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ThailandHin MuangLocated in the Andaman Sea, around 60km south of Koh Lanta, are the spectacular dive sites of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. The direct translation of Hin Daeng from Thai to English is Red Rock, while Hin Muang means Purple Rock. The names are derived from the red and purple broccoli corals that adorn their respective walls and peaks. “ Arguably providing the best diving Thailand has to offer, and indeed the deepest, these two sites provide a stunning array of soft corals and marine life ”Arguably providing the best diving Thailand has to offer, and indeed the deepest, these two sites provide a stunning array of soft corals and marine life. They are one of the few places in the area where manta rays can be found regularly, and even the occasional whaleshark makes an appearance.
Even if you are not lucky enough to encounter a manta ray or whaleshark there is plenty to see. At Hin Daeng, you are treated to vibrant walls of red soft corals, large swathes of the reef shimmer with massive schools of glassfish, and lionfish glide around the perimeter looking for a chance to strike. The northern side drops in a gentler slope; it is more barren but seems to be a favourite place for yellow snapper to congregate. In between are several channels, ridges and pinnacles to navigate around. A school of batfish usually hang around the shallows near the main pinnacle. These curious creatures will often come very close and check out the divers who have invaded their patch.
Hin Muang, though, is probably my favourite of the two dive sites, but only just. The top of this long slender ridge like-reef lies about 10m under the surface and is covered with anemones. Numerous peaks descend like giant stepping stones down to 22m. Its coral-covered walls then plunge over 60m to the ocean floor.
This impressive monolith is prone to strong currents, so it is advisable to use the attached mooring line for ascents and descents. Once safely on the reef, it is time to enjoy the show. In what seems like a well-choreographed routine, vast schools of baitfish move in unison to avoid the attention of marauding blue fin trevallies, jacks and rainbow runners.
The action can be relentless, and divers sometimes find themselves engulfed by a teeming ball of fish. Cleaning stations pepper the top of the ridge and offer the best place to see mantas.
A variety of nudibranchs, crabs and shrimp inhabit the reef for those who prefer smaller stuff.