Trip Report Kata Beach, Phuket, Shore Diving Kata Reef

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JonnieB

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Location
Pattaya, Thailand
# of dives
200 - 499
I recently completed 4 dives on Kata Reef and this is my experience of this easily accessible Phuket shore dive site. I've been diving in Phuket for over a decade but I never got around to diving this site...in fact, until recently, I'd never even heard of Kata Reef. During some recent day boat trips, a DM mentioned it and we got to talking about the reef and I was certainly intrigued. I made it a point to dive it during this extended trip to Phuket. The talk was of a reef just offshore at 5-10m and then an extensive sandy bottom at the same depth, leading to groups of hollow concrete cubes forming artificial reefs around 10-15m at the other side of the bay. The fact a sunset snorkeling group had recently encountered a whale shark in Kata Bay and posted video of it on FB made diving in the bay all the more alluring. (Jakapan Aek Thongnak)

I made arrangements to do four dives on Kata Reef/Bay on two successive days with Rumblefish Adventure in Kata Beach; a small diveshop specializing in leading small groups and individuals around the reef, as well as offering all the other training and diving tour services of a PADI 5-Star agency. Rumblefish made all the arrangements and all I had to do was show up at the north end of the Kata Beach at 10 a.m. to meet my dive guide and kit-up. Kata Bay itself is about 2 kilometers wide and extends up to 1 km from shore and the reef is on the north end starting at about 200 meters from the beach. At high tide, the reef is 2-9 meters in depth. During the non-monsoon season (November-May) the shore entry is easy and it's a calm 10-15 minute swim-out to the reef and back. On my dives, currents were minimal and visibility (reef, sand, and cubes) ranged from 2-10 meters. Because of the shallow depths, dives in the bay can be very long...my longest was about 85 minutes (not including the swim out and back) and averaged 60. As this is a public beach, there will often see swimmers, snorkelers, and surfers sharing the water with you...curious about the reef offshore and what you saw. There are no specific facilities for divers (restrooms/showers) so keep that in mind and bring a few bottles of water to shower off with after your dives if you want to rinse the salt off your face. There are always a number of vendors present, where you can buy drinking (or shower) water, coconut water/juice, coffee, ice-cream, and burgers between or after dives.

The marine life around the reef, in the cubes, and on the sandy bottom in-between is surprisingly varied and robust. On the reef itself are giant moray eels, a resident school of Big Eye (Stripped) Baraccuda, and at a Cleanerfish station at 5m, up to a dozen large map puffer-fish swaying lazily about in the water column (some resting on the sandy bottom). There are also scorpion fish and juvenile Sweetlips twirling about. There are hard corals and decent size barrel sponges and I spotted a spiny lobster too. There are the usual complement of tropical reef fish, such as schools of yellow fusilers, blue fusilers, porcupine fish, butterfly fish and banner fish. Turtles can also sometimes be seen but I never saw one.

On the concrete cubes, which form an artificial reef, you are greeted by a resident school of batfish, who are always curious about divers and a couple will often come out to greet you and follow you around as one explores their watery home. I found three types of moral eels here: A couple cute little White Eyes, a large Giant Moray, and a large beautiful Honeycomb moray. The sandy patch between the reef and the cubes I nicknamed "Stingray Alley" for the large number of grey Blue Spot Stingrays resting in the sand with only their eyes spoking out from the sand and others darting to and fro when we passed nearby. This sandy patch can also be very productive for macro enthusiasts, with nudibranchs, pipefish, seahorses, snake eels, stonefish, Demon Scorpionfish, frogfish, and even Mimic Octopus being found here by the Bay's own resident diving naturalist and photographer Kata Shore Dive. (https://m.facebook.com/katabeachshoredivingthailand/posts/?ref=page_internal&mt_nav=0)

I was told that the reef and bay makes an awesome night dive as well, though I didn't get the chance to do one just yet.

For an easy day out of one, two, or even three dives, at a relatively low cost in money, time, and effort compared to a day boat dive, shore diving Kata Beach is a great option here in Phuket. I will definitely be back to dive here regularly during my time in Phuket.
 

Centrals

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I will have to include that in my itinerary on my next visit, hopefully this winter if everything going according to plan.
This will be a lot longer trip than usual.
 
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JonnieB

JonnieB

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Location
Pattaya, Thailand
# of dives
200 - 499
I will have to include that in my itinerary on my next visit, hopefully this winter if everything going according to plan.
This will be a lot longer trip than usual.
Kata Bay rivals many of the Phuket Bay day boat sites, particularly some at rhe Racha islands, in terms of marine life. All it lacks is high vis and depth but it's only 15 minutes from shore...not two hours.
 
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JonnieB

JonnieB

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Agree.
Waste of money and time!
I didn't say that and that's not my opinion. I said in terms of marine life it can rival many day boat sites. In terms of underwater vistas, diving technique challenges, and of course larger open-water pelagics (except that whale shark) won't be found here. It is another nice option to have available but I will continue to do the Phuket Bay sites regularly as well.
 

Centrals

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My own opinion on some of the sites that I have been in both Racha(Yai and Noi).
Threw away all my collection of log books few months ago on Christmas flat cleaning!!! Otherwise I could name those couple of places that I last went.
 
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JonnieB

JonnieB

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Location
Pattaya, Thailand
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200 - 499
My own opinion on some of the sites that I have been in both Racha(Yai and Noi).
Threw away all my collection of log books few months ago on Christmas flat cleaning!!! Otherwise I could name those couple of places that I last went.
Many of the sites at the Rachas are quite large and have 2-3 or more dives within them. Some are much better than others and it is really dependent on the boat/guide one's diving with as to which site you will go to. Also, if stuck diving with a bunch of newbs, you definitely won't be going to any of the better sites.
 

Centrals

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Main issue of diving in Phuket if the operator does not have their own boat. Even then they also have to cater for everyone so it is quite annoying/disappointing if the boat is full of inexperienced divers.
I have to chose the dive carefully unfortunately the diving operators are all over the island so it is not possible to check everyone for schedule. I will avoid cattle boat, done it once and no more.
The shore dive in Kata makes a suitable alternative if I am staying around the area(Karon and Kata).
 
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