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Hi. I've recently moved to Thailand and am relocating to the south soon. I'm seeking a home for the next year where I can find abundant dive sites suitable to my skill level as a diver. I've found a few sites online that break down the sites according to area (Koh Tao, for example), but would like a second opinion from a human being that has dived extensively in the region. Though traveling is always an option, my budget is modest--so finding an area with numerous sites is best.

My dive skills are at the learner level. I've only about 30 dives to my name and all in more or less gentle tropical conditions at depths no greater than 60 feet. I've done one deep dive for certification but for now am most comfortable in the shallows--say 50 feet or preferably less. I've no designs on technical diving but I do want to become a sound recreational diver and gradually increase my skill over time.

My original plan was to base myself close to Khao Lak so I could be close to the Similian Islands. But after viewing the dive sites in this area I've discovered many of these dives are at depths I'm not comfy with or have potentially ripping currents. The sites closer to Khao Lak also seem more advanced.

Can someone comment on all this and perhaps suggest a few areas noted for large numbers of sites appropriate for a green one? Heaps of thanks.

Edited by joordy
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Hi joordy,

Is nice to hear someone that wants to take it slowly to gain confidence, the best way, but very rare to actually hear about. I have always felt the PADI program for DM training is crazy and you should have at least more than 100 dives under your belt before you can start it, as diving isn't something you should rush, as that kinda defeats the whole purpose. Taking your time is the best way to develop skills as this way they become second nature.

I live in Lanta, so can only speak for the sites near us.

Koh Haa is where our dive schools take their students. The lagoon is around 8m, but slopes off to 24m on the 2 small limestone cliff islands nearby. This is where many instructors take the newbies, as if during the dive everyone is happy they can head deeper. Koh Haa has lovely limestone walls that you do not have to go all the way to the bottom to appreciate either, so you can dive at any depth. This is true of most of the 6 islands in this group.

Koh Bida near Phi Phi is also similar depth, but with a lot at shallower levels too.

We often dive at Koh Phi Phi (Palaong and Maya corner mostly), but these are not so rewarding, and there si a lot of boat traffic (noisy). Also gets very crowded.

Have a look on the web at various dive companies wherever you choose first.

Email them to ask about prices, as websites might be out of date, and most will give discounts for a bunch of dive days etc. Many can also give you recomendations on accomodation for when you first get there too.

I haven't dived in Ao Nang, but this may be another option to check out as has similar geologic structure, so would guess would be very similar underwater too.

When you get your confidence up I recomend the King Cruiser Wreck for a fun dive (16m at the top of the wreck I think), as is a fish factory and a great fun dive.

Koh Lipe is supposed to be beautiful too, but I have not been yet. Not sure of the prices either. Is a bit more remote, so woudl depend on a lot of factors. I know it is also very popular with snorkelling operators.

Am not sure of your budget.

Friends on Phi Phi for the low season have told us it is very expensive to live there.

If you live on Lanta most of the boats go out for the day as is 2 hours to the closest sites, you get breakfast and lunch on the boat, with free pickup and drop off from wherever you live. This goes for all the dive shops on Lanta. There are a couple of dive shops that offer shore dives, such as in Kantiang Bay, which is only 6-12m and a personal favourite as is different and has lots of nudies, flatworms and other small things i love. One of the shops run by a friends of ours uses a longtail boat, so offers a different spin on things from the big boats of the others. There aren't that many open right now, but the season is about to start and they should be all opening in the coming weeks. They will be answering emails though I would imagine.

PM me if you want any more info on Lanta specific things. I can also recommend some DMs and Instructors that would love to help you improve your confidence and skills if you decide to visit Lanta too.

In terms of season - the dive season in the Andaman where we are is October-April/May, but is possible to dive all year round. There have been boats going out through the low season from Lanta, just not as many, as not as frequently. Low season is great as less tourist mean everything feels like your own peice of paradise, and you can appreciate things so much better. It gets really busy on Lanta in December-January, sometimes November and February too, and prices go up for some things this time of year too. It is still lovely, just a bit busier. You can live on a budget in Lanta though, depends what you want and how much you want to spend. The island is connected by car ferries, so not as remote as say Lipe, and it has basic things like dentist, clinic, a few banks, atms etc.

Have a surf on the net and see what captures your imagination.

Most importantly:

relax and have fun


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Many years ago I had to make a similar decision, and in the end decided on Phuket. Close to all Andaman divesites, and because of the quality of diving you want to be on the Andaman side.

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Koh Tao is a good choice if you want to keep your diving expenditure down, it is the cheapest by a long shot and has quite a lot of good sites. The downside is that it can be quite crowded in the water, and the shore is something of a backpacker ghetto (it's quite pleasant, just not sure I'd want to spend a year there!).

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Can you live relatively cheaply in Koh Tao? I was assuming it was not possible. I will need an apartment in the less than 5000 a month range, so, pretty basic and meager living. As for the ghetto, I better give that one some thought. All those youngsters and all. Anyone else got something to say? Sometimes it feels like there's only 4 people in this forum. Guess everyone's underwater.

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