Phuket is the beating heart of diving in Thailand and has recently become the center of activity in the emerging South-East Asian Freediving scene. It is also the home of the area’s only AIDA Instructor Training Center. Most freediving trips go out with scuba-dive boats to the well-known dive sites, but some freediving off the beach is also possible. The local operators are usually very happy to find like-minded divers and will happily give pointers.
Snorkeling can be enjoyed in sheltered bays all around Phuket. It is particularly enjoyable at easily accessible reefs at Patong, Karon and Kata beaches. Fins mask and snorkel can be rented on a daily basis from shops all over the island. Full and half day trips are available to the islands surrounding Phuket. Most popular are Ko Hae, Ko Racha Yai, Ko Khai (a hidden gem in the Phang Nga Bay), and Ko Phi Phi. There are many tours available at very cheap rates and the speedboats will be filled with up to 65 people. Research your options before signing up for any tour.
Snorkeling trips to Racha & Phi Phi islands
Agencies are selling all-inclusive day trips all over Phuket, and most everywhere else on Phuket Island. Prices for group tours range from 81,400/person to 83,900/person. Quality and safety seem to match with the prices paid.
The lower end priced speedboat tours take approx. 30-35 PAX per 2 Engine speedboat and 50-60+ PAX on 3 engine speedboats. Very cheap tours take over 100 people in a speedboat.
The higher end tours take approx. 15 to 18 PAX on 2 engine speedboats. Insist on the exact number of guests that will be on the boat. Keep in mind that tour desks will tell you anything to get your money, as they receive up to 65% commissions from the lower end tours. It is always best to contact the actual company directly to ensure that you are getting what you pay for.
The more people on the boat the longer it takes to get on and off at each stop lowering the amount of time many get to spend off the boat. A packed boat is not very fun or safe when there are large waves.
Private companies providing small group tours are few (currently only 3 – 1 is listed below). Full day tour prices range from 83,200 baht to 83,900 (no discounts are offered – can only be bloged direct). The tours include stops at all the major sights, higher quality lunches (from picnic to seaside sit-down restaurant meals), full sets of snorkeling equipment, minibus transport, fresh tropical fruits, snacks & drinks onboard, foreign owner/guide, small groups, attention to safety, and national park fee. Prices vary based on services, amenities and extras that are provided.