In terms of tourism, the seasons in Thailand can be divided into 2: The dry season and the wet season.
Most divers come to Thailand during the dry season for obvious reasons.
But what is diving really like during the rainy season?
Is it even possible to dive in Thailand during the rainy season?
In a nutshell, the answer is: yes it is.
However, not always and not everywhere.
In this post we will cover where to dive in Thailand during the rainy season, what points to consider, and how you might even prefer to come to Thailand during the off season for your diving holiday.
Thailand’s weather patterns and seasons are strongly defined by the monsoon winds. These winds divide the Thai year into two major seasons:
The dry-hot season and the cool, rainy season.
Bear in mind, this is an over-simplification as, in the northern part of Thailand for example, there are actually three seasons, with the third being a relatively cooler winter.
But the best diving happens mainly in the south so for the sake of this post, this is what we will focus on.
Here is how the monsoon winds influence the weather:
From November to April the wind comes over land from the north-east. During these months it is dry and in December and January relatively cool, then gets increasingly hot. This is especially true for the months of February and March.
From May to October, the wind comes in from the south-west, over the Indian Ocean. The southwest monsoon brings more rain and storms.
But that does not mean that the rain never stops during the rainy season.
When does it rain in Thailand and how often?
This differs slightly from region to region. On the Andaman Sea coast, where the Sea Bees diving schools are located, the high season runs from November to April and the low season from May to October.
In the high season, the average rainfall is 18 days in November and 11 days in December. From January to March it’s around 5 days per month, making this the driest and most popular time to travel.
In the off-season, the wettest months are toward the end of the rainy season, September and October, with an average of 22 and 25 rain days and around 300mm rainfall per square metre.
During the rest of the rainy season, just over half the days are actual rainy days.
The probability of a few rain days during a holiday is relatively high, but at the same time there will also be a lot of dry and sunny days. Even in the rainy season, for example, Phuket still offers 6 to 7 hours of sun per day.
What is the diving like in Thailand during the off-season?
Now you know statistically how often it rains in Thailand. But how will it affect your diving? And is it a worthwhile time for a holiday?
As I said at the outset: yes it is worthwhile, albeit with a few restrictions.
What is most important to know is that some diving spots are closed during the off-season.
Similan National Park is closed in the low season
This is especially true for the Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock – dive sites that we also frequently visit. For this reason, our Similan diving safaris only take place during the high season.
Diving in Khao Lak itself is also only possible during the high season, so we recommend booking directly in Phuket during this time.
Because scuba diving in Phuket is actually possible all year round.
What about waves in the rainy season?
We already mentioned that the monsoon winds during the rainy season can also lead to storms.
On many days, there are more waves out there which will affect swimming at some beaches. On the other hand, this is great news for surfers.
For divers this is only a small problem, because at many dive sites it is possible to find a an area protected from the waves.
For example, Racha Yai and Racha Noi and the Phi Phi Islands are all dive sites on the east side of the islands, protected from the wind and waves and thus very good for diving. The same applies to Koh Dok Mai.
3 reasons to dive Phuket in the off-season
1. Lower Prices
During low season just about everything tourist-related is cheaper than in peak season. This doesn’t just apply to our Palm Garden Resort, but for all of Phuket in general. In most hotels, you will find discounted rooms, flights are often cheaper and there are all sorts of deals and bargains on offer.
2. Less Tourists
Obviously, the off-season is quieter than the main season. Less guests in hotels, smaller crowds on the beach, less divers on the dive boat and underwater. And just in general, a lot less traffic on the island.
3. More to See
At the same time, however, some dive sites are busier, not with people but with animals. When there are fewer divers in the water, the shier animals are less hidden. Leopard sharks, rays, etc. are often observed.
For whom the off-season is nothing – and for whom it is good
Straight up: The rainy season is not the ideal time for sun worshipers.
If you can only enjoy a holiday of 14 straight days of blazing sunshine and will only appreciate diving in absolutely flat seas and no clouds in the sky, then you will be disappointed if you come during the rainy season. There is always the possibility that it may storm for a few days and the rain just pours.
On the other hand, if you do not have a problem with the chance of a few rainy and sometimes even stormy days, you will have a great time in Phuket – even in the low season. You will be rewarded with still plenty of sunny days, when the weather is as good as in the high season, but with a fraction of the usual holidaymakers.
Many other excursions on the island are also excellent in the rainy season. And when it rains then you dive just before you get wet