By PDJIMCO my-paydayjim.co.uk
This is a review of Turtle Rock dive site in The Similan Islands, Thailand. The Similan Islands are home to some of the best scuba diving sites in the world, and certainly the best diving Thailand has to offer. Of the more than twenty dive sites here, Turtle Rock is among the best, although they are all so good for their own reasons, it's impossible to make a "Similan Island dive sites league table." Turtle Rock did not get its name from being home to hundreds of green and Hawksbill turtles, although there are some there. It is due to a formation of rocks at the surface which some say resembles the shape of a turtle. This dive site is located on the west side of Similan Island #8, at its north end. A quick look at a diving map of The Similan Islands will show that it is out into the sea a bit, and just north of Fantasy Reef.
With regards to its location to the west of the northern Similan Islands, many would presume that currents can be strong. In fact, they are generally weak to medium, and this makes Turtle Rock one of the easier dive sites in this archipelago.
With a maximum depth of approximately 25-30 metres, there is a lot of clear blue water to explore. Visibility is excellent (30m+) at all the dive sites around The Similan Islands, and Turtle Rock is no exception. Being on the west side, divers should always keep an eye out into the deep blue water, as there is always the chance of seeing something big, such as Manta Rays (Manta alfredi), or possibly a Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus). Being plankton feeders, they are absolutely harmless. There's more food for them in murky, plankton-rich waters (low season). However, during the diving season (Oct-May) at The Similan Islands these wonderful and gentle giants can be seen most weeks.
Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
The dive site comprises of large rocks stacked on top of one another, with Gorgonian Sea Fans and Staghorn corals making up most of the homes for the thousands of reef fish and invertebrates. As mentioned before, it's common to see turtles at Turtle Rock, and there's the possibility of the occasional sea snake (Laticauda colubrine). To the northern end of the dive site, there is a swimthrough in shallow water (8-10m). The wonderfully healthy and colourful corals are abundant even at depth, so divers can search for small reef fish and invertebrates on their way to the sandy seabed. Here they are likely to see Spotted Garden Eels (Heterocongrinae) poking their little heads out of the sand – appearing to be gossiping to each other – and ducking out of sight as soon as they feel threatened. Divers who want to enjoy watching them, should slowly descend to the sandy bottom a little way away from these shy creatures, then observe them for as long as they like from one side. Other sand-dwellers here are Blue-Spotted Stingrays (Neotrygon kuhlii), which are also rather shy and swim off if divers get too close. All around Turtle Rock, one should recognize medium-sized fish such as Groupers, Sweetlips, Angelfish and Snapper. Of course, like most dive sites at The Similan Islands, there will be Giant Moray Eels (Gymnothorax javanicus) of all sizes hiding in crevices, and forcing water through their gills, making them look rather menacing to those who do not understand them. Other marine life here at Turtle Rock is lots of different nudibranchs and shelled-species, such as crabs and lobsters.
The Similan Islands offer the best scuba diving Thailand has to offer, and is much deeper, clearer and offers more exciting marine life than can be seen when diving Phuket. Here the corals are in very good condition, and there is very little evidence of damage from the devastating tsunami of 2004. For more diving information, please contact us, or join and take part in our forum. We are a fully-independent team who have no particular bias over one dive site or dive centre to another. Our experience includes diving in many of Thailand's best PADI scuba diving destinations, as well as Indonesia and The Great Barrier Reef, Australia.
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