Koh Phi Phi Islands
Laying almost a two hour boat ride away from Ao Nang, the Phi Phi Islands, which consist of Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley, provide some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling available inThailand.
Even before the famous movie "The Beach" at Phi Phi, the islands were already among favorites for all those who had the opportunity to visit them. Boasting dozens of superb dive sites, the Phi Phi Islands make available for divers of all abilities the chance to enjoy the pleasures they have to offer.
The limestone cliffs, which Krabi and Phi Phi are famous for, plunge to a depth of 30 meters / 100 feet, providing an excellent environment for soft coral to grow and flourish. With the abundance of soft and hard coral and steep cliffs, sea fans, sea whips and sea anemones, the likelihood one comes across ghost pipefish, seahorses and shrimpfish is greatly enhanced. At the same time, the rugged walls have created numerous interesting caves and cavern penetrations for exploration.
In terms of other marine life, one will not be disappointed. From Moorish Idol, Triggerfish, Wrasse, green and Hawksbill turtle, blue-spotted ray, leopard shark, black-tip reef shark, spiny lobster, moray eel and banded sea snake, one cannot help but to be fixated by the spectacles the Phi Phi Island dive sites have to offer. Also, remember when returning to Ao Nang after your day trip to be on the outlook for groups of dolphin that often follow the boats to put on a show.
KOH BIDA NOK & BIDA NAI
The Bida Islands which are situated just south of Phi Phi Ley, about 2 km / 1.24 miles, are an incredibly scenic scuba diving destination. The scenery from the surface is absolutely stunning with the mountains of limestone rising vertically from the sea.
Bida Nok is the outer of the two islands and is distinguishable by a shallow bay on the west side with colorful coral gardens and a sandy bottom where hawksbill turtles are occasionally seen. On the east side of the island you will find a steep reef of large boulders covered with soft coral. In the north eastern side, a sheer wall can be found dropping down to 30 meters / 100 feet featuring excellent hard coral and rock formations creating colorful diving walls, which provide home to several species of moray eel and beautiful soft coral. Also, you will generally find caverns and overhangs here where bearded scorpion fish and lionfish are commonly sighted. If by chance you are there from December to February, the opportunity exists to possibly come across either mantas or whale sharks, so be sure to always look around, which you will not have difficulty doing so as the visibility is typically 15-20 meters / 66 feet.
Other highlights from Bida Nok include: sea fans, sea whips and soft corals, leopard sharks, black-tip reef sharks and since 2001, on the northern edge of islet, a small fishing boat which sank. Further creatures that make Bida Nok their home range from: lionfish, bearded scorpion fish, bird and moon wrasse, Moorish idol, parrotfish and honeycomb grouper. Additionally, this site is excellent for pipefish, nudibranches and seahorses. The great diversity of marine life available at this site attracts many divers and is a regular spot for those coming from Phi Phi, Ao Nang, Koh Lanta and Phuket.
At Bida Nai, you will witness similar terrain as that of its neighbor Bida Nok. Descent is often down a mooring line to a beautiful archway swim-through (one of two at site) filled with tiny baitfish which leads to a shallow hard coral garden. Be sure to watch your buoyancy and not to touch anything here as bearded scorpion fish are often seen camouflaged on the bottom. Furthermore, look closely at the rock walls on the outer edge of the swim-through for seahorses and harlequin ghost pipefish, along with boxer shrimps, hinge-beak shrimps and innumerable nudibranchs.
Most of the dive here is spent on a coral outcrop which is home to dozens of common lionfish that make their homes around the barrel sponges, sea whips and gorgonian sea fans. Usual visitors here also consist of schools of trevally, five-finger jack and baitfish above the reef. As you work your way shallower at the end of the dive, look for sand holes under small coral heads - a tell tale sign that a bamboo shark has made a home there. Orange-lined, Indian and titan triggerfish are all around the shallow areas and it's not unusual to see a pair of cuttlefish performing one of their colorful dances.
Overall, these two dive sites provide for a wonderful day of scuba diving surely to be enjoyed by all levels of divers and are a must see when in Krabi.