There is one sure way of getting wet in Phuket - Thailands largest island - and that is to be there on April 13th. This is the first day of the traditional Thai solar calendar, and its marked by a celebration called Songkran. The most common manifestation of Songkran is the practice of sat nam, which means gaining control of large quantities of water, preferably chilled to below freezing, choosing an advantageous spot, and drenching unwary passers by.

On this day each year, the streets of every town and village on Phuket island are alive with people of all ages, armed with water guns, buckets, barrels, hose pipes, and receptacles of all kinds with which to project water.

Everyone is a target, including clerks and assistants in post offices, banks, and other places of business, who are frequently smilingly sodden. Its even more sport to douse visitors, especially foreign holidaymakers. There are, of course, other ways of getting wet in Phuket, and the best one is to go diving. There are about 35 diving operations on this Indian Ocean island, the leading three in terms of size being South East Asia Divers, Fantasea Divers, and Siam Diving Centre. I dived with Fantasea, who took us out to a site one-and-a-half hours from Phuket named Koh Racha Noi, in the Andaman Sea, the southern tip of which consists of a rocky ridge that rears up out of deep water. The rocky substrate is covered with soft corals and sea fans, and fish life includes occasional manta rays and whale sharks, but usually much smaller marine life. It was stressed that this location was for experienced divers only, for unlike other day trip destinations, it had strong, sometimes vertical currents.

Onboard pre-dive briefing was excellent, the description of what one should see immediately after entry being emphasised. (If you dont see the rocky ridge top youre in the wrong place!) Second dive of the day was the north end of Koh Racha Noi, which was gentle. There was plenty to see at both sites, down to about 20m, with vis about 12-15m.

Said to be among the best day-trip dives out of Phuket are Shark Reef Point and Anemone Reef Marine Sanctuary, and both were indeed excellent. Though we only saw one shark at the first location - a leopard shark - this, plus moray eels and other exotic examples of marine life, kept everyone happy.

Anemone Reef turned out to be pretty special, a site literally smothered with soft corals, and anemones with beautiful blue undersides. This site is also noted for its abundance of lionfish, eels, nudibranchs, shrimp and occasionally cuttlefish and squid, with typical vis of 6-20m. Normally an easy dive, it occasionally has brisk currents.

Other notable dive sites are only available on liveaboards for two-day or three-day trips. These include the Similan Islands, the Surin region, and the Burma Banks, a three-legged route known as the Andaman Triangle. This is said to combine the best of three distinctly different areas, all a delight to divers. My brief experience with Fantasea was fine. There was plenty of cool water to drink on board, with soft drinks or beer after the second dive. Lunch was reasonable Thai food, with fresh pineapple immediately after each dive. The diving procedure was not so fussy as with some Caribbean operations - you kitted up yourself, then sat on the rear platform for the off. On return, it was weightbelt and fins off and handed up, then up the ladder, off with your BC and refit to a fresh cylinder.

Every pair of divers got a sausage to inflate, just in case of currents, when a boat would pick you up. Day-trip two-tank dives where I went cost around $50-60 US.

Phuket temperatures are pretty steady all year round, with water temperatures as high as 27-30C. Thailand is a place of charm and culture, and the Thais are very friendly people. The Thai cuisine is excellent - spicy but subtle. Drink prices are variable, depending upon your location, but the local beer costs about 1. You wont need many clothes, for apart from the climate and the informality, there are some amazing bargains to be had. Example: handmade Chinese silk shirts for 17. And along Patongs main street - a bit like Blackpools golden mile - there are bazaars and shops galore, where you can usually knock 35 per cent off asking prices, sometimes more.