Tachai Island – A divers dream
Koh Tachai is an island in the famous Similan national park in south-west Thailand. The park is popular with tourists and divers – who will still have access to a few dive sites in the area. The place is amazingly full of rocks covered in beautiful corals. Currents are a bit strong and is highly recommended if you are a diver. There are lots of beautiful photography areas.
The shallow waters fringing Tachai have little interest to the many Similan liveaboards that visit the island. Off the south of the island is one of the best dive sites and the dive boats tend to dock there. This means quiet, secluded locations to conduct snorkel activities. The Tachai island is also an important aggregation site for migrating Manta rays which are sometimes spotted off the northern point of the island. If you know where to go, there is a chance to detect other larger marine creatures. In the quieter areas you will sometimes spot reef sharks. A scary thought, but these sharks are afraid of people and pose absolutely no danger.
A Thai Rangers’ camp with basic facilities like toilets and a restaurant allows tourists to enjoy some least amount of comfort. Most of the visitors to Koh Tachai stay on and off the beach to sunbath, swim and snorkel, while the most adventurous try to reach the viewpoint on the west coast of the island that can be reached via a steep path located toward the northern end of the beach.
There are two amazing dive sites at Tachai island, the plateau to the south and the eastern reef. Off the eastern coast, the sheltered shallow waters make for good night dives. Most liveaboards will tether here for the night.
It is about 1km southeast of the island. It is named so because it is ringed by a ridge-like coral plateau crowned with hard corals, scattered boulders, sloping from 12 – 35 m to the sandy bottom. Some of the boulders to the west have formed swim throughs and to the east many smaller rocks covered in sea whips and hard corals. It is best to pay close attention to a dive master’s guide as Koh Tachai island plateau can be challenging at times although the swim-throughs provide shelter from the strong currents. This site is for the experienced diver. Towards the end of the dive, you may see coral-eating Hawksbill turtles, groups of batfish or even the banded sea snake.
This is usually done as a drift dive. The strong currents enable the barracudas, sharks etc. to hunt easily for smaller prey. Whether there are current or slack tides, this dive site can be a magical place to find large and small marine life and is often listed as a favorite among the dive professionals. Early morning dives can waken you up from your slumber quite quickly as it can sometimes be a feeding frenzy and you may not know where to look as there are so many fish. Visibility varies on the month and the amount of plankton in the water, between 10-30m. Small frogfish and nudibranch are known to grace these waters.
How to get to the island
The easiest way to get to Tachai island is on a Thailand liveaboard trip to the Similan or Surin Islands, which will depart from either Phuket or Khao Lak. It is worth checking what port you prefer to depart from. Khao Lak is about 100km north of Phuket and can be reached overland. There are international flights into Phuket and / or domestic flights from Bangkok to Phuket. Reachable from Khao Lak in one hour you may find other day boats in the area.