On the next morning, the sun lifted over the horizon like the magician’s hat revealing the white rabbit beneath. This postcard picture that you find in every single dive guide about this magnificent place was not even 200 metres away from the boat. Silence. Sunshine. Smiling.
“We are here!”, Lena whispered and I can only nod.
The list of dive sites around the Similans reads like the top-of-the-tops:
Anita’s Reef, including “Hin Muan Deaw” – Whole Role of Film Block:
Ricardo spots us a Marten’s side-gilled slug (Lat. Barthella martensi)
Elephant Head Rock:
This amazing formation of gigantic boulders towers over the depths of the surrounding sea and features an endless number of swim throughs. What a sight!
The Breakfast Bend:
An attractive dive site with an armada of glass-fish, tunas and blue spotted stingrays.
We dive this spot twice due to its diversity. It provides a separate pinnacle and the reef connected to the island of Koh Bon. Luck is on our side and we dive the pinnacle completely alone and observe an onslaught of travellies, rainbow runners, tunas and jacks diminishing dense shoals of young fusiliers. It’s spectacular.
On this pinnacle a long lasting dream finally became true: to observe a large school of barracudas. The swarm numbers in its thousands and is just as beautiful as I always hoped for. A real stunner!
A gentle evening dive, nothing challenging, but right in front of an amazingly beautiful beach. Before the dive, Ricardo uses the boat’s dinghy to visit the beach. After about half an hour, all the other tourists have left with their speedboats and we have one kilometre of paradise beach all for ourselves.
During the dive we discover a whiskered pipefish that does not seem to belong to this planet – see gallery.
During the night, the boat realises our dream while we sleep and drives us to Richelieu Rock. This dive site regularly leads the list of the world’s best dive spots. Its name derives from the purple coloured soft corals that grow on the outside of the horseshoe shaped rock formation, which resembles the cloak of a cardinal.
The question of who discovered the place remains highly disputed. The rumour that it was Jacques-Yves Cousteau is only partially correct, but is very persistent. More likely is the theory that the site was named after Andreas du Plessis de Richelieu, a Danish who served in the royal Thai navy. Nevertheless, it was certainly Cousteau who made as popular as it is today. Which ever theory is correct, the site remains an unbelievably beautiful and biologically diverse dive site.
The water surrounding the rock is crystal clear. During low tide the tip can been seen peaking out of the surface, all the way up from 35-40 metres. The formation provides shelter for everything from the tiniest nudibranch to the largest whaleshark. The diversity is simply overwhelming. After our first dive, we didn’t know what to write into our logbooks. We were speechless.
The second and third dive held barracudas, huge swarms of fishes, gigantic and very confiding cuttlefish, tiger tail sea horses, a wide array of nudibranches and so many more species with and without a name that I simply can’t recall everything anymore.
Eventually however, the day ended and the light faded and with it rose the moon of melancholy. It spread in our eyes when the engines roared up to move the boat away and made it difficult to fight the tears. For a moment I thought to jump off the ship and swim to one of those that would spend the night and just stay with them. In these minutes I thought I could spend the months diving only this single spot of pure magic.
The remaining two wreck dives had a very hard standing. On any other day, I would have probably loved them, but after I had seen “the rock”, I just couldn’t think of anything else anymore. Nevertheless, an amazingly camouflaged flathead and an enormous barracuda made a lasting impression.
In the end stands this lonely rock surrounded by nothing but the sea, teeming life and an aura of legend and longing. The only problem, my longing had only increased. It’s not the question whether we will return but only when?!!
In this memory, my dear rock, I wish you all the best and thanks for all the fish. –> Part I
Contact “Colona Liveaboards” for a Dive Safari on MV Giamani
Jamie from Sunrise Divers… and send him our best wishes 😉