I’ve just had the joy of being on a 4 night liveaboard to the Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock in the Northern Andaman Sea, North West of Phuket on the west coast of Thailand. There were around 20 of us on the Dive Asia boat, ready to make the most of it. Some dives were hampered with the visibility not being so great, but it had to be the most varied diving I’ve done in such a short period of time so far. We did 14 dives in 4 days, bringing my total to just short of 50.
The dives were varied from nicer long relaxed dives with no current, to strong currents where you had to go from behind one rock to another staying low, and swimthroughs. We saw a load of stuff from leopard sharks to whale sharks, manta rays to harlequin shrimps, and everything in between including many barracuda, tuna and large schools of all the ‘typical’ reef fish.
In fact we never saw the whale sharks when diving, one of the times we watched the large 3 metre plus mantas weren’t when we were diving…it was SNORKELLING! Unfortunately I had to kick myself hard as I gave up snorkelling towards the shark when it disappeared for a bit, only to curse when others still saw it. I didn’t, or the leopard shark, and it had to be one of the highlights of the trip.
Our dives took in East of Eden and Elephant Head Rock in island 7, Rocky Point, Breakfast Bend and a night dive at Mooring Bay on island 9, then we moved to Koh Bon, Koh Tachai Pinnacle, Richelieu Rock, then back via the pinnacle, Koh Bon, with our last two dives at Anita’s Reef on island 5 and Shark Fin Reef. For a short moment it looked like we may not make it to Richelieu (although we never realised that) but our lovely captain fired up the engines around 3am and took advantage of a weather window.
The food was fantastic, the crowd were great (and from Korea, Japan, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, USA and of course Scotland), and the crew were a sociable bunch despite some obvious language barriers. There were many digital cameras kicking around the boat which only made me frustrated not having been able to obtain a housing prior to the trip, and having an unusable strobe flash in my bag! Luckily there were a lot of fantastic photos taken and shared around.
I spent the last night on the roof of the boat, falling asleep to the lapping of the waves and the wind before getting in our earliest dive, being in the water at 0645, then 0915 before a long cruise back to Phuket.
It was an expensive few days (22500 plus gear rental and park fees), but not too bad when you consider it was 14 dives, accommodation and excellent food for fours days. So glad I did this – it will definitely be one of the year’s highlights, but it only makes me want to dive when I reach the Philippines!