Great Dive Sites in the Pacific Ocean: Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, Thailand and Black Rock, the Andaman Islands, Myanmar.
Hin Daeng and Hin Muang: about 40 miles south east of Phuket Thailand lie the protected area known as Trang Lie. The area comprises of two small islands, Koh Rok Nai and Koh Rok Nok. About 10 miles to the west of the islands are two tiny rocky peaks jutting out of the ocean known as Hin Muang and Hin Daeng. Both rocks are well known to local fisherman who tie pieces of colorful material as offerings to the gods to make their journey fortunate. Hin Daeng is also known as the Red Rock and is a favorite scuba diving spot for intermediate and experienced divers. Dive operators at Phuket take divers by speed boat to the location because of its distance from the mainland.
The main attraction for scuba divers are the whale sharks that frequent the area, often in large numbers. The whale sharks are harmless to divers as they feed, open mouthed, on plankton and can be observed close up. However, there is has no shortage of predators such as reef sharks, barracuda and needlefish. Divers should be particularly careful of sea snakes which shouldn’t be approached as they have to surface regularly and will stop for nothing upon their ascent.
Aside from large fish, the reef itself has multicolored soft corals, anemones, orange madrepore and nudibranches. Amongst the corals the diver could see scorpion fish, anemonefish and huge starfish to name but a few. The best months to visit Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are from December to April. Visibility is up to 70ft, but the currents can be strong.
Above; sunrise at Hin Daeng/Hin Muang and below a whale shark.
Mysterious Myanmar as a tourist destination is still in its infancy, as tourism only began in 1997. For the recreational scuba diver it offers some remote and unexplored dive locations with spectacular underwater scenery which cannot be seen in other locations, even in Thailand.
Black Rock, the Andaman Islands, Myanmar: Just off the coast of the Phuket Peninsular, south of Myanmar in the Indian Ocean, lie the Megui Archipelago which encompasses a long string of islands known as the Andaman Islands. Further out to sea at the western tip of the islands there is a dive site known as Black Rock. Black Rock is not an island but a rocky outcropping of limestone, about 140 ft of which is underwater. The rocks are covered with a multicolored variety of soft corals and large gorgonians, unsurpassed in the region. Amongst the coral, marine life such as sea urchins and scorpion fish are camouflaged but relatively easy for a diver to spot. There are also fish that can only be found in Andaman Islands such as the Andaman sweetlips and the damselfish. Visibility, which is up to 70 ft, depends on conditions, although currents are usually strong.
The main attraction of Black Rock are the large mantas that frequent the reef. Often they appear like UFO’s swooping close to the surface, sometimes leaping out of the water. They usually have six or more sharksuckers attached to their stomachs and tend to keep their distance from divers, although they often become curious after a while and move in for a closer look. Black Rock can be visited by boarding a two day cruise at Phuket. Cruises to the Megui Archipelago and Andaman Islands usually offer trips to the Similan Islands which greatly enhance the cruise.
Above; the Andaman Islands and below a manta ray.
Images from flickr.com with creative commons licence and commons.wikimedia.com.