Just back from scubalov.in’s second international trip of the season. Hosted by a warm and eco-friendly operator on a well equipped, comfortable boat from the 20th – 23rd April, this trip was pure bliss.
As part of the Best of Thailand, we chose to dive the Surin marine national park, Richelieu Rock, Koh Tachai & Koh Bon. The dive sites around the islands (Koh) have some very distinct gorgeous topography and some pretty brilliant sightings around this time of the year apart from the variety of big and small fish in abundance.
The good thing about diving in this part of Thailand is that you can accommodate experienced as well as open water divers. We chose to take divers with a minimum of advance open water certification so as to keep the group together.
You can easily teach the advanced open water or the deep dive specialty but we were advised not to as we were doing 4 dives a day on regular air.
The first day turned out to be a ‘Ray-day’ diving around the Surin marine national park. During these 3 day dives, we spotted Kuhl’s sting rays by the dozens! Also, 5-6 Jenkin’s Whiprays openly perched on the sand. We ended the day with a dusk dive and were greeted by one of the biggest OCEANIC MANTA RAYS I have ever seen.
Time almost stops as it gracefully ‘flys’ by against a mild current with ease. We gazed upon a picturesque sunset as we came to the surface from our dive.
The next day was the highlight for most of us, fun divers as well as professionals. Richelieu Rock!, pristine blue waters full of life in terms of healthy coral, macro life, and the pelagics. This is where we saw the biggest of them all, the WHALESHARK.
The sheer size of both of them combined with the way they slowly glide through the water feeding on plankton (as they are filter-feeding sharks) is a treat to watch. The dive site has a lot of diversity and actions as schools of big-eye trevally we’re hunting on fusiliers and glass Fish. Seahorses, ornate ghost pipefish, and colorful nudibranchs were a delight to spot on a reef laden with both healthy soft and hard coral.
The last dive of the day was a night dive at Koh Tachai reef which was a first for many on the boat. After the initial jitters of focusing around total darkness, everyone started enjoying the nocturnal side of the ocean. Amidst the lobsters, shrimp, sea urchin, and lionfish all out on hunt we encountered 2 BLACKTIP REEF SHARKS moving swiftly in search of dinner.
All in all a good day of diving for all the new and seasoned divers as they faced and aced some challenging conditions underwater and on the surface. As we sat for an informative talk about sharks we saw a Marlin jumping out of the water not too far away from the boat.
Day 3, more sharks and rays. We sailed to Koh Bon after a morning dive at Koh Tachai Pinnacle where our dive was briefly interrupted by a ‘wall’ of barracuda. Blue-spotted stingrays, schools of trumpet fish, cornet fish, and boxfish. We’re all trumped by a getaway Blacktip reef shark.
Koh Bon had very welcoming low visibility as the dive site was covered in glassfish getting hunted by yellowfin tuna and trevallys. Moving away from the shallow reef due to some crazy surge we spotted a LEOPARD SHARK and more Kuhl’s stingrays.
A definite shout out to the knowledgeable and experienced dive crew for having interactive talks about coral reef conservation and promoting being eco-friendly by using shower gels, shampoos and soaps which are chemically harmless to the coral, much appreciated by all.
And last but not least, my favorite non diving part of the trip(, life) .. the FOOD! The tastiest Thai curries I have ever eaten accompanied with continental and local delicacies just made the trip complete. The breakfast just says it all.
To sum it all, a short but extremely eventful dive trip with everyone returning to their land jobs completely content.
Looking forward to our next international trip, until then