Friday, May 8, 2015
Similan, Surin and Richelieu Rock Season 2014 / 2015
As the Live a Board season comes to a close for the 2014 / 2015 season we can have a look back at some of the great moments. The Live aboard season here in in Phuket starts mid October and runs until the second week in May.
The Similan islands lie to the north west of Phuket and run in a north south direction. In total there are nine islands with island 1 in the south and nine in the north. The diving here is know as some of the best in the world as the viz here is second to none. its like diving in mineral water. Even down at 30 or 40 meters you can still see off into the distance. The dive sites are easy diving as even if there is current you will just drift along and surface at the other end of the bay. There is Turtle sanctuary here so many islands have Hawks bill Turtles in abundance. The reef itself is very colorful with a huge variety of fish and other creatures. As well as the turtles there are Black and White tip reef sharks, Ribbon Eels, Napoleon Wrasse, Clown Trigger Fish, Sea Moths, Sea horses, ornate ghost pipe fish and large amounts of Nudi branches. The list is endless.
Just to the north lies the great manta Ray watching island of Koh Bon. This Island can be reached as a day trip. It is however quite a long day for two dives but it can be two excellent dives as long as the Manta's are in a playful mood.
Just North again lies Koh Tachai, what many instructors and dive guides think is one of the best dive sites on the planet. This offers two great dive sites. Tachai pinnacle and Tachai reef. The pinnacle site has 2 pinnacles, north and south. The north pinnacle rises to around 18 meters and the southern to around 12 meters in depth. There is a 50 meter swim between them. The site itself is stunning as it has so much color. There are large "gardens" of coral laid out between huge slab like walls one after the other. The only thing to be aware of is the current which is normally quite strong. This is where the experience of the guide will show to dive the site by staying low and in the gardens rather than over the top. here we can see the Manta Rays circling the Pinnacles along with great schools of Barracuda and for the last two years the Whale shark has moved in.
Moving on north we arrive at the Surin islands and the most famous dive site Richelieu Rock. This is listed as one on the top 10 sites of the world. (Even thought many instructors and dive masters rate Tachai over Richelieu rock). One story as to how the site got names was when Jacques Cousteau first went there he said it reminded him of cardinal Richelieu's cape as there is so much purple soft coral. Here again manta rays, Whale sharks, white tips, sea horses and just about very thing else you can want on a tropical dive. You can easily do 4 or 5 dives here and not get bored. here are really several pinnacles here so close they touch and are arranged in a horse shoe shape. The tops vary in depth down to 12 meters with a couple of rocks at both ends of the horseshoe at a depth of 26 meters. The site is so vast it can not be done in one dive and two or three is best to cover the inside and outside of the horseshoe.
To cover the whole area of the Similan and Surin national parks you really need a 5 day 4 night trip. This will mean you leave the boat at the same place as you arrived. Thailand Divers offer something a bit different to most as the boats (2 of them) are doing continual circles for the whole season. Everyday you can join the boat and everyday you can depart. This way you can depart any day you please and return any day you please. You dont need to plan your holiday to fit the live aboard you plan the live aboard to fit your holiday. You can stay for one night or 6 weeks its totally up to you. If you book one night and want to stay another day fine Just pay the tour leader for another night as long as the cabin is free. There are also several fixed date cruises on luxury boats which will be a new offer for the coming season.
If the next year is anything this year and last year we are in for a great 2015-16 season. Just hope the pod of Orcas which made a guest appearance very early this year will return again. Along with the several other types of whale spotted this year. The Similan islands open up again on the 15th October so if you dont want to miss out get in quick as the first few trips are normally awesome as there has been no one there for six months.