While often overshadowed by the Similan Islands and Southern Thailand, Pattaya actually offers a number of advantages over the more-famous dive sites of the Andaman Sea for divers of all skill levels.
For starters, unlike southern scuba destinations on both the Andaman Sea (Phuket, Krabi) and Gulf of Thailand side (Koh Tao, Koh Samui), Pattaya is not seasonal. The monsoons that close half of Phuket’s dive sites during the summer months don’t blow in Pattaya. All the area’s sites are open year-round with similar temperatures and visibility.
Pattaya, however, is best known as Thailand’s “wreck-diving capital.” With four shipwrecks in 20-31 meters of water, the city is the only place in Thailand where recreational divers can experience wreck-diving every day of the week. The newest wreck, the HTMS Pethra, lies just 50 minutes off shore at Koh Larn. The 2006 HTMS Kood lays at Koh Sak, just 40 minutes from shore, the 2003 HTMS Khram rests off Koh Phai, one of Pattaya’s “Far Islands,” and the storied Hardeep wreck is in Samae San, a 45-minute drive south from Pattaya.
The other great advantages Pattaya has are ease and convenience. Pattaya is the closest dive destination to Bangkok, home to the country’s major international airport and draw to the most tourists. Many Bangkok residents and vacationers come to Pattaya in the morning and are back in The Big Mango by sunset.
That accessibility extends to the water, too, with Pattaya offering a large number of sites on which new or casual divers can feel comfortable. Even as more-seasoned divers tackle the more-challenging wrecks and deep spots in Laem Tong and Samae San, PADI Open Water and Scuba divers can enjoy reef sites filled with tropical fish, forests of sea anemone and giant sea turtles! There’s even a submerged restaurant to explore.
This is only a short introduction. For extensive details and photos of the reefs of the Near and Far Islands as well as Pattaya’s four wrecks, see these pages: