Manta Queen 1, 4 days and 4 nights liveaboard trip number 231 to Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock
Day One - Dive One ;-) ‘Anita’s Reef’. The fist dive of the trip is always exciting. You can feel the good vibes in the air, as people are keen to get in the water to discover the underwater world of The Similan Islands. This was a lovely gentle starting dive for us all with its slow sloping typography and sandy bottom. Here we hung around ‘1 gigabyte rock’ which is a coral bommie used as a cleaning station for fish and apparently humans too. We all got a clean from the Cleaner Wrasses. We also saw some Garden Eels popping up from the sand.
Dive Two: ‘West of Eden’. The first big boulder dive site for the trip. Here we saw a very beautiful Barrel Sponge and lots of different colours of Soft Corals mixed together which was very pleasing to the eye. On closer inspection to the site we got close to the local celebrity Spearing Mantis Shrimp who has been here for 5 years and still going strong. Some of our guests were lucky enough to see a small Blacktip Reef Shark in the distance.
Dive Three: ‘Deep Six’ was a real treat for the eyes. With huge granite boulders draped in sea fans and soft corals falling from the land creating a very big landscape with hidden swim-throughs to add another dimension to the dive site. We were blessed with a large female Green Turtle swimming with us. When we started looking closely on the seabed we came across Brown blotch Jawfish, Peacock Mantis Shrimp waiting in their homes for an easy prey. Above our heads was the Trevally, hunting the smaller glassfish.
Dive Four: ‘Hide Away Bay’ Night Dive! Once we were all in the water and comfortable we started our descent into the black waters of the bay. What an eerie feeling, only seeing by the small amount of torchlight that was available. This dive site is home to the Tsunami Memorial medallions of which there were 5, all covered in coral and growth, only allowing us to get a sneak peak of what originally was on display. Around here there were some coral bommies, which showed us a free swimming Giant Moray Eel, a huge amount of Shrimp, Crabs and sleeping Parrot and Reef fish taking cover for the night hiding from the bigger predators. Above the coral in the flash of the torchlight we could see schooling Snapper and Fusiliers.
Dive One: ‘Elephant Head Rock’. This is a site famous for its huge limestone boulders and beautiful swim-throughs. When we entered the water some Unicorn Fish saying “Good Morning Divers” greeted us, which added a positive feel to the first dive of the day. Further into the dive we stumbled across some Ribbon Eels poking out of their holes as if they were yawning. On the boulders here we kept a close eye onto the boulders as we saw some small Chromodoris Nudibranchs going about their morning.
Dive Two: ‘North Point’. We saw some Nudibranchs, some very bight coloured sea fans slowly swaying with the ocean, and the Clown Trigger Fish. Along the bottom of the boulders we were very lucky and bumped into an Octopus that watched us longer than we watched him. Not far from the Octopus, we found a tiny Pygmy Pipefish that was incredible. Thanks to the guides for spotting that!
Dive Three: ‘Koh Bon’. This dive site was very different to the others of the trip so far. It presented us with a limestone-structured wall, which was very beautiful and colourful. There was a little current here making the dive fun and at times hard work. (No need for the gym after this dive!). This site had lots of hiding places for the Scorpion Fish, Lion Fish, and the small Moray Eels that we saw. We also found a creature that looked like a black sponge, but on closer inspection it was actually a Black Velvet Snail! We kept our eyes out into the blue in the hopes of seeing a Manta or a bigger fish as this is a cleaning station, but unfortunately I think we were a little to early for them. High hopes for the future though!
Dive Four: ‘Koh Tachai AKA The Dome’. What an incredible dive site! This dive site brought a lot of excitement to everyone on-board. We got in the water shortly before sunset so it was a half day/half night dive. We entered the water on top of a group of schooling Barracuda, hunting Trevally and Fusiliers. Once we were down the coral here did not let us down. There was colour everywhere!
Dive One: ‘Richelieu Rock’. This was the first of three dives along this site. We started on the left side of the horse shoe shape, making our way around the rocks and boulders in search for the critters we knew to be lurking. We kept an eye in the blue and saw a Cuttlefish mid water, followed closely by a couple of Trumpet fish. We also came across some Reef Octopus stalking each other and the Morays defending their homes.
Dive Two: ‘Richelieu Rock’. After the first dive here, everyone was excited to get back into the water and explore more. We went to the opposite side on this dive and it really did not disappoint! More soft corals blanketed the rocks, creating a carpet of life, which was mesmerising to look at. When we started looking closely we began to see the Flabellina Nudibranchs and the Blue Dragon Nudi coming into focus, we found some Porcelain Crabs hiding out and the Spearing Mantis Shrimp waiting its deadly catch. Along the bottom of the reef there was two naughty Octopuses getting to know each other, displaying all the colours under the rainbow in hopes of wooing one another ;) What a romantic dive site.
Dive Three: ‘Richelieu Rock’. The final part of this dive site; the central point. The only way I can describe this is either “A highway to fish” or “Its raining Fusiliers!” Everywhere above, below and along side us were big schools of fish. It was absolutely breath taking. Amongst the smaller schools, there were many Great Barracudas, Yellowtail Barracudas and Pickhandle Barracudas, all playing in the current staring us out. The coral was very pretty and covered most of the site. After three dives here, it becomes quite clear that not only is it a beautiful place, it is also deadly with the amount of Scorpion/Stone fish and the Decorator Urchins.
Dive Four: ‘Koh Tachai’. This was our last dive of the day and it certainly did not disappoint. Here we were incredibly lucky and witnessed two Octopuses in the plight for some nookie. We watched in awe as the male tried his hardest to impress the smaller female with a breath taking colour display. The female it seemed was playing hard to get. Above this we had a school of Chevron Barracuda playing effortlessly in the current watching what was happening in their home.
Dive One: ‘Hin Luang’. To start with, this dive site is very special. The current here meant we had to do a negative entry straight down to 27m. On arrival to the pinnacle, we start to understand the name for the site. It means ‘Yellow Rock’, as it is covered in yellow corals and growth. Once we were at the bottom we kept our eyes everywhere. We saw some White-eyed Morays, a Great Barracuda and made friends with some very flirtatious Batfish. Towards the end of the dive, we came across the infamous Stonefish who was just chilling in his little cave without a care in the world.
Dive Two: ‘North Ridge’. This was a peculiar dive site. There were many big rocks positioned for a perfect hide away for some Moray Eels and Shrimp that had made it home. The coral here was not as good as the other sites unfortunately due to the dynamite fishing in the past, however, it does show a lot of sign for growth and is home to many fish. There were Surgeon Fishes, Snapper and Fusiliers eating the algae. We also saw some Map Pufferfish. The highlight of this dive was 2 HUGE Great Barracuda.
Dive Three: ‘Boonsung Wreck’. What a brilliant last dive of the trip! It was an absolute fish soup down there. There was Snapper, Fusiliers, Emperors, Batfish everywhere! You had to be careful on the wreck as it was covered in Scorpion Fish. When we started looking closer we came across a Kunes Chromodoris Nudibranch and a number of little Shrimp and even a little aggressive White-eyed Moray. Everyone loved this site. It really was a brilliant way to end the trip. And of course, a stop off at the wrecks toilet at the end was necessary! Cheers for a fun dive guys, we hope you had fun too!
We would like to thank our guests from Action Sports for such a fantastic trip! We hope that you have enjoyed yourself and we will see you next year! Safe trip.
Roxanne Ames and MQ1 Team.