Although not nearly as famous as Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Lanta diving pleases scuba fanatics and first-timers more with better visibility, less-crowded sites, and a wider range of life found in the Andaman Sea.
Located on the west coast of Thailand in Krabi province, Koh Lanta is a large-yet-quiet island just a short hop away from Koh Phi Phi. The two islands share many dive sites dotted around the smaller islands and reefs in the archipelago.
- First read about what to expect on Koh Lanta, Thailand, and the unpredictable Koh Lanta weather to know when to go.
Diving in Koh Lanta
You'll find reputable dive shops staffed by experienced dive masters who cater to a variety of languages. PADI courses are often available in German, French, Swedish, and other languages, although you may possibly be stuck using the English book during the course.
Unlike the unsanctioned diving in some places, dive centers in Koh Lanta take their sport seriously and will ask to see your logbook to gauge your prior scuba experience. You'll probably be fitted for equipment the day before to ensure smooth diving the following day.
While not as cheap as the diving in Malaysia's Perhentian Islands, the Koh Lanta diving is not flat priced; prices fluctuate depending on the shop and how far the dive site is located. You won't find and decent shore diving in Koh Lanta; most trips include two fun dives, a day of lounging on the large boat during surface time, and a decent Thai meal.
A day of boat diving starts at around US $100, however, prices depend on the diving center and distance to the site. Additional dives later with the same center are usually around US $33 each. All the major bungalow resort have in-house dive shops and will package discounted accommodation with multi-dive packages.
Non-divers can accompany their friends or loved ones on the boat -- for a fee -- to do some snorkeling and sunbathing at the dive sites. The larger dive shops run large, well-maintained dive boats during the busy season (November to April). You may be taken out in smaller, long-tail boats during the low season or if not enough divers are present.
- Read more about what to expect when diving in Southeast Asia.
Popular Koh Lanta Diving Sites
- Shark Point: Located roughly halfway between Phuket and Koh Phi Phi, shark point is named for the docile, spotted leopard sharks often found on the sandy bottom. The soft coral is home to plenty of other fish as well. Maximum depth: around 28 meters.
- Koh Phi Phi: Home to more than 30 dive sites, Koh Phi Phi -- particularly the undeveloped Koh Phi Phi Ley -- offer superb diving along towering limestone walls. Snorkelers and divers enjoy the scenery both above and below the water. The Bidah Islands just south of Koh Phi Phi will fill your logbook with diverse spottings. Maximum depth: 30+ meters.
- King Cruiser Wreck: The King Cruiser passenger ferry sank in 1997 and has become home to more poisonous lionfish and scorpionfish than you would expect to see in 10 dives elsewhere. The wreck can be penetrated by advanced divers. Strong currents and a maximum depth of 33 meters make the wreck more suited to experienced divers. Read more about wreck diving.
- Koh Haa: Koh Haa -- or "Five Islands" in Thai -- is actually a collection of 12 dive sites. Close proximity to the mainland, consistently good visibility, and treats for both snorkelers and divers of all levels make Koh Haa a popular choice. Underwater caves can be explored by advanced divers. Maximum depth: 50+ meters.
FreeDiving on Koh Lanta
Try something completely different on Koh Lanta and ditch the BCD / tank: freediving. Blue Planet Divers (http://www.blueplanetdivers.net) offers freediving courses and a certificate. The goal on the first trip out -- you'll go along on the regular dive boat with your own instructor -- is to reach 30 meters without air!
Why Dive at Koh Lanta Instead of Koh Tao?
For many years Koh Tao has been the most popular dive destination in Thailand, mostly for one reason: it's cheap! While the tiny island is one of the cheapest and most popular places to take a scuba course or get PADI certified, divers often complain about the crowded dive sites and how finding interesting marine life takes a little more luck than in years past.
While the diving around Koh Tao certainly isn't terrible, and people still manage to spot the occasional Holy Grail of diving -- the whale shark -- sites can get busy, and many fun dives yield very little of interest to brag about in logbooks later.