Dive Eat Sleep Repeat. That’s the accurate logo of Khao Lak SCUBA Adventures, the company with whom I booked a 4 night, 4 day liveaboard of diving in the Similan Islands off the coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. With 15 dives including one night dive and two sunset dives, the day really did go from sleeping to diving to eating and doing it all again. Exhausting but well worth it. The water is warm at 28-29C/82-84F but that didn’t stop one Russian customer from diving in his own dry suit. Nothing like seeing a manta ray and a diver in a dry suit on the same dive!

My first dive with cuttlefish!
My first dive with cuttlefish at Richelieu Rock in Surin National Park.
What do you suppose that cuttlefish is doing in the anemone?
What do you suppose that cuttlefish is doing in the anemone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only time I left that boat in the background during the 4 days was for this surface interval.
The only time I left that boat in the background during the 4 days was for this surface interval.

Jen was off doing yoga and meditating which means I didn’t have my favorite underwater photographer with me. She helped edit a few of these shots so hopefully you’ll get some idea of what I saw. And one of the other divers on board with whom I dove all 15 times was kind enough to share a few of her photos. Thanks, Bo!

yellow-coral
Soft yellow coral at Hin Luang, Koh Bon in the Similan Islands
Hawksbill turtles over dead coral at Three Trees, Similan Island #9
Hawksbill turtles over dead coral at Three Trees, Similan Island #9 (past dynamite fishing here killed the coral)

 

 

 

Richelieu Rock, north of the Similans near the border with Myanmar, quickly catapulted to my short list of favorite dive sites anywhere. A big rock far from land, it’s covered in healthy coral and teeming with active marine life. We did three dives there and I would go back any day, especially in whale shark season. We were fortunate enough to watch an octopus come slowly out from the wall and take off into the blue, truly a beautiful site to behold.

 

Octopus at Richelieu Rock. -Photo courtesy of Bo.
Octopus at Richelieu Rock. -Photo courtesy of Bo.
octopus
The octopus came out to play. -Photo courtesy of Bo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The current was strong nearly every dive and at Hin Luang, I was in the only group of divers from our boat who managed to reach the site and complete a full dive. The current was so strong that I witnessed one diver pulling himself over a rock holding on to anything he could grab. I shudder to think about how much coral died that day. Although the yellow coral for which the site is named was nice to see and I came face to face with a stonefish until the current yanked me away, I wasn’t a fan of this sort of athletic diving. Give me the pleasant drift diving of Rangiroa’s Tiputa Pass, please.

No one knows what this purple Maldivian Sponge Snail is doing at Koh Bon's West Ridge in the Similan Islands.
No one knows what this purple Maldivian Sponge Snail is doing at Koh Bon’s West Ridge in the Similan Islands.
Female ribbon eel at Elephant Head Rock, Similan Island #8. - Photo courtesy of Bo.
Female ribbon eel at Elephant Head Rock, Similan Island #8. – Photo courtesy of Bo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liveaboard diving is a commitment to diving: there’s not much else to do. Except overnight, our surface intervals were typically two and a half hours which is just enough time to eat, nap, read or chat with other divers, and sit for a briefing on the next dive. Dive, eat, sleep, repeat. This was the longest liveaboard I’ve done and I was happy each morning to be in the water within an hour of waking, descending into the blue. One fewer dive would have been ok and I can’t imagine how tiring it must have been for those diving on air instead of enriched air. I’m hoping to have a fair amount of diving ahead of me here in SE Asia and this experience was a good reminder that I really do love it. Now if only I were willing to stop traveling and look for work to support the habit…

Two white eyed morays at Richelieu Rock
Two little white eyed morays at Richelieu Rock
Nudis were everywhere
Nudis were everywhere

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