Diving Koh Lanta

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Koh Lanta, Thailand

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Country: Thailand  Area: Thailand

Water Temp: 28 - 31°C (82 - 88°F)

Depth Range: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)

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A jewel in the Andaman Sea, Koh Lanta is a laidback, relaxed island close to some of the coasts best dive sites.

Koh Lanta is a popular travel destination for a laidback holiday escapade but what really makes it different is its unusual blend of island adventures. Famous for its tranquillity and charm, the island has withstood the callousness of modern technology and chaotic urban lifestyle thanks to its well-balanced and friendly local communities.

The Koh Lanta archipelago consists of over 50 islands, the two largest are Koh Lanta Noi and Koh Lanta Yai, Small Lanta Island and Big Lanta Island. The islands are far less commercial than a lot of other Thai Islands which has helped it retain a lot of its charm and tranquillity. For that reason Divers Travel to Koh Lanta for a bit more of an 'off the beaten track' feel and also to dive near-by Koh Haa.

When it comes to diving, Koh Lanta is one of the few places where you can spot the elusive Ghost Pipe Fish, a prized experience among divers. You can also see Harlequin Shrimp, Eagle Rays, Giant Puffer Fish, Scorpion Fish, Lion Fish and Porcupine Fish.

ghost pipe fish

 

Climate

The climate along the Andaman Coast is tropical so although it is lovely and warm for most of the year it does have a monsoon season running from May to late October. During this period there are very rainy days but a lot of the time it is still sunny with just a late afternoon heavy shower. The monsoon does make the Andaman Sea very rough with high winds so all the dive liveaboard's shut down during this time and the day boats cannot be guaranteed to run.

Although the best dive season runs from the beginning of November to May it is advisable to avoid December and January as this is peak season; accommodation can be hard to find and is more expensive, and the dive sites are very crowded. The best time to visit for diving is from February to April when the weather will be at its best, the seas at their calmest and the dive sites less crowded but also will have the highest chance of big pelagic encounters with Manta Rays and Whale Sharks.

The water temperature is warm and pleasant year round with the coolest temperatures during the monsoon and warmest time being late March to May.

Marine Conservation

The government of Thailand is fairly active when it comes to marine conservation. Whilst not particularly strict with rules and regulations, the people of Koh Lanta are beginning to be aware of the current state of the reef systems that are destroyed or polluted. By setting up healthy corals grown in suitable conditions they are slowly repairing the island’s reef system.

 
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The Diving

Koh Lanta is a popular diving destination in the Gulf of Thailand. Many diving schools in the island usually initiate their divers in the waters near Koh Lanta known for its deep and crystal clear waters perfect for all levels of divers.

Koh Lanta doesn’t have shore dives so everyone is required to take a boat trip to reach the dive sites. There are no scuba diving sites around the island, so all require a short boat trip to reach. These trips are either on a slow boat of speedboat. Slow boats are ok to closer sites such as Koh Haa but take 3-4 hours to reach the further afield sites of Hin Muang and Hin Daeng, this means it’s along day so a speedboat may be the best option as this only takes an hour. All boats will provide you with breakfast and lunch as well as plenty of water to keep hydrated.

Koh Haa is the nearest dive site particularly suitable for shorter boat rides. It has spectacular limestone islands creating a lagoon in its centre. The surrounding waters are crystal clear with splendid white beaches. The depth of this dive site varies from 5 to 30 metres making it the perfect choice for novice and advanced divers. This lagoon is an excellent site for divers and snorkelers alike. The depth can vary from 5 to 30m so perfect for all experiences and with beautiful coral gardens and plenty of marine life it is a great location for photographers.

Another fun dive is The Cathedral at Koh Haa Five. This is a cavern and can be easily accessed through a large opening from 6 to 13m. The cavern is full of stalactites and due to high ceilings divers can surface and take in the stunning surroundings. There are two large entrances which provide the cavern with plenty of natural light so this again is another great site for photographers.

If you can take longer boat rides, the next best diving destination is on Hin Muang. Hin Muang, “Purple Rock” has a reef from 12, dropping down to around 70m and is one of the deepest dive sites in the country! The rock is covered in beautiful purple soft corals which feed in the current. Hin Daeng, “Red Rock”, is a couple of hundred metres away from Hin Muang and not surprisingly is covered with red and also purple soft corals.

All dive sites boast of varied and diverse marine life including beautiful coral gardens and picturesque depths with silhouetting blue lagoon waters filled with ecstatic fishes that may one day dwindle in numbers because of the increasing tourist activities in the islands, so enjoy the fun while it lasts.

Some of the diverse marine life to see are Hawksbill turtles, barracuda and trevally to octopus and cuttlefish. There are also sightings of the great ghost pipefish, seahorses and nudibranches.

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How to get there

Getting to Koh Lanta is easy because the nearest airports are strategically located in Phuket, Trang and Krabi. Phuket has the most international flights but Krabi and Trang do receive regular flights from Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

There are also ferries from Bangkok and many liveaboards include Koh Lanta in their itineraries. There are ferries from Phuket leaving about 8am and 1pm everyday; these have a short stop at Koh Phi Phi along the way so you can also join the ferries at this point. There is also a ferry from Krabi and Ao Nang.

Another option is the express transfer from either Phuket or Krabi airports. This uses a combination of minivan and speedboat and gets you there a lot quicker without the wait for the ferry. This is also good if you arrive late in the day and do not wish to wait overnight to catch the next ferry. Obviously this option is a lot more expensive than the standard ferry but can be more convenient.

Once there most of the main roads are paved, but there are still a lot of dirt roads. Most of the locals use motorbikes and you can hire motorbikes or jeeps to get around - but be sensible kids.. if you can't ride one at home here may not be the best place to learn! ;)

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Going Out

Restaurants are abundant in Bangkok but in Koh Lanta, travellers prefer the comfortable foods offered by the island’s street vendors who have various choices in the seafood variety.

Night life is pretty much natural – a look at the starry nights in a quiet bar is about as crazy as it gets, you can seek out a few clubs but nothing compared to what can be found on the other islands in Thailand.

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Other activities

There are many activities to part in on Koh Lanta besides diving. One of the most popular is a Thai Cooking course. There are several cooking schools to choose from and they will teach you about all the local herbs and spices as well as help you prepare and cook a selection of dishes such as tom yung gung, Thai green curry and chicken with cashew nuts.

Other than diving, you can participate in Thai cooking courses, trekking, wakeboarding and beach based sports. You can also do some kayaking around the islands if your stamina permits and even risk some spelunking in the island’s limestone cliffs, be sure be be aware of your surroundings first.

Family Friendly

Beginner divers can so some snorkelling in shallower portions of the Koh Haa dive site which is teeming with rich marine life.

Elephant Trekking & Abuse

Please do not support Elephant torture and abuse by riding Elephants (or supporting Elephant performance) in Asia;

In Thai culture, the Phajaan or ‘the crush', is the torture method elephants undergo to become a part of the tourism industry. Essentially this involves cruel physical and mental abuse over long periods of time to make the Elephants submissive to humans.
Asian Elephant spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day often leads to permanent spinal injuries.
There is responsible Elephant tourism in Thailand - a good rule to remember is that if a tourist outfit offers anything other than getting to spend time with elephants, it is not friendly to them. 
Any outfit that offers riding, circuses or paintings means they have undergone horrific abuse in order to get them to where they are
Please do not support Elephant torture and make your travel companions aware of what lies behind this industry.
  • In Thai culture, the Phajaan or ‘the crush', is the torture method elephants undergo to become a part of the tourism industry. Essentially this involves cruel physical and mental abuse over long periods of time to make the Elephants submissive - starting as a calf
  • Asian Elephant's spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day often leads to permanent spinal injuries.
  • There is responsible Elephant tourism in Thailand - a good rule to remember is that if a tourist outfit offers anything other than getting to spend time with elephants, it is not friendly to them.
  • Remember; any outfit that offers riding, circuses or paintings means the Elephants have undergone horrific abuse in order to train the Elephants

You can help these magnificent animals by making your travel companions aware of what lies behind this industry. The main problem is a lack of awareness - most people have no idea! 

Dive Report is committed to raising awareness to the abuse suffered by Elephants used in the tourist industry. If you want to know more you can find out more hereherehere and here. Also see a PETA documentary video here.

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Tips

The best time to dive is from February through April when the water conditions are perfect.

Divers can easily avoid the peak season from December to January when most accommodations are full, as prices are higher but the diving is no better.

 If you really want to maximize your island hopping, consider going for liveaboards where most of the itineraries are already prepared ranging from island visits to diving.

Healthcare

The nearest international hospital is in Phuket which also has two diving recompression chambers.

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Rating 8/10

Koh Haar

Koh Lanta23 Nov 2012 - 23 Nov 2012

There was a beautiful assortment of coral and marine life at Koh Haar today. Ocean Divers made our experience comfortable and relaxed from our 7am pickup to our 4 o clock drop off at our accomodation. Our first dive took place at Koh Haar 2 and 4 and we went to the Cathedral for our second dive. The Cathedral has an underwater cave that you can go in with your open water without having to take a "caving adventure dive" which was a great experience for a beginner diver. As for marine life, we saw some batfish, puffer fish, and all kinds of other great critters of the sea.

Rating 10/10

Awesome, great dives, great people

Koh Lanta9 Feb 2012 - 15 Mar 2012

We (my girlfriend and I) dived with Ocean Divers to the Hin Daeng / Hin Maung dive sites in mid Feb and had an amazing time.. Not only were we treated extremely well but all the staff on board were generally excited to go diving. We had a lovely breakfast getting to know our DM before we boarded the speedboat for the 1.5 hr trip to one of the worlds best dive sites. Our guide fully briefed us on the dives and the marine life we were to see. they also made special mention about our code of conduct should we encounter any big stuff!! The dives were amazing, the sites were so pretty lined with soft corals and just to top it all off.. a Manta!!!! There was a supposed sighting by one of our group of a whale shark, but unfortunately we didn't see it..

Not only did we see big but also some amazing small critters too.. like an ornate ghost pipe fish.. there can't be many dive sites around the world where you see such big stuff and small!!

A great day out which was not only educational, fun, safe and enjoyable but one which will last in our memories forever.. thanks Ocean Divers

I saw: Manta Rays
Picture 593a2
P1030720

Steven Williams

Very jealous, ive dived there once and not seen mantas!

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