I plan to dive the Similan Islands in January 2012. Looking at a liveaboard for 3-4 nights. Can anyone recommend an operator? I would prefer to leave from Kho Tao but willing to go to Phuket as well.
What is a "normal" deposit requirement? I would also need to rent all of the gear.
And for those who have done this - is there anything aside from the usual backpacking/diving stuff that you felt you could have used but realized you didn't have once you got out there?
Thanks in advance for any and all replies!
"I would prefer to leave from Kho Tao but willing to go to Phuket as well"
Ko Tao is on the wrong side of the country. Best base for Similan/Surin live-aboard trips is Khao Lak. Three-day trips for under 20,000b or five-day trips for under 30,000 (if all-inclusive) are decent value. Check out Wicked Diving http://wickeddiving.com and Sea Dragon http://www.seadragondivecenter.com among others.
Just one thing to watch out for, a lot of companies run daily trips to join liveaboards just for the day. This has the problem of overloading the boat during the day and also of keeping it closer to the shore than would otherwise be the case. If you plan to book a 3 day trip it is reasonable to assume that it will leave every 3 days; if you are told you can join the boat on any day then there is a good potential for an overcrowded boat.
On a 4 day trip you 'should' (see above) go further afield and therefore see more dive sites, notable Richleau Rock.
There are many operators in Phuket & Khoa Lak you just have to check around, although I do agree that seadragon have a good rep!
Mikethediver - Thanks for the tips! It makes prebooking the longer trip look like a good idea.
Swag - Dude, that is a killer report. It sounds perfect. I am completely sold on it.
Heads and it's SeaDragon. Tails....