West of Eden is not on every Similan Island dive centre’s itinerary, or even recognized or listed by some. However, it is an actual dive site, and an excellent one, too. As its name suggests, it is on the west side of Koh Pabu (Island 7). It is not a large dive site, nor is it easy for inexperienced divers, but it is certainly worth a visit, especially on days during the diving season when more popular sites are crowded.
This dive site is also known by a few as ‘West of Six’ because Koh Pabu used to be Island 6 many years ago, before Elephant Head Rock lost its status as an island. West of Eden is approximately 12 metres deep at its shallowest, and drops down to well below 30 metres. Like most western Similan diving sites, it mainly consists of large granite boulders which just get deeper and deeper, with some rubble in the shallows. Medium-size and large Gorgonian Sea Fans, whip coral, other hard and soft corals, and feather stars add colour and attract life to the waters here. Currents can be strong and normally run north-south or vice versa, thus making it more suitable for experienced divers. On days when the current runs to the north, there’s the option of finishing the dive at Deep Six but divers would have to be in a hurry or good on air to do so. The best option is to go as slowly as possible, with the current, exploring the nooks and crannies while keeping an eye out into the deep blue Andaman Sea.
While sightings of Manta Rays and Whale Sharks are not common here, there are not unheard of either. The western shores of the Similan Islands is the best place in Thailand to see these wonderfully graceful giants. Other sharks, however, such as Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Sharks are seen often, usually quite deep and a little further out from the reef. At all depths, it is easy to spot various species Moray Eels but far less easy to notice the small fish which use camouflage disguise almost to perfection. Several kinds of Pipefishes live here, as well as Ghost Pipefish, which are technically a different genus. In addition, Frogfish are incredibly hard to find, unless you have experience, patience and a certain amount of luck. The last of the tiny fish to mention is the Red Fire Goby, which is popular with macro photographers.
Mid-size fish here at West of Eden include Barracuda and Bluefin & Giant Trevally which are in search of a snack such as one of the thousands of Glassfish schooling together and forever changing direction simultaneously. Batfish and Yellow-Banded Snapper also patrol the reef and waters around the granite rocks. Deep Six has a few Ribbon Eels, and they have also been found here at West of Eden. Likewise, turtles and octopuses are commonly found at both dive sites.