Diving the Andaman Sea
Some of the best dive sitet in the world lie off the coast of Phuket in the Andaman Sea. Manta rays and whale sharks commonly visit the sea throughout the year In addition, our sites are home to hundreds of rare marine species oof found in other areas of the world, including pipe fish, sea horses and nudibranches. Phuket is the obvious gateway to the marine national parks in Western Thailand and the Mergui Archipelago in Burma due to the island's modern infrastructure and year-round safe anchorages.
The most famous dive sites are in and around the Similan Islands, about 100 km northwest of Phuket. These nine islands offer the clearest water, the whitest coral-sand beaches and the most colorful marine life in the Kingdom. The diving environment ranges from huge boulder outcroppings to gently sloping healthy coral reefs to deep, submerged pinnacles. To the north, Ko Bon, Ko Tachai, the famous Richelieu Rock and the Sunrin Islands — each a unique environment—are located near the Burmese border and are worth an extra effort to visit.
Traveling north past Richelieu Rock, we find the Mergui Archipelago, historically part of Thailand (Siam) and now governed by Myanmar (Burma).
A remarkable group of over 800 islands, they have only recently opened to tourism after political closure resulting from World War II and its repercussions. With over 10,000 square miles of calm seas and uninhabited islands, the diving and water sport possibilities here are almost immeasurable. However, the dive sites and islands are far from any major port and supplies are not available, so a visit to this area requires more days at sea.
Seven hundred and twenty kilometers to the northwest, we have the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a part of India. This area is still much like it was 100 years ago with very little deforestation and almost no active fishing. However, permissions for dive boats are difficult to obtain, and distances between dive sites vast. Thus, lots of preplanning and at least two weeks of your time are necessary to visit these islands. It's worth it if you have the time and money.
Diving around the southern parts of Phuket is also beautiful Famous, popufesr places such as Shark Point and Phi Phi Island offer incredible diving on most days. Day-trips are fun to these sites, while the other areas mentioned above generally require a multi-day live aboard trip However, Similan Island day-trips are gaining in popularity with recently introduced faster dive boats.
It is impossible to see all that Thailand and Burma have to offer in just one trip. People return repeatedly in order just to get a taste of it. Whether you have only a day or a few weeks, make time to dive our Andaman Sea, one of the world's treasures.
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