After the seriously stomach-crushing day that I had at Sail Rock, I wasn’t exactly dying to get back onto a dive boat. But the sudden realization that I would soon be off the island and not know when my next dive was coming prompted me to give a resounding “Yes!” when another all-girls dive trip was planned. This time we were headed to one of my favorite dive sites on Koh Tao: Southwest Pinnacle.
Southwest Pinnacle is creatively named for it’s half a dozen pinnacles ranging from 5-30 metres in depth, found off the south west coast of Koh Tao. The pinnacles are encrusted with anemones, sea urchins, and fascinating macro life. It’s not just about the small stuff, though: this is major whale shark spotting territory.
Incidentally, it’s also Swish Suit (note: use code “Wanderland” for a 10% discount at checkout!) spotting territory. Hey-o! This was my second time trying out my new wetsuit and I was still firmly smitten.
My friend Freya is one of those rare people who came to Koh Tao and had no interest in diving- I think she lived on the island for about ten months without ever being bitten by the bug. When she returned to the island later in the year she was finally certified by our bestie and instructor extraordinaire Kat. So proud of her!
I love those first moments underwater, when you look up and see nothing but blue between you and the sun. That moment makes this one of my favorite underwater photos of all time.
I had only ever been to Southwest before when I was filming for work. It was always one of my favorite locations to shoot, but suddenly I felt like I was seeing the place for the first time. That’s the great thing about going fun diving with a bunch of your best girlfriends.
If I had to think of one word to describe Southwest it would be this: lush. Lush with color, lush with texture, lush with life.
I tend to dive buddy-less (don’t tell PADI) because most divers would be driven to madness waiting for me to get a shot I’m satisfied with. But when I see something like this unbelievable mystery creature below, I simply cannot tear myself away until the last possible second- when I see my group’s bubbles starting to disappear from sight and I have to fin like crazy to catch up. Have you ever seen anything like this? I hadn’t.
Nor had I seen anything like this:
Sorry if you were eating. So, I was totally fascinated by this heavy-breathing sea slug which resembled a non-flattery part of the human anatomy. What? Am I the only one that sees it?! Let’s pretend this never happened.
Speaking of kind of gross things, this coral fascinated me. Doesn’t the close-up look like a microscopic shot of germs or something?
I can’t get over how diving lets you see so much life, right in front of you.
What a glorious dive with glorious girls! This day solidified Southwest as one of my favorite dive sites on Koh Tao.
Soon we were back to the boat, but not back to the island. Stay tuned for photos from our second dive of the day to a site that was completely new to me…
Almost makes me want to learn to dive. But can’t you see a lot from just snorkeling?
Snorkeling can be a great alternative for people who are unable or unready to dive! At shallow sites, it’s true you can often see much of the same fish, coral, etc. I still go snorkeling often when I travel because it’s free (when I can do it from the shore and use my own mask and finds) and it’s nice to swim around unencumbered by gear. However, diving can bring you to much deeper sites, get you at an unbeatable eye-to-eye angle and allow you to see the really nice macro stuff up close!
Oh, this looks like so much fun! Whenever you post about diving, your enthusiasm is just so infectious, and your photos are so inspiring. As I’ve said before, I’ve only snorkeled, but doing that I realized how when you’re in the water, it can feel like you’re really in a world of your own. It’s so peaceful and provides such a sense of solitude… but it’s also really nice to share those moments with loved ones as well!
Thanks Steph! If you love snorkeling I know you’ll love diving as well. Can’t wait for you to try!
I try to dive buddy-less as well. Because I’m an ex-competitve swimmer, I have great control of my oxygen intake and other divers tend to go through their oxygen so quickly, frustrates me. I also love to dive without a wetsuit, however after a traumatic jelly incident in Jamaica I usually wear them now. You look GORGEOUS in yours. LOVE these pics!!!!
I am really lucky that most of my fun diving (aka not dives where I am working and filming and paid to be there!) is done with other people in the dive industry. So we can go deep, stay down long, not worry about being on top of buddies, etc. Even diving away from “home” (either Koh Tao or Cayman) we always made sure to let dive operators know that we work in the industry and they tend to give us a lot of leeway. I’m jealous of your swimming skills!
And yes, I always prefer to go suit-less but lately I’ve been getting too cold! I refuse to have anything on my legs though (I wore a shortie in the Bahamas in January!) and I picked the Swish Suit specifically because its zips down the front- I hate feeling constricted around my neck. If only the water was warm everywhere!
I was eating a salad and my month dropped open at that sea slug. Yeeek!! Every other picture is fabulous though 😉
Ha, I’m sorry Krista, I should have posted a warning! 🙂 Glad I’m not the only one who had a weird reaction to that though…
Before we ported in Pattaya, Thailand, we had to watch the power point presentation about STD’s. That sea slug looks like something I would not want to catch.
Love your dive suits!
Ha! I remember having to watch videos/see pictures like that in high school health class… ugh. Sounds like a smart idea though when headed to Pattaya….
I’m enjoying your adventures. Slugs – Ugh. On the few mornings that I don’t find a new entry, I actually feel left out. So, don’t skip days
I try not to! Posts take a lot of time through so five per week is usually my limit 🙂
I was initially not planning on getting a diving certification when we I travel to Thailand but after discovering your blog I am now seriously considering getting certified in Koh Tao!
I really hope you do Vicky! I think you would love it. Let me know if you do, I can send you some recommendations for schools.
Amazing photos! Love the one of the guy jumping off in his scuba gear. Looks great 🙂
Thank you Vicky! I always try to take “jumping in” shots, but this might just be my favorite!
I want to go scuba diving! I’ve never done it an night before – hopefully in Egypt in October 🙂
I’ve heard amazing things about the diving in Egypt, can’t wait to get there someday!
The more you post about the Swish suit the more I am getting swayed…! Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can find a used one 🙂
That moment of looking up at the sun is absolutely my favorite moment. I tend to swim along on my back quite a bit to look up at the sun…I know this mystifies people who are looking down at the reef, but I just love looking up sometimes!
Me too! I just love the way the sky and the light looks coming through the surface. Maybe someday we can do an upside-down dive together, ha 🙂
Haha! Definitely putting “upside-down dive with Alex” on the list!
I’ve always wanted to go scuba diving!I remember when i was a kid spending hours in front of the tv watching documentaries of the creatures below. Then i developed a fear of sharks. Working on it.
I feel ya, Pat! I had to work through the same. I finally got over it though… it was worth it!