Diving

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Photo of Diving, , Ko Lanta

What we say: 4 stars

Manta rays, whale sharks, turtles and clown fish can all be seen at dive sites that are within easy reach of Lanta. With several scuba operations based on the island, you'll find everything from half-day beginner dives to PADI certification and multi-day live-aboard adventures.

The twin sites of 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 is astounding. Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are deep oceanic pinnacles where currents can be strong and therefore only suitable for divers with some experience. Whale sharks are sometimes spotted here.

Another notable site is Ko Haa, meaning five islands, which has an impressive cathedral-like cavern and stunning coral. It's a good place for beginners thanks to a large lagoon that slopes gently down into deeper waters; snorkellers will also be in heaven here. Seahorses and octopuses are among the area's most common residents.

Ko Rok's twin islands are another of the main dive sites, where hawksbill turtles and black-tip sharks frequently swim by. Ko 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.

Liveaboard excursions from two to seven days can also be arranged on Lanta, with destinations including the magnificent Similan islands and Richilieu Rock near Ko Surin, which regularly shows up in "top 10 dive sites in the world" lists.

Snorkellers are usually invited to tag along with the day-trip diving excursions.

A wide range of diving operations are available on Lanta, with instruction available in several languages. Prices start at around 3,000 baht for day trips up to 50,000 for multiple-day packages that include food and luxury accommodation. Reputable diving companies include Go Dive, Hidden Depths, Lanta Diving Safari and Blue Planet. Most companies have offices in Saladan where you can sit down with someone before making any decisions.

Go Dive Lanta 6 Moo 1, Baan Saladan, Ko Lanta. T: (075) 668 321 F: (075) 668 320 http://www.godive-lanta.com

Hidden Depths Diving 123 Moo 1, Baan Saladan, Ko Lanta. T: (080) 893 6211 http://www.hiddendepthsdiving.com

Lanta Diving Safaris 93 Moo 1, Baan Saladan, Ko Lanta. T: (087) 889 6802 http://www.lanta-diving-safaris.com

Blue Planet Divers 3 Moo 1, Baan Saladan, Ko Lanta. T: (075) 668 165 ; (085) 472 3450 http://www.blueplanetdivers.net

Last updated: 8th June, 2014

About the author:
Usually found exploring Bangkok's side streets or south Thailand's islands, David Luekens is an American freelance writer & photographer who finds everyday life in Asia to be extraordinary. You can follow his travails here.
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