Racha Islands Diving
The Racha Islands Group, located to the south of Phuket, consist of two Islands: the north island is called Racha Yai (Yai means big), and south island is called Racha Noi (Noi means small)
Scuba diving from Phuket – They are the best local dive sites located less than two hours away from Phuket island. One of the most popular dive areas for first-time divers is the Racha Islands. With more than ten dive sites, Racha Yai offers coral reefs, good visibility and abundant reef fish. It’s a perfect location for beginners in scuba diving and check-out dives. The newly-created Phuket Dive Park is located just outside of Siam Bay. At a maximum depth of 18 metres, you’ll find yellow-lipped sea kraits, various nudibranchs, spotfin lionfish.
Racha Noi Island, 45 minutes south of Racha Yai, is known for incredibly good visibility, big granite boulders and a white sandy bottom. Due to current and depth, the island attracts large pelagics such as manta rays, whale sharks and spotted eagle rays.
Racha Islands Diving – Ko Racha Yai
Ko Racha Yai dive sites
Racha Islands diving: Ko Racha Yai possess crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches. The island is very popular with scuba divers and snorkelers, with challenging dive sites for advanced scuba divers as well as plenty for beginners.
Ko Racha Yai is also the preferred scuba dive site to conduct the PADI Open Water course and learn how to dive, or just taste the diving adventure with the PADI Discover Scuba Diving program.
Racha Yai’s east coast has a bay that is fine for scuba diving even during the rainy-season. Visibility can be as good as 30m – average 15-20m all year round. Consisting mostly of hard coral reef slope and flat bottom covered with white sand, the dive site is sheltered inside the bay’s and is thus free from strong currents. This combination makes Racha Yai Island an ideal place for beginners and infrequent scuba divers. There are also deep reefs, and wrecks which are suitable for more experienced scuba divers.
Bungalow Bay Dive Site
Bungalow Bay is characterised by a deep curve and both sides are excellent for scuba diving or for scuba training dives. The northern side of the bay is a reef slope with staghorn corals and small rock outcrops ranging from 5 to 22m of depth, ends with a sandy bottom. The southern side of the bay is covered with staghorn and pore corals, and has several gigantic rocks along the edge of the island.
Reef fish such as parrot fish, snapper, grouper, angelfish, butterfly fish and basslets are common. At the shallow waters the unusual shrimpfish are sometimes found in schools. Divers may also find some of the rarer creatures such as leaf fish, razor fish and ghost pipefish and whale sharks. Beginners will enjoy with sea turtles and giant morays.
Siam Bay Dive Site
Siam Bay lies to the north of Racha Yai Island with an average depth of 12-18m. The corals scattered around the bay are mostly hard coral, and some big pinnacles can be seen along the island edge on the east side of the island. This is an ideal site for beginners.
Parrotfish, butterflyfish and basslets are common. Cuttlefish and Kuhl’s stingrays are often found at the sandy bottom. At night, Siam bay is a heaven for macro lovers. Small crabs and shrimps can often be found on top of corals, in crevices and inside feather stars.
Home Run Reef Dive Site
Most of the reef is covered with hard corals like staghorn coral, branch coral, and pore coral with rocks scattered in-between. The steepest slope is at a depth of 12-15m, with the rest ranging from 15-25m and ending in a gently sloping sandy bottom. Due to the current conditions, a one-way dive is more practical and likely more enjoyable. This is the perfect dive site for drift divers.
Reef fish such as parrotfish, butterflyfish and basslets are common. Comet fishes are sometimes found hiding in cavities or in the space between branches of staghorn coral. Trumpet and cornet fish often camouflage themselves and stay close to the staghorn coral. Great Barracuda are also common sightings here. Look carefully under the rock and you can spot reef octopus and sea snakes.
Bay 1-2 Dive Site (a.k.a. Staghorn reef)
Bay 1 has a very small beach, which is easily missed. There are pore corals heads scattered along the entire stretch of this bay, occasionally interrupted by a patch of staghorn coral. The reef starts from a depth of 5m and goes to as deep as 20m before hitting the sandy bottom. The largest beach is located at Bay 2. While it also has an abundance of coral heads and branch corals – hence it’s name, Staghorn Reef. The reef starts from a depth of 12m and slopes down to a depth of 30m.
Reef fish such as parrot fish, snapper, grouper, angelfish, butterfly fish and basslets are common. Divers may get to see trumpet fish swimming by the side of groupers. Advanced divers can enjoy with wreck diving at 25m where they can spot giant morays and batfishes.
Bay 3 Dive Site (a.k.a. Lucy’s reef)
On bay 3 – Lucy’s Reef, consists mainly of rocks and pore corals, and is separated by a rock-ridged border at the south end of the reef. The sudden change from hard coral and rocky bottoms to sandy bottom is a good indication that you have entered Bay 3. In Fact, apart from brief smattering of pore corals and some coral heads in the shallower waters, Bay 3 has mostly sandy bottom.
We are still on the same island, so, reef fish such as parrot fish, snapper, grouper, angelfish, butterfly fish and basslets are common. Cornet fish are also spotted regularly. Box fishes and blue spotted box fish are usual for this area. Boxer shrimp and dancing shrimps can be found inside crevices or even inside pore corals. Take a closer look and you might also see ghost pipefish hiding among the fronds.
Bay 4 and 5 Dive Site (a.k.a. Waterfall wall)
Bay 4&5 – Waterfall Wall, returns to the reefs of hard coral. It has more slope than Bay 3 and is also formed by a wider variety of coral. Waterfall Wall is a miniature version of Staghorn reef, but also with more variety of corals such as anemones. Be especially careful when you dive here, as it is a complex current – the current can suddenly switch the direction around the middle of the reef!
The usual reef fish such as parrot fish, snapper, grouper, angelfish, butterfly are common. A rare thornback boxfish, as well as an impressive seamoth, have been spotted at the sandy bottom. Away from the reef, schools of yellowtail barracuda are often seen around. Big eyed trevally are also found in big school near the reef. Close to the reef in shallow water sometimes divers can observe reef sharks.
Racha Islands Diving – Ko Racha Noi
Ko Racha Noi dive sites
Racha Islands diving: Racha Noi Island is 40 minutes from Racha Yai Island by our dive boat MV Mermaid. There are two major areas, the north and the south ends of the island, and the coral reefs, which stretch across areas filled with granite boulders. However only four or five of the dive sites are popular among Phuket diving operators.
Ko Racha Noi – North is a reasonable multilevel dive site, which takes divers around pinnacles and large rocks. Dive sites are suitable from beginners to advanced divers. There’s a fair display of hard and soft corals and the usual reef fishes are present in reasonable quantities. But the biggest interests of this dive site are the great swim thru, crystal clear waters, amazing underwater landscapes and some times Manta Rays.
Ko Racha Noi – South is a great dive site! Manta Rays and Whale Sharks are common! This dive site is very challenging and only experienced and advanced scuba divers are allowed to dive on this hazardous dive spot with a complex and strong currents.
Marina Rock Dive Site
Formed from granite rock, the bay in the lid west of Racha Noi Island is carpeted with leather corals and a mixture of sea fans, sea whips, fire corals and hard corals such as pore corals. The dive start from the sandy bottom at 18m depth or from the rocky reef next to south of the bay where you can see huge rocks which slope down to 35-40m. There are many swim-through at this site waiting to be explored.
Reef fish such as parrot fish, snapper, angelfish, butterfly fish and neon fusiliers are common. In the sandy bottom of the bay, you may also spot bluespotted stingrays and scissortail gobies hovering in a pair. Take a closer look at the rocks and you may discover nudibranchs and pipefish. In the deeper part, you might also have a surprise encounter with a Manta Ray.
Banana Bay Dive Site
Possibly getting its name from the abundance of banana trees that grow on the bay, the east of Racha Noi Island is named “Banana” bay. This is an easy dive site, with a clear shallow flat area starting from 3-10m and hard coral reef slopping gently to 25-30m with staghorn coral occupying most of the area punctuated by white powdery sand.
Like the other dive site of Racha Noi, reef fish such as fusilier, triggerfish, butterfly fish, and colorful basslets are often found ot top of the staghorn coral. In the shallow you can find giant morays, reef octopus, black and white snapper, sea snake – not dangerous , lion fish and scorpion fish. Lovers of nudibranchs will find them on top of staghorn corals. Look at the blue, you can be lucky and spot Manta Rays.
Racha Noi Bay Dive Site
Located on the southeast side of the island, Racha Noi Bay is easily distinguished by the small islet. At low tide, the sand ridge connecting to the main island will be visible. The shallow coral garden at the north and south is highly suitable for snorkeling. The coral gives way to a sandy bottom at depth of 12m . On the rocky portions deeper than 30m, sea fan and sea whips occupy the area with amazing underwater landscapes.
Divers will be amazed by the variety of creatures. With the usual reef fiches, divers will like to discover scorpion fishes, garden eels, eagle rays and milky fish. Explore the sandy bottom to spot camouflaged cuttle fish, flounder and pipe fish. On calm days, you can even swim off the rocky reef and explore the deep blue for leopard shark, manta ray and even whale sharks.
South Tip Dive Site
South tip is located at the southern of Racha Noi and is not large. It consists mostly of granite boulders at the depths ranging from 15-18m in the north to more than 60m in the south. It the west the rock slope is gentle but the east side is steeper and there are fewer hard and soft corals such as fire and sea fan corals attached to the rock. The current is complex and strong and can become extreme. This dive site is not for beginners or intermediate. For this reason it is difficult to find a daily schedule for this particular dive spot.
Manta Rays are often spotted here. From February to April you are almost sure to dive with them. There is also surgeonfish, unicornfish triggerfish, damsels and great barracuda are common here. From the other hand, leopard sharks are less.