For anyone planning their diving holiday this year it is worth noting that the diving conditions here on Koh Lipe are not always subject to the same general rules as elsewhere in Thailand. Lipe is a little bit of an anomaly regarding these factors which makes diving here often far more favourable during the green (wet) season as opposed to the high (dry) season. As a result of this there is often much confusion surrounding the topic. This blog is to try and clarify some of that confusion for you. The weather, wind strength / direction and surface conditions obviously are huge factors to consider when planning any marine based activity. As it is the green monsoon season from May through October the commonly incorrect assumption is that it is raining almost every day. This however, at least 80% of the time is generally not the case.
Let me explain why…
First of all our monsoon season tends to be unusually dry especially initially with May, June, July and August being the favourable months. There is rain of course but it tends to come predominantly in heavy downpours during the night with the days being pretty much dry with intermittent cloudy and sunny periods. For a few days a month you may experience full cloud cover with some heavy rain during the day but it typically doesn’t last long and tends to clear after a relatively short period of time.
Apart from the general weather conditions, the wind direction plays a significant role in determining why diving if often favourable in the green season. Which dive sites are protected in the high (dry) season and which sites are protected in the green season varies depending on this factor alone. In the high season the wind blows from the east to the west. What this results in is certain dive sites located on the west site of the entire Tarutao Marine park being protected from high wind and waves. However many of the “superior” diving sites located predominantly to the east side of the Tarutau marine park are then exposed. For example, Pattaya beach, Adang beach and Koh Yang (popular sites in high season due to their protection) are all great diving locations with plenty of marine diversity, however the truly notable sites such as Talang, Stonehenge, 7 rocks and Koh Taru, all located to the east are very much exposed making it challenging to dive there consistently throughout the high season. Once the wind reverses direction around April or May to the bring the monsoon then the wind blows from the west to the east resulting in the entire east side becoming the calm and protected side. This means that dive sites that were often difficult to dive in high season due to waves are now accessible in far calmer seas which also bring much improved visibility.
In order to fully maximise your valuable vacation time here in Lipe there is one final consideration to be aware of. Try if at all possible to plan your diving or snorkeling trip around the half moon period of the month. Half moon means that there is little or no current which means yet again an improvement in visibility and typically far more enjoyable general diving conditions.
It is still of course possible to dive during the full and black moon periods but be please be aware that this is a time when the currents will be at their strongest and therefore can result in challenging diving conditions and oftentimes reduced visibility also. Dive sites such as Stonehenge and Jabang which are very much exposed to the elements are often just not possible to dive during this time due to such strong water movement. It is the subsequent 3 days after the full and black moon which tend to be subject to the strongest current.
So once again should you be planning an imminent trip to Lipe regardless of whether in our dry or our green season, in order for you to experience optimum diving conditions please take these considerations into account if at all possible.
If you have any queries on any of the above information then please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will be more than happy to help advise you on when would be the best time for you to come.