Adrenaline magazine - July 2008
Dive with elephants
Phuket is not infrequently associated with the bizarre and the unusual but now, thanks to an idea commissioned by the Thai government, the province’s peculiarity has been elevated to new heights - the land of smiles is now the only place on the planet where you can dive with elephants.
On the northern edge of Siam Bay, Racha Yai Island (20km south of Phuket) is one of the latest dive sites in the area, The Siam Bay Marine Park. Created as a means to help to attract scuba divers back to Phuket following the tsunami of Dec 2004, these mammoth artificial reefs (which include two elephants 3m in height) are clearly showing signs of doing just that.
As you approach this bizarrely unique dive site you’ll swim through a temple gateway guarded by a mythical giant sentry, known in Thai as ‘Yak’, who is believed to defend the gate from evil spirits. Next, diving inwards and upwards, you’ll navigate through the colossal, elephantine legs. Not only is this very good luck in Thailand, but it's great practice for your buoyancy skills too. The water is generally clear here so some fairly unusual photo opportunities are possible. While you are there, have a look in the elephant’s ear, where a white-eyed moray eel has already taken up residence. Then swim through the ‘bamboo’ hut and check out the oyster.
With a mooring marking the site’s descent and an average depth of around 18 metres, this playground for the aquatically-inclined has become a popular site for those completing the last legs of their Open Water Diver courses.
Adrenaline magazine recommends that divers base thermselves in Ao Nang, which has access to all the mid-Andaman dive sites, then go on a Similan Islands liveaboard.
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