Macro Magic On Koh Doc Mai Phuket’s Closest Dive Site
Without a doubt Koh Doc Mai is the best site around Phuket for macro diving. The coral and sponge encrusted walls are filled with nooks and crannies that hide a myriad of small animals. Our keen eyed local guides are quick to find any new special critters. Many take up residence on this stunning limestone rock jutting out of the Andaman Sea.
Koh Doc Mai translates to flower (Dok Mai) island (Koh) and there’s plenty of hypotheses as to how the island got its name but nobody is really sure. What we do know that in the right conditions it can be a fantastic dive site. The west edge of the island is the preferred side for diving and consists of a vertical wall that drops to around 25m then gently slopes off to just over 30m. There are two small caves that although interesting don’t hide too many surprises and can get a little congested at times.
The main focus is on the wall and all its cracks and crevices. Take your time, there’s plenty to find. Lot’s of colourful nudibranch’s including the beautiful Coryphellina rubrolineata and doriprismatica atromarginata. Tigertail seahorses, ornate ghost pipefish and frogfish are all regular finds. Lots of shrimp species including the incredibly well camouflaged coral whip shrimp and peacock mantis shrimp. Banded sea kraits are common and a huge hawksbill turtle is regularly encountered munching away on the bubble corals. Bamboo sharks hide under ledges at the bottom of the wall seemingly always in the most awkward spot for photos.
Surprising amount of fish
With good visibility the abundant life that hangs out in the blue adds another dimension to the dive. There is a resident school of chevron barracuda and some very large yellowtail barracuda that often come close to the wall but are generally hidden by the limited visibility at the site. If whale sharks are in the area then they usually pay a visit. Sightings are rare but certainly not unheard of.
On a good day this dive site is pretty special. Unfortunately it’s usually dived with a bit of current because the other dives on the schedule need to be dived on as little current as possible for safety reasons. We do get many days when there is no or very little current and then the dive site can reveal all of its secrets.
Our Phuket diving schedule takes you to Koh Doc Mai every Monday and Thursday.