Racha Yai Island
Racha Yai is a granite island which means the water is always clear and the many shallow protected bays all around the island make it an ideal trip at any time of the year. it is a favorite of Phuket dive boats due to its close proximity and Racha Yai is the perfect place to learn scuba diving in Phuket, for snorkelers, and for divers who haven’t been in the water for a while. Local residents in the coral gardens and stag horn reef include titan triggerfish, moray eels, cuttlefish, octopus and giant puffer fish.
Racha Yai island, around 12km due south of Phuket, generally offers easy diving in good conditions and so is a popular destination for those taking diving courses or for divers with family/friends who’d like to snorkel on the same trip.
During the ‘low season’ (usually May to October) most of the diving takes place around the handful of hard coral bays or rocky reefs that run the length of the eastern coastline.
During the ‘high season’ diving tends to move to the reefs bordering Bungalow Bay or Siam Bay on the North East of the island, although the east coastine is still preferred if prevailing wind/waves permit. At peak tides currents can be strong and so provide an excellent but still relatively easy drift (boat pickup).
Racha Yai is either done as a 2 dive day trip or in combination with Racha Noi on a three dive day trip.
With lots of sandy areas, the hard coral bays are perfect for courses and inexperienced divers, with access to some simple wrecks just a short swim away from bay 1 at depths of 18-25m for the more experienced. There is good variety of marine life either on the shallow hard coral reefs, the rocky reefs between the bays or around the artificial reefs (hollow concrete cubes) that range from 12m to 30m depth. Octopus and cuttlefish, punching mantis shrimp, many types of morays, banded sea snakes, blue-spotted kuhl’s stingrays, flounders and striped shrimpfish can be included among the regular reef fish that frequent the shallows.
Although Racha Yai may not have the abundance of marine life as other local dives, because it’s a different environment it does have other special critters to offer. Many of these can be found out on the sandy slopes or on/around the deeper artificial reefs. Critters such as marbled snake eels, pyramid boxfish, thornback cowfish, robust & ornate ghost pipefish (seasonal), bent-stick pipefish, cockatoo leaf-fish, stonefish, some rarer nudibranchs and even frogfish & harlequin shrimp on occasion.
Also on occasion Racha Yai gets flybys from Manta Ray and even visits from the odd whale shark!
Just off of bay 1, the Harruby wreck at around 18-23m depth is just perfect for the basics of a wreck diving course with plenty of open space and points to tie-off lines, with the deteriorated Andaman Eagle wreck at around 25m depth offering more marine life.
There is also a very small wreck that’s commonly called the ‘old speed boat’ (now mostly just collapsed plates) at 20m+ depth off the north corner of bay 1 and a larger wreck further out (Marla’s Mystery) at around 30m depth that can make interesting focal points on certain dives.
The wrecks at Racha Yai make it a perfect location for your PADI Wreck Diver Specialty Course.