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Some Days It’s Soup

As soon as I arrived in Koh Tao, I couldn’t wait to go diving. This is the place where I first breathed underwater, so it will always be a special scuba destination for me. Unfortunately, when I breathlessly asked my friends about the current conditions, they gave me some not so nice faces in response. The currents were strong, the visibility was murky, and the water was choppy.

I got on the first boat I could.

Diving in Koh Tao

Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I’m more of a fair weather diver, myself. But one of my best friends and favorite instructors, Kat, was leaving for good in about a week, and I wanted to be sure to get underwater with her one last time, in spite of the conditions.

I was rewarded with the most spectacular sunrise I have ever set eyes on in Koh Tao.

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

It was a rocky ride out to the first dive site, Southwest Pinnacle — bad enough that we lost one diver to sea sickness. The rest of us fought nausea while we geared up and flung ourselves into the water as quickly as possible.

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

Unfortunately, the rumors were true and the visibility was pretty poor. I was distracted from my disappointment by a feisty family of Cobias. They were so large that I initially mistook them for spastic sharks. I was too far to get a good photo, so I mostly just enjoyed the show.

Diving in Koh Tao

I had a real moment of diving bliss when I looked up and saw the teeming schools of fish moving above me on an invisible underwater superhighway. This, this absolute surge of life, is what makes diving in Thailand so spectacular.

KohTao11

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

I was meant to be taking tons of photos for Kat’s friends but forgot to coach them on synchronized breathing. It’s quite hard to take photos of a group — unless you plan in advance, there are always bubbles in someone’s face!

Diving in Koh Tao

Our next dive site is my absolute favorite on Koh Tao — Shark Island. I knew the current would be ripping but I couldn’t have been more thrilled to dive this site! It’s so colorful and bright and filled with happy fish and coral.

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

The artist in me is always attracted to the amazing patterns that exist in coral. I’m convinced that Keith Haring must have been a scuba diver.

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

Thirty minutes or so into our dive, we came across my favorite feature of Shark Island, the little bonus that put it over the edge to being crowned as my favorite — the beautiful band of yellow butterflyfish that is always hiding somewhere.

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

I could swim with them all day.

They weren’t the only favorite fishy friends I spotted — I also spied nudibranches, a blue spotted ribbon tail ray, and a pufferfish and remora pair.

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Tao

I came up from that second dive smiling — until one of the other divers on the boat came up and told me they saw a whale shark.

I didn’t need to know that.

I was able to do some underwater video work while I was on the island, but my next fun dive was when I took my sister underwater for the first time. Stay tuned!

24 Responses to “Some Days It’s Soup”

  1. Shaun says:

    Too much awesome in one post!

    The first of many dives I hope to read about!

  2. I simply loved your photos. It made me wanna dive right now.
    Deise de Oliveira recently posted..Onde ficar em Cartagena: Hotel Capilla del Mar

  3. Kathryn Allen says:

    Amazing images, especially for diving in soup! Love the spirals….

  4. Meagan says:

    So incredible! Im heading to SE Asia in 3 weeks, spending 4 months in Thailand and 2 in Cambodia. Going to volunteer at the Marine conservation of Cambodia on Koh Rong Samloem, and was planning to do my open water diving course there. But when I read this, I might just change my mind and do it on Koh Tao! any suggestions? Have you maybe been diving in Koh Rong?

    • Alex says:

      Meagan, I’ve been to both Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem and went diving with the Marine Conservation group you’re going to volunteer at :) Use the search function in the sidebar or the destination tab above — you’ll find all my Cambodia posts there! You’re going to love it, those islands are bliss…

  5. Stephen S. says:

    The sunrise is on fire! Amazing. It is such a different world beneath the waves.
    Stephen S. recently posted..Giveaway: $100 off the “I Love Istanbul Tour.”

    • Alex says:

      I’ve seen a fair share of sunrises on Koh Tao thanks to early morning dive boats and as I said, this was by far the best! I’ve never seen anything like it.

  6. O.M.G!!!!!!!!!!!!! These pictures are so insanely gorgeous! WOW!!!!!!!!!!! I’m going to stop commenting so that I can look at them again.
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Buenos Aires, Argentina: La Casa Rosada

  7. Ahhhh….whale shark! Damn! Looks beautiful though, nudibranchs are my fave.
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Going home.

  8. Sam says:

    I am so with you on the ‘fair-weather’ diving bandwagon. I try to be hardcore, I really do. So jealous that you are back on Tao!
    Sam recently posted..le beginning

  9. I love these!! absolutely stunning!!!
    Ashley Hufford recently posted..The Historic Ford Theater

  10. Shark Island? OMG, my worst nightmare! ;-)
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..Flashback Friday: That time I was attacked by vampire bats

    • Alex says:

      I should have clarified: It’s named that way for the dorsal-reminiscent shape of the rock that juts out of the water, not for anything below the surface :)

  11. Diane says:

    I really love your pics of Asia. I love all your pics but since I’ve never been to Asia, they all really stand out to me. And the diving ones of course since I’ve never done that either. Gorgeous sunsets. Wow!
    Diane recently posted..Pics of the month: February Pierre Herme macarons

  12. Noreen says:

    Alex,
    How long were you out there diving and how far below the surface must you go to get those great pics?
    Noreen

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