With three coastlines stretching for hundreds of kilometres, and some of the finest beaches to be found anywhere in Southeast Asia, Thailand has become a major travel destination for lovers of all kinds of water sports. A number of excellent resorts offer a full range of equipment at reasonable rates for anyone interested in exploring the pleasures of deep-sea fishing, windsurfing, water skiing, parasailing, scuba diving, or swimming in crystal clear waters.
One of the first and still one of the most popular water sport centres is Pattaya on the Gulf of Thailand, just two hours drive from Bangkok. The main beach is located on a scenic bay, but facilities are available along the coast for several kilometres. There are also more than 30 picturesque offshore islands with a wealth of coral and many types of tropical fish.
The other major water sport centre is the southern island of Phuket in the Andaman Sea. Here on the west coast there are more than 14 magnificent white sandy beaches, all with warm, clear waters, as well as a large number of nearby islands that boast diving conditions to rival the best in the world.
Thailand's long coastline offers some of the finest diving opportunities not only in Asia but anywhere in the world. Phuket and Pattaya are both major dive centres, and there are many training facilities with internationally qualified instructors.
The majority of diving destinations close to Phuket are located in nearby Phang-Nga, where hundreds of limestone islands rise up from the blue waters. Also popular are the largely uninhabited Similan Islands, recently listed among the world's ten most beautiful spots for underwater scenery and the spectacular Phi Phi Islands near Phuket.
On the other side of the peninsula in the Gulf of Thailand is the Ang Thong Islands National Marine Park, a group of more than 40 beautiful islands off the west of Surat Thani province and near Koh Samui.
In Pattaya, scuba divers can organize daily trips from the resort to the offshore islands of Ko Lan, Ko Sak, and Ko Krok.