Phuket Scuba Diving – Wet Monsoon Months – Low Season
The months of May/June see the start of the wet season (monsoon) season for Phuket and the west coast of Thailand. This change in weather delivers more wind and rain and in turn increases wave height. Ultimately this determines what scuba diving we can do during that period of the low season.
We do continue to scuba dive during this period and although the weather does not effect diving under the water so much it does have an effect the boat travel to the dive sites.
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If you are not aware, all scuba diving in Phuket is done via large purposely built scuba diving boats and involves lengthy travel to the popular dive sites. The favorite of the day trip dive areas is Phi Phi which is about 3 hours boat ride away. Both King Cruiser and Racha Noi are 2 hours travel away and the island of Racha Yai is 1.5 hours travel.
As mentioned with the monsoonal weather comes stronger winds and with those winds come bigger waves. Of course bigger waves the more boat movement there is. This will make boat travel sometimes uncomfortable and in some cases dangerous. It is the size of the waves and not the level of rain which will have a dive trip cancelled.
Rough boat rides increases the likelihood of motion sickness and also makes dropping off and picking up divers difficult and sometimes dangerous.
Accessible Dive Sites
The most commonly dived island in the low season will be Racha Yai. Racha Yai is the closest of the main dive sites. Although not blessed with a lot of coral or marine life it normally has good visibility and has good weather protection from the main island.
A very good website that provides information on the three areas of concern to us is http://www.windguru.cz. It displays the wind strength and wave height which is important to boat travel and less important is the rain level.
The amount of rain does not have an effect on the boat journey or does it directly effect the underwater clarity. If there is too much rain it does make your day less comfortable and with rain there is less light and therefor it will be darker under the water making it more difficult to see things.
A guide for wave heights and diver comfort
|Less than 0.5m||0.5m – 1.0m||1.0m – 1.5m||1.5m – 2.0m||Over 2.0m|
|Easy day – Flat Seas||Some boat movement||Quite a bit of boat movement||Severe boat movement||Boats most likely cancelled|
|All dive sites available||Most dive sites should be available||Some dive sites will be cancelled, Koh Bida Nok and King Cruiser||Phi Phi and King Cruiser most likely cancelled. Possibly only Racha Islands dived||Most dives will be cancelled|
|Comfortable day out with no special precautions required||If you are prone to getting motion sickness the take your medication||Take your medications||Only for the hearty||Book a massage|
What also will be affected by the waves is the ability to dive some dive sites safely.
Difficult Dive Sites
Dive sites like King Cruiser, Shark Point and Anemone Reef are all in open sea and have no cover from a island or land mass. This makes dropping off and picking up divers in a big boat dangerous and unsafe. Several tonnes of boat moving up and down and crashing waves is a volatile place for a scuba diver to be.
It is for this reason King Cruiser, Shark Point and Anemone Reef days are one of the first to be cancelled or altered. On some occasions these dive days may be substituted to a couple of dives at Koh Doc Mai, possibly to Mai Tong (poor dive site), Coral Island (poor dive site).
The strong westerly winds also make it difficult to get to the favorite dive sites at Phi Phi of Koh Bida Nok (best at Phi Phi), Koh Bida Nai, Palong Wall and Turtle Rock. This leave the alternate dive sites of Viking Cave, Lo Sama Bay and other dive sites on the Eastern side of Phi Phi Lae. These dive sites are not as good as the premium dive sites at Phi Phi and it makes the three hour travel to get there in high waves a questionable one.
Please keep in regular contact with Aussie Divers Phuket for up to date information on you low season diving.
Tips for Scuba Diving in the Phuket Low Season
1. Plan to dive early in your trip. This way if the weather is not good you can defer until the weather clears or has improved.
2. Allow more than one free day to dive. It will give you the option to defer.
3. If in any doubt what so ever take motion sickness tablets. One in the evening before you sleep and one first thing in the morning. They are readily available in most pharmacies in Phuket and are free of charge at the Aussie Divers Phuket office.
4. Take a change of clothes on the boat with you on the boat. If you get wet in the morning it makes for an uncomfortable day if you are wet for the rest of the day.
5. Take a cheap waterproof jacket. 7/11 sell ponchos for less than $2. They are a great investment and pack into any small bag.
6. Plan the dive day. Keep in touch with Aussie Divers Phuket, watch the windguru.cz website and plan the best dive day to go out.
7. Approach the ladder back on to the boat cautiously. Reboard carefully. Only grab and hold the vertical parts of the ladder not the horizontal (rungs). This will allow your hands to slide up and down with the motion of the boat. If you hold the horizontal you will be jerked by the boats movement.
8. Do not wrap limbs around the rungs of a ladder. This is the easiest way to cause injuries. Be prepared to let go of the rungs quickly.
9. Leave you regulator in you mouth and you mask on until you are safely on the boat. This will assist you if there is any mishap.
10. Remove your fins prior to getting to the boat (if being towed in). This will make for a quicker exit from the water and will avoid removing them near a moving boat.
11. Have your own signaling device (SMB). It is difficult to locate divers in poor weather.
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