Ko Ha, cave diving, solitude and a full moon

We planned a dive to a remote pinnacle with some of our dive shop buddies but a combination of busy schedules and threatening weather delayed the expedition. We will hit Hin Daeng next week I hope. The next best place as per the guides is a small group of islands, Ko Ha, which means “five islands”. The tiny archipelago lays eighteen miles southeast of Phi Phi and about the same from Ko Lanka.

After a night back in Phi Phi where we talked diving with our German, Brit and Canadian dive guides we have befriended we arose and headed to sea. This was a lovely three hour trip in a slight following sea and the sun in our faces. All three of us piled on the pilot house roof to soak up some morning sun.

The islands poked over the horizon half way there and we consulted dive info and cruising books to find a good anchorage. The area is deep right up to the steep cliffs so anchoring is difficult and we were happy to find an empty mooring on the lee side of the biggest island.

We did a quick dive right under the boat and were delighted to find expansive visibility unlike we have seen since the Samilan Islands. We are now just far enough out of the gulf and the influence of the massive draining river systems to get clear water, 85 degree water, yahoo.

The islands are known for the cave diving and we found one small cave right off the bat. As I had not brought a torch I did not go far in the cave but did go far enough to dissuade my dive buddies so when I came out they were already headed the other way.

After the dive we popped in the dink to go exploring and do recon work on dive sites. We circled the three islands and talked to one of the dive boats, manned by Germans. They told us the entry to the chimney lagoon was a difficult dive with a long submerged entrance not accessible without dive gear and only by experienced cave divers. I suspect it was a bit over stated but we could not find the entrance anyway so headed back to the lagoon formed by three small islands which had a delightful white sandy beach. When we first arrived there were four large dive boats on the moorings and the lagoon full of divers and snorkelers, by the time we returned it was all ours!

We frolicked in the warm water and played for a bit enjoying the treat of having this all to our selves. Then we headed back to Furthur for lunch, naps and yup, one more dive. Missy and I did a drift dive around the corner where the large caves were thought to be and left Jessi to man the dink. We dove along a great coral reef and then found the entrance to “the Cathedral” as it is known. I found three huge cave entrances and we slowly entered the first. This was Missy’s first cave and she is a bit afraid of the dark. I had only brought the one torch so I held her hand as we entered, she seemed to like that. We worked our way into the darkness and glided through huge schools of fish that make the cave their home. I pointed the torch upwards to see the massive ceiling that seemed to reach forever. We looked at two other caves all amazing and headed up with a good air reserve. We found Jessi at the surface in the dinghy and headed back to Furthur.

I am very proud of the advancement in both of these girl’s diving skills. At first they both consumed huge amounts of air, twice what I do. Now they are both running at the same rate I do or better. Both girls have done wreck dives, night dives, current dives, deep dives and now cave dives. Nary a whimper as follow me into adventure after adventure. Missy came to the boat with less than a dozen post training dives and Jessi none, now both are accomplished and experienced divers.

The sun set and the full moon rose over the top of the cliffs that form Ko Ha as we enjoyed the solitude of having the entire island to ourselves sitting in the middle of the Andaman Sea.