While the vast majority of the trips that we sell are for overnight and liveaboard diving cruises, we still offer a good selection of diving day trips at the Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock (which is in the Surin National Marine Park). Day trips enable guests to enjoy the comfort of their Khao Lak hotel or resort, and they’re ideal for those who don’t like sleeping on a boat or who have family or a partner who doesn’t want to join. Almost all of the diving day trips offer two dives, because there isn’t really enough time to squeeze in three dives, plus all the travelling required. With Richelieu Rock as the exception, the day trips’ two dives are nearly always at different dive sites, even if on the same island. For example, Koh Bon has at least two dive sites, as does Koh Tachai. Prices are very comparable from one boat to the next, and there isn’t the wide selection of prices that can be seen on our liveaboard boats. All our Similan diving day trips depart from Khao Lak, and they are not suitable for guests who stay in Phuket the night before departure. The vessels used for transfers and for diving vary, but all need to rely on speed to cover 60km or more each way.
Itineraries for our Similan & Richelieu Rock diving day trips are quite similar. All leave from Khao Lak in the morning, and return before sunset. Guests are collected from Khao Lak hotels and resorts at set times (usually) for free. These times vary depending on the boat’s departure time and pier, and how far away from there the guests’ hotels are.
Equipment fitment, paperwork and payment need to have been completed the day before on most trips because everyone is transported directly to the pier. This is not a time to be trying on wetsuits or choosing which credit card to pay with. Some boats sail at 8.00am from Tab Lamu Pier, and others sail at 9.00am from Baan Nam Khem or a private pier nearby. It’s good to have had some light breakfast before you’re picked up, because the day trip boats tend not to feed guests with more than a snack. This is due to the time needed and the possibility if seasickness. Dive briefings are usually done on the way to the dive sites. There are two dives, at locations chosen to best suit the guests’ needs, as well as the sea & weather conditions. Between the dives, guests have lunch, and some choose to snorkel around the boat, socialise or have a nap. As soon as is practical after the second dive, the boat returns to the pier it departed from. When choosing a hotel or Similan day trip, it’s worth noting the location of the hotel and the boat’s pier, because there can be up to an hour’s difference travelling in the morning and then again in the afternoon.
Dive Locations are of course pre-planned, but small adjustments can be made due to the sea conditions, the weather, or if special species of marine life has been spotted. Nearly all of our boats run a weekly schedule that has proven to be successful for several seasons. The boat owners and operators want to maximise customer satisfaction, so they plan the trips to be as popular as possible. With a couple of exceptions, all the day trips visit two different diving sites each day. At The Similan Islands, it is very easy to select two dive spots because there are so many great dive sites to choose from. Koh Bon & Koh Tachai are technically within the Similan Islands National Marine Park, but they are located 23km & 46km to the north of the northernmost Similan Island. Koh Bon and Koh Tachai offer more challenging but more rewarding dives that are normally better for experienced divers. Both are extremely good and both have at least two distinct dive sites, meaning that a scuba diving day trip to either will give you something different for each dive. One boat, Blue Dolphin, actually offers diving day trips which do one dive at Koh Bon and the other at Koh Tachai, which is very popular and great value, too. Richelieu Rock is Thailand’s premier dive site and large and good enough to be fully enjoyed twice in a day. There is no need for anyone to worry about getting bored seeing the same fish twice.
Prices of our Similan & Richelieu diving day trips don’t vary too much from one boat to another. This is due to several reasons, which include lack of diversity and local competition between operators. The lack of diversity can be explained in that all the boats run outboard motors designed for speed and efficiency. They all run on the same type of fuel and are comparable in size and speed. There are not differences in luxury that can be compared on our liveaboard boats, because day trip boats don’t have cabins, lounge areas etc. Therefore the cost to the owners to run the trips is very similar. Of course, each boat owner/operator needs to attract as many customers as possible while making a profit. So it’s easy to understand that they offer prices to compete with one another.
Departure Piers for our Similan & Richelieu day trips are located to the south and north of Khao Lak. Tab Lamu Pier is the most popular for liveaboard departures in the evening, and it is used by several of our speedboat transfers in the morning. Tab Lamu Pier is 13km to the south from central Khao Lak (Nang Thong), 16km from the Tsunami Memorial in Bang Niang, and 22km from JW Marriott Khao Lak. Baan Nam Khem and Blue Dolphin’s private piers are 21km north from JW Marriott, 25km from the Tsunami Memorial, and 27km from Nang Thong in Central Khao Lak. Tab Lamu is the nearer of the two piers to Phuket, but is still an hour from the northernmost part of Phuket. Taking into account that each boat journey is at least 75 minutes long, staying in Phuket is not at all practical for joining a diving day trip to the Similan Islands. Divers staying in Khao Lak are on the move for around two hours in the morning and then again in the evening, which is enough in itself. Staying in Phuket and doing a Similan day trip would involve around 6 hours travelling, just for two dives of not more than 60 minutes each.
We have two different types of boats for diving day trips. Most, such as Wet Cat, Stingray, and Blue Dolphin are fast boats which guests spend the whole day on. These are comfortable and stable and easy to dive off of, climb back onto, and enjoy lunch on. However, a couple of our day-trip diving boats team up with their sister vessels to enable guests to enjoy lunch on and to dive from larger dive boats. These are great for those who don’t want to be stuck on a small speedboat all day, especially if the sea is choppy. Nawanoppa’s sister ship is MV Camic, and Nemo 2’s big sister is the brand-new for October 2017 MV Nemo 1. Diving from and eating lunch on a larger boat can make your diving day trip far more comfortable than spending all day on a smaller vessel.