Diving in Thailand: Can We Expect an Exceptional Season in 2023-2024?

Thailand has long been a top destination for diving enthusiasts from all over the world. With its crystal-clear waters, breathtaking marine biodiversity, and diverse diving sites, it’s no wonder that many divers dream of exploring the waters of Thailand. So, what can we expect from the upcoming diving season in Thailand in 2023-2024? Can we anticipate an exceptional season?

In Thailand, the conditions vary slightly depending on the regions. The ideal period for diving in the Andaman Sea is generally from November to April when the waters are calm, and visibility is excellent. Diving sites like the Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock are particularly renowned for their encounters with manta rays, leopard sharks, and even whale sharks.

In 2020, Thailand experienced an exceptional diving season with frequent encounters with pelagic species. Almost every day, divers could spot whale sharks, manta rays, guitar rays, leopard sharks, and many other tropical species. How can we explain this phenomenon, and can it happen again?

The El Niño Phenomeno

There is something comparable to El Niño in the Indian Ocean, causing a reversal of major ocean currents. Normally, in the eastern part of the Indian Ocean – around Thailand – the waters are warmer than in the west (Eastern Africa, Madagascar, etc.). These warm water masses evaporate and, starting from February, cause thunderstorms over the lands due to the mechanics of upward thermal air currents.

The El Niño climate phenomenon is a natural occurrence that can have a significant impact on oceanic and meteorological conditions worldwide, including in the Andaman Sea region of Thailand. Although El Niño primarily manifests in the Pacific Ocean, its effects can be felt in other regions, including the Indian Ocean.

When an El Niño event occurs, the surface temperatures of the tropical Pacific Ocean rise significantly. This has consequences on ocean currents and wind patterns, leading to global climatic changes. These changes can also affect the diving season in the Andaman Sea and influence encounters with sought-after marine species, such as manta rays, sharks, and other colorful tropical fish.

Nicknamed the “Green Monster,” these cool water masses mixed with warmer coastal waters rich in microorganisms triggered a large-scale planktonic boom, attracting an abundance of manta rays and whale sharks. This cold current, charged with plankton and sporting greenish hues, is encountered multiple times a day during tide inversions, especially during peak periods around the full and new moons when tidal coefficients are highest.

Preservation and Marine Conservation 

Now, let’s get back to the question of whether we can expect an exceptional season in Thailand in 2023-2024. While diving conditions in Thailand are generally good, it is challenging to predict with certainty whether a season will be exceptional in terms of marine encounters or not.

However, it’s important to note that Thailand is implementing marine preservation measures to protect its fragile ecosystems. These measures include restrictions on the number of divers allowed at certain sites to minimize human impact on coral reefs and marine fauna.

Moreover, the Thai government continues to enhance its marine conservation efforts by establishing marine parks and nature reserves. These initiatives aim to protect marine habitats and promote the regeneration of fish and coral populations. These positive actions are encouraging and can contribute to maintaining the beauty and richness of Thai diving sites.

One thing is certain: Thailand offers exceptional diving opportunities throughout the year. While we cannot predict with certainty whether the 2023-2024 diving season will be exceptional, the diverse diving sites, marine conservation efforts, and preservation measures in place are encouraging factors. The added bonus would be experiencing a new El Niño episode.

If you’re a diving enthusiast, Thailand will not disappoint you, regardless of the season. Feel free to explore our offerings of day diving trips, dive cruises, and diving courses to uncover the underwater wonders of this tropical paradise.