In the most southern point of the Surin Islands, lies Koh Khai, also known by its foreign name Torinla Island. This picturesque little island offers several interesting places to dive in shallower waters. A popular place is the east side where there is a large plateau of hard and soft corals which stretches all the way around to the northern corner following the contours of the island. A good starting point is the tiny bay with the only beach of the island in the southeast corner. The reef breaks the water's surface at low tide, also a haven for snorkellers. Some even regard Koh Khai as the very best place to snorkel in Thailand. Just off the coast the reef drops down from a large sandy area to a long rocky ridge with common ideal diving depths of 30 meters.
All about the dive at Koh Khai
The reef formed by thousands of staghorn corals and massive porites corals in shallow water, provides home and food for tens of thousands of fish, invertebrates and even reptiles. Commomly seen here are cardinalfish, humpnose bigeye bream, twin-spot and five-lined snappers.
The sandy slope and ridge are home to Spanish mackerel and grey reef sharks often pay fleeting visits. White tip reef sharks can be spotted, cruising the ridge top at 7 to 25 metres or resting on the surrounding sands.
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.
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 alfredi) 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.