Having previously tried various diving spots around the world, I could easily say that the Thai seaside resort of Khao Lak makes it into my top 5. Even before getting there, the hype was already a bit too much: making the short journey from Phuket Airport to this picturesque region, I couldn’t wait to get my feet wet.
Of course I wasn’t disappointed. The golden beaches and warm waves of Khao Lak are the ideal place to relax and unwind, and there are lots of amenities in the area, including shops and restaurants.
The best thing about this part of Thailand, at least for keen divers like me, is the ease with which you can hop onto a boat and head off to the world-renowned dive sites of the Similan Islands.
The ideal way to explore these pristine reefs and diving spots is to book a trip on a live aboard boat, so-called because you stay overnight on them.
These vessels vary considerably in style and comfort, depending on how much you’re prepared to shell out. At the upper end of the scale, you can expect air conditioned cabins. The usual departure point for the islands is the Thap Lamu pier, which is about ten kilometres from Khao Lak.
Mu Ko Similan is a group of nine small islands in the Andaman Sea which lies 40km west of Khao Lak and boasts National Park status. Depending on how confident you are under the waves, you can travel to depths of between two and 35 metres and the sights are incredible.
As well as seamounts, rock reefs and dive-throughs, these waters contain an impressive variety of reef fish and at least 200 species of hard coral. Around late March, deep-water creatures such as manta rays and whale sharks visit the area too.
With so much on offer, there’s no reason why an underwater adventure in Khao Lak would ever let you down. However, if you’re already planning to book Khao Lak holidays, it’s worth bearing in mind that the best time to go is December through to April, whereas other parts of the year might get too humid or rainy.
posted by Chyng on Monday, June 17, 2013