Hin Daeng and Hin Muang: The best place to see Whalesharks in Thailand?

March 13, 2010

Hin Daeng and Hin Muang translate to red rock and purple rock and are arguably the best place to see Whalesharks in Thailand along with Richelieu Rock. They and are located about 100km southeast of Phuket and around 60km south of the Phi Phi Islands. The red rock and purple rock refer to the fact that Hin Daeng is carpeted with red soft corals, and Hin Muang likewise with purple soft corals.

These two dive sites are underwater fish magnets, and are an oasis in a barren desert. They attract an incredible amount of marine life. Jutting up grandly from the seabed at around 80m, they are bathed in rich nutrients that well up in currents with colder water from the deep ocean floor. Everything seems bigger here. The Moray Eels, the Lion Fish, the Leopard Sharks, they’re all bigger. These dives are not really ideal for inexperienced scuba divers. They are deep dive sites and there can also be some pretty intimidating currents here. Visibility here is usually very good, and can sometimes reach fifty meters or more. If you arrive here for a dive and you have less then twenty meters visibility you’re unlucky.

A Truly Awesome Whaleshark

A Truly Awesome Whaleshark

Hin Muang lies about one 100m north of Hin Daeng. It is shaped like a huge underwater loaf of bread, with a gap in the middle. It has also been described as a massive pair of underwater titties. The top of the rock is at around 16m, and drops down on all sides to a depth of around 55m, where the sandy bottom slopes away to depths of 80m plus. Here it’s especially important for divers to check their air gauge and no-decompression time regularly, and make sure buddy procedures are adhered to should any problem arise. Hin Muang and Hin Daeng used to be covered in soft corals from top to bottom. Unfortunately in 2006 an algae bloom decimated all the soft corals on these two sites, and most of the marine life with it. Thankfully it has recovered extremely well, the corals are re-growing, and marine life has returned in abundance to make these dive sites great once again. The ideal dive here would be to descend down the buoy-line, which should be fixed somewhere in the middle of the dive site (In the cleavage) and choose which direction to head depending on the current direction and strength. Once your maximum planned depth has been reached it should be possible to ascend slowly in a figure of eight direction coming back to the buoy-line in the middle for your ascent. For a more relaxed pace, only plan to do half of the site (One boob) in a single dive. Manta Rays and Whale Sharks are common here, as it is both a feeding and cleaning station. There is no particular season when to expect the big stuff so it’s hard to make advance booking with this in mind. If there’s plankton in the water, the Mantas will usually be there, for weeks at a time. Then, they might disappear for a couple of weeks. Whalesharks are even less predictable, but it’s possible to see them here all year round, if you’re lucky. The first few day trips I did to these dive sites I was unlucky and there were no Mantas or Whalesharks. Since then almost every time I’ve been there have been a few Mantas playing around, and several Whalesharks. Sometimes you can even see two or more Whalesharks on a single dive here.

Hin Daeng rises up from the seabed and breaks the surface at low tide. It’s bigger than Hin Muang, but in respect of marine life to be found they are very similar. There are more hard corals here though and the topography is more interesting and varied. You could be gliding over a gently sloping reef then the next minute next to a verticle wall with a 70m drop-off. Although Manta Rays can be spotted all over this dive site, I’ve generally had more encounters on the eastern and northern sides of the site. If you’re diving the wall on this site, be sure to look out into the blue for a chance to see one of these amazing creatures. Even swim out into the blue and just float 20m away from the wall. Sometimes an inquisitive Manta will appear from nowhere, and circle you several times to check you out.

Expect To See

  • Whale Sharks
  • Manta Rays
  • Moray Eels
  • Lion Fish
  • Clown Triggerfish
  • Batfish, Barracuda
  • Jacks
  • Leopard Sharks
  • Reef Sharks


  • Check air and dive computers regularly
  • Don’t chase Whalesharks or Mantas Rays as you may scare them away. Relax and they will usually come back and pass you again
  • Trips may not be able to visit these dive sites in rough or windy weather
  • Best dived from one of our liveaboard trips email us for details
  • No day trips from Phuket apart from private charters

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March 2010
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