Ko Racha Noi
The narrow island of Ko Racha Noi offers some of the most dramatic underwater scenery south of Phuket. It’s also the best spot to find the giants of the Ocean like Manta Rays & Whale Sharks
Ko Racha Noi is to be found 30 minutes further south from Ko Racha Yai. Like it’s sister Island ‘Racha’ or ‘Raya’ means King, and ‘Noi’ means little. So literally translated the island’s name means ‘Little King Island’
This narrow granite island sits on a north to south axis and the currents can be stronger here. Big pelagic animals such as Whale Shark or Manta Rays frequent this island at certain times of the year with the strong currents supplying nutrient-rich water.
There are many dive sites all around this island, with suitability ranging from absolute beginner to Advanced. Here’s just a sample of what to expect:
South tip – Advanced/experienced diver-only. Monumental granite boulders dominate this site, the shallowest one is at 9 metres /30 feet and the deepest 50 metres/164 feet. There can be very strong currents on this site but often exceptional visibility too. This is one of the best places on Racha Noi to see Manta Rays during season. Between the boulders you will find many soft corals, sea whips and sea fans, especially to the north where there is a coral garden. Typical fish to see are surgeonfish, unicornfish and schools of blue-streak fusiliers. Large shoals of Chevron barracuda often make an appearance here
Racha Noi Bay – The very shallow gradient and vast stretches of white sand underwater makes this site suitable for absolute beginners or snorkelers, with a small coral garden in the shallows. Racha Noi Bay is characterised by a small islet connected to the main island – at low tide the sand bar joining them becomes visible. The rocky base of the islet is the most popular area to dive, although there are coral bombies scattered around and pinnacles further out from shore. The current by the islet can often be strong, making this area ideal for drift diving. You can find creatures like the Peacock Mantis Shrimp & Giant Moray Eels among the rocks.
Marita’s Rock/Marita’s Reef – Located on the north west side of the island, Marita’s rock sits between 18-24 metres/60-80 feet, just outside Marina Bay. Enormous and dramatic boulders stacked together form a series of swim-throughs, decorated with sea fans & soft corals. Further south along the rocky reef, more swim-throughs can be found, although it is not possible to swim them all in one dive. Shoals of two-spot snapper & fusiliers are common to see here.
Banana Bay – A very large sheltered bay on the east side of the Island, with gently sloping sandy bottom and an abundance of different corals and fish. Coral bombies are scattered around hosting residents such as Durban Dancing shrimp & Stonefish. The North or South ends of the bay are generally more popular as is possible for more experienced divers to follow the reef shoulder out of the bay and into deeper water where impressive boulders and pinnacles can be found.
- Distance from Phuket: 37 km/20 miles
- Boat trip average time: 2 hours
- Depth: 3-40 metres/10-130 feet or more
- Visibility: Fair to excellent
- Currents: Moderate to brisk
Ideal for: Nitrox Dive, Deep Diver, Drift Diver, Multi Level Diver, Digital Underwater Photography, Underwater Naturalist, AWARE Fish ID, Search and Recovery Diver