It was dark by the time we piled into the zodiac and made our way out to the boat Paradise. It was clear and calm in the bay but after a quick orientation our 3 day dive experience was off to a smashing start. As the ship traveled through the night towards Koh Tachai, we were all woken several times, in Darren’s case with a scream. The noise of the engines, waves on the hull and rock hard beds made finding sleep quite difficult. Patrick, Cameron, Darren, Christina and I opted for single bunks arranged dormitory style located deep in the bow of the ship while Erin and Cecil chose a double cabin one floor up and these particular areas of the boat were subject to quite the change in height.
Around 6 the next morning we awoke to a cheery song from our dive master Gwen and all memory of a poor night’s sleep was forgotten, we were going diving! The first stop on the itinerary was Koh Tachai. Darren and Cameron completed their Open Water Certification in the first 2 dives of the day while the rest of us toured to ocean floor. By then it was time for us to move on to Koh Bon and enjoy a delicious lunch along the way. I could spend days describing the dives we did on this trip but I’d rather sum it all up in a dive edit as Patrick and I caught each dive on GoPro. What I will say is this: 30m visibility, 29 degree water and such a wide array of sea creatures made this the highlight of my trip thus far.
Each day was started with a pre-breakfast dive followed by a dive right before lunch and ended with an afternoon dive and our choice of evening or night dive. The life at Koh Tachai and Koh Bon was phenomenal however, in my opinion, the award for best site is a tie and goes to Koh Tachai Pinnacle and our last stop, Richelieau Rock. These places were out of control… The Pinnacle at Koh Tachai was teeming with shoals of large batfish, massive schools of barracuda and gardens of the largest fan coral I had ever seen. It also had quite the current moving through it which made navigation interesting and added to the overall fun. Richelieau rock on the other hand, might have been home to the most life on the entire dive trip. Yellow and blue fuseli moved in swarms larger than any I had ever seen, it was also home to several types of moray eel (honeycomb, giant and white-eyed), cuttlefish and the endemic tomato anemonefish. Sadly, this richness in life also attracted the attention of the local fishermen. I should note that the Surin and Similan National Marine Parks are protected areas in which no manner of fishing is allowed. That being said, when we arrived at Richelieau Rock we could see that some prick had set a line right through the middle of it… Luckily, all the hooks we could see were empty and one of our crew made short work of the line with a dive knife. Unfortunately, we did see a rather large needlefish lying dead on the ocean floor right beneath the string of hooks which, in all honesty, could have been coincidence but it sure didn’t look good.
All in all, our 3 day trip allowed us a grand total of 9 phenomenal adventures under the sea and set a high standard for future tropical dives. Not only were the dive sites fantastic, the food was amazing and the crew of Paradise led by a local named Nu did everything in their power to make our liveaboard experience unforgettable. This coupled with good friends and family made Koh Phayam the most worthwhile stop on the trip, and that’s sayin’ something.
Thank you so much for reading!