Meaning ‘Rice field terrace’, this is a deep dive site with the bottom well beyond the regular limits of recreational diving. The reef runs North to South and be seen clearly in the water when deep ocean waves hit it and rise up as the reef causes a sudden change in depth.
The direction the site is dived is determined by the currents, if the tide is going to high, the current usually flows from South to North. I usually prefer best to start the dive at the North and head south. Once in the water we descend over the shallow part of the reef and make our way to the drop off which starts at around 30 m and drops to 70 m +. When swimming to the drop off look out for schools of jacks and barracuda both chevron and yellow tailed, large schools of trevallies can also been seen. Moray eels are often seen amongst the rocks, but it’s best not to spend too much time here as it’s best deep!
The drop off starts at about 30 m and is pretty much vertical, the wall is covered in large gorgonian sea fans which thrive in the current and nutrient rich water. If conditions are favorable a dive to about 45 m is good, but often a down current, caused by water falling down the drop off, calls for caution, it’s easy to go too deep here! While deep, keep a look out for sharks – black tips, white tips and gray reef sharks. Only once have I not seen a shark here! Every so often look up to the surface for eagle rays, often seen here and maybe a manta ray. On a clear sunny day looking up at the sun with the wall and gorgonians in sight can be quite special.
We ascend slowly up the wall to the shallows again looking for barracuda and big fish, swim at 20 m for a while looking in the rocks for octopi, morays, nudibranch and lobster. If we reach one of the small sand filled canyons you could head up it. This is nice looking for more lobsters. At around 10-12 m you can start to feel the surge caused by the waves passing overhead. The surge is often good fun to play in as you fly past rocks and fish; the shallows sometimes have bump head parrot fish, which are always good fun to watch. Turtles are commonly seen here in the shallows.
At 50 bars do a safety stop and if things are nice, stay down till 30 bars looking for more sharks.
Pantee Peunateung is a big stuff dive, which is why I like it!
(Written by Ben, Divemaster Trainee)