When we planned our recent trip to Southeast Asia and chose the beach destination to be Koh Lanta (always got to have a beach destination on a holiday, am I right?), I knew there would have to be diving involved. We loved our first diving experience in Koh Tao on the other side of Thailand, five years previously, and we had heard that the diving was also great on the Andaman side of Thailand too.
We looked at various dive companies on Koh Lanta (there are quite a few) but kept coming back to Scubafish. Uniquely, they are located at the southern end of Koh Lanta at Kantiang Bay, which wasn’t far from where we would be staying at Klong Nin Beach. Scubafish also had excellent reviews, the added bonus of an underwater photographer on each trip, and the opportunity to do a dive refresher on the day.
The refresher really cemented it for us – it had been three years since we had been diving last, at the Poor Knights Islands in New Zealand, so our brains felt a bit rusty. More on the refresher later. We signed up to do a day diving at Koh Haa, a small island off the coast of Koh Lanta, in early January.
Shaun had been having ear issues for a few months before we went on our trip, and we were hoping that they’d be sorted by the time we wanted to dive. Alas, they were not, so a few days before we were due to go diving with Scubafish we asked to change Shaun’s dive to snorkelling instead – nobody wants a burst eardrum! They were only too accommodating and we were fortunate that Koh Haa offered good snorkelling as well as diving.
The day before the dive trip we scootered to Scubafish’s office in Kantiang Bay to get kitted up with the dive gear. They lent me a PADI text book and gave me a quiz to complete that night as part of the refresher – eek!
Bright and early the next morning the Scubafish truck stopped to pick us up and along with half a dozen others we bounced our way to the jetty at Kantiang. The jetty is really cool – it floats on the surface so they don’t need a physical structure – it would likely get damaged by waves during the monsoon season anyway. We motored off on our dive boat towards Koh Haa, which we could see on the horizon, while gobbling down on a breakfast of yummy pastries and coffee.
We were organised into small groups, with just four divers to one instructor. Because Shaun wasn’t diving I was put with three nice Austrian guys and our instructor was Naiyana – a Thai woman who had grown up in Sweden (a strange combo!). She was absolutely lovely and put my nerves to rest immediately.
For the refresher, we went over the quiz (I got most of the questions right, phew!) and set up the dive gear together. It all came flooding back to me – funny how you forget things but remember them immediately when you’re put back in that situation again! By that time we had arrived at Koh Haa and so we suited up and jumped into the warm water of the Andaman Sea.
More skills were completed once we were in the water, sitting on the sandy bottom – finding and putting on your mask, finding your regulator, and sharing air with a buddy. It was a really great opportunity to remember how to do everything properly, and I was really grateful Scubafish offered the refresher option rather than diving in without it.
Once the refresher was over, we were on our way! There was very little current and visibility was great, so it was a nice easy dive. The coral looked pretty healthy and we saw a good number of different fish species – moray eels, clownfish (my favourite!), boxfish, and many others. I was super jealous to hear that one of the dive groups ahead of us saw a turtle – it swam off just before we got there apparently!
Magnus, the Scubafish photographer, turned up to photograph us as we swam along. It’s a great perk that Scubafish offers, as all too often underwater photos come out looking pretty awful. Fortunately Magnus’ photos were fantastic – most of the photos in this blog post are taken by him.
The first dive was really enjoyable. The boat came to pick us up and we clambered aboard, hungry for lunch. The onboard cook served up a delicious tom yum stirfry with rice, as well as fruit and soft drinks. Yum yum! We had a decent break before the second dive at a nearby site (there are lots of different dive sites at Koh Haa).
The second dive was more technical, with some swim-throughs and a ‘chimney’ to navigate. I freaked out a bit in the chimney – a vertical tunnel about 2 metres wide that we had to swim down into – as my ears wouldn’t equalise. After swimming back up the chimney and going back down slowly I got it all sorted fortunately.
The star attraction on this dive was an octopus who was snuggling into a crevice. He curled his tentacles out and we could see his eye staring at us, it was really cool – I’d never seen an octopus while diving before.
As I wrote before, my diving photos are usually crap (a combination of an old GoPro with no screen (so I can’t review photos underwater) and not being able to control shutter speed in the dim underwater light). So you can imagine my surprise when I looked through my photos after the dive and found these awesome ones of a clownfish family!
Before long, it was time to resurface and we flopped on board the Maya II. Some people chose to do a third dive but I decided not to, and went for a snorkel instead. I was really stoked to see a black tipped reef shark – I’ve never seen a shark before! The divers were pretty jealous that us snorkelers saw something that they didn’t.
Then it was time to head back to Koh Lanta. What a fantastic day! It was a real shame that Shaun couldn’t dive but it was a good decision. I totally recommend diving with Scubafish when you’re visiting Koh Lanta – the people are lovely, the food is great and of course the dive sites speak for themselves.
Thanks to Scubafish for sponsoring our day out diving and snorkeling. Follow them on Facebook, and look them up when you’re wanting to go diving or snorkelling in Koh Lanta! As always, you’ll receive our honest opinions, regardless of who is footing the bill.
What should be our next dive site? Let us know what you think in the comments below!