Liveaboard Diving is the most convienient way to see the Similan Islands. Ever wondered what the experience is like? Read Instructor Dani’s Blog to find out
Canadians, Koreans, Swedish, Norwegians, Swiss, Italian, Catalan, Japanese, English,… Open water with 9 dives to instructors. All sitting in the same table with the boat still in the pier, ready to go. The fireworks that, at the beginning of the trip, have to scare the bad spirits out of the vessel and bring good luck to the boat, still haven’t been fired but everybody is already sharing a big table, talking about their adventures in Thailand, where they learnt to dive or what they expect to see in that trip. Happy chatting, glasses of wine and anecdotes. Colourful fireworks, the open sea and a crazily starry sky. Good night.
We wake up together with the sun appearing behind the Similan Islands; the amazing Islands that attract people from all over the world. Islands that are surrounded by the calm seas that become wild and angry during the monsoon. Islands that had been visited often by Malaysian fisherman (once upon time) and were named as the nine islands: sembilan in Malay. Now a national park where for the last decades no fisherman have approached, meaning that its waters are teaming with fishes and marine life of all kinds.
We start our lovely liveaboard diving routine: dive, eat, sleep, dive, eat, sleep, dive, eat, sleep….and so on. Jumping from awesome dives, to tasty meals and then lazy and refreshing naps on the sundeck. From the first dive in Anita’s Reef, everybody is already amazed by the blue and clear visibility and the quantity of different creatures and critters. From tiny flatworms to ugly devil Scorpionfishes. From annoying cleaner wrasse to gentle Stingrays. From heaps of garden eels to elusive flounders. And what of the poor little Glassfish? Hunted by Tuna, Harrased by Coral Groupers and Circled by the the ravenous Trevallys. Action all over! A performance enjoyed by everybody. Well, apart from the tiny transparent guys that exist solely as the prey for all.
The day follows with more dives (and food and power naps) that don’t disappoint anybody; the visibility stays great and we keep ticking stuff in the lists of the things to see and enjoy. Turtles, Octopus, Seasnakes, Nudibranches, elegant Ribbon Eels,… but it’s not all about the marine life, one highlight of the dives around the Similans are the landscapes. Huge boulders, big rocks, channels covered with sea fans. Currents, waves and monsoons have created dramatic and unique landscapes underwater. How easy it is to feel tiny and insignificant while diving between the giant rocks of Elephant Head Rock.
We enjoy a couple more dives around the Similan Islands and a peaceful visit to the world famous Donald Duck bay in Island #8. Then then leisurely cruise north to the Islands of Bon and Tachai. Two of the most famous dive sites in Thailand; the West Ridge in Koh Bon and the Pinnacle in Tachai…again, great visibility and lots and lots of fish everywhere. We keep on ticking: great Barracudas, Napoleon Wrasse, massive schools of bright blue Fusiliers and the awesome black and weird Sponge Snails that have decided to come to the ridge to stay and delight everybody.
The next morning we enjoy an amazing and surprisingly peaceful dive on the Pinnacle. Then we head towards the jewel in the crown: Richelieu Rock. This famous dive site is part of the Surin National Park, so close to Myanmar that we can see the silhouette of Burmese islands in the distance. The rock just pokes out of the water with no indication of the world of colours and movement beneath. Although you never get bored in Richelieu, for the competitive ones, a lot of games can be played during the dives here: Who can find more Scorpionfishes? Who finds the hole with more juvenile white-eyed moray eels living together? Who is going to be the first one to spot a group of cuttlefishes or a sneaky peacock mantis shrimp?
While we were resting after our third dive on this awesome dive site, divers from another boat surfaced saying that there was a whale shark right under our boat! So, seeing that we had already exceeded our minimum surface interval time, everybody jump from the power naps to being ready to get in the water in a couple of minutes early. Maybe we should use it more often to make sure that we follow the schedule 🙂 The first part of the dive was all about searching for the Whaleshark cruising by after a brief stop in Richelieu. Probably stopping by to be cleaned and filter some plankton. Or maybe was just out of our sight looking at us and having some fun; but soon everybody started forgetting the search and enjoying the life around the pinnacle. The water was really rich with plankton, provoking big quantities of small fish to surround it. Schools of pelagics like chevron barracudas, pickhandle barracudas, trevallies, jacks, rainbow runners,…A big school of long fin batfish just by the mooring line….a show that kept everybody mesmerized and amazed although the giant and elegant creature was nowhere to be seen.
The last day, on the way back home we had another great dive in Koh Bon and the last one in Boonsung Wreck. The wreck is an oasis in the middle of empty sand and mud that attracts creatures of all kinds and sizes. From the 1 metre and a half cobias swimming around to the tiny nudibranches. From the Kuhl’s stingrays hiding in the sand to a lost cuttlefish. A school of a squid to the millions (well, maybe not millions, but lots!) of bearded Scorpionfishes, lionfishes, the rare honeycomb moray eel,…A great place to say goodbye to the trip and check things that had not been seen during the Similan Liveaboard diving trip.