After three and a half great months of awesome diving, we have reached the half-way stage of this scuba diving season. The season runs for seven months from the middle of October to the middle of May. Therefore, the end of January is the middle of the season. Some people may think that with Christmas, New Year & Chinese New Year behind us, the peak periods have finished. This is far from the truth, because the best diving is usually in February & March, and into April. So far this season we have had some interesting sea conditions which have brought some even more interesting and special species of marine life. More than 400 of our guests have enjoyed trips so far, and all returned happy! We look forward to the rest of the season, and helping our guests choose the right boat to get the very best experience when diving at Thailand’s Similan Islands.
So far in the past couple of months we have been experiencing some surprising sea conditions. There have been no large waves to cause trips to be cancelled, and no typhoon like we had in January 2019. Instead, the sea has been very calm, but equally cold. Normally the average sea temperature is 27-29°C, but this season has been quite a bit cooler. Some people have reported temperatures as low as 21°C, which is cold for recreational scuba diving in a 3mm shorty wetsuit! Also, the water hasn’t been as clear as normal. The visibility has been less than we normally expect. At the start of the season, back in October, the sea was quit enormal, but things cooled down in December. Some weeks are cooler than others, with a few trips reporting warm clear water. It’s been impossible to predict. We feel that the low temperature and visibility are connected to each other, but these conditions have been the main reason for the special species that have been seen by many of our divers.
The amazing marine life seen so far this season includes mainly cartilaginous species (sharks & rays). Nearly everyone who comes diving at the Similan Islands & Richelieu Rock hopes to see a Manta Ray or Whale Shark, as these are the ‘premium species.’ But normally they are not seen very often from October to January, and more sightings are reported from February to April. But this season our guests have seen them a lot more than expected. In addition, Leopard/Zebra Sharks, Guitar Sharks, and Blacktip & Whitetip Reef Sharks have been spotted frequently. Plus multiple sightings of other rays, such as Marble Rays, have been seen. Some suggest that the nutrient-rich cooler water is bringing these species up from deeper water, and they are very warmly welcomed by our diving guests.
Christmas 2019 & New Year 2020 were as busy as usual for us. We had many guests on lots of different boats. Luckily, all went well without any problems. This time of year can be very difficult, because even though we are thoroughly prepared for every guest, anything can happen. People hange their plans last minute, and hotels, flights and buses are usually full and sometimes cancelled. Our reservations team were very much on everyone’s case to ensure that nothing was missed, from the pickup times to the free t-shirts and other gifts that we offer our guests. Nearly 10% of our season’s total number of guests board and dive during the week from December 24th – January 2nd. We’re delighted that everything went smoothly, and divers returned very happy.
Chinese/Lunar New Year 2020 was somewhat quiet this season. We had divers who had booked many months in advance. Some booked back in April 2019. Most boats were already full long before, and this probably caused others to give up trying to book seeing that there was no space left. The Wuhan coronavirus wasn’t such big news at this stage, but it soon became more of an issue for some tourists.
The Chinese coronavirus has had very little impact in Thailand, and no effect so far for anyone diving at The Similan Islands. One or two of our guests asked if there was any issue, and so far just one guest has chosen to cancel his trip in fear of travelling on planes and through airports. As we have already written on a previous blog, we feel that there is even less risk out at sea than on the mainland and especially compared to sitting on a plane. We are very happy that this coronavirus has had no impact on us or our guests.
So far this season we have already helped hundreds of guests, mostly divers joining liveaboard trips. The earliest guests to book confirmed back in January 2019, and we had a steady flow of enquiries and confirmations through the low season, and the first months of the high season. Every one of our guests receives a very personal service. This normally includes connecting on Whatsapp, Line, Messenger, Viber or WeChat to finalise the small details just before and after their trips. We provide a private taxi service and offer free t-shirts and other gifts. Our team carefully ensure that everyone is happy, gets picked up, gets their freebies, and enjoys their trip. Our customer service is our Number 1 priority.
Back in 2014 we started offering the trips of Khao Lak Fun Divers and their Nemo 1 liveaboard trips. From the very first booking until now Conny, Gallus, and their professional but fun team have continually provided our guests with the best-run, safest and most-enjoyable trips. We have had full confidence in them from the start. Slowly but steadily, Nemo has crept up our list of most-popular trips. Even though they are a very small team and their boat doesn’t yet go to Richelieu Rock, we are delighted that Nemo trips are now our best seller, and long may this continue!
Even though we are only half way through the 2019-2020 season, we are already looking forward to what the future holds. This includes serving our guests who have already booked for the second half of this season but not gone diving yet, plus attracting more people to the largest selection of trips in Thailand’s best scuba diving region. We have several families booked on several boats (especially Nemo 1) in the coming months, plus plenty of other divers on all of our boats. And of course we also have an eye on what we plan to do for the low season and for next season. Our tech team are working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that your browsing experience is as good as it can be, regardless of your device or location.
So, we’re half way through yet another great scuba diving season in the Similans, and we’re still fighting fit for the following three and a half months. If you haven’t booked a dive trip yet, what are you waiting for?