to have calmer conditions in the morning and the wind picks up in the afternoon. Sometimes it may seem unnecessary that we change the location but it may be because we’re aware of what’s coming later in the day.
The Dive Locations In Low Season
It also means that the best dive sites at Phi Phi can’t always be accessed making the long journey occasionally a little fruitless. It’s not always like that, we frequently get long spells of calm weather and the diving is great. We’ve even had frequent whale shark sightings in September. Phi Phi is a roll of the dice at this time of year.
However the reverse is true for Racha Noi and Racha Yai. The best dive sites are sheltered at this time of year and that’s where we recommend diving in the low season. Essentially our dive site choice is dictated by weather conditions. The ride home can also be a little uncomfortable, the wind tends to get stronger as the day progresses.
The Racha Islands are orientated North to South so at any time of year at least one side is sheltered. Racha Noi is a long thin island as you can see in the photo below. So allowing plenty of dive site choices at any time of year. You can also see the white water of the waves breaking on the west side and the calm conditions on the east.
Pros: Better diving at Racha Noi, less divers
Cons: Phi Phi is a gamble, boat journey may be uncomfortable for some
October to May
In high season the swell is gone and most days we can choose from any of our dive sites. The weather now comes from the east and hits peninsular Malaysia first so Phuket and its diving is now protected. We do get the occasional windy period that makes us alter our plans.
Generally the sea is flat and the journeys pleasant especially the journey home. The wind tends to die down in the afternoon making for a very smooth ride and enjoyable sunsets. The Similan and Surin Island National Parks are also open at this time of year and offer by far the best diving in Thailand – check out our liveaboard section for some great options.
During this time of year, Phi Phi is especially nice. Koh Bida Nok and Turtle Rock are our preferred dive sites, divers have a great chance of seeing sharks and turtles along with hundreds of other species.
Pros: Better weather, best dive sites at Phi Phi available, comfortable boat journeys
Cons: More divers and boats, Best dive sites at Racha Noi sometimes unavailable
Nothing to do with the weather but our giant manta ray sightings tend to peak from February to April especially at Koh Bon in the Similan Islands National Park and to a lesser degree around Racha Noi. Of course holiday periods come into play and it’s especially busy around Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year. If you’re planning to dive in these periods then booking well in advance is essential, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a place at late notice. So if that’s your plan get in touch with us now!
Posted in Amazing Local Dives on .