Accompanied by a bunch of office colleagues and a few regular guests, we recently celebrated S/Y The Phinisi’s first trip of the new season with a dive weekend away in the southern part of Phuket, Thailand. As soon as everyone gathered at the pickup point at Chalong Pier, we embarked The Phinisi. Whilst enjoying sunset drinks and dinner, we set off southeast-bound to arrive a few hours later at a sheltered bay of an island where we anchored for the night.
Our first dive on Saturday morning was at Hin Muang, which is Thai for: purple rock. Hin Muang, alike nearby Hin Daeng (meaning: red rock), are seamounts that rise up 70 metres from the ocean floor in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by deep water. The dive site names refer to the great amounts of respectively purple and red hued soft tree corals covering the seamounts. Most famous for manta ray and whale shark encounters; but, whether they are sighted or not, you can also spot oceanic trigger fish, giant moray eels, pharaoh cuttlefish, schooling rainbow runners and snappers, barracudas, groupers, fusiliers and bluefin trevallies. On the pinnacles, there are fields of magnificent anemones, walls of Hemprich’s soft corals, and some huge gorgonian sea fans. Almost perpetual good visibility and dramatic topography combined with huge fish number makes for excellent diving.
After a lovely day of diving on Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, we set sail to Koh Haa. Possibly some of the most underrated diving in the whole of Thailand, Moo Koh Haa (literally ‘five island group’) sits almost halfway between Hin Daeng and Phi Phi and is part of the Koh Lanta National Marine Park.
There are actually several dive sites around Ko Haa, however, we focused on the highlights: Koh Haa Lagoon, Koh Haa Neua, and Koh Haa Yai. These amazing islands offer spectacular pinnacles, walls, boulders, caverns, and swim-throughs. Koh Haa lagoon is ideal for night dives, courses, and snorkeling. The Chimney and The Cathedral offer seascapes that you can’t find on any other liveaboard itinerary in Thailand with caverns, swim-throughs and chambers dotted around the sites. Koh Haa has varied marine life too, with ornate ghost pipefish, morays eels, octopus, hawksbill turtles, sea horses, marble rays, and sometimes even leopard sharks.
From the moment you wake up, to each time you return from the dives, there is always food, food, glorious food. When notified in advance, the chefs on board royally cater to vegans, vegetarians and other dietary requests to the point where it can be challenging to pace oneself and not eat too much of the mouthwatering dishes, served buffet style. It’s fair to say that on The Phinisi the food and diving are equally amazing.
S/Y The Phinisi comfortably welcomes 18 guests on board, who have a choice of double and quad cabins, all with en-suite facilities. The dive deck is spacious and offers plenty of storage space for your dive gear. The bean bags and loungers on the sun deck provide you with a pleasant surface interval, either catching a few sunrays or chilling in the shade.