Snorkeling in Phi Phi
Snorkeling Spots around Phi Phi
To the uninitiated, Phi Phi's snorkelling is like being on a fantasy planet. Even the experienced agree - it's good. Really good. With one of the world's most abundant coral reef systems, the locations and sights are both plentiful and astounding.
When the tide is right, places like Monkey Bay are just about as accessible as physics allows. The coral is just below the surface and brightly coloured fish dart here and there, inches from your mask. Hin Klang is in the middle of the sea, though it isn't nearly as deep as expected; you don't have to impersonate an island native on the hunt to enjoy the views - floating on the surface is fine. Phi Phi Leh has a few more snorkelling locations, as does Phi Phi Don, Bamboo Island, the list goes on.
Tour operators will supply equipment - i.e., fins and a mask - if you book a package trip, or you can rent them from dive operators if you choose to strike out on your own via foot or longtail boat. The serious may want to bring their own gear, or inspect before booking, as quality and available sizes will vary between shops.
Maya Bay has exceptionally clear water, although you can only enter by boat from November to April. I've only been there once and saw an octopus after just 10 minutes, a first for me!
Stunning coral and fish are seen by thousands who arrive on various daytrips, so yes it's busy. The side closest to the entrance is best as there are many boats close to the beach. Maya Bay is best visited on an organised tour, and preferably early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Read More...
Pi Leh Bay
Pi Leh is situated on the opposite side of Phi Phi Leh to Maya Bay. It's a long thin bay with 100m high cliffs on all sides, at the entrance there's a shelf, the top of which is too shallow for anthing other than speedboat or longtail, this stops it from getting too busy.
Flat calm water awaits inside with some excellent snorkeling, bright parrot fish and sergeant majors rush the boats coming in hoping for some bread, pinapple or banana even. High tide is the best time to visit Pi Leh Bay.
Alternatively, at the entrance to the bay there's some great snorkeling to be found, morning is the best time as the area is in the shade in the afternoons.
Stunning Bamboo Island is 5km from the northern tip of Phi Phi Don. The small island is only 500m across and has beautiful beaches virtually all the way around that give way to coral underwater.
Many daytrips go to Bamboo each day but it's not too crowded. Dive boats also go there too. The reefs are extensive and fairly shallow, but the beach is always there for a rest. Another excellent place to snorkel.
Mosquito Island is next to Bamboo but it's less visited because there aren't really any beaches.
Snorkeling is best along the east side however the majority of the coral is a bit deeper here so it's more of a scuba diving spot.
Hin Klang is an underwater reef, or coral mountain (as some call it) that doesn't break the surface.
Located 2km offshore right in front of Laem Tong Beach in the north of Phi Phi, it's 90m long and 60m wide. As you approach you don't know that it's coming but wow, it's there all right.
Crystal-clear water, lots of fish and colourful coral, this is one of the best places to snorkel in Southern Thailand and probably the best place in Phi Phi.
Shark Point & Long Beach
The snorkeling from Long Beach is possibly best direct from the beach in Phi Phi. You don't have to go very far to see the colourful fish and underwater habitat. Additionally around 200m from the beach there's a rock that just breaks the surface called Shark Point. No prizes for guessing why, although these are little fellas.
Here you'll find black-tip reef sharks from 40cm to to 1.2m swimming around the reef. During the day when there's lots of boats around they're hard to find but before 9am and after 5pm they're easily spotted.
The swells from May to October can make Shark Point dangerous so you should only go there on very calm days during that time. All year round you should be vigilant as currents can be strong, especially at mid tide. Novice snorkelers would be better to go with an organised tour.
Tonsai Bay West Side
There's coral and lots of fish all along the west edge of the bay at the foot of the cliffs.
A great way to explore is with a sea kayak, there are several small beaches to leave the kayak on while you snorkel, one of the better known ones is Monkey Beach about 500m out from Tonsai Beach.
Phi Phi Don East Coast
There's a good reef that runs the entire length of the east coast of Phi Phi about 100m out from the shore. In the shallower water coral and fish can be seen in clear water, a little further out at the drop off larger fish and coral can be seen in deeper water.
Often the best places to snorkel are at the northern and southern points of the beaches.