Diving with the giant whale shark

Friday, 18 January 2013 From Issue Vol. XXI No. 3 By  TAT

Mu Koh Chumphon

There are over 41 islands in the Chumphon Sea; however, only 7-8 islands have popular and beautiful diving spots, especially Ngam Islands. The undersea world around the Koh Ngam Noi and Koh Ngam Yai is full of huge brain coral, staghorn coral and colorful sea anemones dancing along the rhythm of the stream. These corals and sea anemones provide food and shelter for various species of colorful sea fish, such as butterfly fish, clownfish, angelfish, and rabbit fish. If you are lucky, you might see the friendly giant whale shark swimming around looking for food under the sea of these two islands.

The most beautiful diving spot in the Chumphon Sea is at Koh Lak Ngam with the approximate depth of 9 - 20 m. Here you will find the amazing colorful branches of one of the thickest black coral reefs in Thailand. You can also see the red sea whip, large colonies of sea anemone, schools of different species of fish and a large number of phyllidia coelestis (sea slug).

About a 100 m away from the North of Koh Ngam Yai, you can see a pile of rocks known as “Hin Phae”. This area is full of black coral, sea whip and corallimorphs. It is a home of big fish like the whale shark, barracuda, round batfish, red snapper, jackfish and large schools of yellow striped trevally swimming around, as well as leopard sharks and stingrays.

Ran Pet & Ran Kai are two small islands that have very rich deep-sea coral reefs containing coral in different colors - light yellow, white and gold, as well as red Neptune’s cup sponge, red sea whip, yellow-band fusilier and saw blade shrimp.

Koh Mattra is the best snorkeling spot in the area with massive coral and brain coral reefs, white clownfish with black spots and small rabbit fish. Moreover, there are several small coral reefs under the sea around Koh Thalu and Koh Langka Chio which are homes of big fish, including schools of rabbit fish, fusilier and sometimes black tip reef sharks.

Know before you go: You can most often see the whale shark in April. By the way, the National Park does offer boat trips for tourists.

Recommendation: Stay over at Mattra Island.

Travel info

From Chumphon town, drive along Highway 4001 for about 7 km to Tha Yang Pier. Lots of local buses and taxis can take you there. An easier way might be to book a tour package with Chumphon Cabana Resort.

GPS Location: N10° 23.799’, E99° 21.079’

Contact:

Mo Koh Chumphon National Park +66 7755 8144-6

TAT Chumphon Office +66 7750 1831; +66 7750 2775-6

Chumphon Cabana Resort +66 7756 0246 to 7; www.cabana.co.th

Facilities & Services: Diving centre, guide, boat, accommodation and restroom.

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