SELECTED Thai Dive Sites Closed

January 22, 2011

You may have read already that Thailand was closing some dive sites, but there has been a fair amount of misleading reports on the nature of the closure. Some reports would lead you to believe that all dive sites in destinations like the Similans have been closed but this is incorrect. Only a few selected sites in each destination have been made off limits, for a total of 18 in all. In the Similans, for example, only East of Eden and Ao Fai Wab have been closed. Other closed sites include six sites in the Surin islands and Koh Maprao in Chumphon.

The sites are being closed due to coral bleaching, which of course has almost nothing to do with divers and everything to do with global warming, but with a coral loss estimated at around 90%, it was felt that something had to be done to reduce the stress on the coral. The sites will be closed for the remainder of this season, which in the Andaman runs to the end of April, when most dive operations cease anyway for the monsoon. The sites will be re-evaluated before the beginning of the next season in October.

For full details, the Bangkok Post has a good map of all the closed sites.

Filed under: News — Michael @ 9:58 pm
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Diving the Similans, Again

April 3, 2010

I’ve been somewhat remiss in posting anything about my live-aboard trip through the Similans over the new year. Well, better late than never.

The important work of updating the site’s guide to the Similans is already done, so this will just be an overview of the trip.

Similans

Pictures from around the Similans, taken

Anita's Reef
Anita's Reef
East of Eden
East of Eden
Barracuda
Barracuda
Sunset
Sunset
Bat Fish
Bat Fish
Richelieu Rock
Richelieu Rock
Moray
Moray
Boonsong Wreck
Boonsong Wreck

Highlight pictures from Similans live-aboard dive trip

This was a seven day, six night cruise aboard the MV Nautica. We departed from the pier in Taplamu up in Phang Nga, which is much better than making the long slog from Chalong on Phuket. We left in the late afternoon and were anchored in Honeymoon Bay in time for dinner.

We followed the typical route up through the Similans to Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and on to Richelieu Rock. I didn’t get to the rock on my first trip to the Similans. It was too early in the year and conditions were too rough. This time, at the peak of the high season, there was no problem getting there, and spending the day there. Of course, with such good conditions, nobody else had any trouble getting there either. There were at least five other dive boats there at the same time. However, the thing about Richelieu is that it’s a really big dive site. Even with five dive boats on the site, you won’t necessarily have to contend with a lot of other divers in the water at the same time on the same side of the rock.

While Richelieu Rock is definitely the star attraction of the Similans, I did have a few other favorites: Koh Bon pinnacle was definitely one of the best sites. You have to dive it at slack tide, as there’s no mooring line and it’s not that big of a site. I also like Elephant Rock. But, the real standout for me was the Boonsong Wreck. A lot of dive guides downplay it, and it’s true that, as wrecks go, it’s not that interesting. However, the wreck is home to amazing array of sea life, including an incredible number of harlequin morays and other distinctive critters. I’m definitely considering returning to Khao Lak again for a few days, just to dive the Boonsong a few more times.

Filed under: Dive Log — Michael @ 7:55 pm
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A Conversation with Wicked Divers

January 3, 2010

As I’m spending a couple of days in Khao Lak after diving the Similans, I thought I’d drop in and check out Wicked Diving. I’ve been hearing good things about this outfit, and I’ve been following Paul Landgraver on Twitter for a long time, so it was good to finally meet him and some of the staff personally. Paul and I had a rather long chat, along with the manager (Klaus) of the local Hyperbaric Services, who also happened to be in the shop when I wandered in.

Wicked is one of the oldest dive operators in Khao Lak. I noted that there seem to be a lot of dive shops here – too many I think – but many of the shops are merely booking agents for the various live-aboard boats. Wicked operates their own boat, with a full schedule of tours to the Similans. They can also offer day trips to some of the closer dive sites, such as the Boonsung wreck, which is within sight of the shore here.

My conversation with Paul convinces me that everything I’ve heard about Wicked is true: They’re a class act, that really looks after their customers, whether they’re just learning, or experienced divers looking for a good boat with good guides who will look after them. Definitely keep them in mind if you’re visiting the Phuket or Phang Nga area.

Filed under: Profiles — Michael @ 6:18 pm
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