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What we say: 4 stars

There's plenty to do above the water, but there's even more to see underneath it. Ko Lanta is close to some of the best dive sites in Thailand, and provides regular daytrips to several excellent sites not often visited by day boats from Phuket or Ko Phi P

Manta rays, whale sharks, turtles and clown fish can all be seen among the corals here, and the various sites offer varying degrees of difficulty.

Hin Daeng and Hin Muang (red rock and purple rock) don't look like much from the surface, but dip below and a world of fish and coral awaits. It takes around three hours to reach from Ko Lanta (half that by speedboat which can be a bumpy ride) but the sheer number of marine forms there is astounding. This is one of the few places in Asia where you have a chance of seeing the mighty but elusive whale shark, although sightings are still few and far between. Manta rays have also been known to appear at both sites. Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are deep oceanic pinnacles where currents can be strong and therefore only suitable for divers with some experience.

Other sites slightly closer to Ko Lanta include Ko Haa, meaning five islands, which has an impressive cathedral-like cavern and high-quality coral. It's a good place for beginners thanks to a large lagoon that slopes gently down into deeper waters. Seahorses and octopus are among the area's most common residents.

The twin islands at Ko Rok is another of the main dive sites, where hawksbill turtles and black-tip sharks frequently swim by.

Koh Bida, just off Ko Phi Phi, is a busy but reasonable site that offers a good chance of seeing leopard sharks. Shark Point and King Cruiser Wreck are adjoining sites. The wreck is home to an enormous number of fish while Shark Point has spectacular corals.

For beginners, several dive schools offer courses that cost from around 14,000 baht. If you don't dive, it's usually possible — and cheaper — to tag along on a dive boat and just snorkel at the different stops.

There is also one liveaboard operating out of Ko Lanta, MV Flying Seahorse, that runs 2 day, 4 day, 5 day and 7 day trips around Lanta's dive sites and also up into the world renowned Similan Islands. Austrian owned, the liveaboard is a good budget choice for those wanting maximum dives and to save on island accommodation too. The boat also picks up customers from Ko Phi Phi if requested. Prices start at around 12,000 baht for two days (six dives) including scuba gear hire and marine park fees. http://amazinglanta.com/koh-lanta-liveaboards-lanta-diving-safaris/

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