Often Your first Stop On A Similan Island Liveaboard
Anitas Reef is a super easy dive site with great visibility. For these reasons it’s used by many liveaboards as the first dive of the trip so all the divers have a nice easy start and get their weighting correct for the rest of the trip.
The dive will certainly start in the calm shallows and you’ll slowly work your way towards deeper water. Your guide will check your weighting is OK and that divers are nice and relaxed. The dive site very gently slopes off to around 30m. It’s unlikely you’ll go all the way down, just far enough to see the the fields of spotted garden eels picking out any passing food that comes near their burrows. It’s a really nice scene to start off your trip but getting photos is extremely difficult. The eels are very shy so will retreat into the sand as you get closer but good luck anyway!
At the bottom of the slope there’s a few coral bommies intermittently scattered on the sand. Take a good look at each one you pass, they attract a fair bit of life. Lionfish, cleaner shrimp, some unusual nudibranchs but don’t get your head too close to any dark holes or you may upset one of the many moray eels that can be found on the dive site.
The Famous Bommie At Anitas Reef
At the south end of the dive site you’ll find Anitas Reef main feature. A very large coral bommie starts at 20m and rises up to 12m. The Thai name for this rock is “Hin Muan Deaw” and roughly translated means roll of film rock. In days long past photographers could literally use a whole roll of film on this stunning structure. An alien concept to most nowadays but for us old codgers we still remember when you were limited to 36 photos per dive. Thankfully digital technology allows us to take hundreds of photos of the beautiful soft and fan corals that ordain the bommie.
As well as being a great wide angle photo opportunity Hin Muan Deaw is great for macro. Ornate ghost pipefish, nudibranchs and lots of shrimp are hidden away in the small holes and cracks. A slow spiral upwards is the best way to find as much as possible. On the very top there’s an electric pink anemone that’s home to clarke’s clownfish. If you get your settings right it can make for a stunning photo.
After the bommie you’ll cross back over to the main reef. The topography completely changes and now you’ll find granite boulders with very little coral but still lots of life. Adult yellow boxfish and colourful surgeonfish pick away at the boulders. Keep an eye out into the blue for passing pelagics and sometimes a school of chevron barracuda will join you on your safety stop.