Similan Diving

Clockwise:  Me all set to go, MV Koon, a friend about to do the giant stride.

I could hear someone enthusiastically banging his tank and I instantly knew there was something major up ahead.  I examined my surroundings and there it was, gracefully gliding through the great expanse of the sea, coming toward our direction.  Yes, this was what we came here for.  And suddenly the exhaustion vanished.  A sense of calm never fails to envelop me whenever I encounter this gentle giant gliding through, perhaps enjoying the attention too.

Strong currents hit us when we reached Ko Bon Pinnacle from the blue.  It pays to be fit because just reaching the Pinnacle is a work-out all its own.  This near vertical slope is where manta rays are frequently spotted playing.  There are a couple of cleaning stations on the reef and manta sightings are almost guaranteed.

This occurrence will continue until the next day, in different dive sites, mostly in the northern part of Similan.  It was awesome and is always a privilege being with them in their domain.

The Similan Islands was declared a national park in 1982 and is rated top ten among the world’s dive destinations.  The impressive boulder formation also continues below the surface with diverse landscapes of canyons, boulders, coral gardens, caves and walls.  It is also home to an amazing variety of marine life.

The southern coast consists of those smaller islands (described on previous posts) that are numbered from one through nine and is balanced by the larger northern islands of Ko Bon for its beautiful piece of landscape, Ko Tachai with her attractive sandy beach above and plateaus beneath with probably the most colorful coral gardens in the park.  Richelieu, the 3rd island of the south was also a highlight of our dive trip.

A relatively small dive site and a bit too crowded with divers all vying to see the huge extent of marine life in the area. Whale Sharks are usually sighted during the months of April and May but for some reason, they elude me once more.  And so my pursuit of that elusive butandings continues.

Here’s some underwater snapshots to take pleasure in:

Huge Batfish

Cuttlefish

Yellow fusilier

Harlequin Shrimp

Lionfish

Moray eel

Octopus

Puffer fish

Seahorse

Shrimps

This is either a squid or another octopus

Tomato Clownfish

Us, posing for the cam during a safety stop.

*  All photos courtesy of R. Formoso of Subaquatic Scuba.


Island No. 8

The tide was getting high and the swell stronger.  As we were wading to the shore, I got caught in one big swell and almost lost my camera to it.   😮  Whew!  Gotta get that underwater casing soon.

Climbing those boulders would have been easy if I had worn my aqua socks, but instead I wore slippers and it keeps slipping off my feet so I went barefoot.

Chris, our divemaster went barefoot — he seemed fine!

Thought it would be a walk in the park but the boulders were rough (at least to my delicate soles   :-)) and hot from the sun.  I felt like I was walking on hot coals.  Seriously.  The soles of my feet hurt for 2 days, I think I got a 1st degree burn from it.   😯   It was all worth it though.

The gorgeousness of the entire island made it seemed all right.

A word of caution:  it can get a bit unnerving once you reach the top especially if you have a fear of heights like moi!  I made sure I stayed out of the edge… unlike my two friends here:

I tell you, it really is best to stay away from the edge! 😛

It looked inviting from our dive boat, the wonderful granite rock formation intrigued us no end.  It was a no-brainer, we had to take time off from our dive and head to this bay called island No. 8, also known as Donald Duck Bay, The Boulders and Shoe Bay (Ao Guerk in Thai).

All describing this prominent large boulder that seemingly stands upside down unsteadily balancing on its tip.  It could resemble the cartoon character or a boot, depending on which angle you see it from.  Our angle resembles neither – so I call it “The Boulders”. Going back to our dive boat though, we caught a glimpse of Donald but the water was splashing so much, I dared not take out my camera or I’d surely lose it this time.   😕

It is said that the rocks were formed around 65 million years ago from hot magma and polished to its actual shape today by the weather and the sea.

The picturesque bay is where the National Park office is located and is a favorite anchorage of the live-aboards.  And why not?

Scenic Sunday

Living aboard MV Koon

Credits: Drama Queen Quickpage by Daniela Austen

Call us crazy but at the height of Bangkok’s uprising, we were on the plane to Phuket, via Singapore of course.  We were to embark on a 4 -day dive safari.

Located along the coastline of the Andaman Seas and the Indian Ocean, Koh Similan or the Similan Islands comprises of 9 granite island covered in tropical jungle and is best known for its wonders beneath its clear aquamarine waters.

The Similans is located about 100 kilometers northwest of Phuket International Airport.

It is more than an hour drive to Thap Lamu Port where we boarded the MV Koon, our home for the next 4 days.

Briefing before a dive with divemaster Chris

As it takes about 3.5 hours to get to the Similans, most dive trips are by liveaboard if one wants to fully explore the dive sites.  There are hydrofoils, however, being offered from Phuket for a 2-dive day trip.

We left Thap Lamu Port just before sundown and our journey started with a bang (literally).

Thais, being Buddhists, always light a few firecrackers, I suppose, to drive away bad spirits and be blessed with a safe journey.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

And blessed we were, with a beautiful sunset which will be a daily happening for the next 3 nights.

Sunrise from 2 different mornings

Not only were sunsets spectacular, the sunrises were dazzling too.

We also had a regular visitor that came to play!

MV Koon is operated by Flying FishDiving Evolution and fits 16 guests.  Aside from a couple of foreigners (1 American and the other Spanish), we practically had the boat to ourselves.

The cabins, albeit tiny were comfortable, making good use of space.  Toilets and showers, although shared, were clean and not too cramp.

I like it that the dining area was al fresco.  We spent most of our hours on board here. My only complaint was the food.

Fruits all day long! 😀

It was pretty good but I would have preferred more authentic Thai cuisine.  We (at least those of us who could take hot & spicy) almost always end up sharing the crew’s food.  Heehee!   😀

A typical day

Eat. Dive. Sleep.  That was pretty much what we did aboard the MV Koon.  It was a good life on board the MV Koon.  Our home while in the Andaman Seas.

Up next… exploring the beautiful Island # 8 also called Donald Duck Bay.  Stay tuned.

Useful Info:

Flying Fish Diving Evolution
Contact No.:  +66 7648 5595
Email:  info@flyingfishdiving.com
Website:  http://www.flyingfishdiving.com