Dive sites at Racha Noi
This uninhabited island is the most southern island from Phuket. The journey takes about two and half hours depending on the weather. Dive sites can be found all around the island with the sites to the east considered easier than those to the south and west. In the southeast is Racha Noi’s only beach. The real attraction here is the seascape (huge boulders with many swimthroughs) and the chance to see big fish with manta rays, tuna, barracuda and the occasional shark. Coral are limited although there are some very nice areas of soft coral.
As with many big fish dive sites a little luck is needed to spot them. Diving here with the expectation of seeing big fish can end up being a disappointing experience. However, the sites here are very nice and very different from other dive sites around Phuket. A little taste of the Similans perhaps?
Some of these sites can be difficult to dive, with depths down to 50m-70m, strong current and open ocean. Although the more difficult sites have the better possibility for big fish, they can be found all around the island. So it isn’t necessary to dive sites beyond a divers ability.
Racha Noi: Maritta’s rock: This is a site for divers who enjoy big boulders formed from granite rock, swimthroughs and soft coral. Although this is not a place for a huge diversity of marine life, with good visibility, this is a very scenic dive site. The edge of the reef is about 25 m with a maximum depth of 35 m. The reef is mainly rocks and boulders, smaller rocks near the bay, bigger boulders further south. On the corner of the bay is a huge set of rocks just off the main reef: here are 2 or 3 very nice swim throughs. Fish found here includes scissortail gobies, hovering in a pair, morays, lobsters, batfish and sweet lips. Manta rays are also regularly sighted here during December and March. Take a closer look at the rocks and you may discover flatworms, nudibranches and pipefish. All the swim throughs are deep (20m – 25m). Unfortunately they are centered around the south end and on the corner of the bay in the north. Trying to dive them all means coming very close to deco limits. In strong currents a drift dive is possible, but current can make negotiating some swim throughs difficult.
Racha Noi: East Coast Bay: This is probably the easiest of the dive sites at Racha Noi. It is in the south east of the island and close to the islands’ only beach. The dive is around a small island just off shore that is linked to the main island at low tide. To the north and south is mainly sand bottom with shallow water. The main reef is quite short sloping down to 20 m. The sand bottom continues to slope away with scattered rocks out to 30 m. Not many coral here, with the reef consisting of a few hard coral and small rocks. Marine life can be surprising. The more common species are octopus, scorpion fish, morays and horned cowfish. Other fish that can be seen include marble stingrays, eagle rays, ribbon eels, barracuda and manta rays.
Divers have the option here to dive shallow or go deeper (30 m) and look for the bigger fish. Which ever way is chosen the dive should be done slowly as this is a short reef. When strong, the current can run down the reef to the deeper water, otherwise drift diving is fine. The shallower depths tend to give some protection from strong current. In the south is a very nice coral garden at 6 m, perfect for safety stops.
Other dive sites at Racha Noi are: North Corner, Banana Bay and Plateau.