Although tourist frequentation has strongly contributed to the deterioration of its coral reefs in its busiest islands, Thailand remains a world-class snorkeling destination. Its lush tropical coasts, reefs and islands offers a wide choice of snorkeling spots, in both Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. Thailand is blessed with an abundant underwater world of manta rays, reef sharks, clownfish, sea turtles and colorful coral gardens. For the best snorkeling experience, head to the most pristine spots of the country.
The south of the country opens onto two distinct maritime areas: to the east, the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea, and to the west, the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean. The result is a wide variety of snorkeling spots and access to extraordinary underwater biodiversity.
On the Gulf of Thailand side, many islands are ideal for snorkeling. Ko Chang, Ko Samui, Ko Phangan, but above all Ko Tao (a real Mecca for diving) are all great options.
For truly exceptional sessions, however, you should head for the Angthong National Marine Park and its 42 island paradises, bathed in turquoise waters. In the Andaman Sea, the famous Phi Phi islands or the Taruato National Marine Park are top-class destinations.
But the real snorkeling must in Thailand is the Similan Islands, with its nine islands that have been listed as a natural reserve since 1982. About 60 miles (100km) to the north-east of Phuket, they can boast world-class snorkeling spots.
The observation possibilities are varied in Thailand, both in the Gulf of Thailand and in the Andaman Sea, although the latter is richer in coral reefs.
Over 900 species of reef fish inhabit the Thai seas, and the shallow waters provide an opportunity to see clownfish in their anemones, butterflyfish, giant clams, and small blacktip reef sharks. Depending on the spot, you might experience a wonderful encounter with a whale shark or a manta ray, with unforgettable memories guaranteed.
Thailand is one of the world”s top tourist destinations. Human impact on the marine environment is very high and the coral reefs are deteriorating rapidly (breakage and bleaching of coral), despite the existence of 26 National Marine Parks. The situation is such that many diving sites have temporarily been closed by the authorities over the past few years.
It can rain for several days at a time and boats cannot sail due to the poor conditions at sea. Temperatures get up to 104°F/40°C between April and June.
Tourist numbers peak in December and January when a flow of holidaymakers pour onto the beaches. Due to the overcrowding in certain spots, snorkeling sessions can prove to be less satisfying.
In Thailand, the water temperature is on average 82°F/28°C, and snorkeling is possible all the year round in ideal conditions when the climatic conditions allow it.
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Frequently sighted on many spots, including Maya Bay and Bamboo Island
Widespread; common around Koh Tao, especially at Koh Nang Yuan, Tanote Bay, Sharks Bay and Monkey Beach
Unmissable at Shark Bay
Found on many spots; abundant in Koh Nang Yuan and Maya Bay
On all spots
Fringing reef with colorful fish
Level: Free shore access Resort nearby
Level: Resort nearby
Rocky bay with reef fish, schools of fusiliers and small sharks
Level: Free shore access
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