6:30am. A firm knock on the door drills right through my cortex. Ricardo’s gentle but firm voice calls for the first dive.
What? Dive? Where am I?
Oh right, on the boat we boarded last night, the MV Giamani.
The gentle swinging of the sea had lulled me into the firm sleep of a stone fish. Our acclimatised cabin has just the right temperature and the engine has never been heard of – perfect conditions for an over-night refresher.
Before we started our trip last night, the crew set of a chain of fire crackers to grant us luck and a save journey. Seems it worked.
Unfortunately, it seems as if it didn’t work for the weather. The original plan for the first day, was to dive Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, but the conditions simply weren’t favourable. These two dive sites are regularly listed among the top spots for the South Andaman Sea, which made this decision even harder. Nevertheless, it was a sensible call that Ricardo, our tour leader, had to make and which in turn just proved his professionalism to also make unpopular decisions when safety demands.
And anyhow, at 7:00 o’clock, during a very brief snack, our eyes were gliding over the stunning skyline of Koh Bida, the five islands.
What followed is a series of 4 amazing dives. As a marine biologist, I was especially impressed by the gigantic barrel sponges (Lat. Xestospongia testudinaria). They’ve been given the name for obvious reasons, as some of them easily fit an adult diver. Also the seemingly endless fields of purple soft corals left a lasting impression.
Moreover the topography of the dive sites: “The Chimney” and “The Cathedral”, are one of a kind. The ceilings of the two halls of the latter are about 10 or 12 metres high and connected by a window. Once you try to swim through, you’re caught in a wave surge that whoops you back and forth as if you’d be sitting on an invisible swing. It’s great fun. On the night dive we discover a catfish and a multitude of nudibranches.
The next day, the safari continuous to Phi Phi island where we dive around Leonardo DiCaprio’s beach. The dives are beautiful, but our minds have already shifted their attention towards the Similan islands in the North Andaman Sea and this mythical dive site beyond: Richelieu Rock.
In the evening of the second day, we arrive back in Chalong port to drop off most of our fellow divers and fortunately enough, nobody replaces them. Only three divers and Ricardo are left alone with the boat all for themselves. Brilliant – an entire boat crew is about to take care only for us. Can it get any better?
It’s not only the luxurious dive boat that makes this trip worth while, but its blessed crew that puts the cherry on top of the cream. The cook is fantastic, especially his breakfast with super crunchy beacon. The boat crew has a keen eye for detail and even remembered the way I wear my fins. Ah well, and Ricardo of course, he is simply brilliant: a most entertaining host, amazing diver with a healthy quirk for safety and a great passion for the sea.
Bottom line: the whole endeavour started to feel rather like a family trip but a professional business relation between guest and service provider.
When the ship’s engine started chugging again cosily, our eyes crossed with a glaze of sparkling anticipation: Similans, we are coming! –> Part II
Contact “Colona Liveaboards” for a Dive Safari on MV Giamani
Jamie from Sunrise Divers… and send him our best wishes 😉