Koh Lipe is a gem found in the south of Thailand. The island is small – small enough to cross it on foot in twenty minutes.
Commercialism has not yet touched its shores and it truly is an island paradise. The main beaches stretch out long and white with soft sand, inviting you to bask in the sun reading a good novel.
The water is warm and clear and as inviting as the sand. The waves reflect the laid back atmosphere of the island and gently runs up the beach and disappears into the sand, only to repeat this task again and again and again.
I have fallen in love with this island and usually refer to it when I speak of ‘home’. Besides the generosity and warm welcomes and wonderful friendships that I was blessed with on land, it was underwater where I most enjoyed spending my time.
The dive sites around Koh Lipe are varied and that is what makes the diving at this destination completely worth the trip out.
Stone henge is a beautiful reef covered with purple and white soft corral which often makes me feel like I’m drifting through a coral garden. The sea life is plentiful with schools of snappers, barracuda and travallies. Stone fish hide in open sight on the hard coral while giant moray eels and durban dancing shrimps make homes in the crevices. If you are patient and keep your eyes open you might even spot a seahorse or two hiding by one of the pinnacles.
The site also allows for amazing muck diving where each dive turns into a treasure hunt for interesting creatures.
Stone henge often has strong current and diving to this site is best done when slack tide lasts at least a couple of hours. Thus this site can only be dived, and enjoyed a few days each month.
The island directly off of Sunrise beach provides good diving for beginners and more experienced divers alike. Hard coral starts at around two meters. If you swim a bit further away from the island you’ll find many groupings of hard coral scattered amongst the sand. Upon closer investigation of these you might find white eyed eels and clouded eels. Lion fish can also be seen finding shelter in these corals.
Sting rays hide themselves under the sand on this site, often leaving only their eyes and stingers exposed. There is a lone file fish roaming the deeper water and pipe fish and flounders can often be seen bravely exposed in sandy parts.
Banded sea snakes often swim freely on this site and if you are lucky you could find a few flabellina nudi brances. There is a yellow sea horse hiding amongst some stag horn corral in shallower water.
If you continue to the East of this dive site the typography changes to tiered hard coral where stone fish, eels and moorish idols can be found.
The drop off is found about 500 meters off of Sunrise beach. I have described this many times as ‘where the light water and the dark water meet’. The site lives up to its name, coral starting at around one and a half meters and then sloping down to around 15 meters. Deeper then that you will find large sandy areas scattered with hard coral perfect for muck diving. Towards the North of this site you could find a frog fish concealed in some hard coral.
This site usually has a medium to strong current which makes it perfect for drift diving. Here you can also see many puffer fish, porcupine fish, nudi branches and magnificent orange fan coral.
Koh yang is an island located a little bit further away from Koh Lipe, about a 45 minute drive out with a longtail boat. It has large pinnacles where eels, sea horses and, sometimes, lobsters can be found. There is a turtle that can often be seen on this site as well as stone fish and many lion fish.
Hard mushroom coral starts at around 2 meters on this site while the pinnacles run down much deeper.
Koh adang – beach 4
Beach 4 is perfect to conduct Discover scuba dives and Open Water dives (including confined). Large sandy parts can be found directly off the beach for shallow water skills. The sand bank then drops to about two meters after which hard coral can be found. As you move away from the island the site gradually slopes down much deeper.
The site has a lot of hard coral as well as huge boulders where eels often hide.
This site is usually more quiet, with very little to no current as it is located in a bay off of Pattaya beach. This site has ghost pipe fish, eels and many nudi branches. You can also see the odd cuttle fish as well as a few cornet and trumpet fish.
Pattaya corner has large hard corals as well as big boulders covered in soft coral where lion fish often hide.
Koh Lipe is a location that has a variety of dive sites that will amaze novices and more experienced divers alike!
* A version of this article was first published at www.scubadiverlife.com