Clarks Anemonefish (Amphiprion Clarkii) photo by Ilse & Van-Roud
Without doubt, the most popular dive destination for those staying on Koh Lanta in Krabi, Thailand is Koh Ha (Koh Hah / Koh Haa) which means 'five islands' in the local Thai language. Koh Ha is situated 12 kilometres to the west of Koh Lanta and 22 kilometres to the south of Koh Phi Phi. Depending on conditions and the boat you're in, expect to be there in about half an hour from Koh Lanta. Koh Ha benefits from being out in the deep clear sea water, free from pollutants and traffic, and somewhat protected by Phuket from too many rough conditions from the Andaman. In addition, Koh Ha is uninhabited and does not receive too many visitors, due to Koh Phi Phi having a great choice of dive sites on its doorstep. Therefore, Koh Haa really is an undiscovered paradise, receiving most of its tourists from Koh Lanta. To make things even better, there are at least a dozen locations for divers to explore, so even if it does fill up with boats, most divers are likely to have a whole dive site just to their small group.
The dive sites themselves offer divers (from novice to professional) the opportunity to experience crystal clear waters full of colourful marine life. The main three dive sites at Koh Ha are 'The Chimney,' 'The Cathedral,' and 'Koh Ha Lagoon,' which will be discussed in greater detail. One can visit underwater pinnacles, swimthroughs, and drop offs, exploring caverns full of interesting and exciting creatures. Expect to see moray eels, hawksbill turtles, ornate ghost pipefish, octopuses, porcupine pufferfish, and barracuda on just about every dive. Several times every season manta rays and whale sharks visit the waters around Koh Ha and are used to divers. In fact, they often come closer to check us out! Between the regular reef inhabitants and the large pelagic visitors in terms of sighting regularity, one should be able to see banded sea kraits (sea snakes), blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, frogfish and seahorses from time to time.
Turtle Photo by Ilse & Van-Roud
The depths possible at Koh Haa dive sites are anywhere up to about 25 metres, but there is little need to venture too deep, as most of the life and colour is at shallower depths. In addition, with so much to see, staying shallow will increase your dive time. Even in an hour or more, it's impossible to see everything at these wonderful these dive sites.
Visibility is among the best in Thailand, although The Similan Islands will always be the best for this due to their remote location. At Koh Ha, more than 30 metres is possible, and even on a bad day – when it can be less than 10 metres – there's still lots to see for divers who are prepared to search through the thousands of coral formations and caverns.
Batfish (Platax-orbicularis) Photo by Ilse & Van-Roud
Currents at Koh Ha are also quite gentle. Admittedly, at high and low tides during certain moon phases the currents can pick up, but the islands and underwater pinnacles protect divers led by experienced Divemasters – who have planned the dive to avoid, or drift with, the current.
In addition to diving Koh Haa, it is a fantastic place to snorkel. Whether doing so at your lunchtime surface interval or due to being a non-diver, snorkeling at Koh Ha offers great chances to see much of the marine life already mentioned without having to don scuba gear. There are bays, beaches and crystal-clear waters both deep and shallow where snorkelers can enjoy the sunshine and reef life from the surface of the water.
To describe The Chimney, The Lagoon, and The Cathedral properly cannot be done in just a few short paragraphs, so we have a separate section for each of them. Here we will entice you with just a few details about their main characteristics.
Lionfish (Pterois) photo by Ilse & Van-Roud
The Chimney is a large pinnacle which rises to with a few metres of the surface. Here you can enter caves and swimthroughs.
The Lagoon is, obviously, a lagoon with wonderfully clear water which is home to thousands of different life forms, including corals, invertebrates, fish and reptiles. Both above and below the water's surface is an eye-watering selection of photographic opportunities for both snorkelers and divers alike.
The Cathedral is possibly the most popular location for divers to get underwater photographs of themselves. There are caves and caverns for everyone and plenty of places to swim through. So many divers want to have or take a photo while descending into a cave, with the sunlit surface of the water above and behind them.
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