Shark Watching Tours

All You Need to Know

One of the most popular activities when visiting Phi Phi Islands is shark watching. This unique encounter lets tourists experience swimming with one of the ocean’s most feared yet most misunderstood creatures also – sharks. Such tours usually fascinate visitors and give them dramatic experiences they’ll remember.

Shark watching tours include all safety precautions and proper equipment. Koh Phi Phi houses some of the most common sharks in its shallow waters. Today, let’s find out how shark watching tours transpire and what shark species you can expect.

Koh Phi Phi Sharks

Several species of sharks can be seen around the Phi Phi Islands. You don’t need to be afraid, though. There are no dangerous shark species around Koh Phi Phi, with the sharks here being very timid. No cases of human beings getting attacked or bitten by sharks around Koh Phi Phi have ever been recorded. There’s no other place in Thailand other than the Phi Phi Islands for any marine life lover where you can spot sharks from off beach snorkeling alone.

1. Black-Tip Reef Shark

Perhaps one of the easiest shark species you can spot around Phi Phi Islands, the Black-Tip Reef Shark had rapidly grown in number since June 2018 when the Maya Bay beach got closed off. Phi Phi National Park closed off the famous coast, creating a confined protected area of rocks and corals around 300 meters from the sand beach.

Here, the reef sharks found themselves the perfect conditions they need for feeding and breeding, making their numbers go up within a few months. Within a year of Maya Bay’s closure, this number quadrupled around Koh Phi Phi.

There’s a very high likelihood of spotting juvenile reef sharks more petite than a meter long compared to others. But adult black-tip reef sharks can grow up to 1.5m to 2m long. You can spot these shark breeds in some of the very shallow waters of the Phi Phi Islands. They hunt down the cliffs and corals, where they prey on mullets and squids.

2. Whale Sharks

Whale Sharks are friendly giants that like to pass by Koh Phi Phi and follow plankton trails from Malaysia to Myanmar, usually around 10 meters long. A fully grown adult whale shark can grow up to more than 14 meters long.

Most of the time, they are spotted in Koh Phi Phi by divers a few times a month, so it’s more of a rare sighting to experience. National parks in Koh Phi Phi ensure no artificial feedings happen to make this phenomenon a tourist attraction. Unfortunately, these beautiful giants are being exploited in other parts of Thailand and Asia.

Whale sharks can be seen all year round in Koh Phi Phi. You know it’s your lucky day when you get to see them up close when you’re snorkeling.

3. Leopard Sharks

Leopard sharks are frequently seen in their unique spots around Koh Phi Phi. They love relaxing and feeding at the sandy bottoms near the reefs. They have long tails that can grow for two (2) meters. Leopard sharks are much timider than other shark species. Spot leopard sharks around the Phi Phi Islands during the high seasons of November until May.

If you want to have an eye on them, keep a reasonable distance not too close, or they will most likely swim away. You can spot leopard sharks most frequently in Gareng Heng. But they can still be seen pretty much at any diving or snorkeling locations around Koh Phi Phi.

4. Bamboo Sharks

Bamboo sharks are the other species of shark that can be spotted swimming in the waters of the Phi Phi Islands. They are usually seen in deeper waters. If you need any more information about Bamboo Sharks or any other shark species that call Koh Phi Phi their home, or generally about the island, you can always ask the help of locals to guide you through your way. Experience snorkeling trips that would allow you to co-exist with these water warriors.

How to See Koh Phi Phi Sharks

Koh Phi Phi Sharks

Hiring a private longtail boat for about three (3) to four (4) hours would allow you to experience shark watching. You can stop at different snorkeling spots that we will mention later for you to have the highest chances of seeing even a couple of sharks, and if you’re that lucky, maybe even a turtle.

With hired private boats, you’ll have the utmost flexibility in going around and having your itinerary and pace. The popular option is to head out early morning so that you can start your day with shark watching and snorkeling.

You can also be part of a scuba diving trip. Complete two (2) dives and get a good chance of spotting reef sharks of every species mentioned earlier. There is no need for experience in scuba diving – experience shark watching in Koh Phi Phi all you want. 

Try off beach snorkeling at Shark Point, too. If you’re confident enough to snorkel as you and swim out around 200m to the open sea, then this option is perfect for you.

How to Behave Around Sharks

Even with fear and hesitation, we still want sharks to stay so we can admire them and take stunning underwater photographs. For this to happen, wait very still and control your breathing. Remaining calm and relaxed will more likely make the shark stick around so you can observe it. However, by being noisy, kicking around, or making sudden movements and breathing heavily, chances are you’ll make the sharks nervous and be in a rush to leave. Float on the surface and try to relax as much as possible. Sharks won’t be threatened and will happily swim around minding their own business.

Best Place to Spot Sharks in Koh Phi Phi

There’s a significant number of suitable locations around Koh Phi Phi known for frequent sightings of sharks. However, lately, spotting them anywhere around the Phi Phi Islands has become relatively routine. Here are some of the best spots for shark watching:

1. Loh Samah Bay

One good location to spot the species of sharks while snorkeling. Typically, they swim around the bottom of the mountain walls located on the bay’s left side

2. Palong Bay

Another good location for shark watching and snorkeling

3. Viking Cave

Around the left side of this cave is where you need to go for perfect shark seeing

4. Long Beach

If you don’t plan on taking a boat out you and only try off beach snorkeling 

5. Shark Point 

At the very end outside of The Beach Resort, this rocky formation makes the snorkeling area around 200m only when the tide is low and far from the beach

6. Bida Nok

One of the smaller Phi Phi Islands, get scuba diving trips here and have a very high chance of spotting reef sharks and other species, too.

Be reminded that the passing boats and strong currents could potentially be dangerous, especially during the low season. If you’re not that confident in swimming, we recommend taking a boat out and doing some snorkeling at Shark Point off the boat.

Best Time to Spot Sharks in the Phi Phi Islands

It makes perfect sense that the higher chances of spotting reef sharks will happen during morning hours. This time of the day is when there are fewer people around. But this rule may not always be the case. You can still spot reef sharks at different times of the day, even on busy snorkeling trips full of customers. So, take your chances and enjoy your shark-watching tour.

Final Thoughts

Shark-watching tours are a fun way of adding excitement to your vacation at Koh Phi Phi. Experience the thrill and fun of being with sharks and remember the moment for the rest of your life! You’ll never know; you might get to experience it again some other time, so grab the opportunity now.