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April 14, 2013

Krabi – Under The Sea

Text by Shreya Shah.

Discover your inner mermaid as you lazily swish your way into a world of water-colours in the lagoons

Emerald islands emerged out of sapphire waters as I approached Krabi, on southern Thailand’s Andaman coast – islands that boast secluded beaches only accessible by colourfully adorned long-tail boats. Krabi’s hypnotic myriad of bays and coves have sheltered merchants, settlers and the odd pirate for thousands of years.

While a day might seem fleeting when it’s packed with as many activities that Krabi offers, such as rock-climbing on its internationally famous limestone cliffs, parasailing across clear skies and several other beach activities, my biggest interest was scuba-diving. The sea is a constant presence on any island, and every time I looked out of my hotel window or sat idly contemplating a golden sunset, its turquoise arms reached out, tempting me to venture into its mysterious depths.

I wasted no time in getting into my diving gear. The first site that we set out for were the Ko Ha Yai Islands, which consists of five small islands. They lie between Phi Phi Islands and Hin Daeng. As we descended deep into the waters, the friendly cyan gave way to a more mysterious cerulean. The glinting rays of sunlight crisscrossed each other to form a web of diamonds upon the calm waters. And as we went further, the change was so subtle, that it took me a while to realise that we were surrounded by an inky blue darkness. Nothing could have prepared me for my first sighting of the islands’ extremely enthralling labyrinth of caverns and crevices.

Two enormous caverns raised their stalactite-covered heads. Fields of sea coral waved gently and the periwinkle light shining through the crevices gave me my best photograph of the trip. Bright shoals of fish the size of my thumb flitted around us, quite unperturbed by human presence, and more intent on making their way around us. The walls were covered in daisy coral. I observed obediently as the guide pointed out giant morays, lionfish and scorpion fish. But try as I might, I couldn’t spot the frog fish that generally hide in the shallow hard corals.

My next dive was at Hin Daeng, and I embarked upon the whale shark safari. Wildly famous as Thailand’s deepest wall dive, it has a sparse coating of soft corals and a few sea fans. Though it seems barren compared to the rest of the site, we were rewarded by the near-constant presence of whale sharks and manta rays. On the eastern side, I spotted huge schools of jacks and tuna, sometimes so thick that they appeared like solid walls of silver. My experience took a formidable turn when large barracudas swept past the ridge as they stalked the feeding needlefish. I neatly stepped aside.

As we surfaced, memories of the beautiful, as-yet unspoiled ocean floor swam around my mind. It’s definitely a place that leaves you planning your next visit there already.

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