It’s one of the most frequently asked questions that we cover in great detail. So, where is the best place for snorkeling in Thailand? This section explains the top snorkeling destinations that Thailand has to offer and where you can snorkel with sharks and sea turtles.
It is wise to research the best months to snorkel Thailand. Also, reviewing the predominant flora and fauna of each tourist hot spot will help you choose the most stunning topographical location for swimming.
Why? Well, the foremost time of year to visit this tropical region in Southeast Asia varies. In most cases, you will want to avoid the months that experience the worst of the monsoon weather.
For some holidaymakers, the choice is an easy one. The best place to snorkel in Thailand could be an easy paddle off the beach. Swimming in waist high water, spotting tiny reef fishes, is not too exerting. Whereas, others may prefer a challenging deep-water drift snorkel. As a result, this would be the best chance of swimming with the lesser spotted whale shark.
We base this review of Thailand snorkeling destinations on those parameters. The guide will help you find the best snorkeling in Thailand and some desirable spots to snorkel – especially for families with children.
Top 5 Snorkeling Destinations in Thailand
Most snorkelers in Thailand search for tropical fish and shallow clear water. So, the best coral reefs for snorkeling will include some of the recognised holiday resorts.
Without doubt, you should head to the west coast holiday beach resorts if you want to swim with turtles.
Even so, there is a lot more marine and ocean life to see at Phuket Island, the stunning Phi Phi Islands, and the waters near to Krabi Ao Nang Province.
All these Thai snorkel spots have very different seasonal weather conditions and tourist influxes. As a result, timing your holiday for Thailand snorkeling activities should be a prime consideration.
The top destinations for unsurpassed snorkeling in Thailand will depend on three primary factors:
- What kind of aquatic life do you want to see?
- Do you prefer to swim from the beach or at coral islands (e.g. from a boat)?
- Which month will you take your holiday for snorkeling in Thailand?
Phuket Snorkeling: Ko Phi Phi Snorkel Sites
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island with a lion’s share of the best swimming sites in the Andaman Sea. It is an unforgettable haven for scuba divers and snorkelers alike. Hence, there is no shortage of colorful fishes and vivid coral formations.
But, there is one major advantage of skin diving or snorkeling in Phuket Island. The easy access to shoreline house reefs is clear. A shallow calm house reef is the ideal spot to try the best snorkeling Thailand has to offer. You will find one at most of the top beachfront holiday resorts and 5 star hotel chains.
Take a short boat trip to some of the best snorkeling islands nearby. You cannot fail to find stunning marine diversity at its best. The list of natural wonders that thrive in the warm clear water around Phuket is huge. It includes pelagic sharks, rays, seahorses, mantas, and so much more.
Phuket Seasonal Weather
Thailand south-west monsoon rains usually arrive around July. They deteriorate on a monthly basis until the end of November. Thus, it is better to visit Phuket during the hot and dry months through the winter – December to March.
Strong opinion given out by local expert guides suggests that the best snorkeling in Phuket takes place at the Phi Phi Islands. Phuket to Phi Phi Islands is easy to reach and takes around two hours by boat.
Most snorkelers rate the Phi Phi islands as the best in class. As such, few world class snorkeling sites match it for water clarity, aquatic life, and ease of access.
You can add the amazing top side scenery to any holiday review. The limestone cliffs and tiny exotic pinnacle sandy shorelines surround you. It may be a travesty to miss Ko Phi Phi off a Phuket snorkeling itinerary. It cannot fail to amaze all serious swimmers and Thailand divers.
Pattaya Islands Snorkeling Sites
Most tourists accept Pattaya as the top entertainment beach resort of Thailand. Even so, travelers will find a variety of water sports, such as snorkeling in Pattaya, to excite and amuse them.
Pattaya’s weather is less extreme than many other vacation attractions in Thailand. That is one reason why tourists flock to the eastern seaboard throughout the whole year.
The best month to visit Pattaya for snorkeling or private scuba diving tours is from November until May. Pattaya weather conditions tend to be the wettest in October. Furthermore, April is usually the hottest and most humid month.
Koh Chang Island is a favored spot about four hour’s drive south of Pattaya. The underwater topography is typical of the Gulf of Thailand. It boasts isolated hard coral formations and fringing soft corals. You will find sea fans, feather stars, sea whips, and an occasional large barrel sponge.
Small darting damselfish, sergeant major fish, and puffer fish are commonplace. You would be unlucky not to see schools of snappers and yellowtail fusiliers. The best of the large species includes sharks, morays, groupers, cuttlefish, and barracuda.
Similan Islands: Best Snorkeling in Thailand
You can reach the Similan Islands snorkeling destinations to the north of Phuket. Snorkeling in Andaman at the Similans offers spectacular snorkel tours. Swim close to unspoiled and dramatic granite rock islands and white powder beaches.
The Similans is an area reviewed most for scuba diving activities. But, snorkelers can also expect to see fantastic fish life. Look for manta rays, eagle rays, whale sharks, triggerfish, angelfish, and mesmerizing octopus.
Large schools and shoals thrive in the Andaman Sea west coast at certain times of the year – January to April. These are the sunny and dry winter months. Try to add snorkeling Similan Islands near to Khao Lak to your bucket list. Many rank it among the most desirable snorkeling destination in Thailand.
Koh Tao Snorkeling Spots
Koh Samui’s nearby islands of Ko Tao and Koh Nang Yuan offer stunning coral reefs. Black tip reef sharks, parrotfish, sweet lips, barracuda, and angelfish swim the channels. You will see colourful butterflyfishes, sponges, and other hard coral formations.
There is a ‘best season’ for aquatic sports in the Gulf of Thailand and snorkeling at Koh Tao. The season differs from that on the west side. Heavy monsoon rains strike Koh Samui and the neighbouring islands from late October. The wet and windy weather generally continues until February.
These are the traditional ‘cool’ winter months in the southern Bay of Bangkok. Thus, Koh Tao snorkeling spots, and watersports in the Gulf of Thailand are better in other months of the year.
Best Place to Snorkel in Krabi
Snorkeling in Krabi is amazing. There is more than 150 kilometres of coastline. What’s more, this area also partners the emerald waters of the Andaman Sea.
The surrounding islands include Krabi Ao Nang. They offer more than 30 different snorkeling and diving sites. But, the best islands in Krabi for beaches with the clearest water and whitest sand lay close to Ao Nang.
You will be unlucky not see turtles and dolphins when you go snorkeling in Krabi. Check them out around the nearby pinnacles. The shallow Krabi snorkeling sites are ideal for novice swimmers too. These are the best snorkel sites to absorb the rich marine environment in the area.
This area deserves its rightful spot as the best place for snorkeling in Thailand off the beach. Even non-snorkelers would find it difficult to disagree. Krabi Aonang is also a popular destination for a range of diverse water sport activities, including kayaking and water skiing.
Thailand Snorkeling Holidays for Families
A family snorkeling holiday conjures up an image of tremendous fun and excitement. They are usually filled with great memories for families with kids of all ages – including grown up kids!
The benefits of snorkeling and diving vacations abroad or swimming around thriving coral reefs are clear. They often have therapeutic and educational gains for all the family.
Imagine a relaxing experience floating around in warm clear shallow water. Add a portion of light swimming exercise. This is usually a welcome and adventurous relief from the usual holiday activities of sightseeing and shopping.
Full day or half day organized island tour packages are typical of family snorkeling holiday destinations in Asia.
What’s it Like to Go Snorkeling in Thailand?
The day normally starts with a short boat trip to the shallow reefs. You get to enjoy a light breakfast on board during the journey. The boat anchors near to the island’s sandy shore and the guide cleans and prepares the snorkeling gear and accessories.
Masks, snorkels, and fins get handed out to everyone. A short safety briefing follows and the whole family jumps into the warm azure blue water.
Not sure how to snorkel? You face down in the water, breathe slowly through the snorkel, and drift on the surface in the shallows. You are above the fish and aquatic life. Generally, the only noise you hear is from your own inhalation and exhalation.
There are no phones and no traffic! The peaceful surroundings of a deserted tropical island in the sun and the multi coloured sea life below is all you will find.
We are confident that doctors would prescribe this tranquility to anyone searching for a day away from the typical stresses of modern life in the city.
Fresh air, warming sunshine, and the wonders of Mother Nature. It sounds like an ideal family snorkeling holiday and sightseeing trip to us. Book your family snorkeling holiday trip in Thailand with our team of PADI professionals and we can offer you it all at an unbeatable value price.