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Rub your nipples!!!
This famous practice to invoke the Whale Sharks and Mantas come from generations and generations of divers, nobody knows exactly where started (was Jacques Costeau the first one?, did he rub his nipples before he jumped for first time at Richelieu Rock?), and nobody knows where is the magic, is the way to do it, is the timing?, we just know this trip we master it, such a trip!!!, again Whale Sharks, Mantas, Stingrays, Sharks……
Actually most of the time in our three dives at Richelieu Rock we were just enjoying the couple of Whale Sharks going non stop around the pinnacle, making really hard to pay attention to other things in the rock, but in small gaps we manage to point few seahorses, Ornate Ghostpipefishes, Harlequin Shrimps…etc, when you got such amazing animals around you is really hard to disconnect to look for the small fellas….
Even our snorcheller on board enjoyed the Whale Sharks, and the Mantas we spotted in Koh Bon and…wait for it….in West of Eden, because we had three encounters with them, one in our second dive of the second day, another one the first one of the last day and the one in West of Eden our first day, such a surprise for the lucky teams. Kapppoomm, check and check!!!!!!
What about the Rays and Sharks?, not counting the typical Kuhl´s Stingrays we saw a huge Marble Ray at Hin Luang, and two different White Tip Reef Sharks at Elephant Head Rock.
The macro lovers had their part too, with plenty of Ornate Ghostpipefish everywhere, seamoths (West of Eden, Elephant Head Rock, Richelieu Rock and Boonsung Wreck), pipefishes, Ribbon Eels (West of Eden & Richelieu Rock), Frogfishes (with another new Clown Frogfish at Turtle Rock), Crocodile Flatheads, etc etc.......
Just a negative remark to do is the behavior of another boat with our same schedule, who were busted twice behaving in the worst way possible, firstable in Koh Bon RIDING A MANTA!!!!, and in Richelieu Rock harassing and even touching the Whale Shark, shame on you instructors from that boat, who allowed this behavior and because one of you was the one doing the riding.
In this last days we had several costumers doing different kinds of trainings on board, and of course everybody archive with a great success all the requirements for the different courses, like Leon and Li Wang, congratulations for your Nitrox Certification, Marie for your Open Water diver one and to all the new Advanced Open Water divers, Marie, Alexandre, Lars, Erik and Bruno.
Manta Queen 2 is back again, and what a trip it was! We started as always at Koh Bon, diving on the West Ridge. Schooling Fusiliers, Tuna, Trevally and Emperor fish were dancing overhead, and Napoleon Wrasse, Giant Moray Eels and Blue Ring Angelfish were patrolling the reef below. We Saw Spearing Mantis Shrimp out on the sand flats, and Octopus in the nooks and crannies. One group even found a Hookjaw Moray Eel near the end of the ridge at about 27 meters. Oh yeah, how could I forget, we had a short visit from a large Manta Ray as well!!! :-)
Next up were a few dives at Koh Tachai. Tachai is known to have some strong currents, but on this trip it was mostly calm there. The sunset dive was nice, with huge schools of Trevally and Rainbow Runners in the blue, just off the reef. There was a flurry of activity, as they were all beginning to hunt in the fading light.
The next morning brought one more dive at Tachai. The participants of this dive were rewarded with schooling Fusiliers, Clown Triggerfish, Batfish, Blue Spotted Stingrays and a few Giant Moray Eels. Those who made it over to the second pinnacle saw some of the most beautiful soft corals of the entire trip. Well worth the effort.
And now for Richelieu Rock. Sometimes when you go diving, most sites are pretty much the same. Similar in character, and similar conditions. Other times, certain dive sites really stand out, either because of the place, or the conditions encountered there. On this North Andaman Sea trip that we run here at Khao Lak Scuba Adventures, all of the dive sites are fairly diverse. Sometimes the conditions are as well. Although the diving was nice at all the sites this time, the stand-out had to be Richelieu Rock. With clear blue water and very little current, it was by far the best diving on this trip. Three dives there, all with picture-perfect conditions. So much life, including juvenile Angelfish, Orange Spotted Pipefish, and even this oh-so-cute juvenile Tigertail Seahorse. So cool!!!
Also we found Ornate Ghost Pipefish, and all kinds of smaller shrimps and crabs. Even a few of the really small things, like these cool little Tiger Egg Cowries:
The sunset dive at Richelieu Rock was really special this time, with loads of schooling fish circling overhead and below. Baraccuda, Tuna, Trevally and Fusiliers were all gathering by the hundreds. Awesome! Richelieu Rock is so rich in marine life, with many species found here that we usually don't see at the other sites. One example are these small Pipefish that we call Sunset Pipefish. We almost always see them only on the sunset dive at Richelieu, and rarely during the day. They are cute little yellow guys, sort of like Snub-Nose Pipefish, but a little different. See what you think:
The final day brought dives at Koh Bon Pinnacle and the Boonsung wreck. The Pinnacle was in fine condition, with beautiful blue water and almost no current. It's really a pleasure to dive that site in those types of conditions, and after a beautiful sunrise we jumped right in...
We did manage to find our favorite Stonefish named Stewie. He looks quite a bit different than he did earlier in the season, having grown a thick coat of brown algae over most of his body over the past several weeks, but then shedding all of it over the past few days! Take a look at him here, a shot from this morning, looking all nice and clean:
There was a large Marble Stingray on the Pinnacle as well. Very beautiful to see. This one was not shy, and hung around us for a few minutes...
We had some great people onboard this time, from all over the globe. A few of them did courses as well, with Yaming, Andrey and Rodrigo all completing their PADI Enriched Air Diver course onboard. Way to go guys, great job! Welcome to the Nitrox family. :-) We also had one young lady, Leslie, who completed her PADI Open Water diver course, and then went on to do her Deep Adventure dive as well. Sweet!
The final dive was on the Boonsung Wreck, an old tin mining dredger that sunk in the 1980's. Absolutely teaming with life, the Boonsung wreck is always a fantastic way to finish the trip. Large schools of Barracuda, Trevally and Fusiliers cover the wreck. Smaller stuff like Nudis and Spearing Mantis Shrimp can be found as well. Ornate Ghost Pipefish are usually around, and there are always tons of Honeycomb Moray Eels seemingly hanging out of every possible hole. It really is a great dive, every time.
It's always sad to come to the end of the trip, but the memories from the diving and the friendships made will live on. So the bad news is that another memorable trip has come to an end. The good news? We are going out again tomorrow! Come and join us aboard Manta Queen 2 to experience your own unique three day diving adventure! Till next time... Happy bubbles!!!
Here we are back from the trip number 28, all our costumers departed already to their accommodations at Phuket or Khao Lak and will celebrate this last 4 days in different ways. Some will sleep like babies in their hotel rooms, some will chat with their friends and relatives about everything what happens this days and some will do it with few beers and good company, or everything together.
In our case we will look behind and tell you about the trip before we celebrate it in our way.
Starting with today, the last day of this trip, we did like usual Boonsung Wreck, where we enjoyed once again this amazing Fish Soup, with Ornate Ghostpipefishes, Pipefishes, Razorfishes, Flounders, Soles, Spearing Mantis Shrimps, Crocodile Flatheads, Seamoths…., etc.
But before this one we jumped at Koh Bon, some groups in the Ridge and some in the Pinnacle (Aka Hin Luang), where we had one of the surprises of the Season, 3 Massive Marble Rays (2 males and 1 females) in what looks totally like a mating dance. We stayed 15 minutes in the deep rocks next to this guys (few times their tails were passing few centimeters above our heads) watching their dance and being unnotice, sure they had another things in mind.
The day before was Richelieu Rock day, with a first one at The dome with the stronger current of this season so far, like a river!!!!, luckily the lines made our life easier to go down and find shelter among the granite boulders. Crazy actions and 2 White Tip Reef Sharks hunting in the madness created in the expose side of the rock.
Richelieu Rock gave us the expected for all, Seahorses, Ghotpipefishes, Harlequin Shrimps, Pipefishes, a new baby Seamoth, Bumblebee Shrimp, Ribbon Eel, Cuttlefishes, Octopuses, Devil Scorpionfishes and the action around the rock in Sunset time. Sure bet, never fails!!!!!
The day before, our second day, we focussed around Koh Bon and Koh Tachai, were few groups spotted Manta Ray, Barracudas, Ribbon Eels, Ghostpipefishes (is seriously crazy the amount of new ghostpipefishes every single trip, outstanding) , White Tip Reef Shark, Trevallies, Sea Snakes, good currents and a lot of action.
Now we arrive to the very first day, where after the general dive briefing we dove in Anita´s Reef, West of Eden, Elephant Head Rock and Turtle Rock, with several Frogfishes, Seamoths, Leopard Shark, White Tip Reef Shark, Ghotpipefishes, Ribbon Eel, Winged Pipefish, Green and Hawksbill Turtle…..Perfect way to start the day.
Congratulations to Colin, Gu Juan and Lan Lan for becoming Advanced Open Water divers on Board with us, you did it great!!!!
TRIP 132 MANTA QUEEN II
Life out in the Similans couldn't get much better at the moment. If you are 'in the loop' about the goings on over here then you would know that the last couple weeks have been just incredible. Now the concern is that nothing lasts forever.
The trip out was flat and we woke the next morning to clear skies and flat seas. Well things got started early as we saw our first manta ray of the trip on only our third dive of the trip. Was this an sign of things to come?! We also found a couple robust ghost pipefish and a hawksbill turtle cruising around.
The second day is when we normally see thing big things in the water. Some white-tips at Christmas point, plus what can only be described as the biggest barracuda ever got things started off. Captain shouts us to the front of the boat halfway between the Similan Islands and Koh Bon with a big group of dolphins chasing eachother and jumping out the water, and doing most cute things we generally associate with dolphins. Unfortunately we couldnt hang out with them all day and so waved then goodbye as they headed west and we went north.
Arriving at Koh Bon we asked the other boats around if anyone had seen any big stuff and the answer from all of them was 'no' so we jumped in not expecting much. Swam down the ridge and saw some nice pipefish and nudibranch, and most people looped around the bay and headed back to the ridge for the safety stop, and from the north comes this huge 4-5m manta that does a couple laps around us before taking off. Truly breath taking and congrats to all the people that 'popped' their manta cherry on this trip.
No more of the 'big stuff' (i don't think its right to compain after what we already saw anyway), and so the rest of the trip was macro heaven: tigertail seahorse, juvenile harlequin shrimp, stonefish, delicate ghost pipefish, nudi's galore and a coulple of frogfish thrown in the mix and of course by the end even 14 dives isn't enough for most people.
If you readers out there have never experienced the Similans its not too late. Drop us a line and get on board for some great diving and four days that does exactly what it says on the boat: eat, sleep, dive, repeat.
Congrats to our new certified divers: Garett (Adv OW), Amy (Adv OW), Amanda (Adv OW & Nitrox), Rachel (Adv OW), Isabel (Adv OW), Oktay (Adv OW), Matthew (OW & Adv OW) and Jane (Nitrox)
dont forger to share the love.
Call it luck or perfection.... whatever you call it words can't really express how AMAZING this trip was! Trip 13 on Manta Queen 6 gave 13 lucky divers some world class diving. Both Instructors and divers claiming that these dives were the pinnacle of perfection! Looking back at some of the video recorded underwater, the only complaint by diver could have been not knowing whether to aim the camera at the Whale Shark or Manta! To see a Whale Shark and Manta cross your field of view is truly incredible :) At the end of the first day, my cheeks were actually sore from smiling and laughing with all the guests.
What an amazing group of divers! It was a pleasure to share this experience with all of them and listen to the sounds of excitement and adrenalin fill the dive deck after our encounters. Unforgettable memories above and below the water!
Every dive site visited on this Similan north tour gave us what we wanted to see.... Koh Bon gave us Manta Rays, Koh Tachai gave us multiple Whale Sharks AND Manta Rays, and Richelieu blessed us with another Whale Shark and the typical abundance of beautiful Macro life.
A big congratulations to Yoav, Edmund, and Michael on completing your Advance course.... how incredible to experience a trip like this on your advance course :) Rachel, congrats on your 100th dive, you still owe yourself a naked dive! A big THANKS to ALL guests on board, what a trip!!!!!!!!
The half way point of the season has passed and its great to see people who came out with us earlier in the season coming back so soon. Its great to hear about how the diving has changed since November and December and where they have been and that they are now bringing their families with them the second time around. Greg was back with his two sons, Olivier and Campbell and Liu Chang ( Cindy) returned on this trip.
Macro this season has been amazing with sea moths, baby frog fish, baby seahorse and an abundant or ornate ghost pipefish. Setting out on day one was gettng a little worried about the all the sightings coming over the radio from up north and we had 1 and half more days down south still to go. t Having always been a firm believer about not counting your chickens wasnt letting on to anyone what was going on up north. So briefing after briefing kept the expectations low as possible and kept talking about barracudas and trevelly, lion fish and scorpian fish.
Day 2 comes along and reach Koh Bon thinking we might be in for a treat which was realised upon entry as mantas were swirling under the divers on the surface trying to get their masks on and regs in quickly. Group 2 has never been so fast at gearing up and buddy checks. 3 mantas were sighted by all groups. With smiles on all faces head to Koh Tachai and spot 2 more mantas and 2 whalesharks swimming around. MAgic!!!
Next morning hoping they are still around spent the entire 60min dive with 3 whalesharks. what a way to start the morning.!!!! Richelieu was magical as always and everyone felt really lucky and blessed. Until the sunset divle no one was pushing their luck thinking we will see much more big things. on decent along comes another whaleshark and then another...
So total sightings was 7 whalesharks and 6 mantas... Not normal. But AMAZING!!!!
How many Whale Sharks we need to consider it like a School?, for us is enough with 4. Because in everybody experience on board of this Trip 26 we never saw something like that. The most experienced guide on board has 12 years experience in Similans and was his very first time too.
This trip is gonna be remembered, and YES, we still beating our last ones, but one after the other is getting harder and harder to do it. What is gonna be next??, would you like to experience it?, don´t hesitate, this one is the season!!!!
Koh Tachai was the place, second and third were the days. Right when we tied up to the shallow line at The Dome somebody shout WHALE SHARK!!!!, there it was!!!, coming to welcome us, but…..wait, not just one, if not two!!. And the craziest thing is that we were alone in this place, not other boats around. After a quick refresh of behaviour procedures with this animals and with currents we jumped in to have our minds blowed with a 65 – 70 minutes dive with 3 Whale Sharks, after 30 minutes another 2 boats appear and they said afterwards there were 4, but we were able to confirm 3 at the same time. Two of 5 meters and another one of 3.
But there were right. The next day we dove again at 7:00 o´clock and we had another crazy show with this creatures. Playing with the bubbles, going back and forth around the pinnacle…, and having 4 at the same time with us for a moment, CONFIRMED!!!, 4 WHALE SHARKS. One group went to the reef to do few skills in this dive and they had a MANTA RAY with them. Really???, what is going on this season???
All this happens after a great dive at Koh Bon with a friendly White Tip Reef Shark circleling at the end of the West Ridge and a Huge MANTA RAY. You can have a idea of what a amazing days we had. But…..wait a bit more, thats not all. In our Sunset dive at Richelieu Rock, being the only boat in the place another WHALE SHARK appear to stay with us the whole dive, uncredible!!!!!!!, really curious and friendly with all the groups, who behave perfectly creating a atmosphere where our friend felt comfortable enough to pass between the groups several times really close to everybody.
The first dive of the last day we had another surprise more, the first groups jumping at Hin Luang had a MANTA RAY cruising the pinnacle. Good Morning!!!!!.
Speaking about the rest, this trip didn´t stay behing, the macro lovers enjoyed quite a few Frogfishes, Ornate Ghostpipefishes, Seamoths (a new one in Boonsung Wreck), 3 HAIRY PYGMY PIPEHORSE, Winged Pipefish and a exciting discovery at Richelieu Rock, a weird BUMBLEBEE SHRIMP, this one has two distintive antennas, something the Stripped Bumblebees hasn´t, we still not knowing what kind is.
With such emotions in the this last 4 days is hard to remember a lot of things we spotted, but the good feelings we had on board with our amazing costumers and underwater with such special encounters will stay in our mind forever. Thank you everybody!!!! And congratulations to our brand new certified divers Tracy, new Advanced Open Water and Steve Nitrox diver.
Just when I think MQ6 has experienced the best trip of the season... the diving continues to get better and feasts our eyes with more! Over the last two weeks the diving has been unforgettable, boasting macro life and frequent visits of larger friends. Trip 11 on Manta Queen 6 was sure to please all divers on board and set the bar even higher! It was Valentine's Day as a new group stepped on board the cozy vessel MQ6 for a trip that will always be remembered and spoke about by the guests as "the best diving EVER!!!"
Koh Bon's shores met us with a safe bay for a check dive and a great place for our Advance students to start their course. Alister, Esse, and Michael eagerly completed their deep adventure dive certifying them to 30M, while other groups found Nudibranchs and an insane amount of Trevally and Emperors feasting on glass fish!
With a North heading on Captain P.Tums compass, we headed for Koh Tachai. The Koh Tachai Pinnacle "The Dome" was a mind blowing experience with some enjoying a Whale Shark for almost the entire dive The experience touched us all and instantly produced an electric vibe on the boat. To see one of these magnificent creatures is a dream for many divers, some lucky enough to see one on an AOW course, while others devote thousands of dives never to see! Swirling schools of Barracuda and further Whale Shark sightings kept our 3 dives at Koh Tachai full of excitement.
With good weather on our side... a total of 3 dives took place at Richelieu Rock. This place amazes me more and more with every visit :) You could dive here non stop and always find something new! Here, a diver may only complain about in which direction to look!!
What an unbelievable trip... thanks to all guests aboard MQ6 Trip 11, dive staff, and Thai crew! A big shout out to our certified AOW students Alister, Esse, and Michael. Also, a big thanks to our very own Lucy and Judith for taking some amazing underwater photographs and videos.
Great weather, great vis & great diving was the theme of this trip...not to mention great guests as well, with an eclectic mix if nationalities onboard as always. Team Hungary up from phuket were a very lively bunch, and were joined by guests from Denmark, Norway, Czech Republic, Slovakia, France and the US. Katie completed her Deep Adventure Dive with her instructor Ben on the first day and Marcus, from Khao Lak Explorer, kept busy teaching Advanced Open Water to Fanny. Congratulations to both students.
Whalesharks and Manta Rays seem to be everywhere this season, but we'll get to that in a moment...
We are now a little more than halfway through the season, and the conditions are fantastic! The big animals are around in numbers! Blue water and 30 meter viz greeted us for the first two dives of the trip at Koh Bon's famous "West Ridge" dive site. Manta Queen 2 has been a lucky boat this season, with Mantas, Whalesharks, and even the several Bride's Whales making an appearance on the last trip.
This morning at Koh Bon we had no Mantas, but we saw sooo much other cool stuff that we didn't even miss them. We saw schooling Slate Sweetlips above the ridge, and Multibar Pipefish hiding in the nooks and crannies:
Octopus, a Ribbon Eel, and even this highly secretive Hook Jaw Moray Eel. So cool!
After two dives there we headed North to Koh Tachai for a few dives on Tachai Pinnacle. Always a treat, Tachai was in rare form this afternoon. We jumped in with clear blue water and very little current. Five minutes later... HEELLLOOOO mister Manta Ray! A three meter Manta came swimming past on the West side of the pinnacle. We had it for a minute or so, then it was gone. We continued South for a few minutes and found a beautiful Green Turtle heading for a breath at the surface, surrounded by a school of Rainbow Runners. Really beautiful, sorry I don't have a photo of that scene. Trevally and a few Barracuda were kicking around, and then I noticed a very dense school of Rainbow Runners coming out of the blue. Upon closer inspection I saw it - within that school of Rainbow Runners was a small Whaleshark!
She came swimming right by us, and then hung around for a few minutes. It was such a great surprise, to first see a Manta Ray and then a Whaleshark on the same dive! The Whaleshark slowly made its way to the North, eventually leaving us behind. After perhaps five minutes with her (she was a young female, maybe 3 or 4 meters long) she had disappeared into the blue the same way the she had appeared. Little did we know that the show was just beginning...
About this time the beautiful Green Turtle reappeared, swimming directly below us along the bottom, heading back to the pinnacle. It was as if the Manta, Whakeshark and Turtle were taking turns, saying, "Look at me! No, look at me". Of course the story is not over. A minute later the young Whakeshark makes her return to the scene, swimming gracefully back to us before making several loops above and between the groups of amazed divers. She spent another ten minutes or so with us, and as if not to be outdone, the Manta Ray then returned to the scene as well! Now we had a Manta Ray and Whaleshark right in front of us, swimming together!!! WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That is a scene that I will not soon forget. After a few more laps around the top of the Dome, the Whaleshark eventually disappeared into the blue. Ahh, the end of a magical dive.
The sunset dive was wonderful as well, with several groups seeing another Manta, a larger, darker one than that which had accompanied the Whaleshark earlier. All in all, I'd say it was a pretty good day!!! :-)
The following morning we did one more dive at Tachai, where one lucky group found a Leopard shark sleeping on the sandy bottom before we headed North to Richelieu Rock. Three dives there at Richelieu and we saw all kinds of great things. Sunset Pipefish and schools of big Barracuda come to mind, along with Tigertail Seahorses, Juvenile Angelfish, Bent Stick Pipefish, Peacock Mantis Shrimp and even a few Zebra Moray Eels
We also saw quite a few Ornate Ghost Pipefish, including these two sitting right together at about 28 meters. So cute!
The final day brought dives at the stunning Koh Bon Pinnacle and the crowd-pleasing Boonsung Wreck. What a nice end to an absolutely amazing trip. Always a treat in good conditions, we experienced great viz and very little current at the Pinnacle this time around. Our little buddy Stewie the Stonefish was in his home as usual. Add to that schools of Bluefin Trevally, Tuna and Rainbow Runners, and it was a very nice dive indeed.
The final dive of our three day adventure was on the Boonsung Wreck, an old tin mining dredger that sunk in the 1980's. Absolutely teaming with life, the Boonsung wreck is always a fantastic way to finish the trip. Large schools of Baraccuda, Trevally and Fusiliers cover the wreck. Smaller stuff like Nudis and Spearing Mantis Shrimp can be found as well. Ornate Ghost Pipefish are usually around, and there are always tons of Honeycomb Moray Eels hanging out of the nooks and crannies. It really is a great dive, every time. A wonderful finish to an unforgettable three days!
I want to offer a big congratulations to all of our students on board this trip. Daniel, Susannah, Mika and Risto all became newly certified PADI Enriched Air divers, so they are now all in the Nitrox club. Hendrik, Ryan, Johnny and Pauline all completed their PADI Advanced Open Water course during the trip, so they are now advanced divers certified to dive to a depth of 30 meters. Yeah! Great job guys, and welcome to the family!!!
As a side note, their instructor, Mark has been diving for 31! years. He has seen and done so much, but until this trip he had NEVER seen a Whaleshark. We'll this was his lucky trip, as he saw the one at Tachai on the first day. He must have been pretty happy, as I promise you, this is not his normal hat:
It's always a little sad to end the trip, but there is a silver lining... We are going out again tomorrow!!! Come and join us on Manta Queen 2 for our next adventure! We sure would love to have you!!! :-)
When we were thinking couldn´t get any better we keep beating all the expectations trip after trip. The discoveries and encounters this season, for me the best one of the last 5 years, are outstanding. The amount of new things are appearing around is crazy, not forgetting is the best with difference speaking about Whale Sharks and Minke Whales around.
We can say this trip, number 25 was the perfect Trip, with amazing conditions, calm seas and great visibility we fullfit everybodies expectations, from the big to the macro along this last 4 days.
Lets start with the macro lovers, who really enjoyed from the very beginning with the first spotting just after 1 minute at Anita´s Reef, a HAIRY PYGMY PIPEHORSE, and ROBUST GHOSTPIPEFISH together with the usual suspects of this place. But wait, wasn´t the only Pygmy Pipehorse of the day, another one at Elephant Head Rock plus 4 Frogfishes in total, 1 FRECKLED and 3 CLOWN FROGFISH.
Another 2 SPOTFIN FROGFISHES joined this count at Richelieu Rock together with a great surprise, we founded a LONG-SNOUT SEAHORSE (or maybe Borbon, what do you think?) drifting in a piece of rope while we were doing the Safety Stop. For who doesn´t know several species of Seahorses are Pelagic, being able to travel miles hiking something drifting. Safe travels little friend!!!
Ghostpipefishes???, is totally the season and the moment, still appearing new ones in several places, great!!!!!. Harlequins?, check.., Seamoths, check.., and plenty of nudibranches and a cute couple of JUVENILE RAZORFISH (or SHRIMPFISH) at Boonsung Wreck
Speaking about the big fellas we had several encounters with Sharks, 1 BLACK TIP REEF SHARK, 2 WHITE TIP REEF SHARKS, 3 JENKINS WHIPRAY and 2 LEOPARD SHARKS. Lucky!!!
But now are coming the big weapons!!!, in our first dive at Koh Bon one group spotted a MANTA RAY, the same one joined everybody in the second one for a 30 minutes show at the West Ridge, thank you!!!!
After this two dives we headed to do two more at Koh Tachai, The Dome, where we had the school of barracudas doing a Tornado plus a cloud of Big Eye Trevallies catching our attention from the very beginning. When few groups were back to the boat suddently somebody shouted WHALE SHARK!!!!, and we all got the snorkelling equipment to join the groups still in the water, beautiful!!!, but we all were looking forward to see it diving.
Then we decided to short the surface interval to 1:30 and rubbed our nipples as strong as possible. And YES!!!!, there it was waiting for us in the top of the pinnacle, swimming gracelly with the current sourronded by just our boat, everybody behaves perfectly giving us the chance of 30 minutes of quality time with this 5 meters amazing animal.
Congratulations to Morgan and Anneli for becoming Brand New Nitrox Divers, and everybody for the good vibes on board, Thank You!!!!
We had a similar situation the last trip with another costumer celebrating his birthday on board and having a great surprise for the very same day underwater. But this time we weren´t expecting such a great day.
We are speaking about the second one, starting from the first dive at Koh Bon North Ridge, where after the briefing we jumped to explore the area with low expectations (usually if a manta is appearing at Koh Bon is doing it the second and third dive), founding a couple of Ghostpipefish, a lot of glassfish in the area, sea snake, White Tip Reef Shark and………is that what it looks?????....
YES!!!!, a Huge Manta Ray came straight to us!!!, but not just one, there were two together for few seconds over the Ridge and after one headed to the West Ridge, we enjoyed a private show for the last 15 minutes.
But is not finishing everything there, in our second dive we headed directly to the West Ridge to find a couple of Mantas doing barrels right before another one came to check what was going on, while a fourth one pass by next to the island (four!!!!!!), 60 minutes dive enjoying the very BEST Manta Show of the Season, thank you very much to Christine for attracting such a good luck in her Birthday.
Next dive was at Koh Tachai, The Dome, where we were seriously not expecting to beat the first ones, but right when we went down another Huge Manta was waiting for us followed for a bunch of Giant Trevallies. Great Show followed for a Barracuda Tornado trying to get the attention from us…Jelous maybe of everybody taking pictures of the Manta????, no worries, is space in the Sdcards for you guys.
Last one again at The Dome where we spotted again the Barracudas, a amazing group of Trevallies cruising together with Rainbow runners and a great sunset waiting for us at the surface. SUCH A DAY!!!!!!
Lets come back to the first day now, because wasn´t bad at all, we had Frogfishes in 3 dives, in total 5, 2 Freckled Frogfish at West of Eden, 1 Clown Frogfish at Elephant Head Rock and 2 Clown Frogfish at Turtle Rock, a Yellow-Red and a White-Red.
That together with a Jenkins Whipray, Marbled Ray, Seamoths, Hawksbill Turtle, Ribbon Eels, Ghostpipefishes…..and a Minke While at the surface.
Our third day at The Dome and Richelieu Rock was as expected, amazingggg, we payed a visit to the Seahorses, Bentstick Pipefishes, Toadfish, Ribbon Eel, Seamoth……we founded in total 1 new Juvenile Ornate ghotpipefish at the Dome (second pinnacle), and 7 new at Richelieu Rock, 12 in Total in this place, what is going on this last trips with this guys!!???!!! And Ooopssss, almos forget the Jenkins and Marbled Rays in the Dome at Sunrise, this time together!!.
Last day as usual few groups jumped at Koh Bon Pinnacle and others in the West Ridge, actually the lucky ones spotting again another Manta!!!!!!!, 15 minutes alone with them over the Ridge.
Boonsung help us like always with the closure of this incredible trip with the usual amount of life living within the wreck pieces. Crocodile Flatheads, Ornate Ghostpipefish, Orangutan Crabs, Cuttlefish, Spearing Mantis Shrimps………..
Good memories to keep, experiences to tell and people to congratulate, Brand new advanced Open Water Divers, Joselyn and Hanqan and to Eva for logging on board 100 dives!!!!
Every dive trip has a stand-out dive site, and it usually changes from trip to trip. Sometimes Koh Bon Offers us the best diving. Other times it's the Boonsung wreck, or like last week, Tachai Pinnacle with the baby Whaleshark that we spotted there. Well this week, it was Richelieu Rock for sure.
I'm going to write this blog differently than the usual way that I put them together. Instead of a play-by-play of each dive in order, I'm going to start with Richelieu Rock and then Tachai.
Richelieu was so good this trip, it's a bit hard to explain it here. Let me just say this. One one dive there, we saw all of the following:
Juvenile Tigertail Seahorse
Ornate Ghost Pipefish
Juvenile Trapeze Angelfish
Jan's Cleaner Pipefish
White Eyed Moray Eel
All this on just ONE dive!!!
Consider then that we had excellent visability and a total of three dives there, and you start to see what I mean. Three different Seahorses, three different Ghost Pipefish, all types of Nudis, and many different kinds of pipefish, including our little friends the Sunset Pipefish, which only seem to come out at the end of the day.
There is a reason that Richelieu Rock is widely considered to be the best dive site in all of Thailand, and today was it. Meanwhile... Holy big Barracudas, Batman!
Tachai Pinnalce was awesome this trip as well, with the highlight being absolutely huge schools of Chevron Barracudas circling about on a few of the dives there. Very little current and tons of marine life greeted us on all three dives there. Schooling Trevally, Tuna and fusiliers by the hundreds seems to be everywhere you looked.
The morning dive at Tachai on day two saw a few of the groups swimming over to the second pinnacle. For me, that pinnacle has got the best, most beautiful soft coals on the entire trip. Absolutely Magnificent. We even spotted a baby Devil Scorpionfish at the end of the dive. So cute!
I also want to offer congratulations to all of our students on board! We had quite a few this time around, no fewer than eight Nitrox students and three Advanced students. So, the newly certified PADI Advanced Open Water students are Claus, Jordine and Mark. Newly certified PADI Enriched Air divers are Martin, Claus, Francisco, Sander, Rosa, Niclas, Bart and Charles. Way to go guys! Sweet!!!
Koh Bon has seen a good week, with Manta Rays being spotted there nearly every day, four out of the last five days in fact. Manta season has definitely started! Unfortunately for us, we didn't see any when we where there on the first day of our adventure. The diving was still really nice though, with great viz and very little current on the West Ridge. We saw Napoleon Wrasse, schooling Sweetlips and Emperor fish, Trevally and Dogtooth Tuna.
The best part might have been the three octopus together, the female trying to decide which male to mate with. The two guys were fighting it out, each determined to win the girl for themselves. I must say, it was really quite a show.
The final day we dived at Koh Bon Pinnacle and the Boonsung Wreck after waking up to this stunning sunrise:
Koh Bon Pinnacle had some tough viz, but one group still managed to find two large rays, one large Jenkins Whipray, and one Marbled Ray over two meters across! Winner. We saw our old friend Stewie the Stonefish, still sitting in the same spot and almost completely covered in brown algae now. He's getting very hard to recognize these days. Here's my dive group at the safety stop, making the Stonefish signal. Nice!
As we were driving to the Boonsung wreck we had a visit from a small pod of Dolphins, a very nice surprise. The Boonsung wreck is always a great dive, and today was no different. We saw the Honeycomb Moray Eels that live there:
Along with loads of little White Eyed Morays. Spearing Mantis Shrimp, schools of juvenile Trevally and Barracuda. We saw Gary the Ghost Pipefish hanging around near the net where he lives, and tons of other cool stuff too!
Manta Queen 2 runs three day, three night liveaboard trips through the middle of May this year, so there is still plenty of time for you to come and join us on one of our upcoming adventures. Contact us anytime for more details. We would love to have you!
Not all trips that we do are the same, one we might see more big stuff, others we might find some new little critters, it’s natural we see different things every trip. Every once in a while, when the stars must be aligned, we seem to be on a perfect trip. Getting to view almost everything the Andaman Sea has to offer.
First day and we start with Anita’s Reef for our warm up dive. The site is very easy, with a gently sloping sandy bottom with coral scattered around; fortunately the site is covered with all types of things as long as you know where to look: spearing mantis, nudibranch, pipefish amongst other things. Second dive on West of Eden and our first surprise, a marble ray hiding under some coral, plus the usual suspects of frogfish, seamoth, multibar pipefish and a hawksbill turtle.
After lunch it’s up to island 7 for our third dive on Deep 6. Filled with swim-throughs, overhangs and canyons it’s great buoyancy practice. Carrying on with the good fortune we saw a white tip reef shark cruising around the deep. During the surface interval discovered that one of the staff, Jacobo, loves drawing the dive site maps, we were happy that we finally found a use for him. After some banada crepe’s we head back to Anita’s Reef for the night dive before grabbing dinner. Found the whiskered pipefish (above right) in the rocks.
Second day and more sharks! Starting on Elephant Head Rock, and easy to see why it’s soon becoming one of the favorites: white-tip, seamoth, ornate ghost pipefish, porcelain crabs and the elusive juvenile clown frogfish.
Then onto Christmas Point where there was three white-tips spotted two out in the deep and a juvenile hiding under a rock in plain sight.
Third dive at Koh Bon, and with two great dives already we weren't holding out for much at Koh Bon as we've been luckier this season seeing the big stuff at the next site Koh Tachai. When we arrived at the West Ridge about ten minutes into the dive a huge manta swooped in and hung around. Then after a few minutes a second one appeared and they were playing for a while, great dive and congrats to the people that saw their first here! The photos don’t do them justice but it’s a start.
For the last dive its up at Koh Tachai and great way to cap the day, with hundreds of barracudas right over the top of the site.
Third day and we start on Koh Tachai, ornate and delicate ghost pipefish, and octopus were definitely the highlights. Then off to Richelieu Rock, and Rachel the Trip Leader was showing off some observation skills by finding a juvenile tigertail seahorse and ornate ghost pipefish. Lots of stuff to see Louis practiced his navigation skills a couple times. On day three, after twelve dives you can imagine the cook had her work cut out with a lot of hungry people to feed. She was more than up for it, four meals a day and snacks equals happy divers.
Last day and we checked in with a very funky looking stonefish at Koh Bon Pinnacle before heading to nudi heaven on the Boonsung Wreck. Special shout to Beate who on her birthday found a new ornate ghost pipefish! Congratulations to all the people that completed courses.
What a great trip, let's hope its a sign of things to come!! Big thank you to everyone who came! Hope you had as much fun as we did.
Half way through an amazing season and back again after yet another trip aboard Manta Queen 2.
The two first dives were at Koh Bon. The first one a check dive in the bay where we slowly make our way deeper towards the West Ridge and check how the groups are. The second dive we get dropped straight on the West Ridge to explore the awesome formations underwater.
During these dive we see Spearing Mantis Shrimp, Porcelain Anemone Crabs, Titan Triggerfish, Moray Eels, Clark’s Anemone Fish, False Clown Anemone fish and loads of other cool coral reef inhabitants.
The current was pushing out towards west so we got a little flying action until we came to ridge where we experienced some washing machine effect until we arrived to the calm waters in the north bay. Some groups were lucky and encountered a Manta Ray cruising around for a couple of minutes before deciding to disappear into the blue. Fun fun fun.
Lunch was served and we headed north to Koh Tachai where we did dive number three and a sunset dive on Koh Tachai Pinnacle aka “The Dome”.
The Dome had some current for us, but with current comes fish. This divesite changes all the time and if you ask any of the guides most of us will say that it is our favourite.
Giant Trevallies, Blue Spotted Trevallies, Golden Trevallys, Tunas, Trumpet Fish and finishing the dive at the top of the Dome at around 12 meters it feels like you are in a aquarium, but this is real life guys and it is awesome.
The morning dive on the second day we were still at Koh Tachai and jumped in for our last dive on the Dome where we were allowed to go a bit deeper than the previous dives, chilling out at 30 meters on the south side where there was a highway of trevallies and big schools of Barracudas relaxing with us for half the dive. Amazing!
Richelie Rock here we come!
Three dives were done here but it’s okay because on every dive we see something new and interesting and we can explore the divesite at different depths and sides. During the dives we see our common friends such as Tiger Egg Cowrie, Peacock Mantis Shrimp, Bent Stick Pipefish, Jan’s Cleaner Pipefish, Orange Spotted Pipefish, shrimps and moray eels of different species. Richelieu Rock never lets us down.
After surfacing from the beautiful sunset dive we enjoy dinner as we sail back to Koh Bon where in the morning we are diving Koh Bon Pinnacle, aka Hin Luang.
But with strong currents this morning we miss the Pinnacle and on captain’s suggestion together with the dive staff, we decide to dive the West Ridge again which is always a pleasure.
Last dive of the trip takes us to Boonsung Wreck, a very old wreck which has become a nursery and attracts a lot of fish for us to look at. Special findings here are Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Honeycomb Moray Eels, Schools of Porcupine fish, Spearing Mantis Shrimps and our friend Curious George, a grouper who swims up to you and looks you straight in the eyes, swims of and sometimes follow us for at least half the dive. George is cool!
Last but not least I would like to congratulate our new Nitrox divers Carol and Darrel. Jeremy and Noemi can now dive to 30 meters after completing their Adventure Deep dive and I would like to welcome Pavel to the diving community after upgrading his Scuba Diver to an Open Water certification and even completing his Advanced Open Water course with us onboard.
Hope to see you all again and keep on diving and exploring the wonders of the underwater world.
Mantas and Whalesharks, and even a Minke Whale, oh my!!!
Well, well, well. Sometimes you just win. Call it luck, coincidence, fate or whatever you want. Who knows, but when it happens to you, it's just plain awesome!!! Manta Queen 2 has just returned from the most amazing trip. We saw Mantas at Koh Bon, and a baby Whaleshark at Tachai Pinnacle. It was sweet!
The trip started as normal, with two amazing dives on Koh Bon's West and North Ridges. Dive one had minimal current and excellent viz. By the time we were ready for dive number two the current had picked up a bit and was coming from the North. We jumped in on the North Ridge and explored some of the beautiful boulders in the deeper areas there. The highlight of the dive for some of the groups were the two Ornate Ghost Pipefish that I found hiding among the whip corals at 28 meters. Other groups... Saw two different Manta Rays! Cool!
After a brief discussion about whether or not we should stay and try for the Mantas again on dive number three or stick with the schedule and go to Koh Tachai for dive number three, it was decided that we would leave. As we were arriving in Tachai a few hours later, I learned over the radio that there had been a Whaleshark at Koh Bon just after we left. Oh well, I guess you miss some. Little did we know, the disappointment wouldn't last long. After the dive at Tachai we learned that there had been a Minke Whale right over the top of the dive site just a minute before we arrived. That's always encouraging, to know that there are some big mammals around. And then it happened. Late in the surface interval, someone yelled Whaleshark! We all ran to the side of the boat expecting that we might see a dark shape way out in the distance. Instead, what we saw was a 2.5 meter baby Whaleshark, right next to the boat!!! It was right at the surface, swimming lazily against the current just below us! Some of us jumped in the water to snorkel with it, but it was gone by the time we got in. A few minutes later it was back again, and this time I was ready. I jumped in and snapped a few photos of it, just underneath the boat
It left again for several minutes and then returned for a third time. At this point we had been up from the previous dive for more the two hours, so we all went downstairs and suited up. Again it was gone once we got into the water, but at least nearly every one of our divers saw it at the surface from the boat only a few minutes earlier. Winner!
The following morning saw an amazing dive at Tachai, with literally thousands of Yellow- backed Fusiliers schooling around several of the groups from all different directions:
Add to that two different large schools of circling Barracuda:
Mating Octopus, Giant Trevally and even a juvenile Devil Scorpionfish, and you've got a recipe for one amazing way to wake up in the morning!
Then it was on to Richelieu Rock for the final three dives of the day. Conditions have been especially nice there this past week, and this trip was the same. Highlights included a baby Tigertail Seahorse, Ornate Ghost Pipefish, a juvenile Trapeze Angelfish and a crowd favorite, two different sets of Harlequin Shrimp!
All in all, an unforgettable day of diving for all. Day three was the usual schedule of dive one at Koh Bon Pinnacle. Always a treat in good conditions, we experienced great viz and very little current this time around. Our little buddy Stewie the Stonefish was home as usual, and one lucky group saw a Blotched Fan-tail Ray swimming by. Add to that schools of Bluefin Trevally and Rainbow Runners, and it was a very nice dive indeed.
The final dive was on the Boonsung Wreck, an old tin mining dredger that sunk in the 1980's. Absolutely teaming with life, the Boonsung wreck is always a fantastic way to finish the trip. Large schools of Baraccuda, Trevally and Fusiliers cover the wreck. Smaller stuff like Nudis and Spearing Mantis Shrimp can be found as well. Ornate Ghost Pipefish are usually around, and there are always tons of Honeycomb Moray Eels hanging out of the nooks and crannies.
There is this very friendly Grouper that lives down there, and it always seems to be especially interested in Mark. Maybe she's a girl. Can you blame her? :-)
It really is a great dive, every time. This time we did see something special, a baby Octopus! So cute, shy but curious, it would poke its head out of the hole, then retreat, then come up again. Really nice. A great way to end the trip.
Congratulations to all of our students on board! We had three different PADI courses going this trip, with newly certified Open Water divers (Gabriella and Haaken), Advanced Open Water divers (Renata, Mari and Robert) and Nitrox divers (Michael, Monique and Michael). Awesome! Great job guys. Welcome to the family!
It's sad when a fantastic trip like this one comes to a close, but the good news is that Manta Queen 2 is going out again tomorrow evening for another three day tour! :-) Come and join us on any of our adventures scheduled this season.
Khao Lak Scuba Adventures has five boats, all running different schedules in the Similan and Surin Island National Marine Parks. We are sure to have something that will fit your needs. Until next time... Happy bubbles, and here's to all the big stuff swimming around!!! Yeah!!!
What a trip!!!, lets start from the beginning step by step while we are putting together in every single dive what we spotted and the experiences we had, because were a lot!!!!!
We departed without problems with a very promising group, 15 divers from Slovenia were decided to put the Chili in the trip from the very beginning
Anita's Reef: Our fix check dive delivered the goods like always, perfect environment for the inexperienced divers to get comfortable underwater and full of marvels for all the levels. With the usual conditions, great visibility and no current we cover this gently slope reef between island number 5 & 6 finding Marble Snake Eels, Spearing Mantis Shrimps, Flounders, Kuhl's Stingrays, Marble Grouper....
West of Eden: The usual suspects of this place make appearance like always, like the Freckled Frogfishes, Spearing Mantis Shrimp, Icecream Nudibranches, Hawksbill Turtle, Lobster, Multibar Pipefish...
Turtle Rock: We decided to change our usual third dive for one that is being a great surprise each time we dive it, and we can say this trip was the BEST on this place!!!!, we founded again the Clown Frogfish and Ornate Ghostpipefishes plus a huge Pipefish, bigger than the Bentstick but thinner, what are you????, and a Pipehorse!!!!!, not forgetting the Cockatoo Waspfish in the Night dive at the same place.
Elephant Head Rock: With a interesting current testing the skills of everybody on board we glided through the Channels and Swim Throughs seeing Ghostpipefishes, Seamoths, Devil Scorpionfish, Juvenile Emperor Angelfish, Clown Frogfish....
Koh Bon: This is getting better and better. Something in the water is telling us something great is coming, and we weren't wrong. After exploring the North Ridge to find again the couple of Ornate Ghostpipefish we spotted the last trip we had the visit of a Manta Ray, coming to say hello to several groups.
The Dome (Koh Tachai): Do you think that was all??, is just starting.., the first surprise we had was right before the dive, when we were ready to jump after the briefing and another boat crew started to shout to us pointing between the lines. We couldn't believe it... a MINKE WHILE over The Dome!!!!!, we jumped hoping to see it but we weren't lucky to spot it underwater...so close!!!,but the dive was a frenzy of fusilliers, barracudas and Trevallies everywhere. We did three dives over here, exploring different areas at different moments and deeps(Sunset, Sunrise).
Actually we founded new Ornate Ghostpipefish in the main pinnacle, schools of barracudas, Napoleon Wrasse but the best surprise was in Sunset Time, a WHALE SHARK waiting for us at the top of the Pinnacle, we received a call from Manta Queen II who was moored over there and after a quick briefing we geared up in a record time. Challenging current (maybe the strongest one this season) but everybody managed to see this juvenile one (around three meters long).
Richelieu Rock: The conditions were with us again, great visibility, no current and again almost alone, just one boat more in the place, that is great!!!!, we located one more time the Seahorse, the new couples of Harlequin Shrimps, a new Ornate Ghostpipefish, Seamoth, Ribbon Eel and another Seahorse more!!!, this is getting better and better, we are having a lot of new encounters with seahorses related animals this last trips. Of course that wasn´t all, Richelieu is always full of life everywhere, making impossible sometimes to know where to look.
Hin Luang: A.k.a Koh Bon Pinnacle was beautiful like always, with the Stone fish and all the schooling fish surrounding this underwater mountain.
Premchai Wreck: With better visibility than usual we enjoyed this last dive of the trip, crocodile fish, Orangutan Crabs, different kinds of Pipefish, a weird decorator crab and usual suspects of the area like cuttelfish, octopus......
Congratulations to Dmitry for fully archive all the requirements to get the Advanced Certification and to Peter and Liu for their Nitrox speciality and thanks to Team Slovenia for the good vibes and evenings full of fun.
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