Sea-Gypsies in the Andaman Sea

Text by Maya – Photo by A. Todoverto

The Author: Maya

Another day in Krabi, another early wake up with an Impressionist sky to go diving in Bida Nok and PhiPhi Ley with Seagypsydivers. The pick-up time is at 7 am in front of my hotel, and it takes around half an hour to reach the pier at Thalet Kola where a comfortable boat called The Whale is waiting for the group of divers and snorkelers to board. We are 20 people today, plus the crew, and we leave as soon as we step foot on the lower deck. Today my guide is from Scotland, but all together we are a mix of Italians, Singaporeans, Indians, French, Chinese and Americans. It’s my second trip with this company and I love their big, slow boat and life attitude; I love how they take care of you with yummy breakfasts of bread and Nutella, on top of the usual scrambled eggs; I love the feeling of being part of a family, and naturally I love to dive in Phi Phi.

The travel time from the pier to our first destination, Koh Bida Nok, is around 2.5 hours, which is enough to get to know each other, eat that delicious Nutella bread, have a briefing about the day and dive sites, try out the equipment and take a nap, or just scan the horizon dotted with hundreds of islands. Koh Bida Nok, south of Phi Phi Ley, is probably my favourite dive site in the area for its crystal clear water and abundant coral reef. The northern part has wall diving with an amazing number of corals, but today we dive in the south part, around the small lagoon.

A sea turtle is a great XMas present for divers

This dive centre keeps the groups small, and today is only one guide for two people. As soon as I enter the water, I see a giant moray eel that I’ve seen in the same spot before: she likes to show off a little before going back to her cave, the massive head protruding.  Then come two turtles, lion fish, a scorpion fish and my beloved nudibranchs. At the end of the dive the current become strong, but as soon as we resurface the tender boat picks us up and lunch is ready on the upper deck.

There is one hour break before the second dive and The Whale moves to Maya Bay so that we can enjoy the amazing view of this world’s famous beach, now deserted since it had been close to the public to preserve its fragile environment. Boats can anchor a few hundred meters from shore, and today the bay is so quiet and beautiful than I’m almost moved to tears. I feel a special bond with Maya Bay and stopping here for lunch has been a wonderful surprise.

The author enjoying her Phi Phi dive

The second dive is just around the corner. Literally, since Maya Corner is its name! It’s my second time at this spot but today the weather is better than the last one, and the visibility quite good. The reef is steep and dominated by hard corals, but what I love most is swimming in and out of the caves that dot the dive site. There is one natural tunnel whose two walls are covered in white and pink sea fans and it feels like you are diving in an enchanted forest out of Alice in Wonderland. I encounter two more turtles and a very placid sea-banded snake, a blue spotted sting ray, a never seen before flat worm, then puffer fish and much, much more…

Then I’m back on board, and The Whale reaches the Kola pier after a 2.5 hours of placid navigation. It’s almost sunset, and it has been another incredibly fulfilling day in the Andaman sea.

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