Samui Wining & Dining
TO DIVE OR NOT TO DIVE?
What a silly question ...


Page-20

As a diver, what are the first things you look for when you go diving? Warm water? Pretty corals? Rock formations? Colourful fish? Large fish? Good viz? (Visibility for those non-divers out there). Thailand is known for having all of these things, and the dive sites around Samui are the perfect place to see them.

        If you’re a diver, the first thing you’re going to want to know after asking about the viz, is what you can see. If you’re used to diving in Europe, you might be used to lots of fish, but cold waters and dry suits. Or you might be a warm water diver, used to diving wrecks, colourful fish and great viz. Around Samui, you can be sure to find something to appeal to you and your level of experience - coral reefs around many of the islands are filled with an abundance of exotic marine life in all sorts of colours, shapes and sizes. Float around quietly and slowly, and give everything time to get used to your presence and you could see blue spotted stingrays hiding under rocky overhangs, nudibranchs perched on hard coral fingers, tiny little fish darting in and out of corals and you could even find Nemo (and his entire extended family!)

        Just 45 minutes (in a speedboat) north of Samui, in between the islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, is a pinnacle shaped rock which rises up out of the water making a really good wall dive. This is known as Sail Rock, and because it is a wall dive, which starts out above the water and sinks down to 40 metres, it means divers of all levels can enjoy the schooling trevally, giant morays, barracuda, batfish, groupers and much more. You might even spot a whale shark!

         The island of Koh Tao is around one and a half hours by speedboat north of Koh Samui. Here you can find many dive sites suitable for most levels such Mango Bay, Lighthouse, Hin Wong, Ao Tanote, Ao Leuk and Shark Island. White Rock, Green Rock and the Twins are dive sites around the island of Koh Nangyuan, north of Koh Tao. Travel further north still and you’ll find yourself at Chumphon Pinnacle - four interconnected pinnacles starting at 14 metres and dropping down to around 30 metres. This is a site best tackled by experienced divers.

          There have been sightings of the elusive whale shark at Chumphon Pinnacle, and even though other sharks (grey reef, leopard and black tip) are spotted at many other dive sites, they are generally only curious from a distance and tend to leave divers alone, so don’t panic. If you do see them, please remember they are wild animals and you are not the man from Atlantis. You need to give them space. Don’t attempt to touch them, ride them or fire off a massive flash gun in their faces. That’s likely to annoy them and I don’t know about you, I don’t want to be anywhere near an annoyed shark.

          If it’s wreck diving that inspires you, there are plenty of these around the island of Koh Tao. But be careful, most of the wrecks here are only suitable for technical divers or those with deep diving specialties, because of the depths involved. These are not dives for novices.

          Many boats that sail around Samui offer snorkelling as part of their trips, so you don’t even have to travel far to experience the magic that lies beneath the sea. The surrounding reefs offer much to see and sometimes all you’ve got to do is jump in, and you’ll be surrounded by hundreds of playful fusiliers.

           Many diving companies rent (and sometimes sell) the latest scuba diving equipment from well known, reputable brands such as Aqua Lung, Mares, Suunto and Scubapro. BCD’s, regulators, wetsuits, fins, masks and even dive computers are all available for hire, to let you concentrate on enjoying your dive rather than worrying about the quality of your equipment.

          You see? No blood and no dead animals. Just one very proud animal and one very embarrassed animal.

          If you’d like to capture your time underwater, some companies offer photography services and even hire out underwater cameras. Do bear in mind that this will require an extra level of concentration, so if you’re a complete beginner or haven’t dived for a while, this perhaps is a good time to ask someone else to take the photos!

          Put together the warm waters, lack of big fish threatening to eat you, pretty reefs, plentiful fish, and experienced dive guides and instructors who have chosen to make these islands their home, and you’ve got a perfect place to explore or learn about the breath-taking underwater world around Koh Samui.

          

 Colleen Setchell


 


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