Thailand: Which is the best month to go diving?

10th December 2015   |   Ayesha Cantrell

Apart from the actual physical underwater beauty that Thailand has to offer, the logistical beauty is that it offers varied diving opportunities almost all year around. That is not to say that every diving locale is suitable all year and this is what often causes confusion. To stir the visibility further, what some travel agents will refer to as high season merely denotes the overall busyness of the area and not the peak diving conditions in that area. So what is the best month to go to scuba diving in Thailand?

The problematic issue with Thailand is the weather is not consistent throughout the country, in fact, it almost splits the country into an east versus west situation. Generally while one coast is bathed in sunshine with its beaches barely caressed by waves because the ocean is so calm, the other is being lashed by rain and gusting winds.

October to May

In general, this is the best time to visit any west coast scuba diving destination.

Similan and Surin Liveaboard Season

If hopping aboard a liveaboard vessel and cruising comfortably in between sites while being fed like a goose is how you like to dive then you should be looking at heading to Thailand between October and May. The Similan and Surin Islands aren’t accessible for the whole year primarily due to weather, and the park is off-limits outside of these times. The earlier and latter part of the season, as you might expect, can experience some choppy seas and reduced visibility, but the sites are quiet. December, January and February are by far the busiest months, and you should book early to avoid disappointment. They are busy for good reason. Expect Bombay-Sapphire-like visibility with a healthy shot of manta ray and whale shark action thrown in.

Similan Islands

West Coast Land Based Scuba Diving

If you are travelling with non-divers or don’t have the time for a liveaboard, then you can see some of the Simian’s dive sites on one day or overnight trips if you stay in Khao Lak. Khao Lak has some great closer to home dives too. Krabi, Koh Lanta, Koh Racha, Koh Lipe, Ranong, and Phuket all enjoy this same seasonality. The famous pinnacles of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang lie within easy day trip reach of Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi and are a great place to spot the larger pelagics particularly manta rays and often whale sharks too.

The Gulf of Thailand

Koh Tao, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan experience their worst monsoon weather around November and while you can be lucky, on the whole, it’s not an advisable time to visit if you want to see those picture perfect underwater scenes. December, January and February can see some good conditions but it’s far from consistent, choppy seas and bad visibility are more likely. April and May are good months to see whale sharks particularly at Chumphon Pinnacle, South West Pinnacle and Sail Rock. All of these dive sites are in reach of any of these islands but Koh Tao is closer to Chumpon and South West Pinnacle while Koh Phangan is closer to Sail Rock.
Although in The Gulf of Thailand, Koh Chang enjoys a weather pattern similar to that of the west coast making the October to May period a great time to visit. Close by Pattaya, however, is more consistent with the rest of The Gulf of Thailand but the rain does tend to start in September.

Barracuda

June to September

For this portion of the year, the reverse is pretty much true.

West Coast Land Based Scuba Diving

The Similan and Surin Islands close to all vessels and diving stops from Ranong into Burmese waters too. High-speed ferries no longer whisk travellers to island destinations and the coast generally hunkers down for wind and rain. Local ferries operate though and you can still get around. There can be good days and even some great days diving too. If you are planning an extended trip and have the flexibility to wander based on the weather, then some good deals can be had along with peace and quiet. For a superb scuba diving vacation, however, you’re better off elsewhere.

Bat Fish

The Gulf of Thailand

Uninformed travel agents often think that the whole of the country is now at risk of monsoon rains and often tell would be visitors to avoid the gulf's islands of Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. This is simply not the case, this time of year is a great time to visit. Do note though that this area is often very busy in July and August due to European school holiday time and accommodation and transport book up early. Pattaya falls into this same zone while Koh Chang will be experiencing similar conditions to the west coast.

Still confused? No problem, simply drop our team an email and we will be glad to help you choose the best destination for you at the perfect time too.

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