Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh (center) along with Niti Kongkrut (2nd right), director of the TAT Pattaya Office, and members of the Bangkok Dive Alliance gather at the dusit d2 baraquda Pattaya to jointly announce the upcoming Pattaya Dive Festival.
Pattaya’s two leading scuba diving centers are teaming up with four Bangkok shops to introduce more than 500 new divers to Thailand’s “wreck diving capital” in the city’s first-ever “Pattaya Dive Festival” Nov. 13-14.
Organized locally by Mermaids Dive Center and Aquanauts Dive Centre, the non-profit event will see divers clean up and plant coral at Pattaya’s local islands and dive for prizes in an underwater treasure hunt. It’s an effort both to boost Pattaya’s reputation as a dive destination and get Bangkok residents more involved in marine preservation.
“The event was created as a response to recent political and financial turmoil that has affected Bangkok and the dive industry as a whole,” Mermaids Managing Director Peter Waagensen said following an Oct. 12 press conference. “At the same time, Bangkok scuba operators want to make diving Bangkokians more aware of their local dive area, Pattaya, which has become known as the ‘wreck diving capital’ of Thailand.”
Sanya Lohitnavy of the Bangkok Dive Alliance, comprised of Dive Indeed, Dive Innovation, Dive Now and Wahoo Dive Center, said at the press conference that organizers hope 500-600 divers on 16 boats will take the plunge.
Activities start early with divers assembling at Bali Hai Pier for safety and marine life briefings at 8 a.m. From there, the armada will head to Koh Krok for an underwater photography contest and treasure hunt, with prizes donated by the city, Tourism Authority of Thailand, PADI, Divers Alert Network, Major Development Co., and other sponsors.
After lunch, the group will converge on Koh Sak for an underwater reef cleanup, then return to port and prepare for a party at Reflection Condominium in Jomtien Beach.
The following day will be an invitation-only day for a cast of Thai celebrities and political leaders who will plant coral at Koh Larn.
“Pattaya’s marine ecosystem has steadily recovered over the past few years, but there is still more work to do,” said Aquanauts Managing Director Roger M. Smith. “Events like these show divers who usually go to Southern Thailand that there is great diving right in their backyard and help raise awareness about the importance of preserving the underwater environment.”
“It will be an event full of fun,” Sanya said, noting the festival will see dancing, music, magic and other entertainment spread across five stages. “There will be prizes to be won and a great party in the evening with food, drinks, activities and entertainment to thank all the participants.”
The Dive Festival is the latest effort by the five PADI dive centers united under the Pattaya Dive Club banner to raise the profile of Pattaya – the home of three undersea shipwrecks – as a premier diving destination. The group, supported by the city, PADI and the Royal Thai Navy, aims to sink as many as five more wrecks over the next 10 years.
Divers and snorkelers interested in joining the Pattaya Dive Festival can register with Mermaids Dive Center in Jomtien Beach, Aquanauts Dive Centre on Soi 6 in Pattaya, with any of the Bangkok centers or online at PattayaDiveFest.com.