Low Season Diving in Ko Phi Phi: What to Expect.
Ko Phi Phi’s tropical climate means that we are now entering the tourist low season between May and October, when the prevailing weather pattern is governed by the South-West monsoon over the Indian Ocean. Phi Phi is a lush, tropical, green island and the reason for it’s stunning natural beauty is quite simply the rainy season.
Two of the questions we are asked most frequently at this time of year is what will the weather be like? and will I be to dive?
What will the weather be like during Low Season?
First things first – Don’t believe the weather apps! They predict rain and thunderstorms almost everyday in low season; it’s really not like this and you can basically ignore it (phew!). There are a few more reliable websites that we use (such as Windguru), along with the local shipping forecasts, so just ask us for an update a few days in advance and we’ll tell you how it is on the ground.
This time of the year the winds bring a mix of dry and wet days, and we expect sun punctuated with a few cloudy days with brief, heavy showers. It is also normal to have prolonged spells (2 -3 weeks) of glorious, dry weather even though it’s low season. Whilst daily sunshine cannot be guaranteed, it certainly does not rain all the time. Being the tropics it can change pretty suddenly and our dive team tend to pack for all conditions – a rainjacket/poncho, sunglasses and a mineral-based suncream!
At the start of the monsoon season the rain tends to come in the late afternoon, evening or night and has a welcome cooling effect from the humidity. When it does rain it tends to be heavy, quick, warm monsoon rain and occur in short bursts. It ends to be wettest towards the end of the season from around September to mid-October when it may rain for 3 or 4 days straight. With changing weather patterns worldwide there isn’t a lot of consistency from year to year.
Can I dive during Low Season?
Absolutely YES, and with far fewer divers on the island it can be a better experience! In fact we often get the best visibility of the year during July and August 🙂
With less divers in the water we naturally tend to see more fish and marine life, including more frequent interactions with blacktip reef sharks and leopard sharks. Also our boat, whilst very comfortable when at full capacity, is positively luxurious with only a few divers onboard and does offer the comfort of a dry cabin for our guests in the event it rains.
Boat trips are more affected by wind and waves than by rainfall, so our dive boat does still run if it is raining. Having said that, in general there is less wind and rain in the mornings, so we would recommend booking our morning dive and snorkel trips if your schedule allows for it.
The tall limestone cliffs that Phi Phi are so famous for afford a degree of protection and shelter from the low season winds, and experience little run-off in the rain. This means that the dive sites on the east side of the islands (Viking Cave, The Artificial Reef and Coral Nursery, the Kled Gaeow Wreck and Piley Wall on Phi Phi Ley, and Huraget on Phi Phi Don, where we make our night dives) are protected from the wind and waves and so remain very good for diving throughout the low season. Even if the sea conditions are bouncy, it will only be for the short 10 – 15 minute crossing of the channel between Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley and we do offer seasickness tablets on the boat just in case.
During favourable flatter conditions we can still access Bida Nok and to a slightly lesser degree Bida Nai, although dive sites on the west such as Palong, Malong and Mushroom Rock are unlikely to be accessible. Safety is always our top priority; our boat captain has over 2 decades of experience in these waters, and we remain very aware of the difficulty of climbing a dive ladder in waves so make dive site decisions on a day by day basis for your comfort.
Above the surface, any rain will prevent you from lounging on the beach whereas below the surface, you’re going to get wet anyway, so you may as well dive in! This is an ideal time of year to learn to dive, or continue on beyond Open Water certification with the PADI Advanced Course, Adventure Night Dive, or Wreck Dives. It is also a great time to sccore some excellent deals on accommodation, with many resorts charging less than half their high season rates. With fewer visitors to worry about the locals tend to be more relaxed and friendly, and have more time to help you out or chat.
The only certainty about the weather in low season is that there’s not a thing in the world you can do about it, apart from deciding to have a good time no matter what weather you encounter.