I’m surrounded by a deep blue haze. Small locals this region of the world of varying shades of yellow, black, and blue pass by, seeming not to notice me. I take a deep breath in, and blow bubbles back out. Looking up, I can see the surface of the water from down below. I’m a traveler in a new land: scuba diving the Similan Islands in Thailand. Looking back over my 6 days, having completed 18 dives from a live-aboard boat sailing through some of the most beautiful islands this world has to offer, I was privy to quite a few amazing sights.
As a traveler, these are the types of experiences we grow to crave.
The Night Dive
I turned around in the water and saw my other two dive buddies, clearly thinking the same thing I was – I want to see the white glitter! Despite the fact that it was dark, and we had big square masks separating us, I could see the looks in their eyes. Simultaneously, we all pointed our flashlights toward our chests, nearly extinguishing the lights, and started twirling, running our hands from side to side, and kicking around in the water, stirring up the plankton, which created a white glow. The bioluminescence was incredible, falling around us like white glitter, following our every move.
With every swish of the fin, we were putting on shows for each other. Somewhere a few meters away, our dive master realized we were squirreling around, mostly because he could no longer see us, and tapped his tank – the universal diving sign for “pay attention!” We giggled a bit into our breathing apparatuses.
I had been jealous of some of the other dive groups, as they had seen an octopus or two during our dives in the Similans. I had never seen one before and was dying to know what they looked like. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted an uncharacteristically white sea creature. Immediately, he started morphing like a chameleon to black, then to purple, before settling on a nice beige that would allow him to blend in with the rock. I finally understood what all the fuss was about. The changing colors put any art I could create to shame.
The Cherry on Top: Manta Rays!
“You’ve got a better chance at winning the lottery than seeing one, but it just might be out there,” a dive master said during our final dive briefing. He was talking about the manta rays – something we had all hoped to see, but never took as a given. It was my final of 18 dives for the trip, and I had yet to see one. I was hoping today might be the day, but my expectations were managed.
About 20 minutes into the dive, I heard frantic tapping – it could only mean something amazing was nearby, and some other divers had just seen it. Hoping we weren’t too far away, I spun around several times, looking up, into the blue, just about everywhere all at once. Then, like a plane gliding overhead, it soared over us, flapping its giant wings like an angel of the sea. If it were possible to cheer under water, the ocean would have erupted in roars and shrieks of delight from several dozen divers.
There’s something truly amazing about viewing sea life on their own turf. I was merely a spectator, along for the show, keeping my distance but admiring everything I saw, taking in every moment with gusto. As a traveler, the ocean is another part of the world that I want to see every inch of. If you’re like me, the Similan and Surin islands are sure to impress.
*Special thanks to Wicked Diving in Khao Lak, a great choice for anyone looking for an awesome diving trip in Thailand’s Similan Islands.