Of all the places
to dive in Thailand, Koh Lanta is a great location as it is close
to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang (one of the top dive sites in the world),
Koh Haa and the famous Koh Phi Phi. You can actually see these
dive sites from your resorts’ window on Koh Lanta.
Scuba diving and
snorkeling both offer different advantages. Snorkeling is easier
and can be done by almost anyone. You wear a mask with a snorkel,
which is a tube that you breathe from, put your face into the
water and see everything underneath you in the water. You can
snorkel with a life vest if you’re not a confident swimmer.
In shallow water, snorkeling allows you to see quite a bit of
the colorful fish and coral beneath you.
Scuba diving, on the other hand, requires heavy equipment, preparation,
and some training. But the up-close view of the sea world is without
comparison. According to the professional dive master Saffron
Kiddy and dive instructor Darrel Inman of Narima Diving (Tel:
(66) 7566 2668), one of the best dive centers on Koh Lanta, you
can actually learn basic scuba diving skills in about three hours.
First, you watch a training video for about 30 mins, which instructs
you about the basics of diving, the equipment, and your body’s
adjustment to the oxygen underwater. Then you are taken to the
swimming pool to learn a few skills about using the equipment.
The lesson teaches you to take the regulator (breathing device)
out and put it back in again, just in case it comes out when you
are diving. To be a certified diver though, there is an open test
that you must pass, and the whole process takes up to four days.
Unless there are some medical reasons, such as problems with your
ears or your sinuses, almost anybody can scuba dive.
Scuba diving is actually not a lot of work, as you can relax and
float in the water, or slowly make your way around the coral.
It’s almost like floating in space. In fact, many astronauts
practice space walking by wading in a swimming pool.
While there are
safety measures you must learn, scuba diving is a relatively safe
activity. As long as safety measures are adhered to, it’s
a sport that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. The dive master almost
always accompanies a group of divers, and will give you as much
time as you want to be confident before going on a dive.
The best time
to dive in Koh Lanta is between the first of November and the
end of April. After that the weather can be tricky. The green
season is equivalent to the rainy season, but it doesn’t
mean it rains everyday. And unlike popular belief, you can actually
go scuba diving here during the green season as well. If there
is not too much rain and wind, the dive center will take you on
a diving trip. The only limit during the green season is the wind.
But when the weather is clear, the visibility in Koh Haa, for
example, is up to 25 meters. Trustworthy dive centers check the
weather two or three times everyday with the Thai Meteorological
Department, CNN and BBC. But the final word depends on the captain,
who tends to be long-time fishermen around here. They decide whether
or not you should get out there in the open water.
Hin Daeng and Hin Muang (Red and Purple Rock)
It takes 2 hrs
and 40 mins from Koh Lanta to reach the Hin Daeng and Hin Muang
dive site. The site is composed of two submerged rock formations
that lie 1 km apart from each other. It’s the dive site
where you can see the biggest varieties of marine life. A lot
of photographers like to go there because it’s very exciting
to take pictures. One diving center that can help you is Scandinavian
Lanta Diver, with its day trips, liveboards and PADI courses being
offered. You can contact Lanta Diver at telephone numbers
(66) 7568 4208 and (66) 8 1271 9050.
Hin Daeng comes
out of the water a little bit so you can see the rock above the
water. It is a pinnacle that comes up to a point at the top and
then has ridges that come out to the sides. Hin Daeng is a stunning
reef that has the deepest drop off in Thailand—it goes down
to 70 ms. It’s also considered to be the second best reef
after the Richelieu rock in the Similan Islands, also one of the
top 10 dive sites in the world. It is called Hin Daeng (Red Rock—‘hin’
is rock and ‘daeng’ is red) because it has many soft
red corals on it. You can find tiny creatures such as sea horses,
ghost pipe fish, and other small, rare beautiful fishes. But you
can also find the large ones such as manta rays, who come to visit
between November and February. Some lucky divers can see up to
20 manta rays in one day. Whale sharks like to visit Hin Daeng
as well. Another diving center is Scool Divers (Tel: (66)
7568 4645, (66) 8 1913 3366) which offer you more than
just diving. You can learn the basics of PADI courses, fun dive
and snorkeling from here.
The very top of
the reef of Hin Muang is about 12 ms below the surface. The bottom
at Hin Muang is around 40 to 50 ms. You can find octopus, snapper,
barracuda and tuna but in total up to 200 different species can
be found here.