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.Similan-Islands-National-ParkFor 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.IMG_9369After 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. 🙂IMG_9373The Manta Queen 6 was close quarters, but with 16 divers and a full staff, I never felt too cramped. MQ_6_twin_bed_cabinI guess it helped that my window led up to the spacious sun deck. IMG_9391Anyway, 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.

IMG_9499On the other end of the spectrum was my kooky bunkmate, Sun, from China. He didn’t speak English, but was always smiling. 😀IMG_9384Then there was Nate, an American from D.C., who earned his Open Water Certification on this trip, as well as, a terrible sun burn. 😥IMG_9543And 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! 😛IMG_9387Now, 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.IMG_9566As 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.G0420215In 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. 😛
IMG_9401No longer will you struggle to get those last few chips. 😛HniA96t This invention literally lifts the chips from the bottom of the container. Once you pop, the fun won’t stop. 😉pringAnyway, 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. 😀IMG_9520Life 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.12973356_10105202495284627_5332539432109716877_oNow, on the dive boat we followed a strict itinerary.IMG_9392After 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.IMG_9558Our breakfast was typical American style- meat and eggs. DSC_1871IMG_9478Our lunches and dinners always included lots of veggies, meat, tofu, and usually a coconut curry of sorts.IMG_9386IMG_9479IMG_9497As well, since we made our first dive before breakfast, they always had fresh fruit, bread and coffee available as a pre-dive energy boost.bananNow 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.

pineapplefish
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.PicsArt_04-15-08.48.19They then proceeded to circle our group- notorious for being very curious animals. 12983370_10105201412803927_5209029034956422195_oManta 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. 12976885_10105201443237937_4587236588902495942_oNow, Manta rays are identified by the unique markings on their abdomen- almost like a finger print.12973197_10105201412584367_7807960297152607778_oAs such, I submitted my photos to Manta Matchers, which tracks the location of each manta, with the aim of helping conservation efforts. 🙂

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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. 🙂IMG_9395


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. 😛GGI 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. 😀IMG_9579Now 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. 😀
Way-to-Everest-by-rick-McCharles-Flickr-Creative-CommonsI’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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2 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

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