The Perfect Tropical Diving Holiday:
Looking up at the sheer limestone cliffs set against a brilliant blue sky I feel like I'm in paradise. As I giant stride off the back of the boat I'm pleasantly surprised by the warmth of the tropical water and immediately upon descending I'm delighted by 100 foot (30 meter) visibility. The dive starts with a greeting from a meandering Green Turtle and within ten minutes I've seen hundreds of magnificently colored tropical fish, gorgeous corals, and a gregarious reef octopus. Half way through the dive I watch a free swimming Zebra shark gently cruising the reef and realize that I am indeed in paradise.
Plenty of Attractions on Land and Underwater:
Located an hour and a half by ferry from Phuket, Thailand, the seven islands of Koh Phi Phi are a traveler's dream. The largest, and only inhabited island, Koh Phi Phi Don, is bustling with cheap hotels and resorts, lively beach bars stretching along the white tropical sands, authentic Thai restaurants, souvenir shops, and scenery that is beyond compare. With an ideal location in the Andaman Sea, Koh Phi Phi is every bit as much a diver's dream below the surface.
Over 30 Dive Sites and 'The Beach':
Boasting over 30 dive sites surrounding its seven islands, Koh Phi Phi has plenty of variety for everyone. Most dive sites are nestled around the second largest of the Phi Phi islands, Koh Phi Phi Leh. The movie, The Beach, featuring Leonardo Di Caprio, was filmed on this island and it is quite common for the dive boats to stop for lunch amongst the speedboats filled with star struck tourists in Maya Bay, the main filming location.
Gentle Sloping Reefs That Are Perfect for All Levels:
The most popular dive site can be found a little further away, around one of the smaller uninhabited islands, Bida Nok. The island, a 25-30 minute boat ride from the main island, is commonly the first dive of the day for most of Phi Phi's dive shops. It's not hard to understand Bida Nok's popularity. Typical of Phi Phi, Bida Nok features a shallow sloping bay that gives way to gently sloping walls that meet the sand line at 80-100 feet (25-30 meters). These conditions are as perfect for beginning divers as they are for advanced divers as they offer so much to see all the way from the surface to the sand line.
An Amazing Variety of Marine Life:
The waters here are absolutely brimming with life. A typical dive will feature all of Thailand's usual suspects: Parrotfish, Angelfish, Butterflyfish, Damselfish, Clown Anemonefish (aka Nemo), Moray Eels, Moorish Idols, Bannerfish, Squid, Spiny Lobsters, Pufferfish, Scorpionfish, Lionfish, Trumpetfish, Tuna, Snapper and many species of shrimp; but it is also very common to see Sea Snakes, Octopus, Sting Rays, Zebra Sharks, Green Turtles, Cuttlefish, Nudibranchs, Pipefish, Bamboo Sharks, Black-tip Reef Sharks, and Sea Horses. If you're lucky you may even come face to face with a Manta Ray, Whale Shark, or Minke Whale.
Gorgeous Coral and Night Diving:
Not to be outdone by its inhabitants, the coral is also wonderful. There's no shortage of giant barrel sponges, giant gorgonian fans, anemone, and an enormous variety of soft and hard corals. As you'd expect, the colors are the wonderful reds and yellows that are found in abundance in the Indo-Pacific. The beautiful blooming corals make for superb night diving on Phi Phi, an experience that also allows you to observe hunting Barracuda, free-swimming Zebra sharks, and scavenging crabs and lobsters.
Dive the Tsunami Memorial:
One of the most popular night dives is now at the underwater Tsunami Memorial . This site features a full bungalow that was swept off the island by the tsunami and is now bolted to the ocean floor. The bungalow is surrounded by memorials engraved with tributes in many different languages and even a post box that was deposited here by the wave. The site was created by volunteers in honor of those who died on Phi Phi as a result of the Tsunami that swept over the main island on December 26 2004. It is an emotional, eerie, and ultimately unforgettable dive.
Thereâs Even a Wreck and Several World-Class Pinnacles:
Phi Phi's wreck, the King Cruiser is a four deck car ferry that sank in mysterious circumstances in 1997. Although, unsafe to penetrate due to collapsing decks, the King Cruiser is home to a plethora of marine life and is suitable for all levels of diver. Two of Phi Phi's seven pinnacles, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, are truly 5 star dive sites. Dropping off to depths of over 200 feet (60 meters) these sites are abundant in all of the marine life found elsewhere with much more vibrant and colorful corals plus the added bonus of much more frequent sightings of the elusive Manta Rays and Whale Sharks.
Cheap Accommodation and Diving Mixed With Thai Hospitality:
In addition to being naturally breathtaking above the water, Koh Phi Phi is an ideal diver's destination with something for everyone, from inexperienced divers seeking certification all the way through to seasoned divers with thousands of logged dives. Diving is extremely inexpensive and most dive shops are PADI and/or SSI certified. Despite accommodation prices being a little higher than most other islands in Thailand, it's still a bargain when compared to North America, Australia, or Europe. Beautiful diving all day, delicious Thai food and ice cold beers on the beach at night, what more could you want.