Located approximately 22 km from Phuket, Koh Racha Yai is a picturesque tropical island with great diving all around its perimeter. The crystal clear waters, pure white beaches and lush green scenery really make you feel like you are in a tropical paradise. The diving is gentle and easy with generally very good visibility. On the west side are two large bay areas, Bungalow Bay and Siam Bay. On the east side are 5 small bays named bays 1 to 5 respectively.
In Bungalow Bay and Siam bay the reefs mainly comprise of hard corals sloping gently from either side of the bay into and across the centre of the bay. Depths vary from as little as 2 metres to a maximum of approximately 25 metres. Siam Bay also has the added attraction of some underwater elephant statues located at a depth of 18 metres. These are a great favourite of divers who love to sit on their backs and pose for photographs!
This bay consists of a wonderful selection of hard corals in the shallow areas where you can see many types of reef fishes including parrotfish, pufferfish and moray eels. Unfortunately due to some coral bleaching in 2010 many of the corals in the deeper areas were badly affected and died. To help with reef regeneration a large number of hollow concrete cubes have been laid down which are great for ne corals to attach to and marine life to use as shelter.
To add to the attraction of this dive site there is also a wreck, the Haruby, which was deliverately sunk to entertain divers. At around 18 to 20 metres deep it is now also getting coral growth on it plus certain marine life love to hang out round it expecially longfin batfish. This site also has a couple of mopeds you can visit which make for entertaining photos!
Unfortunately due to excessively high water temperatures in 2010 the main type of coral in this area, the staghorn coral, subsequently bleached and died. To date, recovery has been very slow so currently we generally do not dive in these areas any more. However, sometimes we go to check out the recovery process and it is great to see new coral growth and large schools of fishes starting to inhabit the area again including two spot snappers and fusiliers.
As well as the great variety of hard corals to be found around Racha Yai island there is also a great mix of aquatic life to be experienced. All the standard reef fish are here, parrotfish, lionfish, trumpetfish etc. Large schools of Forster's barracuda, sometimes as many as a thousand together, often float past as you drift along the reefs. In the sand you can see blue-spotted stingrays and sometimes the rather curious looking bent stick pipefish. Octopus and cuttlefish are also common in and around the bay areas with the occasional turtle too.