The Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago consists of over 500 islands and Thailand has a few hundred. Despite the crazy variety one can find in each of these places, many divers, in choosing between The Andamans and Thailand, are confused as to their final destination. With fabulous beaches, different activities to do and wonderful locals, narrowing down between these two is naturally not an easy decision. Having been in this situation before, I’ve compiled a list of the major points that would influence any diver’s decision.
Diving destinations such as Koh Tao, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan are very popular in Thailand and can sometimes feel quite crowded. As can Havelock in Andamans, especially during the peak season. Though of the two, Thailand definitely has some of the more publicized and popular dive sites (Sail Rock, Similans etc.), while new dive sites are still being discovered in the Andaman Isles.
Being tropical places, the water is warm in both of these places averaging about 28-degrees C, and there isn’t too much of a difference to be a determining factor.
The visibility in Thailand averages around 30m and has a huge range depending on the time of the year. Similarly in the Andamans, the average visibility is about 35m and is regularly said to go around 45 to 50m as well.
Thailand is warm and wet during the May to September monsoon, then dries out from November to mid-March. The peak season in the Andamans runs from November through April and the monsoons frequently shut down diving in June and July.
The prices are varying according to the kind of diving that you want to do. Thailand, though definitely has cheaper options than the Andamans, though not by a lot. The main difference in pricing though, is for your air-tickets, accommodation and food. Since the Andaman Isles thrive mainly on their income from tourism, and it being a more remote location, the prices for these are subsequently higher than the Thai equivalents.
Other Things to do
Andamans – Along the coast, you’ll find all kinds of watersports including waterskiing and surfing. Head inland and you can trek through jungles or hike up mountains.
Thailand has a lot of other activities ranging from surfing, sailing, offroad riding on both bikes and quadbikes, temples and a lot of other day activities.
Liveaboards vs Beach Dives
The Andamans are more inclined towards beach dives, this is due to the volume of the crowd rather than lack of diving locations. Currently there is only one liveaboard active in the Andaman islands. Thailand, on the other hand, is a hotbed of liveaboard diving and has many boats plying all varieties of liveaboard tours – from dirt cheap to outrageously expensive, whichever suits your particular brand of diving. More than beach dives though, divers usually head out to dive in the nearby locations by motorboat.
The real heart of the matter that’ll help you decide between the two places is this – the kind of marine life you want to see. Deciding between the macro life and the corals is not really a big decision for most divers. But the pelagics and the rarer sea creatures is. Here’s a list of the common creatures you can expect to see
The Andamans – Besides Mantas, turtles, and groupers, you can also expect to see dugongs in the shallows and the typical Indian Ocean reef fish.
Thailand – Typical Indo-Pacific reef fish and critters are well represented and there’s a good chance you will see pelagics. Many divers spot morays, puffers, triggers, moorish idols as well as mantas, leopard sharks and sometimes the rare whale sharks.
What ever you finally end up deciding, your journey is not complete till you visit the other. The kind of people you meet on the serene beaches of Andamans differs from the ones you meet in the hostels of Thailand. The atmosphere, the food, the nightlife – all influence your experience.
Diving the Andamans Vs Thailand was written by guest blogger Kshaun. Check out his bio below;
Bio – I’m Kshaun. Inordinately fond of tea and spices, my food choices endorse my Northeast Indian roots. I’ve lived in over 20 places and am always on the lookout for my next home and my next adventure. I am an adventure freak and write about adventure travels and sports. AlienAdv is for people who want to go on Adventures, but don’t know how to start or narrow down the best schools and guides. I share my own travel stories (in the South East Asia and internationally) and my best tips and advice on issues like road-trips, scuba-diving nuggets, and paragliding. I offer the perspective and real-world tips that only someone who actively indulges in adventure-sports regularly can offer. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.