Male Pin-Up Dive Calendar

Blue Planet Calendar

In the beginning of the year, Divemasters and Instructors of Blue Planet Divers on Ko Lanta came up with an unusual and novel way of raising funds for two local charities. The male members of staff at Blue Planet Divers agreed to get their kit off for the camera and pose naked for a calendar which is set to become a huge hit among visitors and residents of the laid-back island.

Thankfully, the modesty of the dive professionals featured in 12 distinct shots has been protected by the convenient placement of different pieces of scuba equipment such as air cylinders, fins, dive flags and surface marker buoys, so nobody should be offended as they flick through the 12 months of the year!

The calendar was the brain-child of Mellisa Bunyan, co-owner of Blue Planet Divers, who became serious about what had been an on-going joke when British third level photography student Rosie Waites visited Ko Lanta for two weeks earlier this year.

Rosie, whose parents Jane and Chris had just completed their Divemaster courses with Blue Planet, was hugely receptive to the idea of taking photos of the willing members of staff in order to help out Children of the Forest and Lanta Animal Welfare.

“We had talked about this idea before, but mainly in jest! I thought it would be more appropriate to get a professional photographer in to do a proper job. Rosie loved the idea. She had done nude photography before, but only with models. She loved the idea of working with non-professionals as she felt it would be more of a challenge, getting the best out of people who don’t do this kind of thing for a living!”

Mellisa had been inspired to come up with the idea after watching the film ‘Calendar Girls’ and was determined that the photos would not be seedy. Those who come across the calendar in the Blue Planet shop in Saladan, or in many of Ko Lanta’s bars, in the coming weeks will be impressed by the professionalism of the shots and the humour which shines through them.

“The idea was that every guy would be happy with his shot and we managed to get one for every month of the year. The photos were taken in private, in a closed set, which meant that there was privacy for the guys and some of them came up with their own ideas for the shots they wanted to be taken. We didn’t want to take the photos anywhere you could see anything naughty. We wanted the guys to look hot and the photos to look cheeky. We’re delighted with the finished product. We are lucky, because there are some very good looking guys working for Blue Planet!”

There were quite a few giggles around the Blue Planet shop over a few days in March as Rosie summonsed the dive professionals into her little studio, away from the prying eyes of their colleagues.

With dive suppliers Mares coming on board as a sponsor, every Baht raised from the sale of the calendars in Ko Lanta’s bars, restaurants, the Blue Planet shop and on the internet will go directly to two charities on the island.

Underwater Proposal on Blue Planet Boat

Blue Planet Happy Couple

American visitor Jenny Prunty enjoyed an unforgettable St. Patrick’s Day during a scuba diving holiday at Koh Lanta last month when her boyfriend of nine years, Antonio Alvarado, unexpectedly proposed to her underwater. Antonio had secretly arranged with dive guide Bibi and videographer Don to ‘pop the question’ to Jenny at the bottom of the sea during a day out with Blue Planet Divers at Koh Bida Noi on March 17.

Everyone on the Blue Planet boat was in on the secret, bar Jenny, after Antonio had made his intentions known to the dive shop staff when he booked the day’s diving by email before he got to Koh Lanta. As a result, bottles of champagne were hidden away from Jenny for the trip to Koh Bida and there was a real festive atmosphere on the boat for the return trip to Koh Lanta after Jenny, still in shock, had said yes to her beloved by giving him the diver’s ‘o.k.’ signal at a depth of 10 metres.

But Antonio almost gave the game away about 20 minutes earlier. A slate he had secretly written in the boat’s cabin while Jenny was sunbathing upstairs, with the words ‘Marry me?’, had slipped out of the pocket of his Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) early in the dive.

“We were swimming along on our dive and then I saw ‘Marry Me?’ written upside down on a slate. It fell out of the pocket of his BCD a little. I kind of wondered what that was about, but I was just enjoying the dive and then I forgot about it!” exclaimed Jenny, who is from San Antonio, Texas.

Their guide, Bibi, signalled to all the divers in the group to kneel in a line along the bottom, towards the end of the dive. Jenny did not have a clue what was going on.

“Our guide signalled to me when the time was right to pull out the slate. I was very nervous. I had a string attached to the slate and it was tied to my BCD. I wanted to do something crazy, something that would last in the memory. We’ve been together for eight or nine years and we came to Thailand with two other friends, who were in on the secret,” said a joyous Antonio after Jenny had accepted his marriage offer.

He said that they were not particularly experienced scuba divers, but they had come to love the sport in the three years since they learned how to dive in the Cayman Islands. As an Irish-American, Jenny always loves to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and he wanted to make sure that she would remember the 2010 festivities for a long time to come.

For Jenny it all was a blur.

“All of the others started to kneel down and Bibi was pointing at something on the ground. I couldn’t make out what he was pointing at and then Antonio showed me the slate. I gave him the ‘o.k.’ sign under water. I was just shocked. We had just come to Thailand on a holiday with two friends and I had no idea that we were going to get engaged!”

The other divers in the group applauded when Jenny and Antonio kissed each other under water and videographer Don was on hand to capture their special moment so that they can show the video to their friends and families back in the United States.

Afterwards, their celebrations continued into the early hours at the Irish Embassy, Koh Lanta’s only Irish pub, where Antonio expressed his gratitude to Mellisa Bunyan of Blue Planet Divers for plotting the entire event in secret, much to the shock of his future wife!

And, for one day at least, the Blue Planet boat became known as Lanta’s ‘love boat’!

Scubafish – Winner of the Project Aware Conservation Award 2010

Beach Clean-Up in Kantiang Bay

To better recognise the achievements of those PADI Dive Centres and Resorts who have made significant contributions to the growth and development of diving, PADI Asia Pacific have announced the finalists and winners of this year’s PADI Asia Pacific Member Awards program which recognises the efforts of dive operators during 2009.

Beach Clean-Up in Kantiang Bay

The PADI Member Awards program was based on nine separate Asia Pacific regions; a system that ensured PADI Members compete with other PADI Members within their own geographical region for one of five Awards.
All PADI Dive Centres and Resorts within each of the nine regions were considered for nomination by a specially convened selection panel, who selected up to three finalists for each of the awards. A panel of PADI judges then considered all of the finalists within each region and we are proud and delighted to announce that Scubafish/ Narima Diving are the winners of this year’s Project AWARE Conservation Award for our region (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam).

Conservation Award 2010 for Scubafish

The Project AWARE Conservation Award “recognises outstanding ecological achievements, with a focus on fostering environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation”.

The dive team is delighted at this achievement and obviously intend to continue these efforts whilst offering a sustainable and environmentally responsible diving experience. Scubafish is now a 2 time winner of this particular award.

Breathless in Ko Lanta!

Breath Holding Competition

Residents lounging by the deluxe pool at the luxurious Rawi Warin Resort and Spa on Koh Lanta last month were treated to the bizarre sight of a select group of enthusiasts, from a variety of countries, who managed to hold their breath underwater for up to six and a half minutes at a time.

After elaborate warm-up and relaxation rituals, the competitors lay face down at the edge of the swimming pool and focused on holding their breaths as long as possible under the watchful eyes of internationally approved judges Richard Wonka (Germany) and Sarah Whitcher (England).

Andaman Freediving Challenge Breathholding CompetitionIt was the second day of the Andaman Freediving Challenge, Thailand’s only annual competition for Freedivers, and followed a day out on the Blue Planet Divers’ boat in which competitors managed to reach depths of between 20 and an astounding 53 metres in the open sea.

What was most striking about this year’s competition was how friendly the competition was throughout the three days and how keen the divers were to help each other out with advice and tips to enable rivals to extend their time underwater.

Freedivers learn how to hold their breath for long periods without the aid of scuba equipment and the annual Koh Lanta competition, organised by Blue Planet Divers, is the only one in Asia to take place outside of Japan.

Eight male and four female divers took part this year, many of them competing for the first time, in six distinct events over three days.

At 52, Italian Andrea Richichi may have been older than the other competitors, but his breath-taking times in all disciplines – including an incredible 53 metre dive from the boat – saw him collect all of the major prizes.

Andrea grew up spear fishing and snorkelling on the island of Sardinia. Amazingly, he has never undertaken any formal courses in Freediving, despite his breath-taking times, including a six minute and 33 second breath-hold in the pool.

“I have never been a scuba diver, but I have always loved being under water. When I grew up, scuba diving wasn’t an option. I have never done any courses, but you really do learn a lot at competitions and you get to meet very good people.”

“I was in Thailand for work this month, but I decided to come to Koh Lanta for this competition. People make friends very quickly at these competitions and I get asked a lot of questions because I have been Freediving for six years and I have taken part in over 25 competitions. This competition has a wonderful atmosphere and it’s in a country that I love!”

He said that world championship Freedivers might not help each other out to the extent that the competitors do on Koh Lanta, but the whole ethos of the Andaman Freediving Challenge is to encourage beginners and intermediates to challenge others (and themselves) in an extremely friendly environment.

Ossien Pekkala, from Finland, was thrilled to reach 30 metres on a single breath. He only took up Freediving four months ago, because he wanted to stay longer under water while snorkelling.

“The longer I can stay underwater, the more fun I can have!”

The women’s competition was won by Jacinta Colvin, from Melbourne, who was inspired to come to Koh Lanta after hearing about last year’s competition from friends in Australia. She was delighted to reach depths of over 30 metres in her first ever competition and managed to hold her breath for just under four minutes in the pool.

“I had never been to Koh Lanta before, I decided to come on a two week holiday, especially for the Andaman Freediving Challenge. It’s been really, really good and really friendly and I feel I have learned so much over the three days. It’s great to get to hang out with other Freedivers and I feel so much more confident now.”

Freediving Competition

One of the competition’s three Thai competitors, Petchrung Sukpong (or Aey), only undertook a Freediving course with Blue Planet Divers two weeks before the competition. She was encouraged to come back and take part by coach Richard Wonka, who told her it would be a great way to make new friends and improve her technique.

Aey works in Marine Conservation in Phuket, and was delighted she had made the short journey back to Koh Lanta for the competition. She was thrilled to reach a depth of 20 metres on a single breath, a personal best, and found that the experience was akin to meditation under water.

“I think Freediving is more relaxing than scuba diving because it is so peaceful and you don’t make any noise underwater, This competition is perfect for the beginner, because it’s so friendly, and I think I’ve learned a lot about Freediving over the three days. I’d never even thought about going into a competition before and now I’m thinking of going on and doing the Advanced Freediving course.”

Aey said that she would definitely be back next year to challenge her new friend, Jacinta, for the Andaman Freediving Challenge title!

Blue Planet Divers on Koh Lanta run regular Freediving courses throughout the diving season. Check out their website, www.blueplanetdivers.net, or telephone +66 (0)75 668 165 for details.

Liquid Lense

To dive and have the memory is one thing, and to have a professional photographer catch the magic underwater for you is another. Liquid Lense has been going from strength to strength since 2003, with a dedicated team capturing memories, filming personalised mini movies and offering a range of unique courses under water for individuals wants and needs.

Liquid Lense helps bring your memories alive with their loyalty to loving diving, friendliness and creativness to give you something spectacular every time.

Please check out the link to liquid lenses home page which has a full description of all the packages we offer. You have the options of photographs, rentals, videos, a huge variety of courses and refreshers for those who want to touch up on their skills.

liquidlensehttp://www.liquidlense.co.uk/index.html

If you need any advice or want to enquire about an interest please feel free to email us at info (at) liquidlense.co.uk

Tourists Top Tips To Diving

Ko Lanta is known for its breath taking and diverse diving. Here are some top tips we think can help you have a fantastic stay while you enjoy your much deserved dives.

  1. Research the dive centres you are interested in. They may look good on the outside but what are they doing behind the scenes? Find out what they are doing to help Lantas environment on land and in the sea.  See if they are trying to maintain an eco friendly dive operation, i.e recycling, clean ups, anchoring, green fins.
  2. The dive boat will be a way to relax throughout the day. How many passengers does the boat hold? What lay out is there? What area do you have for gearing up when your getting ready to dive?
  3. The staff – Its always great to see a friendly face, try and meet a few members of staff so you know who you will be sharing your day with
  4. The dive sites – Ask for an update on the sites conditions.Visibility and current can have a massive impact on the dive. How many will be in your group and will they be at the same level as you
  5. Lunch!!! you need to keep your energy up while diving so find out what refreshments they have on board. Its always good to find out whats on the menu if you have any dietry requirements
  6. Familys – Can you bring your children on board and if so what areas have they got to keep them entertained! Will there be lifejackets onboard for them? Can you snorkel instead of dive?
  7. Equipment – if you dont own your own equipment, the equipment rental is an important one to enjoy your dive comfortably. Make sure the dive centre has your correct sizes and ask what condition the equipment is in.
  8. Prices – Cheaper is not necessarily better, you usually pay for what you get with diving so with all the questions above you should find the dive centre which suits your individual needs

Who ever you decide to dive with we know you will have a fantastic time exploring our sites. Ko Lanta has alot to offer so make sure you are prepared to have the time of your life!

Ko Rok

The two sister islands of Ko Rok (Nok and Nai) are best known as the best snorkelling sites around Ko Lanta.

There are enormous gorgonian sea fans, huge hard coral formations and many colourful soft corals dominate the deeper area on the east side of Ko Rok Nok. The islands are quite large so we are still discovering new and exciting dives.

Ko Rok is a very relaxed and calm dive, and perfect for beginner divers and those who like to capture the magic of diving without too many dive boats around. There isnt a huge amount of marine life, but marble rays and Hawksbill turtles are often spotted. Its a great day out for partys with a mix of divers and snorkellers, As there is lots to keep both entertained. With the right weather, lunch on the beach is also a added bonus to relax and soak up the sun on your lunch break.

Ko Phi Phi

At the heart of Phi Phi Leh lies some magical diving experiences. Located around 22km west of Ko Lanta the Phi Phi islands offer consistently good diving. Phi Phi is best known for its fabulous sea fans and home to the leopard sharks. With long caves, dramatic over hangs and swimthroughs Phi Phi can offer some fond memories.

Bida Nok and Bida Nai have been rated the best diving there.  The dive sites lie next to eachother and are very similar. Both offer a fabulous display of hard and soft coral, and both being home to marine life including black tip reef sharks, hawskbill turtles and sting rays.

Bida Nok has an outer reef known as finger reef. The cove starts at around 3metres where baby black tip reef sharks can be found. To the side of this Finger reef gradually drops to around 18metres which is home to the odd leopard shark and stingray.

Bida Nai has its own reef known as fantasy reef. You have to leave the main pinnacles and swim over massive patches of stag coral to get to it. There you will experience breath taking experiences of barracuda and trevally hunting over you, sea snakes free swimming and scools of snappers alongside you.

It takes around 45mintues by speedboat to get to phi phi, where you will enjoy the picture perfect views on your lunch break. the visibility ranges from 5 – 20m, and although you do not get the visibility of Ko Haa, the sighting of the odd leopard shark will make your dive!

King Cruiser Wreck – Dive Site Review

Dive Site Review of the King Cruiser Wreck

Wreck - Yellow Snapper

a dense layer of yellow snapper above the wreck

As I descended down the line towards the King Cruiser Wreck, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d heard the stories of eerie currents sweeping over the ruins of a huge steel catamaran wreck and I was a little worried about the poor visibility I’d heard so much about.

I certainly wasn’t prepared for the sheer numbers of schooling fish that engulfed the steel hulk.

Going down the buoy line, it felt as though I was descending into a swirling mass of yellow snappers and trevally. It was almost impossible to guess at what lay beneath this impenetrable layer of excited fish.

As I drifted downwards, the imposing outline of the huge sunken boat started to take shape, appearing gradually out of the gloom. I could make out a walkway with railings along the side, the remains of the wheelhouse and a turret on the side of the wreck loomed out of the side closest to me.

King Cruiser Wreck through schooling fish

the wreck emerges through the swirling schools of fish

A large school of big-eye trevally swam busily past as I checked my bearings on my compass. The wreck lies on a north-south trajectory and I had descended at the southern end.

My buddy signalled that we should continue down to explore a little deeper. At around 24m the visibility dropped to around 6m but I could make out the large, dark opening to the car deck. The ramp sloped down towards the murky depths and some extremely large lionfish hovered around the imposing entrance.

A few jacks circled the opening hopefully, being swallowed up by the vast darkness of the interior, before emerging again on their hunting circuit.

Although it seemed tempting to follow them inside, I’d been cautioned during the dive briefing that penetration was out of the question, due to the unstable nature of the wreck’s structure. Steel that’s been lying in 30 degree salt water for the best part of 14 years is not to be trusted. The odd groaning and creaking sounds I could hear emanating from the wreck gave more than a little credence to this advise.

Images of the King Cruiser Wreck

Swimming along the starboard side, I peered into one of the large openings that had been cut out of the side of the car deck. A huge mappa pufferfish stared back at me, its distended belly glowing in the greenish, murky light. I tried to imagine cars lined up inside, but it felt impossible – almost as though the fish had claimed this sunken mass of metal as their own kingdom, its former life lost in the passage of time.

white-eye moray sheltering in a tiny crack in the wreck

As we rounded the northern end of the wreck, it seemed as though there was almost no end to the variety of marine life to be found on this site.

I wished I’d brought a torch after my guide (who had brought one) picked out more and more tiny delights hiding in the most unusual places. With a torch, all the colours became so much more vivid and I could really see all the corals that had started growing on the wreck’s structure.

Disregarding the vast numbers of schooling and hunting fish that surround the wreck, every little crack and crevice seemed to have become an established home for a different species of fish or crustacean. Even the railings and ironwork concealed cleverly camouflaged scorpionfish or tiny nudibranches, clinging on in the brisk current.

Big, bold white cowfish nosed around on the main deck, while rainbow runners darted through ever-present schools of snappers. I was intrigued to find three toilets lying in blithe disarray, presumably tossed there by the stronger currents that sweep through these areas during the monsoon seasons.

King Cruiser Wreck - Walkways

the walkways give a true sense of the size of the wreck

The moment it most felt like I was truly diving on a shipwreck was when we swam along the main walkway down the side of the top deck. It was at this point in the dive that the sense of perspective seemed more real and the true size of the boat become most apparent, filling me with a sense of awe at the remarkable beauty in the juxtaposition of nature, rusting metal and such an abundant array of colourful tropical fish.

The walkway is wide enough for 1 person to swim fairly comfortably along it. There are windows that look into the inside seating area.

Some fairly significant sections of the upper deck have collapsed in towards the middle of the boat, and some of the huge metal sheets that make up the main structure of this deck, are torn and twisted in spectacular disarray, adding to the eerie atmosphere and giving many more sheltered areas for the fish to inhabit.

Looking in through the top-deck windows, quite a few of the passenger seats were still in place and I was delighted to discover a huge Hawksbill Turtle sleeping in the main cabin. It was almost as if the turtle had picked out the most comfortable spot to take a nap.

Marine Life on the Wreck

The King Cruiser Wreck is a remarkable dive that’s completely different to any of the other dive sites I’ve dived around Ko Lanta. On the day that I dived, there were some fairly strong currents, although once we were down exploring the wreck, the structure itself provided quite a bit of natural shelter from the current. The visibility seemed to be quite variable with deeper parts having much poorer visibility that the shallower areas of the wreck. For me, this added to the atmosphere of it being a wreck dive and it was exciting to piece together an overview of the entire boat from each new section that I discovered.

I dived on NITROX which meant that I had plenty of bottom time to really explore all the interesting areas of the King Cruiser. As quite a few sections have collapsed inwards, a fairly significant part of the wreck lies below 18m. For me, diving on NITROX was a great decision.

Banded Sea Snake

the colours appear so much more vibrant when using a torch or flash light

The King Cruiser Wreck is situated half way between Ko Phi Phi and Phuket, and is the area’s most popular wreck dive. The boat lies perfectly upright, resting on the sandy bottom, with the deepest point at 32m and the captain’s cabin at around 14m. The entire wreck is 85 meters long and 35 meters wide and lies north to south.

Since sinking, the King Cruiser’s steel frame has evolved into a fantastic, barnacle covered, natural reef – a wonder that has attracted countless marine species, including massive schools of snapper, trevallie and batfish.

The wreck’s resident turtle lives inside and makes a trip up to the surface to breathe approximately every half an hour, so you’ve got a fairly good chance to find him during any dive you make there. You’re also likely to find many types and sizes of pufferfish, moray eels, lionfish and scorpionfish hiding in cracks and openings. There can also be a few unexpected visitors such as octopus, reef sharks and maybe even a whale shark.

With such a vast number of fish calling the King Cruiser Wreck their home, it’s bound to attract ever-increasing numbers of larger fish, looking out for a quick snack. This makes for exciting diving with never a dull moment!


If you’d like to share a dive-site review of one of Ko Lanta’s dive sites, please submit your review via email to review [at] scuba-dive-lanta.com.

Hin Daeng and Hin Muang

Hin Daeng and Hin Muang (red rock purple rock) has developed a high place in diving rated the best in Thailand after the similan islands. These two spectacular dive sites have tourists coming from all over Thailand choosing from speed boats to live aboards. The dive sites are most famous in the diving world for a good chance to see manta rays and whale sharks, the dive sites are very popular from the months of november to april, when the weather is most stable.

Hin Daeng – red rock – This is a submerged boulder pinnicle, where at the surface you have no idea of the hidden beauty under water. There are plenty of soft corals in different shades of red all around, looking out into the blue you will be amazed by the amount of giant trevallies and barracudas hunting. Hin Daeng  promises you a large amount of marine life surrounding you as you slowly glide through the warm waters. Most appealing to this dive site is the sightings of manta rays. Its common to see them coming in from the blue and enjoying your company while swooping around and around in your presence. Its always good to keep an eye out for the whale shark too, who likes to pop by from time to time. Theres no mistaking the largest fish in the sea (growing 12metres and bigger) so enjoy being on the look out.

This dive site starts at around 3metres and drops to 40metres plus on the southern side. Visibility usually ranges from 15 – 40metres

Hin Muang ( purple rock) is the deeper of the two dive sites, Hin Muang is covered with purple soft coral over the several pinnacles which create it. There is a mooring line to help with the descent and ascent of the dive, which is surrounded with a field of anenomes. Manta rays and whale sharks also have sightings here, and in addition other tropical reef residents including large grouper, snappers and moray eels lurk among the many crevices. Hin Muang is also rich in macro life, so dont be surprised to see many divers taking pictures of ghost pipe fish, harlequin shrimp and an unimaginable variety of nudibranchs. The newly found lacy scorpian fish is also one of our new favourite finds.

The depth of the the pinnacles range between 8 – 60 metres, because of the depths of the dive and the variability in current, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are recommended for advanced divers only.