Life on board: Similan Islands Diving Liveaboard
If you’ve never experienced a diving liveaboard, the idea of taking a Similan diving safari might be a bit daunting. In this article, we hope to dispel your fears, and explain why you’ll remember your first diving liveaboard for the rest of your life, and for all the right reasons!.
Imagine waking up in your own cabin, the water lapping gently a few feet from your window. Outside the sky is perfectly clear, and the sunrise is sublime. There’s a tropical island close by, one of the nine Similan Islands, and it is lush with dense jungle. The island is fringed by the most spectacular beaches you’ve ever seen, and completely deserted! At the end of the beach you can see massive granite boulders, piled on top of one another, like enormous pebbles, spilled out of the earth, and tumbling over one another into the water.
From the galley below, you can smell breakfast cooking… there’s a gentle knock on your cabin door, and a voice calls softly “dive briefing!”
Welcome to your diving liveaboard safari in the Similan Islands!
Sleep, Dive, Eat: the Rhythm of life on a Similan Diving Liveaboard
The diving liveaboard boats in the Similans are well designed for getting a good night’s sleep. Gone are the days of everyone sleeping on the deck. Although, it is an option on many boats, to sleep on the sun deck, under the stars!
There’s an enormous variety of boats and the facilities you can expect on board will depend on your budget. At the top end, you may have a balcony, or a large window, an en-suite bathroom, a mini-fridge and air-conditioning. At the most economical end you may be in a four-berth bunk cabin, with bathrooms shared between more than one cabin, relying on fans to keep you cool.
We wake early on the boat, ready for the first dive briefing of the day. A light snack will be waiting for you – fruit, toast, coffee, tea, juice – take your pick, while you’re listening to the dive briefing, eager to jump into the perfectly clear, warm water, and get your first view of the wonderland that is the underwater world of the Similan Islands.
As you come up from that first dive, the main breakfast will be served. On most Similan liveaboard boats the chefs offer their divers a choice of eggs, bacon, sausages, cold-cuts, cheeses, croissants, toast, fruit etc. (The choice available to you will depend on the boat, of course!)
During breakfast, there’s time to chat to your fellow divers and your dive guide about the first dive of the day, log the details of the dive in your log book, check out the photos that you and other divers took. Then you can continue the conversation, take a nap, stretch out on the sun deck, snorkel around the boat, read a book… it’s up to you to choose how you’d like to spend your surface interval!
… sleep, dive, eat, repeat!
One of the dive staff will ring the bell to summon everybody to the second dive briefing, and then you’ll be jumping into the water for your second dive of the day. After which you’ll be served lunch. On most boats you can expect snacks and cakes after the third dive, and then a buffet dinner after the fourth…
…and there you have the cycle – sleep, dive, eat, repeat!
We have much longer surface intervals on the Similan Island liveaboard boats than you may have come to expect on a diving day trip boat in Phuket. So, even with four dives in a day, the diving schedule feels beautifully relaxed on a liveaboard safari.
Some days, the Tour Leader will be able to arrange beach visits for anyone interested. Don’t miss the opportunity to climb to the top of the boulders at Donald Duck Bay!
A well-organised liveaboard will have a dive schedule posted on a chalk-board or white-board, somewhere prominent. So everybody knows the time and location of the dives, meals and beach visits, in advance, throughout each day.
When is the Best Time to Dive in the Similan Islands?
The Similan Islands are closed between 15th May and 15th October every year. That is because the Westerly winds during that time of year make the conditions there rough. October and May are the roughest months of the year. This is when the winds are changing, and they are the two months when we can get the biggest storms and the most rain. The weather settles down in November, and will remain mostly calm and dry all the way through to April.
Late December and January are the busiest times. So if you want to join a Similan Liveaboard during those months, book at least six months in advance.
February and March are the best months for sightings of manta rays and whalesharks, and they are also the months when the weather is most reliable.
Do I Need a Certification to Join a Diving Liveaboard?
In short, if you want to dive in the Similan Islands National Park, you need to get scuba certified first. The islands are under the protection of the Mu Ko Similan National Park, established in 1982, and the law prohibits student divers from diving there. This is in an effort to save the delicate ecosystems of the reefs from damage by untrained divers.
Any dive operator willing to break the law, and take you diving there without a certification, is selling you short. Save your money, and take a snorkeling tour of the Similan Islands. You can join on any liveaboard boat as a snorkeler, and you will usually get a discounted rate!
But don’t think that you need to have 100s of dives logged to take a Similan liveaboard! On the right boat, with experienced dive staff, even new divers can have the trip of a lifetime. Let us know your experience level, and we’ll find the perfect boat for you.
Booking your Similan Island Diving Trip
Most of the liveaboard boats operating in the Similan Islands publish a schedule of trips many months in advance. Contact us as early as possible to get your places booked on the boat of your choice, because the good boats will get booked up fast.
Ask us about early bird offers if you’re booking at least 3 months in advance.
Oceanic Dive Center – The Best SCUBA Diving Shop In Phuket For All Of Your Diving Needs
Our SCUBA diving Phuket training centre & retail shop is conveniently situated on the main road through Kata and Karon (number 143/3 Patak Rd) near the local fresh market. We are 10 minutes’ walk from Karon beach & 7 minutes’ walk from Kata beach, surrounded by local Thai restaurants, serving authentic dishes to the local Thais. Drop in on your way to dinner!