The route to Phi Phi: gray skies, gray waters...and sharks!

Koh Phi Phi Travel Blog

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Luggage, food, and tourists, all stacked together in the back of the truck.
Today Steve and I traveled by boat from Phuket to the Phi Phi islands, stopping along the way for diving. Everything was bleak and gray both above the water and below, but the water was bath-water warm and there were even some sharks to be found, so it was a nice day all-in-all.

At 7:45am a small pickup outfitted with two rows of seats in the back covered by a canopy picked us up. We were greeted by three friendly faces, who would be the beginnings of our Phi Phi contingent:  Matty from Australia, Matthew from Denmark, and Edgar from France. Quite an international representation!

Along the way we picked up a couple of Swedes (I never got their names), and then several bins of food -- hey, getting a little crowded back here! -- then another American, then some huge bags of ice, then some bags of fruit.
All on board!
Soon we were all on top of our luggage, the food, and each other, bouncing our way to the harbor and our boat, Greta.

We arrived at the port, everything was quickly thrown on board, and then we were off. The head guy, Owen (Irish, by the way), told us to get our dive gear ready while the seas were calm. He gave us a full orientation on the boat, making sure to show us where to find the Dramamine. Oh oh! (It wasn’t bad in the morning, but got very choppy later in the day).

The group was broken up into smaller groups of three or four divers each, each with its own guide. Steve, Edgar, and I had the most number of dives logged and were matched up with Owen, who would be our guide for two days.

The first stop was Shark Point, which Owen jokingly called “Shark-less Point.
Our first dive site.
”  He told us to expect a strong current, and instructed us to use the mooring line to guide us to the bottom where the four of us would meet up. I had planned to follow my people down right away, but got hung up behind another group, who for some reason was just sitting on the line. I couldn’t pass them, and the waves were crashing around me, pulling me up out of the water as the boat was tossed around, then plunging me back under. It was grueling and stressful. I hate to bounce around in the waves  -- it’s always so much calmer just below the surface. I just couldn’t get there!

I finally managed to pull myself through the crowd. What chaos! The current was brutal, the visibility was extremely low, and I couldn’t find the members of my group. Just as I thought I’d have to go back up.
Me and Steve at our first dive site.
.. there’s Edgar! And Owen! Whew…but Steve was nowhere to be found. Owen asked me in diver sign language, "Where is your buddy?" and I gave the international sign for “No idea!” We waited and watched for about a minute, and then Owen instructed me to buddy up with Edgar and follow our videographer, Paul, who knew the route. Owen went off to find Steve while I swam off with Paul and Edgar. With all the excitement and stress I had used a record amount of air on the descent! I kept a close air on the gauge.  

[Owen did find Steve, by the way, who at that point was safely back on board. He had not used the line to descend and quickly got swept away from the group in the strong current. With no line and no other divers in sight, the only thing to do is go back up, which is where he decided to stay.
Matty the Australian makes a new friend. Video still courtesy Paul Willetts.
Owen rejoined us after ensuring Steve was OK.]

I am sorry Steve missed this dive, which I felt was the best of the trip. Shark Point actually lived up to its name -- we had two leopard shark sightings! The first shark was sleeping on the bottom, blending into the sand very well. Even with Owen pointing directly at the thing, it took me some time to recognize I was actually looking at a shark. It was very exciting (oops, there goes my air again). I also spotted a small blue-spotted stingray, and Owen pointed out a large school of squid, swimming above us. They looked picturesque, silhouetted by the dim light above and I wished once again that I had my underwater camera with me. Everywhere, there were swarms of fish. It was a nice dive. We ascended after 45 minutes because Edgar was low on air, so I hadn't done badly after all.
Turtle butt. Video still courtesy Paul Willetts.


There were a total of three dives for the day, all pretty hazy, with a strong current. The conditions were less than ideal, but we did see some good stuff:  a turtle who appeared to be stuck headfirst in some coral (Owen didn’t touch the wildlife except this turtle. He pulled him out a little to make sure he was OK), a small white seahorse, a very fast and shy black-tipped reef shark, some enormous moray eels, my first cuttlefish (bizarre looking thing), and of course, lots and lots of other fish.

On deck, we were fed very well. For lunch they put out several meat Thai dishes, and they served me a special vegetarian tofu-curry dish that was very good. For dinner, they served spaghetti, and I have never seen a bunch of guys consume so much pasta in one sitting! Steve had two enormous plates, and I noticed the Matty the Australian (who people called “Big Guy”) put away enough for a family of four.
We are welcomed to Phi Phi by a downpour.
I ate some stir-fried vegetables with rice, which they had also made for my lunch but I hadn’t eaten. The food and the company were very good. I enjoyed it.

We arrived at Phi Phi island (Koh Phi Phi) at about 4pm and were greeted by…more rain, and lots of it. We then had quite a LONG walk to the Bay View Resort, which I believe was on the other side of the island from the pier. We walked through a town area, then through some resorts, then across the beach. This was a potentially miserable walk, but to me it felt festive somehow. I love walking in the rain, and this was a nice, warm kind of downpour. I was the slow one, stopping to take pictures of the beautiful beach along the way. The Swedes, encumbered by a large bag and his bad knee, were behind me. At least they had rain ponchos.
Phi Phi boats.
No one else was thus prepared, although I did find a garbage bag to put over my backpack. Steve, who is usually well prepared for everything, lamented that he had removed his rain gear from his overnight bag at the last minute. We all got soaked.

The resort was nicely situated on the very end of the beach, and from our bungalow we had a great view of the water. Unfortunately we also had a septic system vent next to our deck, so the odor kept us inside with the door closed. I hopped in the shower which was … salt water! I had taken a fresh water shower on the boat, and here I was getting all salty again! Steve absolutely couldn’t believe there was such a thing as a salt water shower, so he just had to see for himself. Ick. We both rinsed off the salt with bottled water.
Happy hour at Hippie's. Me, Steve, Owen, Paul.


In the evening, we all met up for happy hour at a bar called Hippie’s. The drink prices were reduced (but still kind of expensive), and free food was served at 8:30. Our Swedes never showed up… turns out they were exploring the island, which they later told us was “covered with garbage… just shit” when they strayed inland from the beach area. I spent the evening talking with Tom the American who had some good stories about the 10 years he spent teaching English in three countries (South Korea, and two other countries I can’t remember now).   

Back in the bungalow, it was a rough night. My pillow smelled like dirty head, the bed was hard, and the AC directed a cold 20-knot breeze right at me. I shivered and couldn’t sleep. Hope morning comes soon… I am ready more diving, and hopefully some sunny skies.

travellingpom says:
Hi just wondering who you dived with from Phuket? do they drop of in Phi phi port after dives?
Posted on: Aug 26, 2009
cmgervais says:
That shark wasn't waiting around for a close up...he wanted nothing to do with us!
Posted on: May 15, 2008
sandra-kids says:
We Loved the photos --Jacob wsa wiching you would have gotten a close up of the blacked tipped reef shark :0)but I think the close up of the eel made up for it :0)thanks for sharing your photos Paul!
Posted on: May 15, 2008
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Luggage, food, and tourists, all s…
Luggage, food, and tourists, all …
All on board!
All on board!
Our first dive site.
Our first dive site.
Me and Steve at our first dive sit…
Me and Steve at our first dive si…
Matty the Australian makes a new f…
Matty the Australian makes a new …
Turtle butt. Video still courtesy …
Turtle butt. Video still courtesy…
We are welcomed to Phi Phi by a do…
We are welcomed to Phi Phi by a d…
Phi Phi boats.
Phi Phi boats.
Happy hour at Hippies. Me, Steve,…
Happy hour at Hippie's. Me, Steve…
A-ha! Blue skies in the distance!
A-ha! Blue skies in the distance!
Gray skies and Steve.
Gray skies and Steve.
Matty, Tom, Owen, Edgar, and Micha…
Matty, Tom, Owen, Edgar, and Mich…
Paul edits his video footage.
Paul edits his video footage.
Edgar from France descending the l…
Edgar from France descending the …
See the black tipped reef shark? U…
See the black tipped reef shark? …
Leopard shark (he looks so small h…
Leopard shark (he looks so small …
Leopard shark! Video still courtes…
Leopard shark! Video still courte…
I think hes smiling! Leopard shar…
I think he's smiling! Leopard sha…
Video still courtesy Paul Willetts.
Video still courtesy Paul Willetts.
Steve. Video still courtesy Paul W…
Steve. Video still courtesy Paul …
Edgar shoots a scorpion fish. Vide…
Edgar shoots a scorpion fish. Vid…
Tiny seahorse. Video still courtes…
Tiny seahorse. Video still courte…
Lion fish. Video still courtesy Pa…
Lion fish. Video still courtesy P…
Owen checks out some clown fish. V…
Owen checks out some clown fish. …
Playful clown fish. Video still co…
Playful clown fish. Video still c…
Eel. Video still courtesy Paul Wil…
Eel. Video still courtesy Paul Wi…
Me. Such a ham. Video still courte…
Me. Such a ham. Video still court…
Schooling fish. Video still courte…
Schooling fish. Video still court…
Fish, everywhere. Video still cour…
Fish, everywhere. Video still cou…
The crews lunch. Ew!
The crew's lunch. Ew!
Steve gets soaked on Phi Phi.
Steve gets soaked on Phi Phi.
Walking across Koh Phi Phi in the …
Walking across Koh Phi Phi in the…
Phi Phi boats.
Phi Phi boats.
Phi Phi harbor area with beautiful…
Phi Phi harbor area with beautifu…
Beautiful Phi Phi beach and boats.
Beautiful Phi Phi beach and boats.
Phi Phi is beautiful in the rain.
Phi Phi is beautiful in the rain.
The beach near our bungalow.
The beach near our bungalow.
Soaked!(No, I am not pregnant...th…
Soaked!(No, I am not pregnant...t…
The long walk to our resort.
The long walk to our resort.
The Swedes in their ponchos.
The Swedes in their ponchos.
Home at last!
Home at last!
Beach chairs in front of Bay View …
Beach chairs in front of Bay View…
View from our bungalow.
View from our bungalow.
View from our bungalow.
View from our bungalow.
Nice view from our bungalow.
Nice view from our bungalow.
Steve rinses off with bottled wate…
Steve rinses off with bottled wat…