Nov 9, 2012

South Andaman Sea, WMDAENG 05-09 Nov 2012

As the winter months close in around the Northern Hemisphere, the days get shorter and darker, long summer evenings are replaced by cold dark and frosty nights, while summer wardrobes of shorts and T-shirts are replaced by woolen hats, scarves and thick cosy coats. For the crew and customers of the MV White Manta the arrival of November means something entirely different... The start of the Similan Islands safari season here in sunny, tropical Thailand!

Our first trip of the season here in Thailand, however, would take place not in the Similan Islands, but further South in the South Andaman sea where we would explore rich and diverse divesites around the island chains of Phi Phi, and Koh Haa along with the twin pinnacles of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. Joining us on this trip we welcomed aboard an extremely enthusiastic charter group from Russia. Led by the irrepressible Sergey it was a pleasure to share some great diving with Sergey & DJ Diana; Konstantin & OW student Tatiana T; Yevgeny & OW student Anna; DSD Roman; Dmitry & Yulia; Alexander & Tatiana D; Andrey & Irina; Maxim & Tatiana; Boris & partner. You all certainly illustrated that you know how to have a good time, both above and below the water! Also joining us from the UK, were Tim and Jo who managed to learn a few Russian phrases during the trip! While MV White Manta will spend the majority of the Thailand season offering dive safaris around the Similan and Surin national marine parks, it was pleasing to see that the waters around the Southern Andaman sea can provide equally fantastic diving opportunities. The group of dive sites located closest to Phuket, often visited by Phuket based day trips, commonly known as the A-S-K chain (Anemone reef-Shark point-King Cruiser wreck) offered some truly fantastic diving on the first and last days of the safari. The underwater photographers amongst the group were thrilled to find tigertail seahorses, bent-stick pipefish, scorpionfishes, anemone fishes, moray eels and much, much, more, all happy to pose for underwater portraits; large schools of snapper, trevally and barracuda became a common sight here and at Phi Phi. The island chain of Koh Haa was also a very popular spot, spending a whole day around this beautiful lagoon offered plenty of excellent diving opportunities. In the shallow sandy areas our divers were treated to sightings of sea moths, moray eels, big eyed squid and thousands of gobies and their attendant partner shrimps. Along the reef walls, formed by the impressive limestone islands, the excellent visibility revealed a staggering array of colours and life in huge soft corals, sea fans and densely packed schools of blue lined snapper, busily harassing fields of small baitfish. The Phi Phi Lei area provided some incredible topography both above and below the water. Between dives we were able to take our chase boats around the immense array of limestone, sheer faced cliffs that sprout from the azure blue waters, treating our guests to some of the most incredible scenery in Thailand. The divesites also provided some great highlights, with the abundance of black-tip reef sharks and hawksbill turtles proving particularly popular. The true highlight of the trip was undoubtedly the day spent at the twin pinnacles of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. If Richelieu rock is the best divesite in the Northern Andaman area, then these two striking outcrops are undoubtedly the best of the Southern Andaman region. Covered in colourful soft corals and anemones predominantly purple & red colours lend their name to these divesites which provide a spectacular backdrop for some awesome marine life. Schools of friendly batfish were ready to meet our divers on every descent and huge giant moray eels, colourful nudibranchs, massive groupers and large schools of jacks, trevallies and barracudas were easy to spot. With such good conditions it was a perfect time for some of our guests who hadn’t dived before to take the plunge and discover the joys of blowing bubbles underwater. Tatiana T & Anna completed their PADI Open Water certification and all of us at White Manta Diving would like to send our congratulations and welcome you to the White Manta Diving family! The best looking females also decided they wanted to join in with the fun and were able to complete a DSD with Chris & Mike S. Roman; completed a number of DSDs with Mike T. All of them proved to be naturals and assured us the next time we meet they will have completed their OW certifications! We look forward to diving with you in the future. Thanks to all of our guests who joined us on this trip, it was really a pleasure to dive with you all and we look forward to meeting you all again in the future!