Head underwater to discover vibrant reefs, the wreck diving capital of Thailand, and dramatic walls surrounded by a myriad of colorful marine life, and with its proximity to Bangkok providing exciting nightlife, restaurants, water sports, and bustling shops, Chonburi promises a memorable experience.
Pattaya, the wreck diving capital of Thailand, offers world-famous wrecks overflowing with life, including the 600-year-old Chinese pottery wreck and a vertical shipwreck for Tec divers. With its vibrant reefs, bustling nightlife and white sand beaches as well, Pattaya is ideal for divers and non-divers alike.
Diving in Chonburi
The eastern province of Chonburi in Thailand is one of the busiest beach destinations in the area, where the popular paradise getaway of Pattaya is situated. Thanks to its close proximity to Bangkok, it’s the perfect spot for city dwellers to escape to the coast, and great for those short on time to enjoy a quick trip to the heart of Thailand’s tropical scene. Boasting exciting nightlife, restaurants, shopping, and epic outdoor activities like water sports and diving, particularly around Jomtien and Naklua beaches, Chonburi promises a memorable stay.
With the Gulf of Thailand bathing its pristine white sandy shores, Chonburi offers divers plenty of underwater adventures, including coral reefs, drop-offs, walls, deep pinnacles, and shipwrecks. Pattaya is known as the wreck diving capital of Thailand, with as many as five famous shipwrecks to explore. The Pattaya Near and Far Islands have some of these wrecks and also consist of vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful critters. The Samae San Islands similarly feature unforgettable sites in their surrounding turquoise waters. Though they’re further away, they’re worth the journey, as it’s common knowledge that the reefs here pristine and thriving. There’s really no bad diving in these areas.
All dive sites feature the usual Indo-Pacific suspects, like a myriad of hard and soft corals, tiny macro favorites like nudibranch, and a plethora of colorful reef fish. Turtles are also very common, along with a few reef shark species. Lucky divers may even encounter a whale shark.
Dive centers and resorts are in abundance, catering to all budgets. Beginners will enjoy taking entry-level dive courses, while experienced divers can be treated to advanced training, like wreck, deep and drift. Many operators visit further afield destinations in the Andaman Sea, like the Phi Phi Islands, though these are usually done via two or three-tank day trips due to longer distances. Liveaboard cruises are also a great choice and are a good way to dive multiple locations.
Scuba diving is possible all year in Chonburi, even during the monsoon season, thanks to warm ocean temperatures that average around 28°C- 30°C (86°F-82°F). Visibility is normally good all year, ranging between 10-20 meters. The dry season, running from November to April, involves the best diving conditions, like visibility that’s as clear as the sky, and mostly calm seas.
Best places to dive
The Hardeep Wreck, also known as the SS Suddhadib, was sunk by British Allied bombers in world war two, and now hosts a ton of marine life. It's one of the most famous wrecks in the region.
The Near Islands have seven reef sites and two shipwrecks. Koh Sak, Koh Larn and Koh Khrok are the favorites. The Far Islands, consisting of Koh Rin, Koh Phai, Koh Man Wichai, Koh Klueng Badan, Koh Hoo Chang, and Koh Luem, is also fantastic and are less crowded. The Samae San Islands are also top-rated sites, particularly Shark Fin Rock (Hin Lak Bat), Hun Charlam and Japanese Gardens, where life is stunningly prolific.
HTMS Khram is an encrusted wreck that lies upright at about 30 meters and is home to a myriad of diverse marine species, including resting bamboo sharks. HTMS Kood (HTMS Khut) originally a world war two era U.S landing ship, and is now an encrusted artificial reef, where an amazingly rich bundle of marine species thrive.