Diving Ao Nang, Thailand, 2016
For months before my trip, I researched many different dive companies in Thailand. I eventually finalised my location (with my sister’s recommendation) to Ao Nang rather than Phuket. I decided to use Kon Tiki Dive Company, after reading many different reports and not being far from the hotel. I emailed and reserved 4 days diving with up to 10 dives.
Upon arrival in Ao Nang, I went to register with the dive company and complete all the necessary paper work. Next morning I was collected from the hotel and taken to a long boat for transfer to a larger dive boat. There were about 10 people diving with four guides. We had a major briefing and introduction to the guides before being split into our smaller groups. Once in the small group, we were given more detailed information on procedures and what we may see.
Day one went splendidly, seeing plenty of fish and sea life. However, it was noticeable that much of the coral looked damaged. Once back aboard the boat we quizzed the guides about the coral and was told this was the result of the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004.
Day two, we had new dive guides and new locations in the Bay of Thailand. Again, the dives were lovely and waters warm. One of the dives was next to a pinnacle of limestone that climbed out of the sea to about 100 feet with trees and other vegetation growing. Around the base were many day boats, with snorkelers swimming and splashing around. We jumped in and immediately dove onto an artificial reef.
Day three, only 1 dive today and my last in Thailand. The seas seemed a little rougher than the other days, and again another guide. I was in the water with a couple from the London region, the man had about 100 dives under his belt, but his wife was still relatively new to diving and was, perhaps quite understandably, apprehensive about the sea state. The guide therefore buddied the wife and I was with the husband. Once in the water, her nerves got the better of her and the lady drained her air within about 20 minutes. At one point she ended up next to me as we drifted through a ball of fish (see picture), which was pretty cool. During our safety stop, I offered her a hand to hold and this was gratefully received. I stayed with her until we surfaced, and returned to the boat.
Whilst some did a second dive that day, I decided to make this my last dive with Kon Tiki divers. The sea state was borderline in my view and as I was getting back on the boat in the swell, I managed to break one of my BCD weight pocket pouches, so ditching my weights on dive 2 may have been problematic if it had been required.