Just to the south of the two main Surin Islands, lies a smaller one, which is known by two names. Koh Khai is the Thai name and Koh Torinla (Torinla Island) is what many foreigners call it. There are several places to dive around this tiny island, and it really depends on the currents, your Divemaster's decision about the group's capability and his own recent experiences, and how many other diving boats are there at the time.
Most dives take place on the east side of this picturesque little island, where there is a vast reef of hard and soft corals which stretches for hundreds of metres. In the southeast corner there is a tiny bay which is where the only real beach of the island is. From the bay, following the contours of the island north, the reef goes all the way around to the northern corner. It is a wonderful place to both scuba dive and snorkel. In fact, some regard Koh Khai as the very best place to snorkel in Thailand. The thousands of corals are healthy and flourish in much shallower waters than almost every other reef in the country. Not only does this create a haven for snorkellers, it provides home and food for tens of thousands of fish, invertebrates and even reptiles. As the reef becomes further away from the island, it naturally drops down to diving depths, but the marine life and colours remain something to behold.
Maximum depths aren't as extreme as many other dive sites in places such as Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock, but 20+ metres is still more than enough, with the added bonus of reef life right to the surface. In fact, it's ideal for divers with partners or children who don't dive but want to snorkel in the same place. Sea conditions are generally calm, but care and advice should always be taken, especially at the beginning or end of the diving season.
There is also a pinnacle just away from the island. Boat captains need to know where to drop divers, and the visibility needs to be good to find the pinnacle. When you do, you will enjoy some interesting diving, but be careful of your maximum depth, which is deeper than around the islands.
Divers and Snorkellers can expect to see a wide range of marine life here at Koh Khai, much more than we are able to list here. However, starting with the biggest and best, it is always possible to sight a Manta Ray (Manta birostris) while diving on the west coast of Thailand, especially in the Surin Islands. These majestic filer feeders are an unforgettable sight and totally harmless. However, the chances of Manta Rays are quite slim here, mainly because the water is quite shallow and there's so much coral near the surface. In nooks and crannies, it is common to find different species of Moray Eel (Gymnothorax). They stick their heads out and open and close their teeth-filled mouths all day long. This is not aggression, but just them forcing water past their gills in order to breathe. Sharks are not common here, but divers shouldn't be surprised to be shown a Whitetip Reef Shark (Triaenodon obesus) by their Divemaster. These are proper-looking sharks and they have lots of sharp teeth, but they don't bite humans, especially divers clad in neoprene and aluminium. Large bony fish such as the Napoleon/Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) swim slowly around the reef, and are impressive sights. There are hundreds of smaller fish here, too. Some swim in schools and others alone. There is a small chance of seeing a Banded Sea Krait (Laticauda colubrina). In addition, the Surin Islands are home to lots of turtles, with Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and Hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata) being the main two species. Invertebrates here consist of everything from a large common octopus to a tiny Porcelain Crab (Porcellanidae) or Cleaner Shrimp. There really is too much to list.
Koh Khai (Torinla Island) is a wonderful location for both snorkelling and diving. It's possible to visit by speedboat or on a liveaboard cruise. For the best prices, packages and availability, contact us today.