I’ve been lucky to be a qualified SCUBA diver for half my life. Most of my dives have been along the East Coast of Australia. In 2007 I first visited Koh Tao and enjoyed a couple of dives while my partner finished his Advanced Course. But it wasn’t until 2010 did I hit the jackpot – a 3-day liveaboard boat cruising around the Similan Islands off the West Coast of Thailand.
After a longer than expected bus ride through Central Thailand, we arrived in Koa Luk. Yes, we could of flown from Koh Samui to Koa Luk, but I wanted to see a bit of the country, rather than the coasts. Long story short, I thought I’d booked a private mini bus that should have taken a few hours, but we ended up on a public bus that ended up taking around 10hrs. But what’s a visit to South East Asia without a travel mishap!
This town was like a little Scandinavia, complete with Viking pizza, Scandinavian dive shops and even the local touts spoke Swedish!
1 night in a hotel, then off to board the boat for our dive trip. Myself, my partner and a friend joined eight strangers to eat, sleep & dive in one of the more affordable dive boat operators, Wicked Diving. Not the most modern boat, but it was cosy and had a lot of charm. The boat had a smoke ceremony as we set off towards the islands. Within a short time there dolphins playing in the wake of the boat and we were suiting up for our first dive.
11 dives later & the highlights were:
- Honeymoon Bay
- Anita’s Reef
- West of Eden
- North Point
- 3 Trees
- Bangoo Bay
- Koh Bon North
- Boonsung Wreck
I’d never seen so many lion fish in my life, towards the end of the weekend we were “look, another lion fish”, without caring that much. Our underwater guide was awesome. A marine biologist named Karina, she would tell us all the names of the hundreds of fish we saw on the dive. Unfortunately my memory isn’t that great, so I can’t match the names with the photos I took. You can just enjoy them or feel free to let me know the names in the comment section.
Turtles, sea snakes and moray eels were also pretty cool.
But the ultimate highlight was seeing the manta rays. First time in my life and I was blown away. In typical fashion, we were just about to give up when a guide motioned to try the “cleaning station” one more time. And there, in the (very strong) current was a graceful manta ray floating in the water, letting the water and some little cleaning fishies do their work. Because the current was so strong, we couldn’t get over the ridge of reef to get a bit closer, but it was still a fantastic moment in my diving life.
The last dive was on a wreck called the Boonsung. There were lots of things to see, but the water visibility was pretty low, so the photos didn’t really turn out.
The Wicked Diving boat crew were awesome. The meals were cooked on these 2 burner stoves. You would never guess that so much food could come from such a tiny galley. And it was all delicious – almost some of the best I’d had in Thailand.
We also met some great people on board. Some diving for their first time, some seasoned divers. Some hadn’t dived in many years. All with stories to share over the freshly cooked meals & cool drinks.