Hi all, as the lucky recipient of the Travelfish’s 5th B’day giveaway Similans Live aboard diving trip I thought I’d post a report of my trip.
The live aboard was run by Similan Diving Safari’s which is close to Nang Thong beach in Khao Lak. This is a Padi 5 star dive centre which is spacious, air conditioned and well layed out with plenty of gear available to be purchased.
The live aboards run on a 4 night 4 days rotation with the boat leaving from Taplamu pier 14kms south of Khaolak at about 5pm each trip. All up 14 dives. As I had arrived 2 nights earlier I had plenty of time to enjoy the beach and great seafood that this town has to offer. Somsai restaurant on the main street in particular has fresh seafood on ice available. One white snapper 500gms cost 250THB one small Singha 60THB. Happy Lagoon has a very large menu that covers most dishes you’ll want to try from soups to noodles to stir fries seafood’s rice dishes etc all at pretty reasonable prices.
Best to arrive at the shop about midday the day of your dive to have your gear fitted. All equipment is tried on for size marked on the register and packed into a crate with your name on it. I personally couldn’t fault the quality of hire gear used. My wetsuit was in very good condition and they use the quick release heel strap fins with booties which makes it very easy to get on and off the dive platform safely. Only negative on hire gear was a couple of face masks had seen better days with fogging being a problem. This was fixed with the spares they carry. This then leaves you time to have a swim some lunch and pick up any last minute things you need for the trip.
Once on the boat you are introduced to the dive master/instructor and your 3 other divers and we work out who will pair up with who. Obviously there are partners etc on board so for single people they can be grouped with 1 instructor. There is also an emphasis on dive experience so relative new divers were put together as were the very experienced divers. On our trip there seemed to be a lot of us with between 40 – 100 dives logged. With 24 divers on this trip as full capacity we had a few groups. As space became available on the dive deck each group went down to set up their gear for the duration of the trip. One thing that made this a seamless trip was the boat boys refilling your tank after each dive so all gear was set and forget.
Before dinner on the first night as the boat was heading out to the Similan Islands we had a very long detailed briefing by Gerald the resident dive co-ordinator. This ran through the whole procedures that had to be adhered to for the trip. Apart from the obvious safety issues there was also no grey areas in regard to water usage toilet usage alcohol consumption and numerous other issues. Most people were happy with this as when you have 30 odd people on a boat it has to run smoothly so everyone gets the most enjoyment out of it.
The first morning saw us up at 6.00-6.30 am for a light breakfast before 7.00 am dive briefing. This involved a whiteboard with detailed map of the dive site; method of approaching the dive; species generally seen in this location; maximum depth and dive time. All groups were then given a number from 1-3 where you would head down to the dive deck to avoid congestion. This number changed throughout the trip to give people the chance to be first in first out for breakfast showers etc. Very Animal Farmish. The pattern would then be cooked breakfast 2 hour break, briefing, dive, lunch, 2 hour break,briefing,dive, hot snacks, 2 hour break,briefing, night dive then dinner. Repeat for 3 days.
Dive sites visited throughout the trip were:
East of Eden
West of Eden
Elephant Head Rock
Some sites were visited more than once depending on what Captain Bird thought about the currents etc. The generally feeling amongst the customers was that not only was the diving world class but each site was unique in it’s own way and there was never a sameness about the trip. Most of it was awesome. Also as an aside the boat boys launched the rubber boat to take people onto deserted beaches between dives when possible to give people a chance to stretch their legs.
Now to the marine life seen on our trip. Apart from massive schools of smaller tropical fish some standouts were the lionfish, giant moray eels, giant trevalley, sea turtles, banded sea snakes, wrasses, leopard sharks, a couple of large rays, needlefish, tomato fish, giant octopus, barracuda and more I can’t place a name onto. All up you didn’t know were to look sometimes.
One word about the currents: occasionally they were pretty strong and some dives were pretty exhausting and the more experienced you were the better the trip.
An absolute highlight of the trip for everyone was the food. It was outstanding and the 3 ladies that kept producing the variety/quality and choices couldn’t be thanked enough. From the cooked breakfasts to buffet Thai lunches with a choice of three dishes involving chicken or pork to the fresh salads and hot chips and spring rolls after our 3rd dive the food kept coming. There was great fried fish pieces some days 3 whole fishes the other days, curries you name it. This quickly became a great selling point for the business and return customers.
In closing it was an exhausted, excited group of people that hit the pier late in the afternoon. We then headed back to the dive shop for some cold beers and to thank the instructors for their help and professionalism. Also for people not moving on there was dinner at a resort restaurant and more drinks at the popular Happy Snapper bar. I would happily recommend this safari to anyone that wants to experience some world class diving, really good instructors and fantastic food, comfortable a/c cabins, and clean showers and toilets and bed linen.
Any questions ask away
excellent. thanks for the trip report and good on ya for making the most of your prize. i did wonder what the onboard accommodation was like. was it bunks in rooms or grab space on a deck or what?
also, you mentioned the alcohol policy. what was it? i've been on some liveaboards that allow zero alcohol, but most will grant you a beer or three once you have finished your last dive of the day. cheers.
Exacto, accommodation was either in 4 bunk a/c cabin or double bed a/c cabin for couples at a higher price. Re: beers the policy was there was beer available to put on the slate at 60THB, although one beer and there was no more diving for the day. Also their view was if you reeked of booze the next you probably wouldn't be allowed to dive either. Some of us had a few after dinner or to watch the sunset no problems.
Thanks for the great report swag -- have just added in a couple of pics you sent across -- looks great.
That's a bloody big octopus if I do say so myself.
#4 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,707
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Swag this post has helped me out HUGE!!! It sounds like an amazing time... Now do you remember the name of the company you went with?
#6 Dubraatz has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 7
I got my ssi advanced certification about three months ago and have around 20 dives so far. would you recommend going on this trip or am I too "freshman" for the divesites? :)
I am not anxious and really enjoy deepdives but still I do not have a lot of experience.
thanks for any advice.
#8 maria_s has been a member since 14/9/2009. Posts: 22
Hi maria, no you won't have any problems at all. There were six people on the boat that were doing their advanced open water ticket. They didn't have too many problems although certain strong current dives the instructors kept a very close eye on them. You also have the choice of not doing say a night dive if your not comfortable with it. All up the divemasters will try and group you with people of a similar level of experience.Go for it