Cave Diving in Thailand: Probably the best cave dive in Thailand! Includes cave diving video.

June 10, 2010
Tech Instructor Vince

Tech Instructor Vince

If you fancy doing a bit of cave diving in Thailand, the spectacular limestone uprisings bejeweling the Andaman Sea have plenty to offer. Check out the cave diving video we shot below. Koh Phi Phi is home to what we think is probably the best cave dive in Thailand. The Phi Phi Islands are actually a group of seven islands all within spitting distance of each other. The islands are home to several prehistoric cave systems of varying size, depth, beauty, and penetrable length, much like Taipan in Patong.

Paul K ready for action

Kirbs ready for action

We’d picked a good day and were lucky with the weather. The month of May can be fairly unpredictable, but we had glassy flat seas and sunshine all the way from Phuket to Phi Phi. Cave diving should never be taken lightly. If should something go wrong on a dive, there’s no escape route to the surface. Our guide was Vince, an experienced technical diving instructor who had been on the team who’d originally mapped the cave and laid the guideline many years earlier. He would be taking three of us into the cave, all experienced instructors. I would be shooting the video. The other two divers were Paul Donnelly and Paul Kirby.

We set up our equipment and checked everything. O-rings needed to be faultless, hoses needed to be checked, tanks needed to be full and strobes were checked. The entrance to the cave is at 21 meters and the location is a closely guarded secret. All I can say is that it’s on Phi Phi Leh and not Phi Phi Don. I’d been living and working on Phi Phi for almost 5 years and had no idea this cave existed until I found out from Vince in Phuket. There are a couple of reasons for wanting to keep the location of this cave quiet. Firstly and most importantly, it’s a dangerous dive. It’s easy for inexperienced divers to enter the cave and get lost. It has happened before in this exact cave. During a dive outing from a local dive school on Phi Phi, a father and son were in a buddy team. When they came across the entrance to the cave the father signaled to his son to wait outside the entrance so he could just go inside a few feet and explore. His son waited. Sadly his father never came out of the cave alive. His body was recovered several days later. It’s assumed that after entering the cave he became disorientated and stirred up the silty bottom making finding the exit all but impossible. Another reason to keep the cave as exclusive as possible is to preserve the visibility inside the cave. One misplaced fin kick and thick clouds of silt permeate the crystal clear water inside the cave. This can take days, if not weeks to settle and clear.

The entrance is pretty minute. Divers need to enter one at a time with perfect buoyancy so as not to disturb the silt. The entrance of the cave tapers down until the vertical diameter of the cave is barely enough to squeeze a diver and a scuba tank through. Once inside, the cavern opens up to give divers space to breathe, but any more than four divers in the cave at the same time and things could turn into a pickle. It’s not until you really get into the cave that the visibility changes for the better. It’s like floating in space. It’s spooky. The fine silt lining the floor and sloping walls of the cave could be the surface of the moon. It’s strange, but more people have been into space than have been into this cave. There are three large chambers to explore. Massive stalactites hang down protrusively indicating that the sea level is constantly changing throughout Earths volatile history. Dive strobes illuminate the walls and the feeling of floating reignites the sensation of moving through space. As we ascend in the final chamber, the shimmering lights turn the surface of the water into infectious mercury green framed by Neolithic calcium icicles dropping downwards from the ceiling. We are around 100 meters from the cave entrance. It’s been a perfect dive with no problems or concerns. A quick gauge check shows we all have plenty of air remaining and won’t be

Paul D

Paul D

needing the spares we stashed just inside the cave entrance. We make a slow meandering path back to the cave entrance, stopping now and again to inspect the plainly mental rock formations. Where the fresh water meets with seawater, haloclines dazzle like a heat haze on an airport runway making your eyes blink purposefully to try and regain focus. The way back to the blue water isn’t as clear as it was on the way in. It’s just impossible not to stir up minimal amounts of silt just by creating water movement as we slowly pass through some of the narrow passages. To comprehend the clarity of the water, look for the lighter shot in the video. It looks like it could have been shot in a dry cave somewhere. The only particles you can see in that shot are what is stirred up when the lighter was placed ever so carefully on the ledge. After 40 minutes we exit the cave and head off for a few hundred meters to explore a second shallower cave.

Mental cave formation
Mental cave formation

The second cave is larger, so large that you never really lose sight of the light penetrating from the entrance. Sharks. Unexpected. One, two, three, everywhere. The must have been at least a dozen Blacktip Sharks inside the cave. I think they were more freaked out than we were. A couple lowered their pectoral fins in threat displays and charged wildly towards us. It was probably the torches they were interested in. One came straight at us.

The unexplained lighter shot

The unexplained lighter shot

Vince lifted his fins up and it flew underneath his legs and nutmegged me as I videoed. You can hear us laughing on the video. What a highlight to an already excellent and memorable dive.

Anyone interested in doing this dive should be a very experienced diver. Ideally dive masters and above. If anyone is interested contact us here and we’ll put you in touch with Vince. The dive is possible from October to May, although best from March to May. Strong winds during October to Feb can sometimes make the dive inaccessible. It is inaccessible from June to September.

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