With the southern half of Phuket Island a veritable hotbed of spectacular dive sites, visiting scuba divers might be surprised to learn that there aren’t too many dive shops located in the main city of Phuket. But travel southwards or to the west, and you’ll find the largest collection of specialist shops and tour operators in Thailand. Access from here to the clear waters of the Andaman Sea, as well as the treasures of the Malacca Strait, has allowed the sport of scuba diving to thrive. By the time you reach the border of Chalong and Rawai, where the majority of dive trips on the east of the island leave from, it’s almost impossible to travel without passing a dive shop or two.
Right here on that border is Kiwi Diver, one of the area’s specialist dive shops. The 5-star facility holds rebreather apparatus and is one of the few agents for Frog Dive Gear. Kiwi Diver has been here for years, and it’s hard to miss their brightly colored shop front as you turn off Patak Road. With almost perfect reviews on Trip Advisor, they run day trips and liveaboard tours, but also concentrate on the often-sidestepped beach dives - and have a few ‘secret’ locations needing 4x4 access up their sleeves.
By far the largest collection of dive shops can be found in Karon on the western coastline. This pretty coastal town lies directly on the Andaman Sea, and offers access to some of the best dives sites as far out as the popular Similan Islands. It’s also home to the Oceanic Dive Center, one of Phuket’s longest running centres, with a 13-year history, 5-star PADI certification and a certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor. It’s also a popular instructor-training center with every level of certification available.
Right on Karon Beach, Nautilus Divers is a great all-rounder, with love of everything to do with the sea. Operating since 1986, they specialize in beach dives from picturesque Kata beach, just south of Karon town and right on their doorstep, but they also run complete liveaboard trips to the outlying islands and speedboat tours for day trips to Shark Point and King Cruiser.
Getting to Mueang Phuket is easy by air, and its dedicated International airport in the north of the island means you can often fly direct from departure countries around the world without having to stopover in Bangkok. Many of the dive shops offer packages that include airport transfers and accommodation, but if you’re travelling independently, getting from the airport to the south of the island is never more than an hour by car.
Decent dive operation but this is not a luxury liveaboard. Tired decor in cabin, mattress on floor and badly leaking pipework in the bathroom. It is very basic. The crew are helpful though, the divemaster good and the dive deck well organised. The sites in Similan Islands are pleasant but average with the exception of Richelieu Rock which is very nice. All sites are very crowded with many boats around.
Been diving around Marine Park, Koh Tao and Sail Rock, Thailand with Dive Point Samui last year after attend my mate's wed in Samui and two week vacation for myself. It was a thrilling experience to dive in such beautiful dive sites and the boat is a very nice, clean and comfortable boat. Dive crew are professional, sociable, cool, fun and serious about divers' safety! Fell in love with the Thai Curry that was prepared on the boat! It is a slow boat but you can actually sleep on the boat as the...