50 Shades of Blue

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We’re addicts and we’re not afraid to say so, and we just came off a 4 day bender.

Anyone who dives knows how much like a drug it is. Its hooks you, mentally, physically, and emotionally but it’s possibly the healthiest addiction you can have; maybe not for your wallet, but definitely for your well-being. It’s exciting, and freeing and exhilarating; it’s relaxing, and soothing on the soul. It’s like a gambling and drug addiction all in one. When you’re not diving all you want to be doing is diving. You never know what you’re going to see, and that’s so exciting. Sure it’s disappointing if you don’t see much but that’s the gamble and that’s why we keep going because when you do see something really cool and amazing, there’s no feeling like it. It’s pure and natural, yet so unfamiliar.

We knew we wanted to dive the Similan Islands before coming to Thailand because it is rated some of the best diving in the world; and we were not disappointed. We’ve only been diving around two years now, on and off, and we have seen more new things on this trip then we have anywhere else. These are just a few of the things we were able to see:

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{ Pineapple Fish ~2 inches big and Cleaner Shrimp in the background }

Similan Islands, Shark Fin Reef - Ornate Ghost Pipefish

{ Ghost Pipe Fish ~4 inches – Photo credit: Khao Lak Scuba Adventures }

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{ Huge Schools of Barracuda }

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{ Jelly Fish – Photo credit: Liane Jenkins }

Koh Bon Pinnacle - Octopus

{ Octopus (First time seeing one) – Photo credit: Khao Lak Scuba Adventures }

Similan Islands, Deep Six - Sea Moth (1)

{ Sea Moth ~3 inches – Photo credit: Khao Lak Scuba Adventures }

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{ Checking out the Sea Moth }

Richelieu Rock - Harlequin Shrimp (1)

{ Harlequin Shrimp – Photo credit: Khao Lak Scuba Adventures }

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{ Lamellarid Sea Snail ~2-3 inches }

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{ Huge Moray Eel }

Koh Bon, West Ridge - Black Banded Sea Snake (2)

{ Banded Sea Snake – Photo credit: Khao Lak Scuba Adventures }

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 { Every time we saw something cool it was added to the board }

We also saw a couple of sharks, some turtles, sting rays, and countless of other sea life that was just as cool but these were just some of our favourites.

And last but not least:

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{ MANTA RAY! }

Imagine your 6 meters under the water, in the open ocean, nothing around you but fifty shades of blue. You can only see about 5-10 meters in front of you in every direction, and you’re just chilling, hanging out, doing your five meter safety stop, not expecting anything to appear. Then, out of nowhere, you see something, something big. Unsure of what it is, you’re frozen while your brain tries to register what your eyes are seeing. Your heart starts beating out of your chest, your eyes wide, and then you see it’s wings flap, slow and graceful, and your heart literally skips because you know what it is; it’s a Manta Ray. So many things start racing through your mind; “Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit!”, try to alert the others, turn on your GoPro, start waving your hands frantically at your group (because they’re not paying attention and haven’t seen it yet), all while not wanting to look away. It feels like the longest and the shortest moment of your life.

It was about 3 meters give or take and we watched it for a good 5-10 minutes, our dive was 57 minutes compared to our usual 40-45. We surfaced with cheers and huge smiles that didn’t fade for the rest of the day. Seeing the Manta Ray was the highlight of our trip. The dive gods must have been in our favour that morning because I wanted so badly to see a Manta and we were the only ones on the boat to see it, just in the right place at the right time. It was so surreal and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to see it.

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{ Dive site maps }

 

Each day we did four dives; one early in the morning (wake up call was 6am), one after breakfast/ just before lunch, one in the afternoon, and one sunset dive (the best time). On our first day we did a night dive and got to see the phosphorescence, it was so cool, like watching stars light up right in front of our eyes and people’s fins would leave trails behind them like the Milky Way.

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We even got a beach trip between dives on the morning of the second day. The Similan Islands have some beautiful beaches and we’re glad we got to stop and enjoy one for a couple of hours. It was probably one of the nicest beaches we’ve seen in Thailand so far.

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{ Donald Duck Bay }

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{ Photo credit: Khao Lak Scuba Adventures }

 


 

The dive sites we’re quite different from most other dives we’ve done. It was all really massive boulders, not the coral gardens we’re used to. This made for a lot of really cool swim-throughs and huge rock walls. The dives we’re just as much about the ambiance as it was about the sea life.

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The visibility wasn’t great over all four days but that didn’t affect the quality of our dives much. It must have just been the timing of our trip because we also dealt with a lot of strong current. They told us that was due to the fact that the full moon had just happened the day before we started the trip. The water was nice and warm as expected, staying between 28-33 degrees most of the time. There were cold surges, or the ‘green monster’ as the guides called it, every once in a while but for the most part we wore shorties or just our swimmers and a t-shirt.

 


 

All in all the trip was great. The Thai staff were so helpful in getting us into our gear quickly. You’d sit down to do up your BCD and just like that you’re strapped in with your fins on ready to jump in the water.

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The food was great, mostly Thai, which we loved, with some western dishes once in a while, as well as salad and fresh fruit with every meal. Breakfast was always some sort of eggs, with bacon, sausages, potatoes, toast, and fresh fruit. Tea and coffee were always available along with free drinking water and cold soda and beer (extra charge) and these unbelievably yummy cookies (most people who dive in Thailand will know what I’m talking about) that we all called crack cookies because of how addictive they are.

There were only 15 guests and the boat was smaller than we expected but it didn’t feel over crowded at all. We were on the Manta Queen 7 which has a sun deck (you’re able to sleep up there if you want, with nothing but the stars above you), a shaded open-air common area where dive briefings were held and meals were served, and an air-conditioned ‘saloon’. The rooms and dive deck are on the same lower level. The rooms are small but it really didn’t matter much as we were only in there when we were sleeping. The dive deck was cramped but divers were sent down in two groups which gave us plenty of room to get ready. Everything ran smoothly and was very comfortable.

The dive staff were amazing as well. They were fun, helpful and always good at getting us pumped up for the dives (even at 6am). There were no more than 4 divers per guide or instructor and they split the groups based on experience/skill level and whether people were doing courses or not.

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{ Our dive group and awesome guide/instructor, Kate (bottom right) }

We chose Khao Lak Scuba Adventures with the help of Andy from Scuba Diving Phuket, he gave us suggestions based on our budget and where we wanted to dive. It was an amazing trip and we’re really happy with the decision. It was an awesome first time on a live aboard (where I wasn’t working), we’ve been able to hone our skills underwater and Will is now Advanced Open Water certified. When all you do is dive for four days you can really grow as a diver and become more confident in the water. We will definitely be looking into more trips like this in the future.

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{ “Now do your favourite fish signs.” they said, so of course we did the one for a Manta Ray }

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