My love for scuba diving began unexpected when I was on a certification trip with my friends in Sathaheep, north of the popular beach, Pattaya in central Thailand. I was merely there to take photographs for them. However, after I witnessed their smiles and conversations during the trip, I got myself taking up my Open Water Diver course once I got back to Bangkok. It was one of the best decisions in my life.
Being one of the most beautiful diving destinations, the Andaman Sea attracts thousands of divers each year. While divers usually divided their Andaman trips into 2 parts, covering either the North or South Andaman, I will compile them so you can see the overall beauty off the west coast of Thailand.
My first Andaman diving trip began from Phuket, where we would get on the liveaboard and headed north. After spending the night on the boat, we woke up at East of Eden, where my instructor used as the site to get us ready for the more challenging and beautiful dive spots over the next few days. (East of Eden is now off-limit to divers as the authority hopes to rejuvenate the site at the time of writing.)
In addition to East of Eden, there are many beautiful and not-to-be-missed dive sites in North Andaman such as Tachai Island, Bon Island, Richelieu Rock and other islands in the Similan National Marine Park. Another attraction will be a hike up to Sail Rock to witness beautiful sunset.
I first witnessed the gentle giant of the ocean, the Manta Ray, at Bon Island. Moreover, I visited the site after the Asian Tsunami and found that the water was so pristine that I could look down and see the bottom of the ocean floor estimated around 60m. It seemed like mother nature took care of itself.
It is highly recommended that you visit Richelieu Rock, which are the pinnacles of rocks in the middle of the ocean, where you can expect to see many different creatures in the area, if you look well enough. I found the Harlequin Shrimp, Ghost Pipefish, Seahorse, nudibranch among others, while there have been usual sightings of both Manta Ray and Whalesharks.
One of my other personal favorite in the Similan Islands is the Elephant Head. Obviously, looking from the boat, one could see that the rocks rising above the water in the middle of the ocean look very similar to an elephant head, with a couple of humps. No, that is not the reason that I like about the site. In fact, it was during this site that we were left catching our breathe as we spotted 2 Manta Rays playing on a raining afternoon. In addition, our subsequent visit, after the tsunami, we found a school of Silvertip sharks nearby. Lastly, while we were on our safety stop before surfacing, we were so close to one giant barracuda!
While we can expect to see beautiful reefs, small and big creatures in North Andaman, we would probably spot bigger creatures, and beautiful islands in the South.
In fact, during our trip to South Andaman, we dived at sites near beautiful islands such as Phi Phi and Maya Bay, the latter has been made world famous by the movie, The Beach.
Another highlight of the South Andaman trip will also include wreck diving at the King Fisher wreck site. Depending on the timing, you may find abundance of marine life in the clear water. Beautiful.
While there are many beautiful and amazing dive sites around the world, diving in the Andaman off the west coast of Thailand had becoming more popular with divers simply because of the easy access, warm water, rich marine life and variety of dive sites.
So if you are planning your next diving trip, you would not be disappointed if that trip is in the Andaman Sea.