Scuba diving in Koh Lanta, Thailand was some of the best we’ve experienced anywhere. We’ve had the good fortune to dive in some amazing spots around the world from Sodwana Bay in South Africa to a night dive with manta rays in Hawaii. More recently we were treated to some spectacular sights at Balicasag Island in Bohol, Philippines.
We’re happy to now include our dives at Hin Daeng, Hin Muang, and Koh Ha in Koh Lanta, Thailand among the amazing dive sites that we’ve experienced around the world.
Hin Daeng and Hin Muang
The Red Rock (Hin Daeng) and Purple Rock (Hin Muang) are the real highlights of Koh Lanta scuba diving. These two dive sites are close to each other but several miles offshore in deep clear water.
From the surface you see nothing more than a couple of small rocky outcroppings in the middle of the ocean. There are no other landmasses nearby or clues to the wonders that lie below.
Dive in though, and it’s clear why these sites have the reputation they do as two of the world’s top dive sites.
Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are similar to each other in that they each have amazing steep colorful walls dropping into the depths. The reefs feature millions of soft corals, mostly purple at Hin Muang and mostly red at Hin Daeng.
There are also enormous schools of all kinds of fish. The sheer quantity of both micro and macro sea life is breathtaking. Everywhere you look there is something going on. The longer you look at the reef the more you see and it’s all stunning. We saw lion fish, moray eels, and even an octopus! Some days you can see manta rays and even whale sharks here, though we didn’t see either during our trip.
Diving at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang is challenging. The dives are deep – deeper than most recreational divers are certified to go. Kat and I are both “open water” certified divers which is the first level of certification you get. But we have a good amount of experience diving over the last 10+ years and felt comfortable with trying this one.
We still had to get special training on the way to the dive site to prepare for the depth, which maxed out at 30 meters. In addition we did some interesting extra tasks once we were underwater to learn about the effects of depth. For example our dive guide brought a bright red bag of potato chips down with him, which at 30 meters looked quite brown (and completely crushed). This color shift from the depth is why the colors in some of our underwater photos and videos aren’t so bright.
We also did a quick timed mental aptitude test on the surface and again at 30 meters to see how nitrogen narcosis can slow your thinking.
All the extra training and attention was great and really increased our confidence to enjoy this spectacular dive.
Koh Ha is a group of 5 islands much closer to Koh Lanta than Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. Koh Ha is also much less technical diving so it’s suitable for even beginner divers. It’s gorgeous even above water.
Even though it’s more approachable it’s still a really fun dive site. There are actually many different dives all over the 5 islands. Some are wall dives, some into caves.
There’s tons of sea life here as well, though it’s not quite as intense as Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. Similarly, the coral is nice but not like the Red and Purple Rocks. The mantas and whale sharks apparently show up here sometimes too, but again we didn’t see them.
I wasn’t feeling great after my first two dives at Koh Ha so I sat out the 3rd dive, where Kat went into one of the caves. It sounded like a fantastic dive and the caves looked awesome in her pictures.
We did all of our Koh Lanta scuba diving with Scubafish. These guys were awesome and one of the best shops we’ve ever gone diving with. From the moment we first called to ask about dive itineraries we were treated to excellent service.
Scubafish operates two boats but we were on their larger vessel, Maya II, both days.
Maya II is a boat specifically fitted for scuba diving and well suited to reaching the faraway dive sites like Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. The bottom level is all set up for storing gear, getting ready to go into the water and coming out of the water. Upstairs is a large area with tables and benches all under a full sun canopy.
Scubafish offers as much juice, coffee, tea, water, and soda as you can drink all day. There’s also breakfast and lunch on the boat which was delicious. The hot lunch included lots of local Thai options and was a welcome change from us having to scavenge scraps of fish while diving at Balicasag in the Philippines.
Scubafish picked us up from our hotel each day and brought us to the dock they use at the south end of the island. It was a bit of a drive, maybe 30 minutes, but it saved a lot of time on the boat compared to leaving from Saladan where many dive shops operate from.
What did we do with the kids?
For our day at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang we were lucky enough to have Nana and Papa visiting so the kids spent the day with them on the beach.
When we went to Koh Ha Nana and Papa had moved on to Bali so we brought Aurora and Jasper with us. Luckily Scubafish continued to be awesome and provided us with an on-board babysitter. Friendly Andre, an intern from Sweden, was prepared with all kinds of activities to keep them occupied while we got our scuba fix.
Scuba Diving in Koh Lanta
We did two days of diving and 6 dives (well I did 5) in Koh Lanta. All of them were amazing but if you have to pick one spot make it Hin Daeng and Hin Muang if you’re qualified.
Koh Ha is no slouch though and well worth your time. It’s also a lot easier to get to so you spend less of your day motoring back and forth on the boat.
Basically there’s tons of great diving in Koh Lanta, so if you’re a diver make sure you take advantage one way or another!