We had a wonderful crowd onboard for this trip 3: 6 days/ 5 night around Mergui archipelago a group of 5 snorkelers from Hawai joined us to enjoy the surface while we explore the underwater. Amongst the divers, we had 2 French couple (Anh Tu and Majdid, Cecile and Jean Luc), an American Diplomat living in Oman (my dear friend Tamra) and a Dutch couple (Germa and Kamiel) who joined us last year on a “Best of Thailand” safari and whom we were very happy to see back onboard so soon.
Once everyone got their equipment sorted out in the office, we took a songtail (local minivan full of colors) to the boat. Immigration came to clear all the paperwork and we were on our way toward Kawthong 30 minutes away to get our entry stamp into Burma and pay the fees associated with it…
It didn’t take long and out staff gave a little ceremony onboard for their Budda to keep bad spirits away and to attract many wonderful creatures… The firecracker was particularly appreciated by our 2 powder addicts, Jean Luc and Cecile, fireworks specialists all around the world.
On this first dive, I stumble into a ghost pipe fish in the first minutes, lucky eye! Everyone stares at it in wonder and regret the camera they left onboard for the first dive…
There is a wonderful yellow coral garden (green cup coral) there and I love looking at the tinny yellow sea snails feeding on them and replacing the toxic flowers by their eggs to keep predators away. Smart.
For the second dive, we go to Dragon island, also called dinosaur island because of its long reptile shape undulating above the water. The specificity of the site are 3 tunnel crossing the island below the water from one side to the other. The caves themselves are quite large and our groups of 4 could go side by side if they wanted to. Lots of crabs and shrimps of all kinds scurry around the walls and dark cracks. Reaching the other side is always a great experience as the light gets more intense, so does the density of life. Fishes are frantic above the coral garden and the colors are nearly overwhelming after the darkness of the cave.
Third dive is at Tower Rock current was very strong and we saw loads of scorpion fishes and a sea snake hunting over the reef.
The night dive was at a new spot we called Spanish garden because of the number of spanish dancers we saw there, one of them gave us the pleasure to dance in front of our eyes deploying its large skirt for us, wahouh! There was also profusion of crabs, and particularily spider crabs with its hairy legs and a lovely anemone garden in which we spotted some porcelain crabs.
The next day we started with a pinnacle, the current was strong again and one of the two groups missed the pinnacle by a few meters… we saw it and had a great dive. The whole pinnacle is. We understand very quickly what the fishermen were after, lots of fishes around. Schools of barracudas passing on top of us by the hundreds, thousands of fusiliers are coloring one of the slopes and a few bat fishes are passing above them.
But we only reach my favorite ever dive site at 11 this morning, for our second dive. Shark cave is well named. Our friends are back for a restful nap, a 3 meters long nurse shark is in the cave, in company of 2 huge blotched sting rays. There size is imposing and being in a cav e with them is for sure something to be remembered. If I didn’t know they were eating shrimps and shells, I would probably feel a lot less easy looking at them in the shadows. They let us pass in their home like if we were long known friends and I can only go with the heart pounding of excitement and awe. We stay there for 2 more dives, one outside the cave, around what we call eagle rock, because of the huge two eagle living on top of it there the life is at its most, fishes are everywhere our eyes are looking. Yellow, blue, grey. Lizardfish and groupers look at us passing on top of them from the sandy bottom and the hard coral, we find some soldier fishes behind the huge sea-fans and we start ignoring the scorpion fishes which are just way too many.
We go back to the cave for our night dive, the shark and rays are still there, whaouh, they are big, one of the two rays is bigger than me and comes towards the light a bit too much. I must say, my hearth skipped a bit. I was at the same time relieved to get our of the cave and wanting to go back.
Our boat travels to the next spot during the night, we reached North Twin, the furthest point of our itinerary from Ranong all the way north and far far away from the main land. The viz’ is fantastic 30, maybe 40 meters. Baracudas are hunting above and we see them several times during the dive. The dive site is a pinnacle at 12 meters surrounded by deeper water, the sandy bottom is at 35 with big boulders around. The perfect spot for fishes to hide when we pass by with our bubbles, but we still can find them.
We stop in front of a beautiful beach at South twin, some go explore the thin sanded beach, while other snorkel around. The diving is also excellent with big rocks on a slope covered by hard and soft coral.
The last day starts with volcano, an island with 10 meters high walls all around, we can enter it through a whole at the basis, opened during low tide and invisible at high tide. Inside, some reef shark circle, black and white tips. The snorkelers have a good look at them and even some nice videos, the divers are less lucky this time, sharks just hate the bubbles and get away as fast as they can. I only spot one, 1.20m long on its way out of the volcano when we arrive. Then its time for the small stuff, nudibranchs of weird shapes and colors and two seahorses pose for us. The last dive of the trip is at slope rock, a wall at 15 meters below the surface. Visibility is not at its greatest but we can see that fishes love the place, it is full of life. Juvenile and adults are there going all over the place. A small ball bounce on top of a coral table, I look closer and recognize a small box fish, I’ve never seen one that small, so round and cute. We end out dive surrounded by very dense schools of glass fishes and a gelly fish comes by to show its passengers, juvenile file fish on their way to another reef.
That’s it for this trip. We take the way back to kawthong where we stay for an hour and a fresh beer. We have to say goodbye to our new and old friends. Two days in Ranong and we are off again for more adventures, on Thai water this time.
Stay tuned for more fishy-stories J