Over the next few months I will be profiling some of the more popular divesites around Koh Tao starting with my own personal favorite – Chumphon Pinnacle.
Always a spectacular dive, Chumphon Pinnacle is home to many resident schools of fish and is your best chance around Koh Tao of spotting a Whale Shark. These factors along with the site’s consistency to impress meant that it was no surprise when it came in at number 1 spot in last year’s 2011 Simple Life Best Dive Site Poll.
A series of deep pinnacles stretching just over 100m in length from North to South West – Chumphon is one Koh Tao’s larger dive sites. The maximum depth around the pinnacles is 35m, but one can easily reach 40m by swimming slightly off the North or South West points into the sand (40m maximum depth is often used during the PADI Deep Specialty Course and can be a good depth to go looking for sharks)!
Regular inhabitants of the dive-site include a huge school of Chevron Barracuda, schools of Yellowtail Barracuda, Giant Groupers, schooling Trevally, schooling Fusilier, schooling Batfish, Queenfish, Rainbow Runners and Pink Anemonefish.
Along with the regular sightings above you can sometimes be lucky enough to see Whale Sharks, Blacktip Reef Sharks, Lionfish, Pickhandle Barracuda and even Bull Sharks (although it has been a couple of years since we’ve encountered the Bull’s).
To get the most out of this awesome dive-site, ‘Barracuda Rock’ – a group of smaller pinnacles on the South West tip of the site is a great place to start your dive. An absolute ‘action zone’ – you can really feel how special this place is. It’s not uncommon to be surrounded by huge schools of Barracuda, Fusilier and Trevally here – all the while having large Rainbow Runners and massive Giant Groupers swim around you. There are dives I have spent a full 25 minutes at Barracuda Rock – seeing no reason to leave such an amazing area.
When Barracuda Rock isn’t as busy with marine life as usual, the same schools can often be found to have migrated to the Northern tip of the divesite – another spectacular spot. You can almost always find a school of fusilier at the northern tip numbering in the thousands – often joined by Trevally, Barracuda and Rabbit Fish.
The area between these two points has a lot to offer too, with the tops of the pinnacles covered in beautiful pink anemones and smaller critters. Remember to look out into the blue every now and then – especially on the East side of the site for bigger fish like Sharks, Great Barracuda and Queenfish as well as a huge school of Batfish at certains times of the year.
A truly excellent place to dive all year round, Chumphon Pinnacle continues to impress me every time I dive here. Many experienced customers have told me they had their best dive ever at Chumphon and it isn’t hard to see why.
Next time… HTMS Sattakut Wreck.