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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.

Dolphins play around dive boat

Dolphin watching has become a regular activity on the return journey from Koh Haa to Kantiang Bay.  The divers on MV Moskito, Scubafish’s luxury dive cruiser have been rewarded with many sightings.  The dolphins glide in from the blue to jump and swim in the bow wave to much applause from the divers relaxing on the top deck.  Captain Mann loves the dolphins and slows down and circles around to let them cacth us.  What a fantastic sight!

Laanta Lanta Festival

Its this time of year again to get together and celebrate the Laanta Lanta Festival. This year the event is taking place on March 7 – 9 2010 located at Koh Lantayai Old Town community Moo.2 sub district Koh Lantayai district Koh Lanta Krabi.
the main activities of the festival is local folk entertainment, trade fair and arts and culture shows.
This festival is a great way to see how Lanta is developing every year. All tourists are welcome to see some light entertainment, enjoy the odd buy of some local produce and to learn some of Lantas history Through the eyes of the artists. There is lots of authentic food and drink to enjoy and also a sea gypsy ritual of casting bad spirits into the sea at a traditional boat floating ceremony. The festival is free of charge throughout the day and a small fee on the evening to help cover concert costs.

Liquid Lense – Recommended by Lonely Planet

Liquid Lense Underwater Photography Course Student

Lonely Planet ThailandLiquid Lense received a glowing endorsement in the new edition of the Lonely Planet for Thailand.

After visiting Ko Lanta last year, the Lonely Planet team were so impressed with Liquid Lense’s talented, professional staff and innovative range of courses that they decided to include us in the new edition’s Ko Lanta section.

Underwater Photography & Videography

If you’re looking to try something new underwater, why not enrol in an underwater photography or underwater videography course? The colourful reefs at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are the perfect spots to click a camera, and the friendly staff at Liquid Lense (www.liquidlense.co.uk) can show you how. This digital imaging academy runs a slew of hands-on courses from the Go Photo – one-day, two-dive seminar (7,100 B) to the Underwater Photographer PLUS – six-day, nine-dive videography course (32,900 B). The Tips & Tricks course (2,700 B) is a popular option for those who already have a bit of photo experience.

Underwater Photography Course Student

Protect Lanta’s Coral Reefs

There are many practical things you can do to help protect Lanta’s Coral Reefs:

Snorkeller at Ko Haa

Christmas Tree Worm

  • Dive carefully in fragile aquatic ecosystems such as coral reefs. Many aquatic organisms are delicate and can be harmed by the bump of a tank, knee, camera, the swipe of a fin or even the touch of a hand. By being careful you can prevent devastating and long-lasting damage to magnificent dive sites.
  • As a diver, practice good buoyancy control and avoid over-weighting so you do not bang into the bottom or parts of the reef whilst diving. Be aware of your body and equipment placement when diving and make sure your gauges and equipment are secured to avoid accidental contact with the reef, and never touch, stand on, or collect coral.
  • Keep your dive skills sharp with continuing education. Before heading to the reefs, seek bottom time with a certified professional in a pool or other environment that won’t be damaged. Refresh your skills and knowledge with a PADI Scuba Review, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course or Project AWARE Specialty course.
  • Consider how your interactions affect aquatic life. Resist the temptation to touch, handle, feed and even hitch rides on any aquatic life. Your actions may cause stress to the animal, interrupt feeding and mating behaviour or provoke aggressive behaviour in normally non-aggressive species.
  • Be a role model for other divers in diving and non-diving interaction with the environment. As a diver, you see the underwater results of carelessness and neglect. Set a good example in your own interactions and other divers and non-divers will follow suit.
  • Do not touch any living organism under the water. Coral takes a long time to grow and forms a delicate ecosystem, which can be damaged by even the gentlest touch. Never stand on or hold on to any coral. Some completely healthy corals may look dead or even just like rocks, so never assume you can touch anything. Fish have a protective layer. If you touch them you can damage this protective layer and cause them skin infections.
  • Do not put anything into the water, or over the side of the boat. Feeding fish can disrupt their natural feeding habits and even affect their behaviour. Sergeant Major Fish now come to snorkel sites & dive boats in much larger schools that they ought and act more aggressively, constantly searching for food and sometimes nipping at snorkellers. This is a direct result of large numbers of snorkel boats throwing bread and rice over the side to attract fish for the snorkellers to see.
  • Do not collect shells, or coral as souvenirs. Taking a shell from a beach can deprive a hermit crab of a home. Dive sites can be depleted of their resources and beauty in a short time. If you want to return from dives with souvenirs, consider underwater photography. Avoid purchasing souvenirs made from coral or any threatened or endangered marine species.
  • Do not fish at dive sites. Thailand’s national park regulations clearly state that no marine live is to be removed from their parks. If you hunt and/or gather game, obey all fish and game laws. Local laws are designed to ensure the reproduction and survival of these animals. As an underwater hunter, understand your effect on the environment and respect the rights of other divers in the area who are not hunting.
  • As a diver or snorkeller, choose tour operators that use mooring buoys or drift diving techniques whenever possible rather than anchors that can cause reef damage.
  • Learn more about the underwater world and share your knowledge with other people. The more people understand and care about coral reefs, the more likely they are to help protect and care for them. And, don’t forget you can make a difference every day. Dispose of waste properly and collect debris each time you dive or visit the shoreline.

This information has been complied with the help of Project AWARE.

Lucky Lanta becomes a Whale Shark Mecca

Whale Shark and Manta RayDuring the ‘monsoon season’, lucky Lanta had, not only some of the best diving ever witnessed in these waters, but had the unprecedented fortune of becoming somewhat of a Whale Shark magnet. Having personally dived in this area for over 9 years, I had never encountered the sheer number, and frequency of sightings, of these magnificent docile giants that graced our waters during April and May this year.

At top dive sites, Hin Daeng & Hin Muang, divers had the privilege of 28 consecutive days of Whale Shark (and often multiple Manta Ray) encounters. The visibility through this period was superb, peaking at well over 60 metres. The regularity of sightings at Ko Haa (particularly off Island #5) was also greater than in previous seasons, and even Ko Phi Phi got to join in the bonanza with sightings occurring for about 4 days of each month.

Whale Shark at Hin MuangDivers were returning from all the major dive sites around Ko Lanta reporting the exciting news that there had been simultaneous sightings of Whale Sharks at dive sites as far apart as 70+ km.

Whale Shark Facts:

  • The Whale Shark is the largest fish in the sea, weighing up to 60 tons and reportedly measuring up to 18 metres in length
  • The largest ever recorded Whale Shark (listed in the Guinness Book of Records) was 12.65 metres (41ft 6in), and their average length is thought to be between 8-9 metres
  • With approximately 3,000 tiny teeth, arranged in 300 rows in each 4 foot wide jaw, they filter-feed on some of the smallest creatures in the sea, such as plankton and small crustaceans
  • The Whale Shark’s skin can be up to 10cm think, but is vulnerable to skin infections (which can prove fatal in extreme cases)
  • Whale Sharks give birth to live young which hatch from eggs within their mother’s body. A pregnant Whale Shark can be carrying as many as 300 embryos
  • As with most sharks, female Whale Sharks are larger than their male counterparts
  • It is believed that Whale Sharks can live to be over 100 years old and do not mature until they are 30
  • Humans are the Whale Shark’s main predator, although they are sometimes attacked by Killer Whales (Orcas)
  • The Whale Sharks protection status is – ‘Threatened’
  • The best Ko Lanta dive sites to spot a Whale Shark are Hin Daeng, Hin Muang and Ko Haa
  • Did you know – you can take a PADI Whale Shark Awareness Specialty Course?

Lacy Scorpionfish spotted at Hin Muang


The Lacy Scorpionfish has been spotted on Hin Muang numerous times. Its usual location stretches across the waters of the Asian Pacific region and is known to occur from southern Japan to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and across to New Caledonia. One of the best locations to regularly see this fish is at Loloata Island in Papua New Guinea where several different colour variations are known. The lacy scorpionfish can be recognised by its distinctive head shape, the large upturned mouth, dangly tentacles on the snout .The species varies in colour from yellow to brown, purple, green or black and is covered by a maze-like pattern. it can grow up to 30 cm and is known to live in coral reefs from depths 5 – 30metres.This species is a master of camouflage and blends in very well with its background and quite often can be seen hiding under plate corals and ledges on coral reefs. It also remains well disguised when hiding in amongst crinoids as it blends in with the fine fronds of the feathery invertebrate. so guys have fun trying to find our new friend and feel free to add any new pics of him!!!

Andaman AIDA Freediving Challenge 2009

Andaman Freediving Challenge 2009

The Andaman Freediving Challenge 2009 will be held over 3 days from the 10th – 12th February 2009. The event includes a preparation day, a Pool Competition at Rawi Warin Resort & Spa and a Sea Competition at Ko Haa on the Blue Planet Diver’s Boat.

FreediverCompetitors can win:

Open sea competition prizes:

  • 1st: Mares Nemo sport
  • 2nd: Mares Pure Instinct Razor pro
  • 3rd: Mares Cruise Free Dive

Pool competition prizes:

  • 1st: Mares Mission watch
  • 2nd: Mares Pure Instinct Razor pro
  • 3rd: Mares Cruise Free Dive

1st Prize - 4 nights at Rawi WarinOverall winner:

Guillaume Nery, the World Champion in Constant Weight, will also be our guest host for the event.

Schedule of Events:

  • 10th February: Registration, Pool training, AIDA rules, Seminar
  • 11th February: Open sea competition at Ko Haa (max. depth 60m)
  • 12th February: Pool competition & Closing ceremony, Prizes, Party!

The disciplines will be: CWT, CNF, DYN, DNF, FIM, STA.

Freediver with Featherstar

This will be the second Freediving Competition hosted by Blue Planet Divers in Ko Lanta. Due to the success of last year’s competition, they have secured sponsorship from MARES, Rawi Warin Resort & Spa and the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The competition is also fully recognised by AIDA, the Worldwide Federation for breath-hold diving, and competitors can use points won at the Andaman Freediving Challenge 2009 towards their World Rankings.

This event is open to all and we welcome new freedivers to this competition.

Freediver with Lionfish

Contact Information:

If you have any queries, feel free to contact Blue Planet Divers
Email: blueplanetdivers [at] gmail.com
Tel: +66 (0)75 684165 / +66 (0)813 701 303
Web: www.blueplanetdivers.net

More information can also be found at: http://www.andamanaidafreedivingchallenge.blogspot.com/