Best Snorkeling in Thailand: Must-Visit Snorkeling Sites

best snorkeling in thailand
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Thailand is famed for its underwater paradise, and many visitors flock to Southeast Asia every year to take in the world-class reefs and ocean wildlife. 

From manta rays and turtles to reef sharks and colorful coral gardens, Thailand really does have it all.

Thailand is also a very inexpensive place to visit when compared to other top destinations, so it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. 

If you’re looking for the best snorkeling in Thailand, then you’ve come to the right place as we share with you some of the very best spots to visit.

Best Snorkeling in Thailand

With access to both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, snorkeling opportunities are aplenty no matter which island group you choose to visit.

There are estimated to be around 900 different species of reef fish inhabiting the Thai oceans. 

An abundance of clownfish can be observed in their anemones, providing great joy and excitement for Finding Nemo fans. 

Reef sharks, giant clams, manta rays, and if you’re lucky, you can even spot the largest fish in the ocean, the whale shark, in certain spots.

Best Times to Visit

The most popular time to visit Thailand is in December and January when tourist numbers hit their peak. 

Snorkeling spots can be overcrowded, but if you don’t mind the crowds, then this is certainly one of the best times to visit, weather-wise. 

However, Thai waters enjoy an average temperature of around 82 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is possible to enjoy snorkeling all year round.

The hottest months are between April and June when temperatures can peak at around 104 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Around June, the rainy season kicks in, and it can sometimes rain for days on end until October, bringing the temperature down gradually, ready for high season.

Where to Visit

You can visit some really fantastic and varied snorkeling spots by stopping at just two different islands in Thailand. 

The island of Koh Phi Phi is off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea, while Koh Tao, also a favorite spot for divers, is in the Gulf of Thailand.

1. Koh Phi Phi

There is no shortage of boat trips offering to take you around the island of Koh Phi Phi Don, as well as its smaller neighbor, Koh Phi Phi Leh. 

Koh Phi Phi (pronounced as Pee Pee) is most famous for being the setting of the movie, The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. 

While Koh Phi Phi is accused of being over-developed, it’s nothing short of paradise with its white-sand beaches and crystal clear blue waters.

Our favorite snorkeling spot is Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Leh, although you can easily visit Bamboo Island, Mosquito Island, and Monkey Beach, in one trip.

How to Get There

Maya Bay is accessible from Koh Phi Phi in just 20 minutes on a long tail boat, or nearby Phuket, in just 45 minutes on a speed boat.

Phuket has an international airport you can fly into, or you can fly into Krabi and then take a ferry to Koh Phi Phi.

What You Can Expect to See

You can see large numbers of clownfish and the enormous anemones that they live in. 

Two species of clownfish to look out for are the pink skunk clownfish and the ocellaris clownfish.

You’re also almost guaranteed to see colorful giant clams, several species of butterflyfish, parrotfish, and sergeant major fish will cluster around you at the surface.

2. Koh Tao

Koh Tao (pronounced Tow as in the word towel) is the Thai name for Turtle Island.

Thousands of visitors head to Koh Tao every year to learn to dive, but if it's just snorkeling you’re after, you won’t be disappointed either. 

Our favorite spot for snorkeling on Koh Tao is Tanote Bay. 

If you wanted to take a boat trip, though, then you could easily take in Shark Bay, Sai Nuan Beach, and Koh Nung Yuan, too.

How to Get There

After taking your international flight to Bangkok or Phuket, you can take another internal flight to either Chumphon or neighboring island Koh Samui. 

From there, you can get a speed ferry to Koh Tao at various times of day, or even take a day trip from Koh Samui or Koh Phangan.

What You Can Expect to See

Swim out from the shallow water of the bay until the water drops off to around three or four meters.

Giant clams, Christmas tree worms, and moray eels all shelter here, along with large sea anemones with pink skunk clownfish inhabitants. 

Brightly colored wrasses, rabbitfish, and several species of butterfly and parrotfish can also be spotted. 

You can also look out for goliath groupers and filefish, and if you venture where the water is deeper, blacktip reef sharks can often be seen.

If you are particularly keen on shark sightings, then head over to Shark Bay where these reef sharks will surround you. 

The smaller sharks can be spotted in shallower waters, but if you are with a tour guide and boat, then you can expect to see some more impressively sized specimens.

The best snorkeling in Thailand wouldn’t be complete without a turtle sighting, and if you’re lucky, this is where it will happen. 

It’s well worth paying for a boat trip that will take you around to all of the different spots we mention here.

A Thai Trip to Remember

Visit one of our best snorkeling in Thailand spots for a trip to remember. 

While the coral is far from being the best in the world, you won’t be disappointed with the large variety and abundance of ocean wildlife species.

Boat trips are really affordable, so we’d recommend that you make a few different trips to all of the recommended snorkeling spots. 

Make a note of your favorites and then charter your own boat for the day so that you can spend longer in each spot, helping avoid the crowds.

If you prefer to make your own way to the beach, then always make sure someone knows where you’re going and make yourself visible in the water. 

You don’t want to be run over by one of the many boats that frequent the bays each day!

Also, don’t let a leaky mask ruin your snorkeling experience by taking your own; instead, find the best snorkel masks you can buy for your next vacation.

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