Khao Lak Diving Options At a Glance
Similan Islands Daytrips
This option is the most common way to dive from Khao Lak. Mainly operated by speedboats and some bigger and slower vessels. As the islands are situated 60km away from Khao Lak, the travel distance makes this option a bit expensive because of the fuel costs, which is compensated by most operators with taking a higher number of divers per vessel. Prices for daytrips range from about 5.000,- THB to abot 6.500,- THB per person. Due to the conditions of most dive sites in the Similan Islands and the fact that the number of daytrip divers per day and dive site have increased rapidly in the recent years, we do not recommend this Khao Lak diving option over the others, because we think it doesn’t give good enough value for money any more. If you want to do Khao Lak diving day trips, we highly recommend the local wrecks, or:
Northern Dive Site Day Trips
The dive sites of Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock are in good shape at the moment and offer a far better diving experience than any dive site in the Similan Islands. Daytrips to these destinations are becoming more and more popular, if you do not have the option to join a liveaboard, these are the dive sites you should be visiting by a daytrip from Khao Lak.
Definitely the best way to go diving from Khao Lak. It offers a huge amount of advantages. Liveaboard diving itself is the best way to go diving, it is more relaxed, safer, offers more opportunity to see marine life. In Khao Lak it also offers the advantage to stay away from the biggest crowds, enjoy the islands before and after they are invaded by the many daytrip guests, visit more and better dive sites. The costs per dive drops rapidly as there are four dives per day possible and the travel between the islands and the mainland has is done only once but for 14 dives. Similan Liveaboards range from 25.000,- THB in the budget version and can go up to 60.000,- THB on luxury boats. Very good mid-range boats vary around 32.000,- THB. Trips durations vary from 3 to 6 days, including between 12 and 19 dives. The 4 day / 4 night trip is the most common option. All Similan Liveaboards include diving at the far better Northern dive sites, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock. For more info about Similan Liveaboards read here.
If you have been to the Similan Islands already or you want to skip directly to the best possible adventure, a Burma Liveaboard is the absolute highlight of the Khao Lak diving options. Boats departing directly from Khao Lak Harbour (Thap Lamu Pier). Thailand Dive and Sail are specialized in these kind of trips. All you need to know about this, you can read in our Burma Liveaboard section.
Khao Lak Diving – Go Local
Khao Lak is the best starting point for diving day trips, snorkelling day trips and liveaboard diving trips to the Similan Islands. Its close proximity to the Similan Islands and Phuket Airport are the main factors that helped put Khao Lak on the map in the first place. The departure pier is only 15km from Khao Lak meaning less time to get to the boat and also the shortest possible trip to the Similan Islands.
If you are travelling around Thailand, Khao Lak is only a few hours from most popular destinations in the south of Thailand and only 1 hour from Phuket Airport.
Over 30 years ago, a tin mining vessel sank just off the coast of a small village called Bangsak, a few kilometres to the north of Khao Lak. Lying at only 18m on the seabed, the Boonsung Wreck has become the best wreck dive site in the area and surpasses the Similan Islands for quantity and variety of fish life with almost as much macro fish life as Richelieu Rock, although due to its close proximity to the coastline the visibility can be somewhat reduced.
For many years the wreck retained its original form, lying undisturbed on the ocean floor. The wreck, along with much of the Khao Lak coastline was effected by the 2004 Tsunami. Unlike on land, the Tsunami actually improved the dive site, spreading a lot of the old vessel’s super structure over a wider area. There is now much more to dive around and the extended site can support a larger number of divers than the old form.
The wreck is suitable for all experience levels. The maximum depth of 18m makes the site suitable for open water divers and junior advanced open water divers. If you wish to save money on the PADI Open Water Course then the wreck is suitable for open water dives three and four. Due to its age it is not recommended to penetrate the wreck.
Day two begins before dawn with a longtail boat sunrise safari. Dawn is the best time of day to spot animals by the water and monkeys and birds that feed in the Banyan Trees. It is common to see the Great Hornbill Bird, Langurs, Mouse Deer and Squirrels and occasionally Malayan Tapirs, Gibbons and Bears.
After breakfast there is time to relax or kayak in the cool morning air. If guests have opted to dive on the second day, then soon after breakfast we head off to another part of the lake for the second dive.
DIVE THE BOONSUNG WRECK
Thailand Dive and Sail offer a true Thai adventure to the Boonsung Wreck. Our Thai longtail boat departs from one of Khao Lak’s most beautiful beaches, taking only 30 minutes to reach the wreck site. The day starts at the leisurely time of 9:00am with hotel pick-ups and tea or coffee on the beach before heading out to the wreck site. After two dives and a delicious Thai lunch we arrive back at the beach around 3:00pm. Here you can enjoy a post dive beer or fruit shake whilst we complete log books before returning to your hotel with ample time to prepare for your evening activities in Khao Lak.
KHAO SOK LAKE DIVING
Khao Sok Lake, known locally as Cheow Lan Lake is located in the heart of Khao Sok National Park, which starts approximately 95km from Khao Lak. It is a huge 165 square kilometre lake, surrounded by the famous limestone mountains of Khao Sok, the best that you will see in Southern Thailand. The lake was created in 1982 by a power company who wanted to use the dam as a source of electricity for the South of Thailand; Ratchaprapha Dam was built across the Paseang River, and Cheow Lan Lake was born. Previously the area had been beautiful rainforest covered mountains and valleys, much like the national park that is remaining today. There were villages that were evacuated, leaving behind remnants of community life: houses, temples and schools. Diving in this lake in Khao Sok is a unique experience; here you can literally explore hidden worlds under the water and see the interesting wildlife that has now taken residence.
Today Cheow Lan Lake offers the most stunning scenery in Southern Thailand. Dramatic Limestone karsts jut out from the lake, more than twice the height of those you will find in Phang Nga Bay. Lush green rainforest surrounds the water, rich with birds, wildlife and beautiful tropical plants of all varieties. Rare animals can often be seen including bears, tapirs and gaurs; not so rare, but very shy creatures might also be spotted, such as hornbills, gibbons and eagles. Khao Sok National Park is a magical place and Cheow Lan Lake is perhaps the best part of it, combining all aspects of jungle life you might ever wish to see.
Diving in Thailand usually brings to mind the Similan Islands and the Surin Islands, however, with Thailand Dive and Sail it is also possible to experience the spectacular underwater world that Cheow Lan Lake has to offer. In this sunken part of Khao Sok National Park you will find remnants of what was in the valleys before they were flooded. It is possible to dive around the old forests and entrances to underwater caves. The best way to experience diving in Khao Sok Lake is on an overnight trip. A visit to Khao Sok National Park is not complete without staying overnight in a floating raft house. Enjoy lake diving at a relaxed pace whilst experiencing one of the most beautiful areas in Thailand.
The best way to experience all that Khao Sok and it’s lake have to offer is to stay for a few days, perhaps one or two nights on the lake followed by a couple of days on land exploring the jungle. Thailand Dive and Sail offer Khao Sok Lake Diving as an overnight or multi-night trip. Read more about Thailand Dive and Sail’s Khao Sok Lake Diving.
If you wish to stay longer in Khao Sok we are happy to arrange other activities with our partner tour company who specialise in Khao Sok land tours, Green Andaman Travel (also based in Khao Lak). Suggested activities that you might want to try include Elephant trekking through the jungle, trekking by foot to find the elusive Raffelsia Flower or taking a relaxing rafting trip down the Sok River.
KHAO SOK CAVERN DIVING
The limestone rocks that surround the lake are full of underwater cave systems which you can experience without having to complete a full TEC-diving course. Your instructor covers everything you need to know to dive safely in an overhead environment. No need for twin-sets and other cumbersome dive equipment as the dives never penetrate further than the light zone. Your instructor will conduct a thorough briefing covering the use of a guideline, communication and gas management. Once you are under the water, before entering the cavern there is a final equipment check and sharing air drill.
CAVERN SPECIALTY COURSE
The PADI Cavern Diver course covers the knowledge and techniques of cavern diving and describes the dangers involved with cave diving. The Cavern Diver course consists of four training dives, to be conducted over at least two days. In addition there are academic topics, an equipment modification workshop and line practice land drills. There is no manual, so no boring reading followed by reviews or exams. Just relaxing discussions and practical exercises over lunch or a coffee looking out over the serene jungle listening to the sounds of birds.
In our academic sessions we will cover topics such as:
– Landowner relations
– Terminology and geology
– Cave types and formations
– Cave entrances
– Chemicals, gases and related terminology
– Environment hazards
– Equipment considerations
– Psychological considerations
– Accident analysis
– Emergency procedures
During our dives we will practice the following skills:
– Equipment checks and S-drills
– Propulsion techniques
– Buoyancy control and body positioning
– Guideline and reel use (tie offs, placements)
– Communication and signals (light signals, hand signals, touch contact)
– Emergency procedures (Light failure, loss of visibility, out of air, lost diver)
– Gas management (turn around pressure)
Prerequisites for the Cavern Diver Specialty Course are 18 years of age and PADI Advanced Open Water or equivalent. Student to instructor ratio is 2:1. Cavern diving is defined as any dive conducted within the light zone of a cave. The light zone of a cave is defined as that part of the cave from which natural light illuminating the entrance is visible at all times.