We’ve heard about this little island just above Langkawi from a bunch of friends. Usually they would need to catch their breath when talking about it – they were that excited about their stay. Knowing there is no decent diving in Langkawi as it’s technically the Strait of Malacca, we thought nothing good can be so close by. And were mistaken!
Ko Lipe is only one hour by boat North of Langkawi, but is already in the Andaman sea and the diving there is good. What makes it even better is the combination of the island life you get, Thai food & drinks, European tourists, and paradise-like beaches. Lipe has it all.
It also has more of the flip side – all the trash and the growing numbers of tourists the island is happy to embrace, but not planning the growth smart so it can become dangerous for the ecosystem. But more on that later. First – diving.
Ko Lipe is part of the Tarutao national park and there is a policy that all dive shops on the island should be charging the same price for diving to grant fair competition. How to choose who to dive with? Well, in that case you are choosing the shop by only a few parameters: location, guides (read: attitude), their boat and equipment.
Choosing the dive shop
We did a brief research online and the two shops with the best reviews were Ko Lipe Diving and Adang Sea Divers. The first comment for Ko Lipe Diving on Trip Advisor was something between the lines of “great, big boat that can take 30+ people” and that’s where we went “ok, huge boat = crowds, next please!”. And that’s how we chose Adang Sea Divers.
Everything was just great about them – starting from the friendly emails to arrange everything before our arrival and ending with the warm hugs after our last dive. I definitely recommend diving with them if you are planning to dive in Ko Lipe. But again, the choice is always yours.
So on to the things we saw underwater. We did the total of 11 dives, all of which were long nice comfy dives (did two of the longest dives ever – 62 minutes!), warm water of 28C, visibility varied from 3 to 15 meters, sometimes there was current, sometimes the sea on our side of the island was too rocky so we needed to walk to the other beach (15 minutes). But overall, much much better than Ko Tao, so scores the best (of two, hehe) diving in Thailand so far.
Ko Lipe diving – small stuff
Anton recently became an avid macro-life enthusiast and his photography skills are getting sharper with every trip! Compare to the Pom Pom pics 6 months ago. These little guys, for example, are rare to find and are called ghost pipefish or Solenostomus.
Anton also spotted a few almost transparent shrimps:
Slightly bigger shrimps too:
Cute hermit crab or the “look, that seashell has eyes!” (my catch):
This weird black-and-yellow-spotted-thingy (if anyone knows what it is, please let me know) and a few nudis:
Nuuuudiiiiiiiiiiis (if you ever want to surprise me with a gift, get me a picture book of marine life or nudibranch magnets, they are so cute, I can look at them for hours!)
Yellow seahorse or Hippocampus kuda:
And a very evil-looking juvenile boxfish:
Which, if I’m not mistaken, is a younger version of this one:
We might or might not be developing a small fondness of lionfish here. They are truly beautiful creatures, especially when they’re not hiding in coral, but swimming freely. This time we managed to spot a few unusual things:
Saw a well-camouflaged scorpion fish
and a stone fish (isn’t it pretty?)
This was our first encounter with the peacock mantis shrimp – the guy has the fastest punch in the world (watch this video).
Also a first time seeing a cuttlefish this close (there was a school of 8 of them and we watched them swim around us on a safety stop).
A few moray eels. Come to think of it, we saw many cool things for the first time in Ko Lipe. Spotted a leopard moray eel, but it was so shy, it swam away before we could photograph it.
Oh, and the shark. We saw our second shark (first one was in Tioman). This time a nurse shark. Woohoo!
Close-up (I don’t know how Anton managed to get so close to it without scaring it off):
A friendly crab:
And a blue-spotted stingray:
(also, very friendly)
And this. A mystery. A true underwater treasure. We don’t know what it is, but the masters of diving say there is a mysterious creature of five tentacles that is born from the magnificent underwater egg. So I guess, it’s just a starfish egg or something.. Anyone knows what it is? If you do, please let me know in the comments below.
To end, I’d like to thank Adang Sea Divers for an amazing time, Maxi and Matthias, the dive instructors for very enjoyable dives and Claire for making us feel like home. And to Anton for taking all the photos.