Thailand (Koh Racha Yai)
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I managed to get a day's worth of diving out of my Thailand trip in November. Not as much diving as I'd have liked: my original plan to do a 4 day live-aboard out to the Similian Islands didn't work out so I settled for a day trip out on the MV Similian Queen to Koh Racha Rai, an island about 1.5 hours boat ride from Phuket. The boat was great; I almost felt bad getting it wet! The crew were courteous, put on a great meal (definately not your squashed ham sandwich here: we had a full Thai spread after our second dive!). The crew were really well organized, with no sense of the usual pandemonium that often occurs when 20+ people try to get into the water at the same time!

So, what's down there?? A lot actually. Even though my tour operator had really downplayed the diving in Phuket, it honestly was really good (though apparently the Similian Islands are even better - it might be worth another 18 hr flight there to find out!). Check out the videos; we saw some really cool stuff & lots of it: to see one large animal per dive is a treat; nestled among lots of fire- & brain coral & pinnacles, we saw 2 Moray eels, a crawling octopus, two lionfish as well as lots of standard reef fish just on the first dive, which was on the eastern side of the island. We didn't see any evidence of tsunami damage at this spot. Check out the Koh Racha Yai Dive Videos:

Bungalow Bay (2 min, 8MB)

The second dive was on the west side of the island and had us among staghorn coral, including some that was damaged in the 2005 tsunami but then we got on to the live, healthy stuff. Just as we were winding down the second dive & feeling satisfied with the assortment of puffer fish, clown fish & shoals of grunts, we had a surprise zebra shark encounter. Seeing a 6ft shark that I know little about swimming towards me definitely increased the air consumption for a bit. I found out afterwards that they're bottom feeders & are mostly active at night - I'm not sure who decided to call them zebra sharks: they have spots so the local name, Leopard Shark seems much more appropriate (no offense intended to my watery neighbors of the same name in San Diego!) Not to be outdone, right before our safety stop, we came across 2 big Moray eels in neighboring holes! A perect end to a great couple of dives!

Home Run Reef (1.5min, 5.5MB)

Here's a link for more options for diving in Thailand

Also, check out these other South Asia liveboard itineraries, schedules and booking information:

Komodo diving
Sulawesi diving

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