Along the east side of Similan Island 9 there is a typical east facing Similan dive site. There is a natural curve as you head from the south to north side of the island. Hence the name Breakfast Bend. The site has nothing to do with decompression sickness, also known as the bends. It is simply describing the general shape of the dive site. A typical east facing Similan dive site is a shallow fringing coral reef. But where does breakfast come into the name, it is not a typical early morning dive in the Similan Islands due to its average shallow depth?
It is nice to dive the site early in the morning when the sun is low, casting a nice light over the east side of Similan Island Nine. A perfect way to start the day before Breakfast!
Breakfast Bend is also very popular with visitors and often one of the favourite dive sites during a typical Similan Liveaboard safari. This often puzzles local dive professionals. In May 2010 when high water temperatures caused widespread coral bleaching around the Andaman Sea, Breakfast Bend was one of the worst hit sites. Most coral shallower than 15 meters died, a catastrophe for a dive site with an average depth of 15 metres. Also, prolonged longline fishing in the Similan Islands National Park has stripped the site of it’s star attraction, the loveable Leopard Shark.
So What is it About Breakfast Bend?
A few factors contribute to the dive sites popularity;
The Timing is Perfect
Most Similan liveaboards start their schedule in the southern part of the nine Similan Islands. Being the first day of the trip the southern sites ease divers into their liveaboard safari. Day two shifts up a gear and usually includes either Elephant Head Rock, Deep Six or Christmas Point, deep sites where strong currents can make the dives more strenuous. After a dive at Elephant Head Rock, followed by some trekking on Similan Island Eight to the famous view point in the tropical Thai heat, then straight back into the water for a dive at Christmas Point, a lot of divers by this point will be feeling the strain. So after a delicious Thai lunch and a chance to catch your breath, what could be better than a relaxing dive at one of the easiest Similan dive sites? Even in the strongest currents Breakfast Bend is easy to dive. Just jump in and go with the flow, no need to kick at all.
The Dive Site is Simple to Navigate
Unlike some of the more intricate Similan boulder dive sites where you may need to keep you wits about you not to get separated from the dive group, Breakfast Bend is simple to navigate. If you are heading north, just keep the reef on your left side, keep the reef on your right if you are heading south. That is about all you need to remember. Water conditions usually offer at least 20 metres clear visibility so not much chance of losing your buddy either. This allows groups to spread out and enjoy the dive with plenty of space around.
There’s Always Something to See
Although it is unlikely to spot a leopard shark at Breakfast Bend nowadays, there are still many favourites to spot as you drift along the shallow reef. It is one of the sites where you are most likely to encounter a turtle, sometimes two of three in a dive. All around Similan Island Nine there is a good chance to spot the rare Napoleon wrasse and to the north of the site schooling batfish and chevron barracuda. Despite the unhealthy state of the corals there are huge quantities of colourful reef fish inhabiting the reef along with large numbers of scholling fish such as big-eye snapper, five-line snapper, goatfish, big-eyes and fusiliers. There is also a lot of new coral growth to be wittnessed in the Similan Islands. Cooler water temperatures over the last twelve months provided perfect conditions for fast growing hard corals and purple soft corals.
The Best Way to Dive Breakfast Bend
Look at the dense jungle that covers Similan Island Nine, slightly to the north of the east side there are three distinctive trees, even spaced from each other. They are some of the largest and have long, straight bleached trunks. To the right of these trees just above the water line there is a large flat rock, often referred to as the pancake rock. Directly out from this rock is the best place to jump. Many local professional now refer to Breakfast Bend as ‘The Three Trees’. Swim east, over the reef as it descends to around 16 meters and keep heading out over the sand. At around 24 meters depth you will reach some large granite boulders. This is the deepest part of the site and also the healthiest. The boulders are covered in purple soft corals, huge gorgonian seafans and large barrel sponges. Glass fish seek shelter amongst the fans while grouper and snapper lie in wait ready to ambush their small prey. Various reef fish go about their business while Kuhl’s stingrays rest in the sand.
Shallowing up there is a bit of a swim back over the sand. Watch out for the Similans jawfish, a fish endemic to the area as well as garden eels and gobies. Becareful if trigger fish are nesting in the sand, they can be aggressive. As you approach the reef see which way the current is heading a simply drift the rest of the dive along the reef. If there is no current it is preferrable to head north, this holds the best chances of spotting turtles. Around 8 -10 meters the reef flattens out providing a large area that is perfect for safety stops. Look out for barracuda and milk fish whilst in the shallows.