Diving Phi Phi
Diving Phi Phi is only an hour or so boat ride away from the mainland of Thailand is the famous Phi Phi islands. Phi Phi has stunning topography of high limestone cliffs jutting straight from the water. Famous for the filming of the the film The Beach in 2000, it’s still living off the reputation. Sadly Phi Phi also hit the headlines in 2004 when the Tsunami tore through the island claiming many lives. It’s now very much a party island and with an abundance of dive shops. Be prepared to be asked if you want to go diving at least 3 or 4 times a day whilst strolling through the island.
The island itself is very small, built up and condensed. If you are looking for your idyllic Thai peaceful beach island, then this is not for you. If you are looking for fairly inexpensive diving then its a great spot.
Accommodation, nightlife, restaurants and dive shops are all located on the main island of Phi Phi Don. You arrive at Tonsai Pier and have to pay a 20 thb arrival fee to contribute towards beach clean ups. This is sum what dubious scam as I have never seen the beaches that clean. Accommodation is relatively expensive compared to other parts of Thailand but there is accommodation to suit all budgets ranging from 500thb per night to 5,000 thb+.
Diving Phi Phi is good as long as you get a good guide who are prepared to find you stuff. The best dive sites in my opinon are Bida Nok, Bida Nai, Hin Bida, Palong Wall and Malong Wall and King Cruiser Wreck. Sometimes the vis on the last few sites can be bad and often you get nothing. There is also a new wreck around Phi Phi called Geld Kaew. You Tube Video of HMS Lanta – the new Wreck on Phi Phi .
Phi Phi has an abundance of marine life from macro life (nudis, ornates) and big schools of fish but one of the highlights has to be the Leopard Sharks on Hin Bida.
I have stayed on Phi Phi a few times to dive from there and I also visit the island now and again for a night out. I mostly see Phi Phi from a boat as we are heading to dive sites.
Diving Phi Phi can be done practically all year round, my favourite dive sites are as follows which are around a 30 mins boat ride from the main island –
1. Bida Nok
Ideal for experienced and novice divers as the currents are not too strong and the depth ranges from 5m to 30m. On the west side of Bida Nok are numerous boulders with lots of swim throughs. Leopard Sharks, White Tips and rays can often be found hanging around in the blue or on the sandy floors. Out to the south is finger reef where you are most likely to see Black tips. There are some impressive walls to swim along with some great big schools of snappers and hunting trevellies.
2. Bida Nai
A great place to spot ornate ghost pipefish when in season. Anemone crabs, Nudis, Bent Pipe Stickfish and other small critters can be found here. There used to be some impressive stag horn coral here but a lot of it died back in 2012 after bleaching. Some coral is now growing back that stretches out over Fantasy reef and along some walls. Look out for lots of schools of snappers on the north wall and sometimes barracudas and the occasional Leopard Shark. There are a few swim throughs here but most of the diving is along slopping reefs and walls.
3. Hin Bida
One of my favourite places to dive with the Leopard Sharks if they are around. Unfortunately over the years the sightings of Leopard Sharks has reduced. In the 2016 -17 Season I only managed to see around 10 sightings. Compare that to at least 20 – 50 per year in previous seaons. Wether they have found new spots where they are not distrubed or they have been fish out, I am not too sure.
If you are lucky to spot them then they are most liekly to be sleeping on the sandy floor. As the site is not deep (max 18m) snorkelers often enjoy the pleasure of seeing them too.I am lucky to have seen whalesharks on this site too on a few seperate occasions.
The reef that almost resembles a 3 fingered hand it is easy to navigate. It’s teeming with schools of snappers, the odd cuttlefish, nudis, clownfish and macro life.
4. King Cruiser
A ferry that sank by running aground on the reef in May 1997 the wreck is disintegrating fast now. Penetration is almost impossible but is a great dive site all the same.. The deepest part of the wreck is at the the propellers at 30 metres deep. The passenger deck between 18 and 24 metres is where the action is. Tons of marine life there including schools of snappers, small barracuda, lion fish and scorpionfish.