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Island Break: Scuba Diving Sail Rock on Koh Phangan.

After putting in a few weeks worth of work back at PunSpace in Chiang Mai, I wanted to take a short vacation down to the islands to relax and get some sun.  My buddy Andrew was going to be in Koh Phangan so I told him I'd take a few days off and meet him down there.

Waking up today completely sun burnt, I grabbed a nice breakfast and did some work.   The great thing about having a location independent business is being able to escape down to the islands for a few days and still be able to work and keep the business afloat.  I fulfilled two orders, answered some emails and had the rest of the day to relax.


Getting from Chiang Mai to Koh Phangan:

The cheapest way to get from Chiang Mai to Koh Phangan is to take an overnight bus first to Bangkok then another bus to Chumpon then a ferry to Koh Tao which transfers to Koh Phangan.  A total of 24 hours on a bus and around 4 hours later on a ferry you'll be in paradise!  It's also really cheap at less than 2,000 baht ($66US) for the entire journey.

However, the idea of spending two nights is something I would no longer even consider how that my time is actually worth something and I'm not a backpacker on a budget anymore.

So instead, I flew from Chiang Mai Airport (CNX) directly to Koh Samui (USM) which was an easy, pleasent flight that took around an hour and a half on the plane.  It was pretty expensive especially since I messed up my booking and had to buy another ticket at the gate on the day of, but it was around 7,000 baht each way which is around $233US.  It's a lot more than I would like to pay and is only that much because Thai Airways has a monopoly on that flight route, but I've managed to find a return flight which is Surat Thani to Bangkok to Chiang Mai for a lot cheaper at 4,910 baht ($163US).  The only thing I don't like about Surat Thani is the airport and the ferry schedule.  With Koh Samui there are boats that leave almost every hour of the day to and from Koh Phangan  and it arrives to the Haad Rin Pier where the full moon party beach is, making it really easy to make the transfer, but to get to Surat Thani airport for my 7:30PM flight I have to leave my hotel on Koh Phangan at 11am to get on the long bus/boat/taxi just to make it to the airport on time.

But once you're there, you instantly realize it was worth both the money as well as the journey.




Scuba Diving on Koh Phangan:

The only good dive site on Koh Phangan is called Sail Rock.  There are a few other smaller sites including the marine park but none of them are worth going to.  Sail Rock however is more of an advanced site and I wouldn't recommend beginners go there even though most dive companies will happily break standards and take you there on a discover intro dive or to do your open water certification dives anyways.

However depending on weather, current and underwater visibility conditions, Sail Rock can be an amazing place to go fun diving.  During the full moon waves are heavier and generally the visibility goes down but I would still recommend having a fun dive or two a few days before the full moon party if you're going to be on the island anyways.

Our two dives were both down to around 30m which is around 100ft and the visibility that day ranged from 5m-15m and was "pretty decent."  There was a medium strength current which I was okay with but isn't beginner friendly.  The water temperature was 28c which allowed me to dive in just board shorts without a wetsuit.


Fish Life:

We saw a couple cool little things such as a few scorpion fish and a hermit crab, but the real beautiful things to see are the schools of fish.  Great Barracuda, Trevally, and Bat Fish were in the thousands. The other two dive sites which are similar to Sail Rock are Chumpon and Southwest Pinnacle, both near Koh Tao.  Having dived all three multiple times now, I think all three are comparable.  You have a 1% chance of seeing a Whale Shark as well, which is amazing when it happens but don't get your hopes up.  I've been lucky enough to see a whale shark at Chumphon Pinnacle once, but that was after a hundred dives there.




Dive School:
I went with Phangan Divers as they are the only dive shop in Haad Rin where I'm staying.  Their shop is near the Haad Rin Pier and the owner, Klaus is a friendly German man.  Good quality equipment and a free transfer to the north of the island where the dive boats leave from, it was overall a really good fun diving experience.  They even included lunch on the boat and bottled water on the boat.

Me and my divemaster from Hungary


Hope you enjoy diving in Koh Phangan,

Johnny




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