Koh Haa means ‘five islands’ in the local language, and is one or Thailand’s premier diving locations. Being part of a national marine park means that it is protected from human activity but only open for seven months per year (mid-Oct to mid-May). Some argue that it is the best all-round place in Thailand to dive, due to its location and its appeal to a wide range of tourists’ needs. Koh Haa may not be as extreme as Hin Daeng or the Similan Islands, but it offers something to more than just hardened scuba divers and thrill seekers.
At just ten nautical miles from Koh Lanta, but much further to travel from Phi Phi and Phuket, Koh Haa only really gets visited by Koh Lanta day trip diving boats, as well as liveaboard cruises from several locations, mostly Phuket. Most-commonly, the liveaboard diving trips sail to Koh Haa as part of a cruise around the best dive sites in this part of Thailand. These include Phuket’s King Cruiser Wreck, Shark Point, Anemone Reef & Koh Doc Mai, as well as Bida Islands at Koh Phi Phi, but most importantly, Hin Daeng & Hin Muang.
What makes Koh Haa so special? It is a group of five small and uninhabited islands far enough out at sea to be pollution free and completely natural, but near enough to be visited conveniently. There are one or two pristine sandy beaches, as well as some shallow areas for snorkelling and even for young children to safely enjoy swimming or playing in crystal-clear sea water, teeming with reef fish around the healthy corals.
There are three well-known dive sites at Koh Haa, and these are the ‘must dive’ spots for any diver certified and with enough experience. The three best Koh Haa dive sites are The Lagoon, The Cathedral, & The Chimney. However, there are up to ten other great dive spots within and around Koh Haa. Depending on the sea and weather conditions, and the number of other divers as well as marine life there on the day, cruise leaders try to make the best choice of diving spot at Koh Haa in each situation. Some of the dive sites are less well known or not visited as often by divers, but there are times when these are better for one reason or another. Several Koh Haa diving sites also are multilevel and can be dived by novice or less-experienced divers (in the shallows) at the same time as those with more experience, who can venture out away from the islets and down to depths of 30m. or more.
The marine life is both varied and abundant. Species of fish range from tiny seahorses and frogfish to the fair to moderate chance of a visiting Manta Ray (Manta alfredi) or Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) being spotted, especially at the outer-lying dive sites of this mini archipelago. Similan Islands liveaboard cruises often come to Koh Haa, but day trip diving boats are only able to reach this wonderful diving area from Koh Lanta, and one or two other local and less touristy islands in Krabi and Trang provinces.