Sweet Home Koh Lanta!
Idyllic is a somewhat overused word, particularly by myself, but it has to be said that it is very hard to fault anything about the area of Koh Lanta in which we stayed, the hotel we stayed in, The Narima, nor the sites we visited for diving and snorkelling; this was a very, very good holiday.
We had visited Koh Lanta before, in early 2006, and stayed in a hotel further to the north and closer to the nightlife. Back then there was still a lot of tsunami damage from the Boxing Day 2004 event and there have been significant changes made on the island since then. I guess one of them would have been the building of the place in which we stayed; it has been quite carefully designed to be raised well above beach level, whilst at the same time providing relatively easy access to the sand. Of course the beach bar was on the beach; otherwise it wouldn’t be a beach bar, would it?
The Narima sits in a pretty, secluded cove, although not a private one, which thankfully is forbidden by Thai law, and boasts beautiful sands, clean waters and plenty of shade on the beach. Access to the sea needs careful negotiation of some rocks at certain tide levels but once mastered this is of little bother. The swell was a little too limited for my liking but it did mean the calm waters were ideal for swimming rather than jumping around in the waves!
The accommodation is in individual bungalows, which are situated up the hill to the left of the first photo, and are set in woodland. This provides welcome shade throughout the day when you might need to escape from the sun, although the beach had quite a few large umbrellas, which were tasteful enough not to detract from the beauty of the place.
I will confess that I was completely smitten by the place, it was very relaxing, with very friendly staff and a great location. The only fault I can think of would be with regard to the number of steps within the resort, which might hamper some older or more infirm individuals.
This trip was to be Andrea’s fourth diving holiday of 2013, the previous three being the Red Sea, the Seychelles and Koh Samui, also in Thailand. She went out diving on four days and I joined her for two of those with my snorkelling gear. I guess that I’ve had five snorkelling trips during 2013 (beat you!), in that I can add Tioman Island to the list above, but I was too ill to really count Egypt as a proper adventure.
My first three dives were around the islands of Koh Haa, as were Andrea’s. They were pretty spectacular really; lots of very colourful and friendly fish, which seemed happy to pose for a few shots. Although there were maybe ten snorkelers I was able to get away from them all, which is great when you want to view more undisturbed sea life.
After a while at this site I noticed a young blacktip reef shark, about a metre long, and was able to follow it for some distance; unfortunately I didn’t have any battery left in my water camera and have had to “borrow” a stock shot from “Red Dog”; the link can be found below.
Apparently it was a surprising sighting, they don’t usually hang around the area we were in, and it was fortunate that towards the end of my relationship with the shark I managed to get one of the dive guides to spot it as well; I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was making it up!
On the third dive we watched a large moray eel having its mouth cleaned by a small reef fish; it’s common to see these cleaning stations but I’ve never come across anything prepared to pick bits out of the teeth of a moray! Have you seen their teeth?
My second day with the mask on was at Koh Rok; a stunningly beautiful spot and a two hour boat ride from our base in Koh Lanta. Again the fish were in your face; I was accompanied by a large school of yellow and silver fish that were very disinclined to leave me on my lonesome. There were only two dives here but both proved exceptional. At the end of the second, as we were meeting up with Maddy, the dive guide, so as to board the boat, she spotted a stingray. Not only was it a stingray, it was a huge stingray, some 3 metres from tip to tail and at least a metre across its diamond shaped body. Maddy is Australian, and therefore used to huge venomous creatures (by this I do not mean Australian men), but said she had never seen one that big before. We watched it lying on the sands and “flying” twice; again not something you want to get too close to! Once again I failed to capture this on film and am indebted to the Sea Wolf Diving School for the use of their photo.
Andrea’s biggest upset came at Koh Rok, where it seems Manta Rays hang out all the time. Did she see one...NO!