Liveaboard Diving: The Similan and Surin Islands

I just returned from my first liveaboard scuba diving trip in the Similan and Surin National Marine Park. 😀

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Diving with my buddy, Michael, a doctor from Bamberg, Germany

During the four-day trip, we made a total of 15 dives at some of the top diving sites in the world: Koh Similan, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, Richelieu Rock, and Boonsung Wreck.26516558476_3992db6a7b_zFor the liveaboard, I chose the company Khao Lak Scuba Adventures, and the diving vessel Manta Queen 6.
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http://www.khaolakscubaadventures.com/

When I first arrived in Khao Lak, I checked in and got suited with my gear.  The company provided a mask, fins, wet suit, life vest, and regulator for breathing.26454073545_77d23b1eca_cAfter check-in, we made our way to dock to board our home for the next four nights. No sandals allowed on the boat- only bare feet on this barge. 🙂26515750496_411f6595d3_bThe Manta Queen 6 was close quarters, but with 16 divers and a full staff, I never felt too cramped. 25914385753_01219ae6c1_zI guess it helped that my window led up to the spacious sun deck.26181210080_14786e70d8_cAnyway, the 16 divers on board this vessel came from all parts of the globe. For starters there was the German couple- Anke being a two-time Olympic swimmer, in the ’96 and ’00 games, and her husband, Stefan, the spokesman for Speedo.

25849625314_62b32a9076_cOn the other end of the spectrum was my kooky bunkmate, Sun, from China. He didn’t speak English, but was always smiling. 😀26181210120_694bfc1eae_cThen there was Nate, an American from D.C., who earned his Open Water Certification on this trip, as well as, a terrible sun burn. 😥26222373750_e68c73d1d9_cAnd here’s Shana, a blatant German currently working for a healthcare NGO in Cambodia. Her tagline in this photo, “Thanks for capturing me as a hospital patient in your photo,” apparently feeling less than glamorous on vaca. Hah! 😛26181210170_05396b62ec_cNow, along with the divers, our lead instructor for the trip was Ramon, an ex-CFO from Barcelona, who quit his high-stress job to live out a carefree life pursuing his passion for diving.26222373760_b214494edc_cAs well, my personal dive instructor was Lina, an incredible 21-year-old Swedish girl, who had already lived and worked in Egypt’s Red Sea and the Mediterranean of Greece. Quite an ambitious girl, taking on a load of responsibility at such a young age.<25849268134_c8c7e8d9ea_cIn Lina’s diving group was also Henrik and John- two comical Swedes from Dubai. Here they are having an important conversation about Pringles tabs- Asia’s genius solution for misshapen chip containers. 😛
26181179440_8133069e8a_cNo longer will you struggle to get those last few chips.This invention literally lifts the chips from the bottom of the container. Once you pop, the fun won’t stop. 😉25914385763_779b334b5c_oAnyway, for me, a trip is not just about where you go, but who you’re with, and I was so lucky to be with such a fun group a travelers. 😀26429880421_7b00b83991_cLife on the boat was surely a dream-being able to disconnect from the world for a week, surrounded by nothing but the open sea and the beauty of the world around us.26363119722_dd525ac0f9_bNow, on the dive boat we followed a strict itinerary.26181210060_d43e679de2_cAfter our 6 AM wake up call each morning, our day was pretty straightforward:

Dive. Eat. Dive. Eat. Dive. Eat. Dive. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. 😀

As for the eating, our cook was fantastic! I simply don’t know how she managed such delicious meals in such cramped quarters.26402933502_aa9ba2be7f_cOur breakfast was typical American style- meat and eggs. 26454407325_f2c0a0d3f6_c26362190742_f105ea3906_cOur lunches and dinners always included lots of veggies, meat, tofu, and usually a coconut curry of sorts.26515750516_9ff4aa4d2a_b26362190732_1c44f6e638_c25849625334_78dbf91ca4_cAs well, since we made our first dive before breakfast, they always had fresh fruit, bread and coffee available as a pre-dive energy boost.26516558436_7cb7ec6557_zNow as for the diving, I have no words to describe how incredible it is to see so much marine life- an ocean teeming with  tropical fish and reefs filled with vibrant coral- always in suspense of what lies ahead. Robert Wyland, acclaimed marine artist, sums up my feelings pretty well. 🙂

The world’s finest wilderness lies beneath the waves. – Wyland

Here are highlights of my underwater journey in the Similan and Surin Islands . Please enjoy. 🙂

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Moorish Idol
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Clownfish
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School of snappers
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School of fusiliers
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Porcupine fish at Boonsung Wreck
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Lionfish
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Moray eel
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Black blotched porcupine fish
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Parrotfish
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Bluespotted stingray
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Coral grouper
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Power blue tang and a poisonous banded sea snake
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Titan triggerfish
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Barracuda
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Cuttlefish
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Lizardfish
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Trumpetfish
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Sea moth (white body)
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Batfish

We also spotted a rare pineapple fish, but my picture didn’t turn out well.

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courtesy of Google images

The trip highlight undoubtedly came on our last day at Koh Bon, when two gorgeous manta rays swooped down over my head.25912836454_250bea1453_cThey then proceeded to circle our group- notorious for being very curious animals. 26363119692_d4799e0d81_bManta rays are related to stingrays and sharks, but are harmless to humans, since they have no stinger, and feed on plankton. As well, they usually travel with smaller fish, that feed off them, to remove parasites from their skin. 26363119712_6b7798dbe6_bNow, Manta rays are identified by the unique markings on their abdomen- almost like a finger print.26363119702_39189f8325_cAs such, I submitted my photos to Manta Matchers, which tracks the location of each manta, with the aim of helping conservation efforts. 🙂25890288064_7ccbe9626b_c

http://www.mantamatcher.org/

Overall, this liveaboard was one of the most unforgettable diving experiences I’ve had so far. We were able to detach from the world for an entire week, sail the sea, and connect with the underwater world in a way that’s hard to put down in words.

This trip was well worth the money, and you can bet I’ll be venturing out on another liveaboard in the future. 🙂26181210000_32771ca1d5_c


Here’s a compilation of video footage shot during my four-day trip in the Similan and Surin Islands. Highlights include reef sharks, octopus, eels, manta rays, and millions of tropical fish. You’ll notice a range in the quality and clarity of the footage, depending on the visibility and depth of each dive, ranging from 18-30 meters.

On my last day of vacation, I hung around in Phuket town. After scuba diving, you are required to wait 24 hours before flying, so I spent the day there wandering around to recover from my sea legs. 😛26429880351_c4d5185fca_cI didn’t see much of Phuket town, but thought some bits had a pretty funky vibe, and I even spotted some cool street art during my unsteady stroll. 😀26429880391_a202eec84d_cNow upon returning to Bangkok, I have been making massive preparations for my next trip. This Saturday I will fly to Nepal and begin a three-week trek to Everest Base Camp. 😀
I’m unsure about the reliability of internet during that time, but I’ll be sure to have some incredible stories when I finish the trek. Wish me luck! Take care and until then. 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Liveaboard Diving: The Similan and Surin Islands

  1. Wow. Those pictures are AMAZING!! My favorite was the one labeled “Moorish Idol”. So beautiful 🙂 Looks like you are having an amazing time!! Safe travels 🙂

    Like

  2. Great pics and video ! I did my open Water course at Koh Phi Phi many years ago, but stick to snorkelling now. Have done many liveaboard trips to the Similans …must be about time for another one.
    now to read your Nepal adventures, something else I did many years ago too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I think Koh Phi Phi might have changed drastically since you’ve been. I always hope that the country will put preservation of nature above tourism, but that’s not always the case. Happy this might have inspired you to go diving again! 😁 Safe travels!

      Like

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