Lanta dream and paradise

The sleepy island also of Koh Lanta is a good base for exploring some of Southern Thailand’s most spectacular dive sites


It was a situation of third time lucky.

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I’d been to Southern Thailand’s twin pinnacles of Hin Daeng and also Hin Daeng twice prior to, eager to watch the manta rays that constant the 2 dive sites. I’d heard plenty of stories from various divers around spectacular encounters through the legendary devil fish – “mantas in-yer-face” as one instructor enthusiastically put it. On both previous occasions, there’d been no sign of the manta rays. But this time, also as I sank only a couple of metres listed below the surface, my heart surged as I experienced the unmistakable pointer of a manta ray’s wing flip over the height of Hin Daeng’s pinnacle.

My buddy and also I raced in the direction of it, but we needn’t have worried: while my previous encounters via mantas had been a couple of precious seconds spent watching them soar through the water and then spin ameans into the blue, here at Hin Daeng they were seemingly unphased by the arrival of divers. Over the next hour I hovered at about 15 metres, watching not one, not two, but five different mantas swirl around, above and also listed below me, some veering by so cshed that they momentarily blocked out the light with their awesome, graceful bulk, their astronomical, smooth white underbellies bringing a various dazzle to my eyes. Frankly, I was having actually difficulty believing what I was seeing. Every moment I expected them to unexpectedly disappear, however they didn’t. I couldn’t stop grinning – this was a dive dream come true, the kind of dive you constantly hear around from other people that never before seems to happen to you.

Already well mindful of my good fortune as I did my safety and security stop, still watching the mantas circle Hin Daeng’s apex, I idly glanced dvery own and also nearly spat out my regulator. Tbelow beneath us the creature eexceptionally diver yearns to see, the biggest fish in the people – the whale shark. I grabbed my buddy, frantically signalling and pointing downwards, all decorum gone. We watched its distinctive blue and also white-spotted, blunt nosed mass relocate promptly roughly the pinnacle and then disshow up earlier right into the deep. The surge of euphoria I initially felt on seeing the mantas at the beginning of the dive had come earlier full tilt, leading me to clamber earlier onto the boat through a substantial smile and supplying condolences to those that had exited the water prior to the whale shark’s brief appearance.

I’d involved watch if Southern Thailand’s dive sites had escaped the tsunami unscathed, and also this dive was the most emphatic positive answer imaginable. On my previous pre-tsunami dives I’d had to content myself through the twin peaks’ more reliable inhabitants, consisting of clusters of basking leopard sharks, groupers and cuttlefish, all set amongst the dramatic backdrop of Hin Daeng’s sheer drops into the ocean’s depths. Strong curleas and also murky viz intend that this isn’t a site for novice divers without an competent guide: Both peaks have a varied arsenal of coral and also critturs clinging to them as a vantage allude in the middle of the sea. Even without the mantas, the 2 peaks offer a memorable dive place – through them, it renders for truly unforgettable diving.

Hin Daeng and also Hin Muang are just one of the top notch Southern Thailand dive sites that are scattered to the eastern of Phuket. There’s additionally the towering limestone rock of Koh Bida Nok and the circle of craggy islands known as Koh Haa. The sites are many quickly easily accessible by day trips from the Thai islands of Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi, or by liveaboard from Phuket.

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Koh Phi Phi, people renowned as the filming area of the movie The Beach, was badly damaged throughout the tsunami however has actually made a fast recovery in the following months through hotels and dive operators currently re-opening. The lhelp back island of Koh Lanta, by comparison, was nearly left untouched, and also throughout my visit tright here were many dive shops offering day trips to the 3 crucial sites.

Thanks to their family member remoteness, these sites have all continued to be in excellent condition, untouched by the tsunami or the influence of tourism. Undoubtedly, Koh Haa’s circle of five huge oceanic rocks looks like the key lair of a James Bond villain. The rocks develop a breathtaking lagoon that is safeguarded from the outside elements. Underwater, Koh Haa is as unabashedly pretty as it is on the surchallenge. Koh Haa One is a fascinating wall dive, with serried rows of coral resembling aquatic rice terraces. There’s a swimwith recognized as The Canyon, at the deepest component of which live a tigertail seaequine, bbest yellow and also happy to pose for photographs. There’s also a coral chimney which opens up out right into an quickly exited cave at 7 metres. What I found overwhelming about dives at Koh Haa was both the feeling of space – visibility was uniformly fantastic on each of my visits – and also the feeling of abundance. Tright here are so many type of fish about, and also with an excellent dive overview, there are numerous covert treats to be discovered, choose the Dmetropolitan hinge beak shrimp and ghost pipefish.

Koh Haa Yai is perhaps even more dramatic many thanks to The Cavern, an airpocket where you deserve to ascfinish and also be inside the rock itself amongst the stalactites and also stalactmites. The shaping of the rock by centuries of erosion provides it feel practically cathedral-choose as soon as inside, and also the play of light on the water as you ascfinish and also descfinish is quite unique – and deserve to additionally be a tiny disorientating, so treatment is compelled. The dive site appropriate is a large wall through a shenable reef at its peak, among which we uncovered 2 octopi mating and also a lone barracuda toying through a huge fishround simply off in the blue.

The lagoon itself also offers some great shpermit diving, with a pristine reef that harbours mantis shrimp that eye passing divers suspiciously and also, after most peering in crevices, the harlequin shrimp, universally well-known to dive guides as “the funky shrimp” as its impressive colours make it look favor it’s all set for a night at the regional disco. It’s the stuff of a macro photographer’s dreams.

Koh Bida Nok is also mainly a macro paradise: it’s a vast rock that creates a close to vertical craggy wall in the water, dvery own to approximately 30 metres, that stretches around right into a shpermit reef. Tbelow is a profusion of corals here, along with plenty of creatures making their dwellings in the wall’s crevices. Whale sharks have occasionally been spotted below as well, however it’s the tiny stuff that mainly gives the interemainder. Strong currental fees and also bad visibility on each of my visits suppose that, in reality, I can’t say this website was an individual favourite, however that was even more bad luck on my part than anything else.

Given the array of dive experiences on sell from these 3 sites, it’s worth taking time to discover each of them subsequently. They are dive areas that repay revisits, each one through its very own unique character that lingers long in the memory. Without a doubt the manta rays of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are a headline attraction, yet their appearance isn’t essential for excellent diving experiences amongst these underwater gems in Southern Thailand also.