Diving in Ranong is known for untouched sites with few crowds. It's possible to dive here for a week and not encounter another boat. Ranong's marine creatures are not yet tamed by the presence of divers so behaviours you see are lovely and natural. This precious experience is becoming rare.
Whale sharks, manta rays and bowmouth guitar fish hang out on deeper seamounts. Drift along with shrimp and pipefish as barracuda and mackerel hunt and frogfish take a walk. Eagle rays swoop, nurse sharks shelter and leopard sharks rest on the sand.
Deeper sites have strong currents, but huge sea fans and tunnels filled with glassfish are a visual feast for experienced divers. Small offshore islands swirl with life, while divers lap up deep drop-offs and pinnacles. Diving in Ranong is a wild ride.
In Ranong you can go diving all year as the tropical climate doesn't vary much. The average water temperature is 80°F/26°C and visibility is good with lows of 15m and highs of 30m. The currents are mostly mild but become stronger as you go deeper.
Divers share the water with 200 species of coral and 1000 fish species which can be appreciated in all seasons. For the best chances of swimming with manta rays, dive from December-March. Nurse sharks and leopard sharks can be found at any time of year if you venture out to deeper sites.
If you plan to extend your Ranong diving vacation with a trip to Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago (a group of 800 islands 40 nautical miles from Ranong) diving season is mid-October to mid-May when visibility reaches a whopping 50m.
Ranong is the most northerly province on Thailand's Andaman coast and encompasses 62 islands. Ranong Airport welcomes a couple of daily flights from Bangkok's huge international Don Muang Airport. The connecting flight from Bangkok to Ranong takes 1h 15m.
The descent into Ranong is magical as you glide over the islands and watch the runway emerging out of lush mangroves. Buses from the airport offer drop-offs to local hotels or you can take a 25 minute taxi to Ranong Pier - the center of Ranong diving. Alternatively you can catch a bus from Bangkok to Ranong (10h).
Get around Ranong by motorcycle taxis that are everywhere and take you pretty much anywhere. Hire a motorbike or car to go for a dip in the famous hot springs (a 12 minute drive along Route 4). For island hopping, Ranong is in easy reach of Ko Chang and Ko Phayam. The convenient diving in Ranong means you'll have more time to explore this untouched paradise.