An important reason for me to stay in Khao Lak for a few days was the possibility to visit the Similian Islands Marine National Park, around 60 km from the mainland. The Similian Islands NP is known to have some really good spots for scuba diving. I was advised to go scuba diving at the dive sites of Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock. These sites are actually between the Similian Islands and Surin Islands and are known to see not only the more common species of corals, fans and tropical fish, but larger animals such as manta rays, leopard sharks, nurse sharks and even whale sharks.
My first diving trip was to Koh Bon and Koh Tachai. On a big boat we left Khao Lak early morning to arrive at Koh Tachai a few hours later. There was a firm current during the dive and the big fishes didn’t show up. My air consumption was high and the dive lasted just over half an hour… Though it was a fair dive, I was hoping for better on the next two dives.
While the boat took us 25km south to Koh Bon we enjoyed lunch. Koh Bon is located about 20km north of Similan Island #9. We dived both the western and the eastern side of the ridge and got a better visibility then at Koh Tachai. Again no whale sharks or manta rays. However we saw many fishes, sea snakes, morays, shrimps and crabs. On the boat back to Khao Lak we enjoyed the beautiful sunset and drunk some beers to celebrate the day of scuba diving.
The purpose of my second day of scuba diving was to go to Richelieu Rock. Richelieu Rock was discovered as a recreational scuba dive site by diving pioneer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, with the help of local fishermen. Some have named this site as one of the world’s ten best sites and everybody on the boat was really looking forward dive this site. Richelieu Rock lies close to the Burmese banks, so the trip would take us a few hours by speedboat.
When we were approaching the dive site, the NP rangers called our captain to tell him we were not allowed to go diving on Richelieu Rock due to big waves. A big disappointment for the scuba divers aboard and the captain decided to go to Koh Tachai instead to make the two dives.
Compared to the dive on Koh Tachai two days before, the visibility was better today and the currents had changed directions. It made the two dives more like easy drift dives. I ended my two days of scuba diving without seeing whale sharks or manta rays. But I made some beautiful shots of the underwaterworld. The Similians Islands Marine National Park is one of the best places for beautiful scuba diving in the Kingdom of Thailand for sure!