The vast majority of Similan Islands liveaboard cruises depart from one of two piers in Khao Lak, which is the nearest point of land to The Similan Islands, Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon & Koh Tachai. Boats travel a lot slower than cars and vans, and often cost more to run. There is also a large and practical pier in Khao Lak, set up for such boats. So it makes sense to transfer guests by road and then depart from the nearest pier to the diving sites. However, from a guest’s point of view, there are certain benefits to sailing from Phuket directly to the Similan Islands to dive.
Most Similan liveaboards leave in the evening. Some set sail at 7pm or 8pm and others as late as 10pm. Dinner can be enjoyed on board and the boats normally arrive at the dive site areas just before bedtime or in the early hours. Regardless of the travelling time, Similan liveaboard guests depart in the evening and start diving early the following morning. Whether they travel by road first and then board the boat or just board the boat from Phuket doesn’t normally make any difference to them. Some may prefer to fall asleep on a moving boat while others don’t, but that’s really the only difference to the guests. The argument of which form of transport is more enjoyable when comparing minivan to liveaboard boat should be a moot point. Those paying several hundred dollars or more to spend up to a week on board a boat are normally likely to choose an extra few hours sailing into the sunset over negotiating Phuket’s roads while picking up guests from various hotels, then driving north to Khao Lak.
While several of our boats’ homes are based in Phuket, the ships themselves rarely if ever sail that far south. Even large, semi-luxury vessels such as MV Pawara and MV White Manta dock in Khao Lak and receive guests which have been transferred there by road. There are not many Similan liveaboard vessels which actually depart from Phuket, but there are a few. At least four liveaboard diving safari boats set sail directly from Phuket to The Similan Islands, and all of them have something different from the others.
MV Scuba Adventure is a very popular diving boat that offers 4D/4N trips sitting nicely between the budget and mid-range price levels. Taking just twelve guests on each trip ensures that everyone gets to know each other quickly, possibly before the first sunset buffet dinner as the boat cruises north-west from Chalong Pier in Phuket. Not all of Scuba Adventure’s diving cruises depart from Phuket. It depends on where the previous trip finished, because this great liveaboard boat alternates cruises between The Similans & Richelieu Rock and Hin Daeng, Koh Haa & Phi Phi. A quick look at the schedule should make it is easy to see, or just contact us and ask.
Marco Polo is a well-run diving safari boat with a difference. Instead of the normal 4D/4N or even 5D/5N cruises to The Similan Islands & Richelieu Rock, Marco Polo offers 6D/6N liveaboard trips which include 22 dives. This is more than enough time to get the chance to see some of the best marine life in Thailand, including Whale Sharks, Manta Rays and small creatures, such as special seahorses. Also, if there is a particularly good dive experience, on Marco Polo, there’s no need to race off to the next location in order to follow a rigid schedule or itinerary. A longer trip offers more flexibility purely from the number of dives. Marco Polo has two cabin types, including air-conditioned and fan cabins allowing passengers to enjoy the wonderful feeling of the sea air at night.
MV Giamani offers personal luxury which no other Phuket Similan liveaboard boat can match. The 2014 renovations have seen Giamani transformed into a luxury-orientated diving boat, but prices have remained competitive. With one master cabin and just four deluxe en suite cabins, there are never more than ten diving guests aboard these personal, friendly and professional diving trips which sail from Phuket to the best diving spots in Thailand. The deluxe en suite cabins have both a double bed as well as a single, meaning that couples as well as friends can find the right sleeping arrangements. Considering the low number of people on the boat, the newly refurbished luxurious cabins, and the wonderful cuisine served fresh several times every day, diving to the Similans aboard MV Giamani is great value and bound to be an unforgettable experience.
A completely different boat from all other Similan liveaboard boats, is The Junk. This is a classic-style vessel, which has been completely renovated and modified to offer luxury trips from Phuket to the Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai & Richelieu Rock. The Junk, a.k.a. June Hong Chian Lee, has been used in movies and more, and is instantly recognizable when sailing around Thailand’s best diving spots. The trips on offer are almost a week long, and there are several cabins options to choose from, including four-bunk for the best value aboard this wonderful diving vessel. In addition, there’s a full-cabin promotional rate. The Junk’s diving trips to The Similans leave every Saturday evening and sail into the sunset while guests enjoy sumptuous food and get to know one another. Upon return 6 days later, guests can choose to disembark in the evening or sleep an extra night (for free) on board in Phuket. Considering that most of any diving safari is spent on the boat, and the affordable rates available, The Junk cruises are understandably very popular.
So, with a good selection of Thailand liveaboard diving trips which sail directly from Phuket, there is no reason to jump in a minivan for the 100km. journey to Khao Lak. Those extra couple of hours can instead be spent relaxing on board boats such as The Junk, Giamani, Scuba Adventure or Marco Polo.