We have a new love for snorkelling. Well, I do. Adam has always enjoyed it whilst I had a fear of the sea and fishes! But since I tried scuba diving, even though I didn’t enjoying the scuba diving itself, I loved seeing all the fish and coral and it made me realise how beautiful it can be down there and it cured me of my fears (kinda…)
With this new found hobby we have been trying to go on as many snorkelling trips as the budget allows. Unfortunately, since we left Koh Tao we haven’t found any good snorkelling sites accessible from the shore so we have had to do day trips. I don’t think we realised what a gem Koh Tao was as we thought all the islands would be very similar in terms of the quality of coral, fish and visibility. But they most definitely are not 😦 and have therefore had to go further a field to find sites which are not even half as good as Koh Tao.
So, we booked onto a day trip by longtail boat which cost us 700 baht each (15 GBP) and included everything; drinks, snacks, lunch, transport and snorkelling gear. Our first stop was a 45 minute ride away to Koh Chuck where we were able to (carefully) jump out into the shallow waters and start snorkelling. It was a beautiful area with a mix of corals and fish and a lot of spiky black urchins! But as it was so shallow, there were many schools of fish right near the surface, which with my fear of fish only just overcome, it was a bit much. They moved out of your way when you swam through them, it was just that they swarmed around the rest of your body and nibbled at bits of skins or bites on your legs. I asked Adam if he could swim in front and clear the path as at some points your couldn’t see the water for the fish! We snorkelled here for around 40 minutes, then it was back into the boat ready for the next stop. Once we all climbed back in, we commented on feeling like we had been zapped a few times, in which some Aussies said, “yeah us too, its the sea louse” which we found out are microscopic baby jelly fish and when you come into contact we them, they give you a little baby zap!
Next stop, Koh Mook and the Emerald Cave. We weren’t too sure what to expect of this, but we most definitely weren’t expecting to be greeted by a train of Thai tourists bobbing in the water and slowing coming out of the darkness holding onto each others shoulders for dear life! All you see initially is a small opening in the rock where the sea runs right through. Boats stop a bit away, everyone puts life jackets on and jumps in the water. Then you swim into the darkness. The cave is only around 80 meters long but gets pitch black and you swim through this with only the light of a small torch to guide you through. As you enter the cave and look back it is clear why it is called Emerald Cave, as the sun lights up the water near the entrance and it glows so beautifully, just like the colour of an emerald (funnily enough!) Back into the abyss…the creepiest thing is the noise you hear when swimming in the darkness, it sounds like the cave is groaning but it is the waves lapping off the side of the cave and echoing. It is a very eery sound. Then there are the bats who live in there too, which our guide kindly showed us with a torch. And then there is the smell!…around three quarters of the way through it begins to smell very much like bad body odour. God know what it is, maybe the bats, or maybe the hundreds of sweaty people who swim through every day…?
But either way, once you’re through you are greeted by the most lush greenery with tall trees and plants (some of which are only found in this cove), white sands, an amazing array of butterflies and sheer rock faces which enclose this private bay. It is nature at its best.
And yes, it is full of tourists, packed in fact. But if you ignore all the silly jumping photos being taken with different comical sunglasses and just look up in awe, its all worth it. I spent a long time just gazing at the cliff faces, admiring the trees and imagining how the pirates (who used to keep their treasure here) initially found this area and if the surroundings have changed or evolved at all.
After the nature watching, we watched the Thai tourists leave en masse. Its a sight too see, everyone lines up (around 50-70 people at once) hold the persons shoulders in front and seem to do a massive conga into the sea, that is how they all swim back to their boats. We managed to get seperated from our group in the pitch black by one of these extreme conga lines. They intersected us and we were stuck up against a rough wall until they had all passed. Not much fun, but we seem to be far more comfortable in the water than them, so just let it happen.
We moved onto Koh Ngai where we stopped for lunch and swam in the crystal clear shallow seas. The lunch was delicious and floating in the sea after was a treat!
Our last stop was Koh Ma for our last bit of snorkelling, the water was even more shallow here, maybe only 3-5 meters deep max with a lot of hard coral (which someone managed to cut themselves on) so it was lucky we had flippers or we would have very cut of and bloody feet. We swam around for ages looking at different parrot fish, butterfly fish and banner fish until we heard someone shout, “I’ve found Nemo, I’ve found Nemo!!” And he most certainly had, not only Nemo, but his whole extended family too! In this little anemone coral there lived around 8 clown fish all darting in and out. They were just beautiful and we were able to get quite close for a good old look!
And after all that excitement Adam and I found a group of 5 squid just squidding past us! Mmmm…dinner!
—Love to all—Cheryl—