Similan Islands are tide depended so choosing the right tide could help to avoid currents. Learn about tides and how to check them so you can have the best Similan liveaboard experience.
Thailand is a great dive destination for all levels and yet, choosing the best time of the month to go could make a difference to your diving holidays. The moon will control the tides so if you can skip the full and new moon, you might be able to enjoy it a lot more.
Moon and tides
Let’s talk a little bit how the moon can affect our diving holiday. Thailand has two high and two low tides every day. During full and new moon, the difference between low and high tide can be quite significant, as an average, up to three metres between them. When there is such a tide, it could have a lot of water movement that can bring strong currents and lower visibility so as a rule of thumb, you may want to avoid that time of the month. When the tides are changing from low to hide or the other way around, the water movement will stop or at least slow down. Normally this is the best time to be diving.
Are currents that bad?
Although currents can make a dive challenging, it is not all that bad. When diving in strong currents, you may be able to cover a larger area of a dive site and encounter larger marine life such as sharks, schooling barracudas and a lot of feeding action. If you follow your divemaster’s briefing, it could make a strong current dive easy and relaxing.
How to dive during strong currents
The best way to dive during strong currents is by staying as close as possible to the bottom and trying not to fight it. It is important to remember that we must keep good buoyancy and we should never touch the environment so stay as close as you can to the bottom without damaging the reef. It is also recommended following the divemaster’s profile as they are familiar with the area and know how to avoid currents. If you find a larger rock or coral outcrop, hide behind and you will barely feel the current.
Current or no current diving?
It is all about experience when choosing to dive during strong currents. Make sure to know your limits and if you have a slight doubt, skip the dive. Strong current diving can be challenging at times so speak to your divemaster about your experience and ask for guidance. Many liveaboards in the Similan Islands will check the currents before going diving so they can have a better understanding about the conditions as it is always good to know what to expect beforehand so you can be prepared. It is important to remember that currents can pick up during a dive so if you feel it is not comfortable or you are struggling, let your divemaster know how you feel by signaling to him/her and if necessary, abort the dive. Scuba diving should be fun and relaxing and once you gain more experience, current diving becomes easier but it is always important to know your limits.
How to check the tides before going on your dive trip
You can find tide tables for every location online or at the local harbor department. There are also many apps which can guide you on how the tides are running for specific locations but remember, those are just for guidance purposes as currents can be unpredictable. We have dived during full or new moon with absolutely no currents whereas we had strong currents during half-moon.
You can just do a search at Google Play or Itunes Store and there are free apps you can download. Global Tide is an option and it is free. If you have a marine navigation software you normally can find the tides as well.
If you are an experience diver and have dived in strong currents before it should not be an issue but for beginner divers and people with physical difficulties it could be proven challenging at times but remember that there are periods during the day where currents stop so you could go anytime of the month and still enjoy your holiday.