We got to meet some of the world's last remaining sea Gypsies. Listening to their stories and knowledge of the marine environment is like being introduced to a whole new world.Adrian Porter
Everything you could possibly want to know about the Adang Archipelago
Koh Sawang, Stonehenge, Jabang Channel, 8 Mile Rock, Koh Rawi, Koh Lancha, and many more lie close to the Malaysian border, 32 Nautical miles Northwest of Langkawi, lies an unfamiliar paradise, home to the most remote dive sites in the Kingdom of Thailand, the Tarutao National Marine Park. The Scuba Explorer will now be running a few cruises every high season (November-April) to this far off and little known archipelago, consisting of about fifty small islands. Due to its remoteness, there is little to no diver activity (do not be surprised if you don't see a single other dive boat during the whole cruise), therefore the health of the coral reefs and the abundance of fish is mesmerizing.
On the way to this southern paradise, we also stop off at Koh Phi Phi marine park, Koh Haa and Hin Daeng & Muang on the first day. Following this, we arrive in Tarutao National Marine Park (also known as the Adang Archipelago), and take you exploring all the best sites this destination has to offer. The reefs offer a great variety of hard corals, but it's the soft coral gardens which make the diving here very memorable.
As you would expect, the reefs are inhabited by a large number of angel fish, surgeon fish, butterfly fish, parrot fish, trigger fish, anemone fish, and batfish. Though these are all species commonly found in the Andaman, in the Adang archipelago you will encounter variations of these species not found anywhere else in Thailand. Large schools of barracudas, trevallies, and fusiliers are also regular encounters. Dolphin encounters are possible, as well as rare Dugong sightings.
The depths surrounding the Adang archipelago drop off to well beyond recreational limits and currents can be moderate to very strong, often changing during the dive, making this more suited for intermediate to experienced divers. We would recommend a minimum of 50 prior dives. However, this combination of depth and current attracts the giants of the deep. Manta Ray and Whale Shark encounters are relatively common. Even more impressive, the Tarutao Marine Park is classified as the top spot in Thailand for schooling Mobula Devil Rays, making this a must dive for any diver.
Adang Archipelago is the name given to an area roughly 50 kilometers northwest of Langkawi in Malaysia and encompasses Thailands first National Marine Park, Tarutao. The Islands that make up this Marine Sanctuary are scattered anywhere from 20 to 70 kms off the southern most point of Thailand, so a liveaboard trip here has a spectacular variety of dive sites to visit. Koh Tarutao and the rest of the 60 islands in the Adang Archipelago are almost entirely uninhabited with Koh Lipe being the only permanent settlement.
Koh Lipe is home to Sea Gypsies named Chao Leh, who are awesome snorkelling and dive guides, sometimes the Scuba Explorer will make a quick stop to visit them on the Adang trips, it's an amazing cultural experience and something you won't find elsewhere, as there are only a few small surviving Sea Gypsie colonies left in the world and many liveaboards don't take the time to stop there.
The Tarutao Marine park was established in 1974, it was heritage listed in 1990, but lost the status later due to mis-management. Today the Park is managed far better and is in line to receive the listing once more.
Tarutao also has a colorful history of piracy during World War II, when a local land owner took offence to the loss of his fortune the war caused and decided to free a penal colony on one of the islands, conscripting them into a private pirate army that allegedly sank over 120 ships. The British eventually hunted them down and the area these days is a beautiful diving paradise.
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