Scuba Diving in Phuket Island
On the 4th of May 1997, the 85 metre passenger ferry King Cruiser made history by straying several miles off course on a routine run from Phuket to the Phi-Phi Islands and hitting Anemone Reef. The boat sank near the reef but thankfully no lives were lost among the 500 people on board.
Previously Phuket's dive sites had lacked a large sunken wreck for divers to explore so although the accident was unfortunate for the ferry owners and passengers alike, the boat has become one of the most popular dive spots in this area. Not only is the wreck located near 2 other great dive sites, it lies in an almost perfect upright position at a depth at 30 metres, with the captain's cabin located at the shallowest area of 12 metres.
The Kingcruiser wreck is 25 metres wide but is not safe for penetration as in August 2003 the floor of the stern top deck collapsed through onto the main deck. In more recent years there has been significant deterioration to both the midsection and the bow areas too. However, exploring the outside of this Phuket diving wreck is still an exciting experience and over time this will become an even better dive site as the wreck becomes more encrusted with a variety of colourful corals.
At the back of the wreck at around 32 metres you can see the twin propellers where lots of lionfish live. The toilet area at the rear of the main deck is also home to lionfish and they are the largest ones found at any of the local sites. There are numerous scorpionfish living on the wreck too which can be hard to spot as they are so well camouflaged against the rusting steel and corals.
There are many different fish all over the wreck, some can be seen in large schools. You will encounter rabbitfish, surgeonfish, and fusiliers among others and huge schools of trevally, mackerel and yellowtail barracuda. There are also eels and numerous crabs. However the 2 frequent visitors that are most popular with divers are a large hawksbill turtle and an enormous great barracuda.
The wrecks location near to Shark Point has undoubtedly had much to do with its soaring fish population, and the older and more broken up the wreck becomes the more fish it attracts. It seems strange that the fish prefer to live in a rusting metal hulk rather than the natural sanctuaries of Anemone Reef and Shark Point but it makes for a great Phuket dive location!
The frequent strong currents and low season rough seas make the diving here unsuitable for beginners.
Kingcruiser Wreck Reef Basics: Sunken car ferry wreck
Depth: 12 - 32m
Visibility: 5 - 20m
Currents: Can be strong
Surface conditions: Can be rough
Water temperature: 27 - 30°C
Experience level: Intermediate
Number of dive sites: 2
Diving season: All year round
Distance: ~27 km east of Phuket (1¾ hours), 18 km west of Phi Phi (2 hours), 40 km southwest of Krabi (3 hours)
Access: Krabi, Phi Phi and Phuket scuba diving day trips
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