Free shore access
This spot have a free shore access: you can go snorkeling there freely and without having to book a tour or pay an entrance fee.
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Last updated on July 20, 2023
Have you ever dreamt of swimming with sharks? One of the best snorkeling locations in Thailand to swim with sharks is at Shark Bay, in Koh Tao where you are assured of a unique experience. At a depth of 6 to 12 feet, Shark Bay has many blacktip reef sharks, some of them over 6 feet long, that continually crisscross the bay. In addition to sharks, this location is visited by green sea turtles and a wide diversity of reef fish.
There are three main ways to snorkel Shark Bay:
The water entrance is from a tiny rocky beach, if you go there on your own, from a large sandy beach, if you stay at the Haad Tien Beach Resort or from a boat if you are on a tour.
Shark Bay is known for its many resident blacktip reef sharks. The best time to spot them is in the morning, between 7 am and 10 am. Some sharks are almost 6 feet long, but only the small juveniles venture into the shallow waters near the beach.
From the beach, swim to the central and northern part of the bay. In this area, you will soon encounter sharks. Tour boats moor in a deeper area (↕10-12ft/3-4m), and further away from shore. This is the most recommended area if you want to see larger specimens swimming peacefully above the seabed.
All over the area, the coral is badly damaged and is just a carpet of broken coral. In places, you might be able to find pink skunk clownfish that are inhabiting sea anemones.
Snorkeling the bay, you may also encounter butterflyfish, triggerfish, needlefish, parrotfish, sergeant majors and, if you are lucky, green sea turtles.
This spot is very popular with tours, dropping hundreds of visitors into the bay each day, so watch out for boats and other snorkelers. At certain periods of the year, particularly in December/January, small jellyfish invade the bay.
Two hotels, the Haadtien Beach Resort and the Jamakhiri Resort and Spa directly overlook the beach.
These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
Been in shark bay yesterday (1 aug 2019) with day tour visiting 5 snorkel sites around Koh Tao. Møre than 99% of corals in shark bay is dead. Seabed is huge cemetery of brownish dead coral debris with An occasional Living coral And fish passing by. As a biologist I felt extremely disappointed and very sad… don’t go to Koh Tao for snorkeling any more!
Like non biologist people are enthusiastic about dead corals. No it’s true there’s a large bed of dead corals in shallow waters. Probably due to water too warm and possibly pollution. Shark bay beach looks really clean however if you swim to the next cove then it’s a pile of trash. Gets a little bit more live if you go further. Last year (September) I saw huge sea turtles everyday at about 5pm, but not a single shark.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Coral reef with colorful and small sharks
Fringing reef with colorful fish
Free shore access
Free shore access
Rocky bay with reef fish, schools of fusiliers and small sharks
Sheltered cove with corals and reef fish