Richelieu Rock. Thailand, February 2011.
Richelieu Rock. Thailand, February 2011.

Underwater at Similan

  Cambodia and Thailand - February 2011

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

Hop! At the water ! We go back under the surface. On the program: a small cruise to the Similan Islands, with Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon and Koh Tachaï on the course. These are the most famous dive sites in Thailand ...

Sea of Fantasy

Sea of Fantasy. February 2011. Similan dive cruise, Thailand.

When I embark, in February, on the Sea of Fantasy from Eden Divers, I know what to expect: it was with this boat that I had already dived in 2009 (see → The cruise makes bubbles and other links at the end of this post).

Update : The story you read here goes back several years... So don't try to book the same cruise at Eden Divers today, the company doesn't exist anymore! It went bankrupt, in the hands of a German who was prosecuted in Austria for fraud, and who was arrested in Thailand in May 2014, according to the articles I read on Thai websites. ThePhuketNews and ChiangRaiTimes.

In the crazy Thai armada that embarks daily divers on the Andaman Sea, this is one of the few boats to offer individual cabins, which suits me well (I do not like paying the exorbitant supplements singlenor sacrifice my sleep for snoring or snoring in a shared cabin).

Three years ago, I really enjoyed the comfort and the supervision, the Nitrox free, international atmosphere with divers of all ages and all walks of life ... so I decided to go back home.

Similan dive cruise. Sea of Fantasy. February 2011, Thailand.

Coup de bol: for this cruise, we are only 5 customers on the boat, made to accommodate 13. What to spread without jostling! I am glad.

The Thai crew is very caring, as always. Dinner is ready when you arrive, just step on the table.

The program is simple: eat, sleep, dive. Eat, sleep, dive.

My four diving companions are all German. Thirties, open and nice. We will have a good time during these three days. The staff who supervises this cruise is German too. Essen, Schlaffen, Tauchen

Good atmosphere, again, but... more Germanic than international this time! 😛

Sea of Fantasy. February 2011. Similan dive cruise, Thailand.

Bad luck: engine failure at the start. And since there is also a spare diaphragm for the compressor Nitroxit will therefore be necessary to dive "normally" in the air.

Good. All this is not too serious, it will not affect the cruise, fortunately. We will leave after all the other boats, much later, at night. Two Thai mechanics will spend long hours trimming and sweating, in the suffocating atmosphere of the hold, to repair the engine.

Ploufs!

I wondered, before diving, what state would be the coral, which suffered the bleaching due to water heating. And now that I've seen for myself, it's hard for me to judge, actually.

It was my 3rd dive cruise at the Similan, but with three years between each. My memories are not so precise and I do not know the sites by heart.

I think it's near the surface, where there were real 'coral gardens', that the damage is most important. But frankly, deeper, on all the sites where we dive, I feasted.

The highlight of the show being (as in previous times), in the archipelago of Surin, the sumptuous Richelieu Rock, teeming with life, covered with a profusion of purple corals, waving under the current. Magnificent !

Life abounds above the corals ... Richelieu Rock. Thailand, February 2011.
Life abounds above the corals ... Richelieu Rock. Thailand, February 2011.
Richelieu Rock. Thailand, February 2011.
Richelieu Rock. Thailand, February 2011.

We often hear that it would be Cousteau (still him!) Who would have given his name to Richelieu Rock, the color of soft corals lining the reef having evoked the purple of the dress of Cardinal Richelieu ...

In fact, this version would be a beautiful legend (more). Charlie, from the diving center Seafarer Divers, in Phuket, explains to me that it is not possible:

That's wrong, Cousteau's "Calypso" was never at Richelieu Rock, because I was the dive guide for this expedition during the shooting of the film "The Convicts of the Sea".

In 1988, no dive center had dipped in Richelieu Rock and nobody in the area knew this superb site.

The English probably gave this name because Cardinal Richelieu had made them drool in the seventeenth century with his navy, and as this rock is treacherous to navigation, they could compare it ... the cardinal from Richelieu.

But in fact, the real explanation would be the following (thanks to Ludovic to put me on the track, via an article from Bangkok Post(see the blog of Wicked Diving): Richelieu Rock wouldn't take its name from any reference to the famous Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), but of a certain Andreas Plessis de Richelieu (1852-1932), which marked the history of Thailand.

This Dane, as his name does not indicate, was sent to Siam where he distinguished himself in several naval battles at the end of the nineteenth century. He was the first foreign commander to join the Siamese navy, which promoted him to the rank of vice-admiral in 1902.

Photos under the water

Contrary to predictions of doomed birds, I managed not to drown my 7D! 🙃

I know that it thrills more than one, the idea of taking a camera like this under the water ... For my part, it does not worry me too much. I always prepare very carefully my box, without precipitation, the day before, preferably. Anyway, I can not imagine diving without my camera!

But I still need several dives to regain my marks and succeed in making the images that I want. Small disappointment during these three days of cruising: the weather rather gray, which did not help me much for the photos of atmosphere under water ...

And my main dilemma, from one dive site to another: the choice of the goal. Macro or wide angle? Small animals or big beasts?

Yes, I know. I'm in big trouble in life... 😛.

Grouper and cleaner shrimp. February 2011, Similan cruise, Thailand.
Nudibranch. February 2011, Similan cruise, Thailand.
Moray. February 2011, Similan cruise, Thailand.
Gorgon. February 2011, Similan cruise, Thailand.
Hippocampus. February 2011, Similan cruise, Thailand.
Harlequin shrimp. February 2011, Similan cruise, Thailand.
Coral. February 2011, Similan cruise, Thailand.

But where are the mantas?

At Koh Bon, obviously, no dilemma for choosing the goal. Wide angle, necessarily. This is the site of the mantas rays.

Alas, we did not cross them. It's not for lack of insistence. We plunged and returned to Koh Bon, even attempting an incursion into the blue, away from the reef. In vain. However, they should not be far ... (But I'll have a little luck a few days later, after this cruise, returning diving to Koh Bon the day, from Khao Lak ...)

Finally, in the category "big beast", we were hoping, too, cross the road of a whale shark. But no. Not the tail of one. It was not our day. Neither that day nor the others.

I can see how lucky I was, five years ago: manta rays, and one whale shark for my very first dive cruise at Similan!

Good. No mantas, no whale sharks this time. But there was "fat", anyway. Piles of very impressive schools of jacks and pigeon similar. Our tour-leader, Karin, saw two swordfish, me an eagle-ray, the Germans a black-tip shark.

That said, the obsession of the "big" would almost forget the rest: the "usual tropical fauna", as I write now in my dive book to go fast. Scorpion fish, moray eels, groupers, blue-hooked rays, clownfish, butterflyfish, parrot fish, angelfish, balloon fish, trumpetfish, scorpion fish ...

They are still here!

Red Lionfish. Similan dive boat. February 2011, Thailand.
Fish-flute. Similan dive boat. February 2011, Thailand.
Angelfish. Similan dive boat. February 2011, Thailand.
Clown fish. Similan dive boat. February 2011, Thailand.

My previous cruises

I put here links to posts and photos that I posted online, after my previous cruises-dives at Similan.

My stay of 2006

It was with the dive center Sea Dragonbased in Khao Lak, on the southwest coast of Thailand. I liked the atmosphere at the time, rather young and backpackers, very good option for small budgets. I hadn't launched this blog yet, but I had posted pictures on the very first sites I had created at the time, Carnets d'Asie du Sud-Est (South-East Asian Diaries) and Diving in South East Asia :

My stay of 2009

In 2009, I had discovered the Sea of Fantasy of Eden Divers (with whom I chose to leave for this Similan cruise in 2011). Good comfort, one of the few boats offering individual cabins, free nitrox and German-style square organization, but relaxed all the same...

Update : The story you read here goes back several years... So don't try to book the same cruise at Eden Divers today, the company doesn't exist anymore! It went bankrupt, in the hands of a German who was prosecuted in Austria for fraud, and who was arrested in Thailand in May 2014, according to the articles I read on Thai websites. ThePhuketNews and ChiangRaiTimes.

Similan dive cruise. February 2011, Thailand.

😎 👌 🐠

  Cambodia and Thailand - February 2011

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  1. @ Wet & Sea / Ludovic: Yes, I too was reassured to see that there was still fun at the Similan. Am very happy with my grouper photo: it was one of my first successful photos, during the first day of ploufs ...

    For Mimpi Indah, you are not the first to claim a CR, I stick to it in the days to come, promised.

    Pour le reste, je vois que tu n’en fais qu’à ta tête… 😆

  2. Même s’il a été confirmé que le magnifique site d’East of Eden est aussi blanchi que les restes de James Dean, c’est rassurant de savoir qu’il existe toujours de la plongée valable sur la zone. 🙂

    Et au passage, elle est magnifique ta photo de mérou chez le dentiste! 8) …et pis franchement, pourquoi qu’il voudrait se baigner ton 7D? 😯

    Si tu avais le bon goût de nous pondre un petit article sur Mimpi Indah, on pourrait mieux attendre ton prochain CR du côté des dragons, tu sais… 😉

    Au passage j’ai rayé Wakatobi de ma liste d’été, le cout exorbitant des vols aura eu raison de moi, et je vais chez Murex Bangka, ceci juste après Weh (mais sur l’autre plage… ce qui me tentait pour Weh c’était aussi l’itinéraire qui me permettait de passer une nuit à Penang au superbe Eastern & Oriental, ce que je gagne sur le billet Wakatobi, je le dépense dans un palace décadent à Penang 😆 ) et avant une semaine à Bali (…que je redoute un peu en août)…. Enfin que des trucs que tu connais finalement…

  3. @Anne Marie: Mais de rien, c’est le but de ce blog ! 🙂

    @Thomas: Thank you so much ! But you know, I have this SLR only for a year and even with a compact, it is possible to make very correct photos. My 2009 sub photos at Similan, par exemple, dont je mets le lien à la fin de ce post, ont été faites avec plusieurs compacts (le mien, le Powershot A95 qui avait fini par rendre l’âme, et un Powershot S30 qu’on m’avait prêté). 🙄

  4. Corinne, tes photos sont toujours aussi magnifiques ! J’ai fait pas mal de photos sous l’eau à l’Ile Maurice en snorkel en mars dernier avec mon Canon Powershot D10, mais je mesure là, en voyant les tiennes, l’intérêt d’avoir un reflex 🙄
    And your stories always give you the desire to travel ... Bravo!

  5. @Ludo: Did you go to Weh? The other beach is not that of Lumba Lumba, I guess ???

    J’attends vos CR a tous les deux : Bangka et l’autre bled itou 😉

  6. Well, it's been a while since I want to pass the patent nitrox, you confirm, it's worth it?

    By the way, did you dive elsewhere than in Asia? Apart from Brittany :-)

  7. Me anyway I confirm. outside the limitation to 40metres, less fatigue and more security.

  8. @Hallboy: Ludovic, aka Wet & Sea, plans to go to Pulau Weh. As he is accompanied by non-divers, I think he will opt for Iboih beach, rather than Gapang beach (Lumba Lumba beach, which for my part, I preferred, for the atmosphere more local and more authentic).
    http://petitesbullesdailleurs.fr/2010-03-pulau-weh-sumatra-indonesie/
    🙄

    @Thib: From you, knowing your impressive photographic work, I must say that this compliment touches me a lot !!! Thank you, Thib '.
    🙂

    @Fabrice: Yes, the nitrox certification is really worth it, in my humble opinion, for those who practice recreational diving like me, generally without deco, most often in the 30 meter zone. Nitrox is simply air, enriched with oxygen, which makes it possible to push the limits of non-decompression, hence several advantages in diving:
    1 - First, safety, especially for diving cruises, where you often inquire 3 or 4 dives in succession during the day. With nitrox, you charge less nitrogen than if you plunge in the air.
    2 - as you push the limits of no decompression, you can stay a little longer without decompression on a wreck not too deep, to make the picture, for example, compared to a diver in the air.
    3 - finally, some divers will tell you that they are less tired by breathing this super oxygenated air. I do not see any difference. But psychologically, it "secures" me to know that I have more margin compared to the decor, and suddenly, I feel like diving more cool, more relaxed ...
    8)
    Finally, for places where I dive: Brittany (aglaglagla), some ploufs in the Dominican Republic a long time ago (not spectacular), Mediterranean (Greece), Southeast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia) ...

  9. @Corinne: j’étais chez Lumbalumba/Gapang aussi, et qd on passe devant Iboh en bateau ça donne qd mm sacrement envie 😉

    @Ludo: do you dive qd mm with Lumbalumba?

  10. @Corinne and Hallboy: Nan, nan, nan, je m’étions mal-t’exprimé 😕 il faut comprendre l’AUUUUUTRE plage, encore plus l’autre que l’autre, ni Gapang, ni Iboih : Sumur Tiga, quoi. 8)

    Je pense que j’irai avec Rubiah Tirta qui, lui, est bien l’autre centre de plongée. 😉

    @Fabrice: mais quel intérêt de plonger hors Asie, hmmh… 🙄 … 😀 … 😆

  11. @Hallboy: Ben, I went for a walk several times on the side of Iboih, (it's a few minutes to scooter Gapang), it's certainly pretty, but frankly, issue atmosphere, I was very happy to return to Gapang ... 8)

    @ Ludovic / Wet & Sea: Ah, ben oui, évidemment, l’autre plage c’est carrément l’autre plage… 😆

  12. Well, ludo and Corinne: CR detailed and mandatory for Weh and the aure thing you were talking about;)

  13. As usual, the photos are beautiful!
    il va falloir que j’aille faire un tour en Thailande……. 💡 à moins que ce ne soit Bali le prochain voyage……… cruel dilemme 😕
    I came back from the visayas and I finally saw lots of ghostpipe fish ❗
    My compact (canon ixus960) begins to flounder, difficulty to focus ... but to switch to reflex is a bit too much for me, I'll look at the G12 I think.
    See you at the next post!

  14. Beautiful photos ... it gives me even more desire to pass my level 1!
    But I must admit that I do not know if I could dive with my 5D Mark II ... I would be too scared to drown it! Congratulations to you for these beautiful pictures!

  15. @Alien: Thank you ! As you start, you will probably not be very comfortable if you go underwater with a camera, and a precious 5D even less. However, when you have a little experience, I'm sure that the desire to make the underwater photo will eventually itch you ...
    😉

    @NowMadNow: Thank you so much. Yes, you'll see: the picture under the water adds a lot to the pleasure of diving ... I can not do without it now!
    🙂

  16. @Alimata: Tiens, tiens, ça faisait longtemps… 😀 C’est dommage, sur la dernière photo, tu as mal cadré les poissons, et à la place on voit une espèce de tache blanche, dans le fond…
    😆

  17. Oui, je sais, je t’ai fait des infidélités, mais bon que veux tu Bornéo et les Maldives sont de jolies maitresses 🙄
    For the last photo, it's the fault of Mr. Fisheye, it's hard to stay on the small ...

  18. Wow! Wow! Wow!
    I did not know we could take such beautiful underwater photos.
    J’imagine qu’on ne fait pas ce genre de photo avec un Iphone 😉
    Wonderful in any case!

  19. Hello Corinne,

    it's always a pleasure to read you and follow your adventures. Tell me, have you always planned an article on your box 7D because it interests me. Thanks in advance.

    When I leave for Sipadan for August and I can not wait.

    @+

  20. Thank you Corinne for these beautiful photos and your very detailed comments. A question: can a non-diver accompany a cruise to the similans? I look forward to reading you

    1. @Frank: yes, of course, he can. As long as he pays for his place, nothing forbids it ... But he is likely to bother a little, on the boat, while the others are diving ...

  21. Hello,
    have you returned to simulan since?
    and what do you think of snorkeling down today?
    I can not get real info on simulan
    similan, surin or kho tao?
    thank you for your repose

    1. @Fred: No, I have not returned to the Similan since. In general, Surin is part of the journey in the "Similan" cruises. As for Koh Tao, it's not at the same place, it's on the other side, in the Gulf of Thailand.

      I would still recommend a Similan cruise. As for snorkeling, I do not really realize what's worth it, because I do not do it or not ...

  22. Je me replonge dans ton article de 2011 – nous partons en Thaïlande dans 2 semaines et nous allons pour la première fois tenter l’expérience du bateau de croisière – 4 nuits pour découvrir les Iles Similan, avec West Coast Divers. Nous verrons ce que deviennent les coraux par là bas, l’ambiance sur le bateau etc… En espérant voir également un gentil requin-baleine par là-bas! Merci pour ces jolies photos, comme toujours 🙂

  23. Hello Corinne,

    We leave at the beginning of January in Khao Lak and we would like to know a dive group not too expensive for diving around Similan. Do you know a nice club (francophone) and not too expensive please?

    Thank you in advance for your return.

    1. @Jim: je ne suis pas retournée plonger en Thaïlande ni du côté de Khao Lak depuis des lustres… Le séjour dont je parle ci-dessus remonte à février 2011. 😉 Je n’ai donc pas d’info fraîche et je ne connais pas du tout les centres de plongée francophones qui opèrent actuellement à Khao Lak ni leurs tarifs. Il faudrait lancer une recherche sur Google ou aller in the Asia forum of Plongeur.com, pour tenter d’avoir des renseignements de plongeurs voyageurs qui y sont allés récemment. Bons préparatifs et bonnes bulles ! 🙂

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