Harruby Wreck Dive at Ko Racha Yai from Phuket, Thailand

This post contains affiliate links. The Salt Sirens earns from qualifying purchases.

I can’t say that I aspired to go scuba diving in Phuket. And indeed, there aren’t really any dive sites around the island itself. However, that does not mean that you can’t go on a scuba diving holiday in Phuket. On the contrary, there are actually many dive shops there. It’s just that scuba diving from Phuket means that you’ll be out on a boat for the day, to dive sites that are some distance away. 

Phuket is most known for the King Cruiser wreck site, which is some distance to the east. Considered to be one of Asia’s best wreck dives, its depth requires the Advanced Diver certification. Unfortunately, I can’t testify to how good a wreck dive it is, because visibility was very bad on my dive there. Instead, my favourite wreck dive was at another island to the south, which is part of another popular dive itinerary from Phuket. This was the Harruby wreck, in one of Ko Racha Yai’s bays. 

Diving at Ko Racha Yai

I’m pretty sure that you can dive around Ko Racha Yai while staying on the island itself. But diving around the island from Phuket typically comes as part of a day trip that includes coral dive sites at the further island, Ko Racha Noi, as well. Ko Racha Noi was the first stop on my trip, and we took an hour and a half to get there from Phuket. The sea can be choppy along the way, and I went in the monsoon season as well, which made it worse. There will probably be seasickness pills on board, but if you’re seasick at all, take the medication you need beforehand.

From Ko Racha Noi, Racha Yai is not very far away, and the sea in between is not as rough. 

Harruby wreck in Yai Bay

Harruby wreck is located in a dive site called Yai Bay 1. The descent was actually over another wreck, which is part of a sunken barge. From here, we swam over to the sunken liveaboard which is Harruby wreck, which is in good enough condition to penetrate. The wreck is not very deep (but still pushing the Open Water 18m limit). Since you’ll want to enter the wreck, it’s better if you have dived wrecks before, or at least have excellent buoyancy control.

I was fortunate to have good visibility and only a light current on the dive. So there was plenty of time to look around and have photo opportunities. 

In terms of marine life, the top was more interesting, where coral had begun to grow. There were plenty of coral fish, and we found some feathery purple nudibranchs. There weren’t any schooling fish inside the wreck, but it was cool to dive along the corridors. 

The sunken motorbike

Near the wreck, there is a sunken motorbike which is fun for taking photos. It was also the ascent location. 

But first, on the way there from the wreck we stopped by some sunken artificial reef structures. Some coral has grown on them, but mainly just on the top. There is, however, a large moray eel that hangs out in between the cubes. We spent some time trying to take photos of it without coming too close!

The motorbike is not in great condition. It sits on sand, and is still quite photogenic despite its condition. Most likely, you’ll want to pose pretending to ride it. Make sure you first check the crevices in the motorbike to make sure the resident moray isn’t there. Fortunately for me, it was out hunting during my visit. 

How to visit Phuket for scuba diving

Phuket is located in the south of Thailand, on the Andaman side. It is most conveniently visited by flying to its international airport. The dive shops do pickups from most resorts on the island, but if you stay closer to Chalong where the pier is, you get picked up last and won’t have to wake up so early. The closest tourist beach to Chalong is Kata; it’s just across the narrow southern part of the island.

Phuket’s monsoon season is between May to October. It’s better to go scuba diving outside this season. That said, you could still dive during monsoon season, as I did. It’s just that the sea will be rougher and you might get stronger currents at the non-island sites. I got seasick on the way to Racha Noi, and was glad I didn’t sign up for the Phi Phi itinerary, which is an even longer boat trip away. Located close to the equator, Phuket diving is in warm water irrespective of the monsoon (temperatures in the high 20s Celcius). 

Teja is an environmental scientist and a sustainable travel storyteller on a voyage for homes in a thousand strange places. Teja writes to inspire insightful travel.