How I ended up in Hat Nai Yang, Thalang District on Phuket, Thailand
Exactly at the moment that I decided to escape the winter in Europe this year and go back diving again, I got a message from somebody telling me that he had opened his own dive center in Phuket, Thailand. We were both dive instructors in the Dominican Republic in 2008 and after that I accidently met him again on Malapascua Island, Philippines in 2012. That´s when we exchanged Facebooks and we kept in touch thereafter. At the moment he invited me to come over and dive with him, my plan was made! I booked a flight to Phuket and Manfred picked me up at the airport, showed me Hat Nai Yang, located in the North of Phuket Island, before dropping me off at the room I had booked for a month.
Nai Yang Beach is a quiet and peaceful place for a diving holiday away from the crowds in Thailand!
In certain places, Phuket Island, in the south of Thailand, can get a bit crowded. If you would like to do something away from the masses and don´t like to hop on a liveaboard at Khao Lak, which is located north of Phuket, you might want to consider to do a diving holiday in Hat Nai Yang. Nai Yang is part of the Sirinath National Park and located in a beautiful area. The place is developed just enough with everything you need like bars, restaurants, minimarkets, massage salons, accommodation for all budgets and ATM´s. However, it´s a small, very laid back place away from the crowds. There´s a nice, long beach surrounded by nature and casuarina trees and there are only 2 dive centers in the whole village! It´s the perfect place for a quiet, relaxing time with some easy, but good quality diving, no matter whether you´re travelling around Thailand, planning to have a one-week vacation or just going on holiday with your family. Additionally, it´s a very safe place and I have seen solo female travellers and also families with young children.
Nai Yang Beach is quiet and peaceful
Hat Nai Yang on Phuket Island in Thailand offers great diving just a stone´s throw away from the village!
Nai Yang is home to some great dive spots, which are just around the corner from the beach. They are all located between 10 and 30 minutes away by boat. To name a few, you can find ´Monkey Rock´, ´Lost Rock´, ´Hin 333´ and ´Hin Gluay´ are not even 10 minutes away; then there is the beautiful small island of ´Koh Waeo´ located at 20 minutes from the beach and finally the wreck called ´Tin Lizzy´ is reached within 30 minutes. Because the dive sites are so close you can do a double tank dive and be back in time for lunch. This makes it ideal to combine diving with some sightseeing or spending time in the afternoon with you family if you´re travelling with them. Most dive sites are around 8 - 20 metres deep. The Andaman Sea is part of the Indian Ocean. It is said to be home to more than 3000 different types of fish and over 500 unique corals.
Three of my favourite dive spots from Nai Yang Beach
Dive site 1: The little islands of ´Koh Waeo´ off Phuket Island, Thailand
My first dive after I arrived in Nai Yang was at Koh Waeo, which is an amazing dive site. The 2 small islands of Koh Waeo are rock formations with a windblown palm tree on top. You can dive around all sides of both islands and even go through the small channel in between. Because of this there are a variety of dives here and every dive is different! We dived ´Kow Waeo West´ and came back through the small channel. When we first went down I was surprised by the amount of fish I saw there. The visibility was good too, about 10-15 metres, I guess. When we descended, I immediately spotted a huge masked porcupine fish (Diodon Liturosus) and a variety of fish and lots of big schools of fish. To name a few: boxfish, batfish, oriental sweetlips, angelfish, damselfish, different species of clownfish or anemonefish, groupers, triggerfish and surgeonfish. During the dive we also spotted 4 octopuses (Octopus Vulgaris), a Kuhl´s stingray (Dasyatis Kuhlii), trumpetfish (Aulostomus Chinensis) and cornetfish (Fistularia Commersonii). Knowing that this part of Thailand was hit by the tsunami in 2004, I was positively impressed with the state of the coral reefs. The reefs we dived contain a high diversity of corals, including soft and hard corals, sea fans, anemones, gorgonians, pinnacles, whip corals and barrel sponges. The coral reef is home to a lot of macro life as well.
Dive site 2: Stone Coral Garden
Stone Coral Garden is a shallow dive site with lots of coral and fish similar to Koh Waeo. The site is a bit closer to Nai Yang beach and the visibility was even better, probably because it´s a bit more protected from the open sea. This site will be amazing for beginners and what a spoiled diver you will become if you do you´re Open Water course here! There´s even more macro to be spot here and I lost count of the number of nudibranchs I saw. After 20 minutes I saw a green turtle (Chelonia Mydas) right in front of me, it swam away for a while before turning back and swimming another circle around us. The green turtle is one of the endangered species listed by IUCN and CITES. Right after that, I saw two seagrass ghost pipefishes (Solenostomus Cyanopterus), or robust ghost pipefish if you like. Wow, I´ve never seen this type of ghost pipefish before, something to tick of my ´underwater bucketlist´! To make the dive even more complete we spotted 2 big lobsters under the coral, a lionfish and 3 brightly coloured crown-of-thorns starfishes (Acanthaster Planci). Amazing, I was very satisfied when climbing back on the boat.
Seagrass ghost pipefish, photo by Silvia Gegenwart
Green turtle, photo by Silvia Gegenwart
Crown-of-thorns starfish, photo by Ellis Derkx
Dive site 3: The wreck dive ´Tin Lizzy´ close to Bang Tao Beach, Phuket Island, Thailand
Tin Lizzy is a wreck from a Chinese excavator which came to dig for the mining of tin, many years ago. It´s said to have been sunk in the early 90s. The wreck is situated in about 14 metres of water. You can swim around and over the remains of the tin dredger and it attracts a huge amount of fish life. Only then did I realise that the one lionfish spotted at Stone Coral Garden, was nothing! I´m not sure how many lionfish I´ve seen but at one time I spotted about 10 together in a group just on top of the wreck. Although lionfish are considered a pest in some parts of the world, around Nai Yang the numbers have been stable for many years. Big schools of fish swim around the large buckets and there´s life to be spotted all over the place. Groups of barracuda´s, pufferfish, batfish, I saw different species of moray eels, scorpionfish and a lot of macro life including shrimps, nudibranchs and wart slugs! Other stuff included porcupinefish, trumpetfish, groupers and triggerfish. I recommend that you bring a torch to look under overhangs and in the holes.
Lionfish, photo by a fellow diver who wants to stay anonymous
Moray, photo by a fellow diver who wants to stay anonymous
Nudibranch, photo by a fellow diver who wants to stay anonymous
I was so happy to be back in warm water! After wearing my 7mm, extra 2mm vest and a hood on the Canary Islands, I felt so grateful to dive again in a 3mm surfsuit which my friend from New Zealand left me as a present upon leaving Europe. And still I was warm after an one-hour dive!
A typical day of diving at Aqua One Dive Center in Phuket is very relaxed. As soon as you arrive in the dive center, the staff will take care of you. You can have a nice breakfast in Mingly´s Café, it´s located right next to the dive center and the café opens most of the days at 07.00 am. Ming is very friendly and makes very good coffee and amazing breakfasts. Once your equipment is packed and your paperwork is filled out, you will be brought to the beach by pick up truck. There´s no need to carry your tank or equipment to the boat, it will be done for you as part of the service. You will get a complete safety briefing for the dive, the boat and the spot you´re going to. The speedboat provides a quick, comfortable ride to the dive sites, while on the way you can enjoy the beautiful view over the coast of this part of Phuket Island. For more information about Aqua One Watersports, click on the link above or click here for their Facebook page.
During the surface interval on the boat you will be provided with water, bananas and biscuits and you can even enjoy a cup of coffee! Manfred, the owner of Aqua One Watersports, or the instructor / guide will asist you before, during and after your dives; making you feel very comfortable. The diving is always done in small groups of 4 divers max with 1 guide. Once you return back to the divecenter, the staff will wash your equipment for you while you can enjoy a chat with your fellow divers in the laid back dive center.
Whilst chatting to one of the other divers, who comes here on a regular basis, I discovered that the whaleshark can be seen here too! You have to be lucky, but he spotted one on a previous holiday! After having done about 10 dives around Nai Yang with Aqua One Watersports, I´m still excited to go again. Courses are offered from beginners to pro, snorkelers are welcome, night dives can be organised as well as day trips to the Similan and Surin Islands, Richelieu Rock, Ratcha-, Phi Phi Islands and more. High quality rental gear is available mostly all from the brand Aqualung.
Whaleshark, photo by fellow diver who wants to stay anonymous
My conclusion about a diving holiday in Hat Nai Yang
I think Hat Nai Yang is a perfect place for either a dive holiday, to start your travels around Thailand or to get warmed up before you go on a liveaboard. The place is ideal too if you´re looking for dive courses or planning to learn to dive, with shallow, easy dive sites a few minutes away by boat. Nai Yang is located less than 3 km away from Phuket International Airport. For about 300 Baht you can get a taxi from the airport to your accommodation and for less then 100 Baht you can get the airport bus! Phuket Town is located 30 km away and is also reachable by bus for 100 Baht. The water temperature is around 29-30 degrees Celcius. Rooms can be found for a price between 800 - 1200 Baht. Hostels are also to be found and for the budget traveller you can find a bed in a shared room too. I heard positive feedback from a fellow diver staying in a private room in Eco Guesthouse. But there are places all over Nai Yang and you can check a variety of budgets and locations in Nai Yang by clicking on this link. There are lots of good places to eat all around. At the beach, you can choose between restaurants offering Thai and international food or the food stalls on the street offering lovely, authentic Thai food. If you come out of the ´Walking Street´ the second one on the left with an umbrella next to the stall, is the place I like a lot. They have Thai dishes, pancakes and vegetarian spring rolls. There are shops offering day tours to the islands around Phuket, you can book massages as everywhere in Thailand and there are some basic supermarkets too. For the night owls there are some bars to hang out and enjoy a beer or a cocktail.
If you like to book an accommodation, I can recommend to use booking.com. Almost all options are listed on this website and you book for the same price as directly with the accommodation. Most rooms can be cancelled free of charge too, in case you change your plans. Please click on one of the links above or use the banner below and I will get a small commission without you paying anything more.
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