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8 Best Snorkelling Spots in Thailand

8 Best Snorkelling Spots in Thailand

Beyond Thailand’s bustling cities and picturesque landscapes, it boasts a world beneath its crystalline waters that is nothing short of mesmerising. 

With a coastline that stretches for thousands of kilometres, this Southeast Asian gem offers some of the most captivating snorkelling experiences on the planet. 

In this guide, we’ll uncover the best snorkelling spots in Thailand that promise to take you on an aquatic journey through a kaleidoscope of marine life, colourful coral reefs, and serene underwater landscapes. Let’s dive in!

Best Time to Go For Snorkelling in Thailand

Best Time to Go For Snorkelling in Thailand
(Image source: iStock)

When planning a snorkelling adventure in Thailand, timing is crucial to ensure the best underwater experience. The ideal time to go snorkelling in Thailand depends on various factors, including weather conditions, water visibility, and marine life activity. 

Here’s a breakdown of the best times to go snorkelling in different regions of Thailand:

Andaman Sea (West Coast): The best time to visit the Andaman Sea is from November to April. During these months, the weather is dry, and the seas are calm, providing excellent visibility for snorkelling.

During this time, you can expect to encounter diverse marine life, including colourful coral reefs, tropical fish, and even larger species like reef sharks and rays.

Gulf of Thailand (East Coast): The Gulf of Thailand’s prime snorkelling season runs from May to August. During this period, you’ll experience pleasant weather and calm seas, making it perfect for snorkelling adventures.

Also, during this period, the Gulf also offers vibrant coral gardens and abundant marine life, including parrotfish, angelfish, and sea turtles.

List of Best Places for Snorkelling in Thailand

Similan Islands

If you’re in search of an enchanting underwater paradise in Thailand, the Similan Islands (row 781) should unquestionably top your travel bucket list. These pristine jewels nestled in the heart of the Andaman Sea promise a snorkelling experience that’s nothing short of magical. 

Similan Islands is all about marine diversity. It’s renowned worldwide for their rich and thriving underwater ecosystem. 

As you don your snorkelling gear and venture into the depths, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a breathtaking array of marine life. From the graceful dance of manta rays to thrilling encounters with whale sharks, these islands are teeming with wonders waiting to be discovered. 

Speaking of clear waters, the Similan Islands boast some of the clearest you’ll find in Thailand. This exceptional water clarity offers an unparalleled snorkelling experience, providing excellent visibility so you can fully immerse yourself in the mesmerising underwater world. 

And for those who appreciate the delicate beauty of coral, you’ll find vibrant coral gardens that will leave you awe-inspired and reaching for your camera.

Local tips:

  • Rise and shine early for your snorkelling adventure in the Similan Islands. The morning hours often offer the clearest waters and a quieter atmosphere, giving you a better chance to spot marine giants like manta rays and whale sharks.
  • While the Similan Islands are renowned for snorkelling, consider taking a dive course here if you’re interested in scuba diving. The underwater world is just as breathtaking at greater depths.

Surin Islands

Just a stone’s throw north of the Similan Islands lies another snorkelling paradise: the Surin Islands. These hidden gems offer a snorkelling experience that’s equally remarkable but with their unique flair. 

One of the most striking aspects of the Surin Islands is their untouched beauty. Unlike more heavily developed tourist destinations, these islands have managed to preserve their natural splendour and tranquillity. 

If you’re the type of traveller who craves an off-the-beaten-path adventure, then the Surin Islands are tailor-made for you. Here, you can immerse yourself in pristine surroundings that are a testament to nature’s unspoiled wonders.

When it comes to underwater treasures, the Surin Islands don’t disappoint. Their healthy and vibrant coral reefs are a sight to behold, teeming with a diverse array of marine life. 

As you snorkel through the crystal-clear waters, you’ll encounter schools of colourful fish, graceful reef sharks, and if you’re lucky, the occasional dugong gliding gracefully beneath you. It’s a symphony of underwater life that will leave you awe-inspired and utterly captivated.

Local tips:

  • When visiting the Surin Islands, take the opportunity to learn about the Moken sea gipsies. Engage with the local community, hear their stories, and appreciate their unique way of life.
  • Try snorkelling during the late afternoon or at sunset. The sun’s angle creates stunning lighting effects underwater, making for an unforgettable snorkelling experience.

Koh Phi Phi

If you’re looking for an incredible snorkelling destination that combines stunning landscapes with captivating underwater exploration, look no further than Koh Phi Phi

The Phi Phi Islands are renowned for their awe-inspiring limestone cliffs that soar dramatically from the emerald-green waters. It’s a place where the splendour of nature knows no bounds.

But it’s not just the above-water views that make Koh Phi Phi special. Beneath the surface, a diverse and vibrant marine world awaits. As you embark on your snorkelling adventure around Koh Phi Phi, you’ll come face to face with a kaleidoscope of marine life. 

Playful clownfish dart amidst colourful corals, parrotfish add bursts of brilliance to the underwater landscape, and the occasional sighting of reef sharks adds an exciting edge to your exploration. 

And for a truly unforgettable experience, make sure not to miss the opportunity to snorkel in Maya Bay (row 777), a location made famous by the iconic movie “The Beach.” 

This bay is not only visually stunning with its pristine beach and towering cliffs but also harbours vibrant marine ecosystems beneath its tranquil waters. It’s a surreal sensation to snorkel in a place that has captured the imagination of travellers worldwide.

Local tips:

  • If you’re planning to snorkel in Maya Bay, try to get there early in the morning or later in the afternoon. This iconic bay gets crowded during midday due to day-trip tours.
  • After your snorkelling adventure, head to Monkey Beach. It’s a short hike from Tonsai Bay and is home to playful monkeys. Just remember to keep a safe distance and avoid feeding them.

Koh Tao

Koh Tao (row 760) ,affectionately known as Turtle Island, offers an idyllic snorkelling destination. One of the most compelling reasons to choose Koh Tao is its year-round snorkelling paradise. 

Regardless of the season, this island offers excellent snorkelling conditions. Plus, Koh Tao is renowned for its mesmerising coral gardens, making it a true gem for underwater enthusiasts. 

As you snorkel through these aquatic wonderlands, you’ll be treated to a kaleidoscope of colours from various coral species and the lively dance of reef fish. 

Keep a keen eye out for hawksbill turtles, as they are commonly spotted in these waters, and catching a glimpse of these gentle creatures gliding gracefully beneath you is an unforgettable experience.

Moreover, if you’re new to snorkelling and eager to develop your skills, Koh Tao is the perfect place to start. The island boasts numerous dive shops and snorkelling centres that offer lessons tailored to all skill levels. 

Koh Tao’s welcoming and educational atmosphere ensures that you’ll not only enjoy the snorkelling experience but also gain valuable skills and knowledge about the marine world.

Local tips:

  • While Shark Bay is famous for its resident blacktip reef sharks, don’t miss the chance to explore the rocky areas along the shore. These rocky outcrops hide an array of marine life, including seahorses and nudibranchs.
  • Some of the best snorkelling spots on Koh Tao are right off the beaches. After a morning of snorkelling, relax at Sairee Beach and enjoy some delicious Thai street food.

Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay, with its stunning limestone karsts and emerald-green waters, offers an exceptional underwater adventure. It boasts a landscape that’s nothing short of unique and awe-inspiring. 

The bay is famous for its dramatic limestone formations that seemingly rise straight out of the sea, creating an otherworldly backdrop for your snorkelling expedition. 

These magnificent formations often conceal hidden lagoons and mysterious caves waiting to be explored, adding an element of adventure to your underwater journey.

But the true magic of Phang Nga Bay lies beneath the surface. As you plunge into its crystal-clear waters, you’ll discover a thriving underwater world. 

The bay is home to vibrant coral reefs teeming with a dazzling diversity of marine life. Expect to encounter schools of colourful fish, graceful sea anemones swaying with the current, and even the occasional seahorse, adding an element of wonder to your snorkelling encounters. 

And let’s not forget the iconic James Bond Island, made famous by the James Bond movie, “The Man with the Golden Gun.” This island is not only a pop culture reference but also a must-visit for snorkelers. 

Its fame extends below the water’s surface, where you’ll find exceptional snorkelling opportunities. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in the same waters that graced the silver screen, making your snorkelling adventure even more memorable.

Local tips:

  • Consider combining kayaking with snorkelling in Phang Nga Bay. Rent a kayak to explore the limestone caves and hidden lagoons, then dip into the clear waters for some underwater exploration.
  • After your snorkelling adventure, savour local seafood dishes at floating restaurants in the bay. Try the spicy seafood curry or fresh grilled fish for a true taste of southern Thai cuisine.

Coral Island (Koh Hae)

Coral Island is a tropical paradise that caters to snorkelers and beach enthusiasts alike. Situated just a stone’s throw away from Phuket’s coastline, this island offers an array of attractions for those seeking sun, sea, and adventure:

It  boasts crystal-clear waters that are a snorkeler’s dream come true. These pristine waters offer impeccable visibility, ensuring that you won’t miss a single detail of the vibrant underwater world that lies beneath the surface. 

Whether you’re a seasoned snorkeler or new to the sport, you’ll find it easy to spot colourful fish darting among the coral reefs, creating a mesmerising and immersive experience. But Coral Island isn’t just about snorkelling; it’s a playground for water sports enthusiasts as well. 

If you’re in the mood for an adrenaline rush, you can indulge in a variety of activities, from thrilling banana boat rides that bounce over the waves to parasailing, where you can soar high above the island and take in breathtaking views.

You can also alternate between snorkelling sessions and leisurely beach lounging, soaking in the serene ambiance and enjoying the soft caress of the ocean breeze. 

Local tips:

  • You don’t need a boat ride to experience great snorkelling here. Simply wade into the waters from the beach, and you’ll find vibrant coral reefs and marine life just a short swim away.
  • Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it on one of Coral Island’s pristine beaches. It’s a great way to relax and refuel after snorkelling.

Koh Chang

Koh Chang, Thailand’s second-largest island, is an absolute gem when it comes to snorkelling in the Gulf of Thailand. Its underwater world is a bustling hub of marine life. Its waters are teeming with an abundance of fish, seahorses, and a variety of coral species. 

Snorkelers can easily access these wonders right from the beaches, making it a convenient and captivating experience for both beginners and seasoned enthusiasts. 

Simply don your snorkelling gear, wade into the shallows, and you’ll find yourself immersed in a vibrant underwater realm.

But what makes Koh Chang truly exceptional is its proximity to a group of neighbouring islands within the archipelago. This presents a fantastic opportunity for island hopping and exploring different snorkelling sites. 

Islands like Koh Rang and Koh Kood are renowned for their underwater beauty, offering snorkelers a chance to encounter diverse marine ecosystems, from vibrant coral gardens to intriguing seafloor landscapes. 

Moreover, Koh Chang is home to the Mu Koh Chang National Marine Park, a protected area dedicated to preserving the region’s marine environments. Snorkelers can venture into these pristine waters, where the underwater landscapes remain untouched and teem with life. 

Local tips:

  • Take a break from snorkelling and explore Koh Chang’s inland beauty. Visit Klong Plu Waterfall for a refreshing freshwater swim and some stunning jungle scenery.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, some tour operators offer night snorkelling trips where you can witness the fascinating nocturnal marine life, like bioluminescent plankton.

Koh Samui

Koh Samui isn’t just famous for its vibrant nightlife and pristine beaches, it’s also a hub for excellent snorkelling experiences. 

One of its standout features is its accessibility to a variety of smaller islands nearby, such as Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, which are celebrated for their exceptional snorkelling spots. 

Snorkelers can easily arrange day trips or snorkelling excursions to these neighbouring islands, making it convenient to explore a diverse range of underwater wonders.

A highlight for snorkelling enthusiasts visiting Koh Samui is the Angthong Marine Park, a short boat ride away, and a haven for those seeking an underwater adventure. It boasts stunning limestone cliffs that have hidden lagoons with captivating snorkelling sites. 

You’ll find that the coral reefs within the park are thriving, offering a mesmerising spectacle of marine life that’s sure to leave you in awe!

Another great thing about Koh Samui is it’s well-equipped to cater to snorkelers of all levels, with its numerous tour operators that specialise in snorkelling excursions. These tours often include equipment rental, ensuring you have access to quality snorkelling gear. 

Plus, expert guides are on hand to enhance your experience, providing insights into the marine environment and ensuring your safety while you explore the underwater beauty.

Local tips:

  • If you’re staying on Koh Samui, don’t miss the opportunity to take a short boat ride to nearby Koh Phangan. It offers superb snorkelling spots, often with fewer tourists.
  • While on Koh Samui, indulge in the island’s delectable street food. Explore the night markets for dishes like pad thai, mango sticky rice, and fresh seafood.
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