The stunning scenery of the Krabi and Koh Phi Phi regions of Thailand have long ensured that the area is a firm favourite on Thailand's well trodden traveler and backpacker trails. Dramatic limestone cliffs, beautiful beaches and the low cost of living in the area have ensured that large numbers of tourists flock to the region every year.
Recent years however have seen the region develop a reputation amongst the scuba diving community, attracted by the stunning underwater topography which easily rivals the dramatic cliffs and pinnacles found above the water. Today, the popular resort areas of Ao Nang, Koh Phi Phi and Railee Beach are as likely to be filled with scuba divers as the traditional ‘horizon-gazers’ of the 70's and 80's.
The scuba diving in Krabi and Koh Phi Phi seems to be concentrated into four main regions. The local islands and reefs just south of Krabi, the various dive sites at Shark Point Marine Sanctuary, the sites surrounding the islands at Koh Phi Phi and the two world class dive sites at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang.
Just a few miles south of Krabi lie the small islands of Ko Ha, Ko See and Ko Yaw Bon. The dive sites here are an interesting mix of tunnels, swim through's, coral heads and large boulder formations. With the exception of the tunnel at Ko Yaw Bon, the dives here are accessible for novice divers and provide an excellent opportunity to see marine life including Black Tip Sharks, Banded Sea Snakes and Leopard Sharks.
The dive sites of Shark Point Marine Sanctuary are home to an incredible array of marine life, and although the diving here tends to be dominated by the dive sites at Anenome Reef and Shark Point, the King Cruiser Wreck provides an excellent dive and is now home to a good amount of coral and marine life. Large barracuda and tuna are regularly spotted here, attracted by the large amount of nutrients swept up from the nearby deep waters.
Continuing further south are the stunning islands at Koh Phi Phi, an area characterized by the dramatic limestone cliffs and pinnacles which rise dramatically above the sea, before plunging down into the dark depths below. Once a quiet Muslim fishing village, the region now has a developed diving industry, and today there are at least ten dive centers operating out of the Ton Sai area on Koh Phi Phi.
Underwater, the islands of Koh Phi Phi are a mixture of coral gardens, steep walls and swim throughs, and the islands have a number of excellent dive sites in close proximity. In particular, the dive sites at Ko Yung Pinnacle and Ko Bida nok consistently deliver excellent scuba diving and are widely acknowledged as being the best dive sites in Koh Phi Phi.
Last, but certainly not least are the two world class dive sites south of Phi Phi at Hin Muang (Purple Rock) and Hin Daeng (Red Rock). These sites, a mixture of steep walls and pinnacles are both in close proximity to deep water, and as such the larger marine life are attracted to the large amounts of nutrients that can be found here. The two sites at Hin Muang and Hin Daeng represent the best opportunities for people wishing to see either whale sharks or manta rays, and both are regularly sighted at these dive sites.
The scuba diving throughout the Krabi and Koh Phi Phi region is undoubtedly of the highest standards, and a number of the dive sites offer genuinely world class diving. For divers looking to go scuba diving on Koh Phi Phi or in Krabi, the majority of the dive centers in the region can be found in the resort of Ao Nang or on the beach area at Ton Sai in Koh Phi Phi.
Mark Burns is Director of Scubaworld. tv, a scuba diving website providing a wide range of Thailand diving holidays and information on scuba diving in Thailand