Manta Ray, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC, scuba diving

The Dive Sites of Koh Lanta

The thought of visiting Thailand conjures up images of white-sand beaches, swaying palm trees, delicious food, and fantastic diving.  And the west coast of Thailand offers the best diving in the region, with regular manta ray and whale shark encounters…

Koh Lanta is situated in the middle of Thailand’s west coast – a short drive from the international airport at nearby Krabi Town.  Its warm, clear waters and stunning beaches make it a great choice as a holiday destination, and with such great diving, it’s a top diving destination in the region – arguably Thailand’s best land-based diving.

Scuba diving Thailand, Koh Lanta, Open Water, Advanced, Rescue, Divemaster IDC

Suitable for diving levels, Koh Lanta offers a nice variety of dive sites, and has something for everyone to enjoy – shallow, colourful reefs; deep drop-offs; small critters; large pelagics; and a couple of wrecks.  Let’s have a look at the dive sites on offer:

Hin Daeng / Hin Muang

Manta Ray, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC, scuba diving

The twin-pinnacles situated to the south of Koh Lanta are perhaps the biggest draw for experienced divers.  Famed as Thailand’s best wall dive, Hin Daeng (and neighbouring Hin Muang), provide divers in the area with great chances of watching numerous manta rays circling the cleaning stations on the shallow parts of the reefs. The two dive sites take their names from the abundance of soft corals covering the rocks – ‘hin’ is the Thai word for ‘rock’, ‘daeng’ translates as ‘red’, and ‘muang’ means ‘purple’.

The two sites are just a couple of hundred metres apart, and a dive trip here usually includes one dive at each site.  Hin Muang is a submerged, elongated pinnacle, with the shallowest section just below the surface, and the sea-bed a little deeper than sixty metres.  Hin Daeng resembles an underwater mountain, again rising from around sixty metres, with its summit protruding a few metres above the surface.  The pinnacles offer oases of life in the middle of the open ocean, and can present lucky divers with some great marine life encounters, both big and small.

Marine life: whale sharks, manta rays, ornate ghost pipefish, leopard sharks, seahorses, schooling trevally and barracuda, ribbon eels, spearing mantis shrimp, and octopuses.

Koh Ha

Scuba Diving Thailand, Koh Lanta, Koh Ha, Phi Phi, Krabi, Phuket

The name of this cluster of islands translates to ‘five islands’, and they offer a number of different dive sites at one location with varying topography. Koh Ha #1 is famed for its chimney – a vertical swim-through suitable for experienced divers – that is often teeming with fishes and life.  the chimney is a nice way to end the dive as it takes you up to five or six metres – perfect to start your safety stop.

Koh Ha Lagoon Dive Site Map, Koh Lanta

In the middle of islands #2, #3, and #4 is the lagoon area (as seen in the photo above).  this is great dive site for students and experienced divers a like.  Divers can start in the middle of the lagoon, at a depth of around six metres, and then follow the sandy slopes between the islands down to a maximum of thirty metres.  The outside of the islands are covering with a rainbow of soft corals, and are home to many cool and amazing creatures.

Koh Ha Yai – the biggest island of the group – is another stunning dive with the chance for experienced divers to enter ‘the cathedral’.  A natural hollow within the island that allows divers a unique experience – surfacing inside an island !

Koh Lanta, Thailand, Harlequin Shrimp, IDC, Divemaster

Marine life: whale sharks, black-tipped reef sharks, harlequin shrimp, seahorses, turtles, ornate ghost pipefish, peacock mantis shrimp, spearing mantis shrimp, and nudibranchs.

Koh Bidas

The two Bida islands – Bida Nok & Bida Nai – are two limestone rocks jutting out of the water to the south of the Phi Phi islands.  Both sites are covered in beautiful soft corals, and are home to a myriad of varying species of marine life.  Diving at the Bidas is a great spot for shark enthusiasts, with regular sightings of leopard and black-tipped reef sharks, and also the occasional appearance by the world’s biggest fish – the whale shark.

Whale Shark, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

The Bidas are also a great place for the smaller critters.  A nice relaxed swim along the reef usually allows divers to find nudibranchs, ornate ghost pipefish, seahorses, and cuttlefish hiding beneath the sweeping school of yellow snapper that frequents the reefs.

A trip to the Bidas from Lanta usually involves the first dive at Koh Bida Nok, and the second dive at the slightly shallower Koh Bida Nai.  If you are on a three-dive trip, then the chances are you will do a third dive at the nearby Hin Bida – a submerged dive site on the way back to Koh Lanta, and a favourite resting place for the leopard sharks.

Marine life: leopard sharks, whale sharks, ghost pipefish, nudibranchs, yellow snapper, barracuda, turtles, seahorses, frogfish, black-tipped reef sharks, and bent-stick pipefish.

Kled Kaew Wreck

Wreck diving, Koh Lanta, Phi Phi, Kled Kaew, Divemaster, IDC, Thailand

The HTMS Kled Kaew is a former naval gunship in the Royal Thai Navy.  The Kled Kaew was built in 1948 for the Norwegian Royal Navy, being launched initially as the RnoMS Norfrost. Eight years later it was acquired and renamed by the Royal Thai Navy. In 2014, she was brought to her final resting place near Koh Phi Phi Ley and purposefully sank.  The wreck sits in around 26 metres of water, with the shallowest section of the wreck reaching about 14 metres.  As is so often the case with wrecks, the ex-naval launch provides shelter to many different species of marine life, and has large schools of fish circling just above the structure.

Wreck diving, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Phi Phi, PADI, Divemaster, IDC

The 47-metre long wreck is a nice easy wreck, with some occasional current at certain times.  She’ s a great wreck to dive as part of your PADI Advanced Open Water Course, or a perfect dive for Nitrox, with the reduced nitrogen levels affording a longer bottom time on the decks.

Marine life: barracuda, trevally, lionfish, scorpionfish, frogfish, nudibranchs, moray eels, batfish, and catfish.

Frogfish, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Scuba diving, IDC, Divemaster

All the above dive sites are easily accessible from Koh Lanta.  Lanta Diver offers regular trips to these sites on one of its three dive-boats.  If you would like to know more about the dive sites and the trips from Koh Lanta, please email Lanta Diver – scuba@lantadiver.com.

Photos taken by Narcosis Nick U/W Photography, Richard Reardon, and Steve Branson.

PADI IDC Thailand, Platinum Course Director Richard reardon
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PADI Divemaster Course on Koh Lanta

Always dreamed of living on a tropical island ?  Sunshine everyday ? The commute to work a stroll down the beach ?  Then maybe life as a PADI dive professional is for you…

PADI Divemaster Course, Koh Lanta, Thailand, PADI Pro, IDC

At Lanta Diver we offer PADI Divemaster training in a stunning location, with great diving.  All the professional-level PADI training is run by an experienced Platinum Course Director with a wealth of experience and knowledge to pass on.

Koh Lanta is a small, idyllic tropical island on the west coast of Thailand.  It offers divers the best land-based diving in Thailand, with regular sightings of both whale sharks and manta rays.  The smaller marine life is plentiful too – seahorses, harlequin shrimp, ghost pipefish and nudibranchs are commonly seen on all dive sites too.

Whale Shark, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

Above the surface, Koh Lanta also has a lot to offer – stunning beaches, great restaurants, and sunsets to die for.  Check out some great photos of Lanta here.

Koh Lanta, Thailand, Beach, Divemaster training, PADI IDC, best diving

The PADI Divemaster course is the gateway to a life as a professional scuba diver, and gives you a passport to great diving destinations all over our blue planet.  During the course you will learn how to guide dives and how to function as an assistant to PADI Instructors.  After qualification, you will be able to start working in the dive industry, guiding divers around dive sites, and showing them the rich marine life that Koh Lanta has to offer.

Manta Ray, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

Koh Lanta, Thailand, Harlequin Shrimp, IDC, Divemaster

If you fancy the challenge of becoming a PADI Divemaster in Koh Lanta under the watchful eye of a Platinum PADI Course Director, then send us an email for further information on how you too can live in paradise…

PADI IDC, Divemaster, Thailand, Koh Lanta, Koh Tao, Phuket, Phi Phi

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Whale Shark, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

Top 8 Coolest Creatures To See Diving From Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta, on the west coast of Thailand, has perhaps the best land-based diving in all of Thailand. It boasts easy access to some great dive sites, including Hin Daeng, Hin Muang, Koh Ha, and the dive sites of Koh Phi Phi are also only a short trip away. During your dives on these great dive sites, you are sure to bump into some amazing creatures along the reef. Starting with the smallest, here are my favourite eight reef denizens to spot on your dives…

  1. Harlequin Shrimp

Koh Lanta, Thailand, Harlequin Shrimp, IDC, Divemaster

The colourful harlequin shrimp is perhaps the funkiest and coolest of all shrimp. They are commonly encountered hiding in the reefs around Koh Lanta, often munching on a sea star. Harlequin shrimp don’t stray too far once they have found a nice spot with plentiful supply of food, and when your dive guide knows where they are hiding out, they can be found quite easily…

2. Ornate Ghost Pipefish

Koh Lanta, Thailand, Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Divemaster, IDC

The ornate ghost pipefish is another cool visitor to the reefs surrounding Koh Lanta. They come in a variety of colours, and can be seen in pairs or as solitary individuals. Ornate ghost pipefish can change their colour to suit their chosen home among the branches of gorgonians, in floating weeds, or feather stars. They can be tricky to spot, but again, once found, they often stay in one location for a while…

3. Seahorse

Seahorse, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

Seahorses are another common spot amongst the reefs of Lanta. They can even be spotted very close to shore on Lanta’s beaches, but are also common on dive sites such as Koh Ha. The tiger tail seahorse is the most commonly encountered seahorse on Koh Lanta’s dive sites, and are spotted year round…

4. Frogfish

Frogfish, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

Perhaps a less frequently spotted critter in the area is the frogfish. These cryptic creatures are a master of disguise and can be difficult to spot. The are still seen quite often on the dive sites around Koh Ha and Hin Daeng, as well as on the wrecks around Koh Phi Phi…

5. Turtle

Turtle, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

Hawksbill turtles are a regular sight on all the dive sites around Koh Lanta. They are often encountered munching on bubble coral, or just cruising by in the blue close to the reefs. Green turtles are also occasionally spotted in the area…

6. Leopard Shark

Leopard Shark, Zebra Shark, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

The leopard shark, also known as the zebra shark, is a commonly encountered shark in the waters around Koh Lanta. They like to rest on the sand, and are often seen at dive sites like Hin Bida, Bida Nok, and Bida Nai. When they are resting on the bottom, you can get close enough for a good photograph if you approach them very slowly. They are also a great photo subject when they are swimming, with their distinctive long tails scything through the water…

7. Manta Ray

Manta Ray, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

If you want to dive with the majestic manta ray, then you need to book yourself on a trip to Hin Daeng & Hin Muang – two sea mounts in the open ocean. These two stunning dive sites are home to many cleaner fish, and the mantas come to get preened. You just hang back and watch the spectacular show as the mantas circle the cleaning stations. Mantas are my favourite animal to just hover and watch…

8. Whale Shark

Whale Shark, Koh Lanta, Thailand, Divemaster, PADI IDC

And last, but definitely not least, we have the giant whale shark – the biggest fish in the ocean. Whale sharks are very common, but you still need a little luck to be in the right place at the right time. They are commonly encountered at Hin Daeng, Hin Muang, and at Koh Ha. They are also sometimes seen at Bida Nok, close to Koh Phi Phi. Diving along and then seeing the unmistakable shape of a whale shark emerging from the blue is a truly unforgettable experience…

If you haven’t dived from Koh Lanta yet, maybe it’s time to add it to your bucket-list and come see the amazing creatures of the Andaman Sea. Lanta boasts a nice mixture of dive sites for both beginners and experienced divers alike. It is also a beautiful island to spend your non-diving days relaxing on the beach enjoying delicious Thai food or even a sunset cocktail…

If you would like to dive Koh Lanta, email Lanta Diver – a five-star PADI IDC centre offering day trips to all the sites mentioned above. Lanta Diver also run all recreational courses, as well as professional-level courses such as Divemaster & IDC programmes. And if you are looking for a great hotel on the island, look no further than Mook Lanta Eco Resort. What are you waiting for ?

Photos by Narcosis Nick and Richard Reardon

The Sharks Of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

The idyllic island of Koh Phi Phi on the west coast of Thailand is famous for once, briefly, being home to Leonardo DiCaprio and friends during the filming of the hit movie ‘The Beach‘.  Koh Phi Phi’s surrounding waters are also home to some amazing sea creatures.  The diving here is exceptional, with great biodiversity, good macro critters, plenty of turtles and stunning corals, but for me, the big draw is the sharks…

PADI IDC Thailand
The stunning tail of a swimming leopard shark…

The sharks around Koh Phi Phi present no problem for anyone who wishes to enjoy these beautiful, warm waters.  The main sightings are of leopard sharks and black-tipped reef sharks, with occasional bamboo sharks and from time to time whale sharks pass through too…

The Leopard Shark

PADI DC Thailand
A leopard shark resting on the seabed at Pileh Wall, Koh Phi Phi

Common Names: Leopard shark, Zebra shark.

Latin Name: Stegostoma fasciatum.

Family: Stegostomatidae

Identification: Body scalloped with two distinct ridges running from behind head along each flank into caudal fin (tail). The immense caudal fin is almost as long as the body. First and second dorsal fins low and long with a free rear margin. Pectorals well-developed. Body colouration cream, yellow, or greenish-yellow, with dense black spots. Juveniles have vertical lines of black on cream. Hence the two common names of leopard or zebra shark.

Size: Maximum length 3.5m. 25cm at birth. Colouration changes at around 90cm.

Habitat: Inshore and offshore adjacent to reefs.

Abundance and distribution: Red Sea south to South Africa, west to Indonesia and Samoa and from Japan to Australia.  

PADI IDC Thailand
Distribution of leopard sharks…

 

Behaviour: Usually seen resting on the sand or rubble adjacent to reefs during the day. Hunts in same area nocturnally. Feeds on molluscs, crustaceans, and occasionally on bony fishes.  The leopard shark is quite approachable, and it’s possible to get nice and close for a photograph.

Reproduction: Oviparous. Up to four purple to brown egg cases are laid at a time. During mating the male bites on to the pectoral fin of the female. Juveniles are rarely seen and probably inhabit waters deeper than recreational scuba allows.

The Black-tipped Reef Shark

PADI IDC Thailand
A male black-tipped reef shark in the shallows…

Common Names: Black-tipped reef shark, Indo-Pacific black-tip shark, black-tip shark.

Latin Name: Carcharhinus melanopterus

Family: Carcharhinidae

Identification: Well defined black tips on all fins. Dorsal fin tip black/white demarcation line extremely distinct and unique. Dorsal colouration grey/tan. Ventrum (underside) is white. Snout is short and bluntly rounded.

Size: Maximum length 2m. Size at birth 45-75cm.

Habitat: Very shallow coral reef flats and slopes. Occasionally on deeper reefs and in brackish water.

PADI IDC Thailand
Black-tipped reef shark (photo Neutral Buoyancy Images)

Distribution: Indo-west Pacific Red Sea to southern East Africa including Madagascar. Present along much of the shallow coastline of the Indian Ocean and throughout South East Asia from Southern Japan to northern Australia. Abundant in many South Pacific Island chains including much of French Polynesia. Also present in the Mediterranean (via the Suez Canal).

Behaviour:  Swims constantly either alone or in small groups. Does not school.  Black-tipped reef sharks are a very shy shark, and it can be difficult to get close enough for a photograph.

Reproduction: Viviparous (live young). Litter number 2-4.

Most likely if you do come and dive at Koh Phi Phi the sharks you would encounter would be either the leopard shark or the black-tipped reef shark.  But occasionally we are lucky enough to be graced with the presence of the world’s biggest fish…

PADI IDC Thailand
Me snorkelling with a whale shark…

If you’d like to come to dive at Koh Phi Phi and learn more about these, and other sharks, then you should consider taking the AWARE Shark Conservation Diver course or the PADI Reef Shark Awareness course.  These courses will teach you all about shark biology and behaviour and help you to learn to identify sharks not only to species, but also to gender.  You will also learn about the current threats to sharks from man, and what you can do to help…

PADI IDC Thailand
PADI Reef Shark Awareness Specialty

If you are a PADI Instructor, you can also complete the corresponding PADI Specialty Instructor Training courses with me and become qualified to help spread the word about the plight of the world’s sharks too. For further details, send me an e-mail, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions…

PADI IDC Thailand
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The Sharks Of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

The idyllic island of Koh Phi Phi on the west coast of Thailand is famous for once, briefly, being home to Leonardo DiCaprio and friends during the filming of the hit movie ‘The Beach‘.  Koh Phi Phi’s surrounding waters are also home to some amazing sea creatures.  The diving here is exceptional, with great biodiversity, good macro critters, plenty of turtles and stunning corals, but for me, the big draw is the sharks…

PADI IDC Thailand
The stunning tail of a swimming leopard shark…

The sharks around Koh Phi Phi present no problem for anyone who wishes to enjoy these beautiful, warm waters.  The main sightings are of leopard sharks and black-tipped reef sharks, with occasional bamboo sharks and from time to time whale sharks pass through too…

The Leopard Shark

PADI DC Thailand
A leopard shark resting on the seabed at Pileh Wall, Koh Phi Phi

Common Names: Leopard shark, Zebra shark.

Latin Name: Stegostoma fasciatum.

Family: Stegostomatidae

Identification: Body scalloped with two distinct ridges running from behind head along each flank into caudal fin (tail). The immense caudal fin is almost as long as the body. First and second dorsal fins low and long with a free rear margin. Pectorals well-developed. Body colouration cream, yellow, or greenish-yellow, with dense black spots. Juveniles have vertical lines of black on cream. Hence the two common names of leopard or zebra shark.

Size: Maximum length 3.5m. 25cm at birth. Colouration changes at around 90cm.

Habitat: Inshore and offshore adjacent to reefs.

Abundance and distribution: Red Sea south to South Africa, west to Indonesia and Samoa and from Japan to Australia.  

PADI IDC Thailand
Distribution of leopard sharks…

 

Behaviour: Usually seen resting on the sand or rubble adjacent to reefs during the day. Hunts in same area nocturnally. Feeds on molluscs, crustaceans, and occasionally on bony fishes.  The leopard shark is quite approachable, and it’s possible to get nice and close for a photograph.

Reproduction: Oviparous. Up to four purple to brown egg cases are laid at a time. During mating the male bites on to the pectoral fin of the female. Juveniles are rarely seen and probably inhabit waters deeper than recreational scuba allows.

The Black-tipped Reef Shark

PADI IDC Thailand
A male black-tipped reef shark in the shallows…

Common Names: Black-tipped reef shark, Indo-Pacific black-tip shark, black-tip shark.

Latin Name: Carcharhinus melanopterus

Family: Carcharhinidae

Identification: Well defined black tips on all fins. Dorsal fin tip black/white demarcation line extremely distinct and unique. Dorsal colouration grey/tan. Ventrum (underside) is white. Snout is short and bluntly rounded.

Size: Maximum length 2m. Size at birth 45-75cm.

Habitat: Very shallow coral reef flats and slopes. Occasionally on deeper reefs and in brackish water.

PADI IDC Thailand
Black-tipped reef shark (photo Neutral Buoyancy Images)

Distribution: Indo-west Pacific Red Sea to southern East Africa including Madagascar. Present along much of the shallow coastline of the Indian Ocean and throughout South East Asia from Southern Japan to northern Australia. Abundant in many South Pacific Island chains including much of French Polynesia. Also present in the Mediterranean (via the Suez Canal).

Behaviour:  Swims constantly either alone or in small groups. Does not school.  Black-tipped reef sharks are a very shy shark, and it can be difficult to get close enough for a photograph.

Reproduction: Viviparous (live young). Litter number 2-4.

Most likely if you do come and dive at Koh Phi Phi the sharks you would encounter would be either the leopard shark or the black-tipped reef shark.  But occasionally we are lucky enough to be graced with the presence of the world’s biggest fish…

PADI IDC Thailand
Me snorkelling with a whale shark…

If you’d like to come to Koh Phi Phi and learn more about these, and other sharks, then you should consider taking the PADI Reef Shark Awareness course.  This course will teach all about shark biology and behaviour and help you to learn to identify sharks not only to species, but also to gender.  You will also learn about the current threats to sharks from man, and what you can do to help…

PADI IDC Thailand
PADI Reef Shark Awareness Specialty

If you are a PADI Instructor, you can also complete the PADI Specialty Instructor Training course with me and become qualified to help spread the word about the plight of the world’s sharks too. For further details, send me an e-mail, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions…

PADI IDC Thailand
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Shouting Out For Sharks…

Many species of shark are now on the brink of extinction, and they need our help.  During the month of April, Khao Lak Scuba Adventures will be making a huge effort to gain as many signatures as possible for Project AWARE’s Give Sharks A Chance petition

 

Project AWARE aim to gather as many signatures as possible to present at the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) conference being held in Pattaya, Thailand in March 2013.  Hopefully, if enough signatures can be presented the committee will listen and sharks can hope for better protection and a better future.

Sign it !!!

 

Also in April, PADI Course Director Richard Reardon will be teaching the PADI Reef Shark Awareness Distinctive Specialty Instructor course at Khao Lak Scuba Adventures during their Instructor Development Course (IDC).  This course will allow the new instructors to help spread the word about the plight of sharks and how people can help.  They will be qualified to teach this course to all their diving students in the future – teaching them all about the biology and behaviour of sharks as well as educating them on various shark conservation projects.

The Reef Shark Awareness Distinctive Specialty

 

If you’re in Khao Lak, pop into the Khao Lak Scuba Adventures shop and sign your name on the petition too.  If you’re not in Khao Lak, then you can still help.  You can also sign the petition online, by following this link – Give Sharks A Chance.

More signatures being added...

 

And a couple more...

 

You could also download the petition signing sheets yourself and begin collecting the signatures yourself.  If you have your own website, you can also add the petition widget to your website and help collect signatures that way too…

So, wherever you are there’s no excuse – give the sharks a big shout out in April, and spread the word…

Click on the image and sign the petition...

 

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PADI IDC In The Philippines…

Our Next PADI IDC In The Philippines…

Thresher Shark Divers, on beautiful Malapascua Island in the Philippines, still has spaces on the PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) scheduled to start on 11th October 2011.

The idyllic beach on Malapascua Island…

 

Our dedicated IDC team of experienced PADI Professionals will be there to support you from the moment you arrive at Thresher Shark Divers to the moment you leave.

Debriefing IDC candidates…

 

Our PADI Instructor Courses have been developed to make our candidates well-rounded PADI Instructors who can work anywhere in the world.

You will gain knowledge in areas as diverse as risk management, teaching children, hands-on experience of the business of diving, and PADI standards & procedures.  There will also be lots of practical teaching workshops plus PADI Specialty Instructor training

Help spread the word about shark conservation…

 

Upon successful completion of the PADI Instructor Exam (IE) you will be a certified PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor!

The world can be YOUR oyster…

 

Pre-requisites:

  • You must be a qualified PADI Divemaster (or equivalent)
  • Minimum 100 logged dives
  • Successfully completed a sanctioned CPR & First Aid Course in the last 24 months

So what are you waiting for ?  Come and join us….

Feel free to e-mail me for more details: info@go-pro-in-paradise.com

IDC Thailand