From Bangkok, a couple hour plane ride south to Krabi will land you just north of the Gulf of Thailand. You can either travel here, or to Phuket! Both offer different vibes. Krabi is a tad more family friendly, and more muslim so be sensitive to the culture and have respectful outfits. Phuket on the other hand is wild and crazy, a bustling city with numerous beach towns, my favorite being Patong Beach as they shut down one of the main streets overnight so people can dance their asses off safely.
A Quick History
Possibly one of the oldest settlements in Thai history, this location has fossils that date back as far as 37,000 years! This area most likely served as a jump off point to the surrounding 130 lime stone islands that jut out of the sea and attract divers and rock climbers alike.
How to Play
I LOVE the sea, ideally I'd live in it. And if I had my way, I'd also live in a bikini. So when I had a chance to break away from my family, I took it! Hopefully soon I'll be able to take my son to play in the sea, but at the time of this trip he was only one!
A two hour and twenty minute boat ride from Ao Nang, Krabi in the Gulf of Thailand, take you out to Bida Noi and Bida Nok, the two islands just south of Phi Phi Leh. Apparently it's one of the best dive locations for marine life in the region, and it doesn't disappoint! Just breathing in every drop of scenery and that salty tropical air. True bliss and my kind of a Sunday. I chose to dive with Kon Tiki dive shop as they're one of the only shops on the main drag of Ao Nang. I needed something that required no thought, just total relaxation and salt water - this was it! It's these types of outings that really bring me back to base, there's nothing that beats being on the open water heading out to sea, to a place you've never been. Absolutely nothing. It's exciting, breathtaking, and gives you that wanderlust feeling. I swear in a past life I was a sailor, perhaps on the HMS Resolute...
The conditions at Bida Noi weren't great for snorkeling so I ended up circling the tiny bay collecting plastic bottles, styrofoam, and other debris that don't belong in the ocean while the divers went below. It's amazing how much trash can collect in little pockets such as this. Plastics are our own worst enemy, and it makes me cringe at the thought of many of us not slowing our use of them, even I am guilty. Thankfully we are beginning to see a turnaround, not only with recycling but with some countries even taking the lead to ban single-use plastics!
I did see roughly 15-17 Blacktip reef sharks darting around below which was great! Blacktips are harmless to humans, about nine feet in length, and they're more scared of you than you'd think. Incredibly fast and intelligent, sharks are one of the most underrated and under protected species on the planet. We need them as keepers of the ocean, for eating diseased or dead fish which maintain our oceans healthy and cleanliness. Here is a great read on current work that's being done to protect both sharks and rays.
Free diving is my new venture, obsession. It's phenomenally liberating and a skill that you can improve on with each dive which makes it all the more fun and rewarding. Plus, who doesn't like to be a mermaid for the afternoon? Free diving offers a chance to test yourself, to dive deeper, to see more, and to get a glimpse of what it's like to live under the sea. No real equipment is required so it makes it very simple. A mask and a set of fins are great but not essential, and you can definitely get more out of each dive if you add a weight belt. Even if you're a scuba diver, or have yet to try snorkeling, free diving is a must, you'll have so much fun!
After getting back on the boat after the first snorkeling session, the Captain drove over to Koh Phi Phi Ley as the current and wake were too strong near Bida Nok. This time I just played, free diving and checking out the clown fish living in the anemones. Clown fish have an incredible ability to immunize themselves for their host anemone, that way they can avoid being stung, or eaten while predators to the clown fish cannot penetrate. An incredible symbiotic relationship! Definitely explains why no one comes over to Nemo's house!
There's a resident octopus in the area too, another of my favorite sea creatures. The most intelligent invertebrate, these guys create houses with back door exits in case of any unwanted guests. I feel like we could all use a trap door in our homes! So much to learn from this species.
On the second dive the rains took over mid-dive! Watching the rain fall on the ocean's surface while underneath it is breathtaking and crazy to watch all at the same time. I can never get enough!
I was pleased to see small schools of fish in the corals as so much of the Andaman Sea has been fished out. During my Divemaster Internship in Phuket, Thailand in 2008, I specifically remember the lack of biodiversity in aquatic fish. Diving below the surface, the sea floor seemed empty, while above the surface were large commercial fishing vessels. Back in Patong, Phuket the markets and restaurants would be filled to the brim with fresh seafood. Where were they getting all of this?! Thankfully this trip yielded happier memories as far as species diversification and population go, which made my heart rest easy and allow me to free dive freely.
Yes I will be going back!
What to Wear
- Swim Suit that's meant for sport
- Cover up or light dress for before and after dive
- Bra and undies, unless you can get away without either with your cover up
- Most tour companies offer snacks and even lunch, but pack accordingly if you have any dietary issues
Has anyone been diving to these islands? If so what marine life did you see? Have you seen the marine life over a spectrum of time? Did you notice a change in diversification? Raise your hand if you want to try free diving!
WARNING: Man of War jellies have been spotted in the area. According to on dive guide there have been several hundred spotted in the area over the past few years. Man of Wars can be spotted from the surface, looking similar to a floating plastic bottle. Their tentacles can reach up to 50 feet or more and the slightest touch can be fatal. Treatment includes washing fresh ocean water over the infected area, NOT VINEGAR and NOT FRESH WATER (unlink most jelly fish stings). Then an emergency trip to the nearest local hospital. This is a very serious concern and the Thai National Guard responds to reports by fishing them out of the water and removing them. Make sure to report any sightings to your dive crew or the nearest dive shop.
Krabi Tourism, Design by Rachada Srepaotong. -firstname.lastname@example.org. "Krabi History." Krabi History. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 July 2017.
Nicholls, Fiona. "6 Amazing Plastic Bans from around the World." Greenpeace UK. N.p., 22 June 2017. Web. 14 July 2017.
"Sharks and Rays | Project AWARE." Project AWARE Homepage. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 July 2017.