World Class diving in the Andaman Sea
When booking your holidays, I guess you’ll want to have beautiful beaches, a nice culture to visit, night life and – of course – top of the range diving! Did you also mention that your partner is not a diver?
This presents you with a difficult question… where to go and enjoy your holidays??
If this is the case, let me introduce you to west coast of Thailand – it has it all!! There is hikking opportunities at the National Park of Kao Sok, temples, shopping malls and the sea, everything is there.
Waters are warm (29 – 30ºC), the visibility is +20 meters, and the corals are beautiful. The best dive spot in this area is diving Richelieu Rock, a limestone rock island belonging to the Surin Islands, but also diveable from Similan Islands liveaboards.
Lucky for me I dove Richelieu Rock the first time in 2003 and it is one of the reasons I joined the diving industry, because I wanted to see more! Shaped like a pinnacle in the middle of the ocean, looking like a priests hat and coming up very close to the surface. There is always a little bit of current, so the coral life is pulsing. I had my first encounter with Manta Rays over there and fish are all over the place. Seahorses, ghost pipefish, ghost moray eels and Frogfish are nearly always found there. It even has an own fish species – the Tomato Anemone Fish.
In the deeper parts (30 meters) have some coral heads a little bit off the pinnacle. Full of soft corals in various colors, like vacation for your eyes.
To reach it from the coast you have to be an early bird, because the boat ride takes more or less 2,5 hours from Phuket with the speed boat. In this area there are also a lot of 3 to 4 day live aboards operating. I do recommend going on a safari boat, because this area has so much more to offer besides Richelieu Rock.
The Similan Islands, which name means 9 islands, are located off the coast of Thailand. It is a national park, protected by the Thai Navy, and they do check and care!
The dive sites in front of the Phuket area do not have the best visibility, but the growth is astonishing! The dive sites are shallow and theres is fish everywhere
One area I really got into is diving in Koh Lanta. The closest dive site Koh Ha (five islands), is an amazing diving spot: here are 5 blocks in the sea offering everything Mr. and Mrs. Diver are dreaming of. Shoals of fish, critters and corals in every color everywhere.
Further south there are 2 relatively unspoiled diving spots Hin Daeng (red rock) and Hin Muang (purple rock). Drop offs, soft coral in the related color and fish, fish and even more fish. Hin Daeng is also a cleaning station for Manta Rays and in the season there are also Whale Sharks seen on a regular basis. Every time I went there, I did because of the critter. Big stuff can be around, but, please do not blame the guide if there is none!
Before booking a holiday, research the seasons and the weather, to make of your time an unforgettable holiday! Check Diving in Thailand for more information.
Story by Jörg Delacher