Located on the northern end of Kata Beach, is the cute little reef of Sharkey's Nursery. This is the best beach diving in Phuket. The reef itself starts at a depth of 2 metres deep depending on tides and runs alongside the nothern headland, between the beach and the island of Koh Pu. The reef itself then runs out west towards the island reaching a maximum depth of approximately 10 metres. Stretching south of the reef is a large expanse of sand with some small coral formations and also some large hollow concrete cubes to help the reef expand.
Getting to the reef from the beach takes a combination of wading through shallow water and then swimming on the surface for a distance of approximately 50 metres in total. Even while swimming out to the reef, it is always worth putting in your snorkel and checking underwater as there are many interesting things that can be spotted in the sandy areas including little pufferfish, cornetfish and sometimes even seahorses(although quite rare). Once reaching the reef it is a small descent to the bottom to start the dive.
Although there is quite a large area of hard corals, generally the best way to dive the reef is to follow it out deeper with the corals on the right (north) and the sand on the left (south). The corals are a mix of hard coral types including lobe pores, brain corals, some table corals and the occasional anemone scattered here and there. On the reef expect to see colourful parrotfish, trumpetfish, lionfish, different types of pufferfish and schooling snappers. Occasionally a group of barracudas will come to enquire. Generally, most of the fish are juveniles which is why we call the reef "Sharkey's Nursery".
When heading back towards the starting point, it is worthwhile to head out over the sand by the side of the reef. There is so much that can be seen in this area hanging around on the bottom. Blue spotted stingrays are frequently observed as are surgeonfish and cuttlefish. Lots of little critters can be spotted by those with a keen eye including bent stick and ornate ghost pipefish, exquisite nudibranches, snake eels and even minute leaffishes. Sometimes even ocotpodes are seen including the rare mimick octopus (generally only seen on night dives).
For six months of the year (May to October), the monsoon wind blows in from the west turning the beach into a surfing area. The waves cause the visibility underwater to turn to almost zero. For this reason diving is only carried out between end of October and end of April. During that period the waves become almost non-existent, making the bay a nice calm area for diving. Even during that time, visibility can be variable, from a few metres up to 15 metres at best with an average of 10 metres. However, even in low visibility there is always splenty to be seen.
Kata Beach is the only place we go night diving in Phuket. The daytime reef fishes tends to go to sleep but the nocturnal marine life can be seen. These include a variety of shrimps and crabs plus lionfish who like to hunt in the early evening. Venture out over sand and look out for cuttlefish, skates and rays who are also now out for food. With easy conditions and minimal currents, this spot makes for a great night dive.
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