Words: Nat Sumanatemeya 
Photos: Vinid Rangpueng and Nat Sumanatemeya

Divers easily encounter the neon liveliness of coral beds and the sublime sightings of sea creatures going about their business in the beautiful and rich marine life of the Andaman Sea.

The living seas of Thailand remain an awe-inspiring place to explore among scuba divers. The Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea hosts some of the largest variety of the world’s most fascinating fishes. Enormous yet docile ones like the whale shark or small fishes like the ghost pipefish inhabit clear waters with the backdrop of soft-coral reefs. The best way to see the great and diversified marine life is to don a mask and oxygen tank. In Thailand’s scuba diving history, the opening chance to develop into one of the world’s best diving destinations arrived with the closing of a military base.

Before scuba diving’s reputation as a recreational activity, it was first introduced as a sport in the 1960s by the United States Air Force when they established their military base in U-tapao, near Pattaya. Soon after the Vietnam War and the departure of the United States’ military force from Thailand, several American soldiers left the force and started their scuba diving businesses. Certified scuba diving courses then became available throughout the area and Pattaya became the first scuba diving centre in Thailand. read more