THE MOST UP TO DATE AND USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT SIMILAN LIVEABOARDS AND WHAT TO EXPECT.
A Similan liveaboard is the best way to experience diving at the Similan Islands. .Similan Diving Safaris
Sometimes referred to as a Similan diving safari. What exactly is a Similan liveaboard?
What is a Similan Liveaboard?
A Similan liveaboard or Similan diving safari is a multi day dive trip. Your Similan liveaboard will be your home for three to five days at the SImilan Islands. Simply explained a liveaboard is a dive boat which you can live aboard! All liveaboards feature a galley where the cook will prepare delicious Thai food. Food is an important part of any SImilan liveaboard. Thai cuisine is very popular all around the world so expect good food on any boat. Some liveaboards have a great reputation for the food they serve.
As you will also sleep on the boat, all liveaboards have cabins. This can vary from boat to boat based on what you are prepared to pay for. Most liveaboards in Thailand have air-conditioned cabins. Cabin configurations vary from 2-4 bunk shared cabins, double cabins and then standard, deluxe or master cabin types.
The dive deck is the most important area on your Similan liveaboard, although some divers put equal importance on the galley. The dive deck is where you kit up before the dives and close to the dive platform where you enter onto the dive sites. Similan liveaboards have compressors on board to fill the tanks between dives. The boat crews who work on the dive decks are usually very helpful in assisting divers into and out of the water.
There are many other features possible on a Similan liveaboard. This will depend on what type of liveaboard you are looking for and importantly what you are prepared to pay for your Similan diving safari. Similan liveaboards can be grouped into three broad classes.
Budget Similan Liveaboards
Budget Similan liveaboards are aimed at the backpacker tourists. Thailand is very popular with backpackers who are often on longer trips. Budget boats offer Similan diving without making a huge dent into travelling budgets.
Budget end Similan liveaboards usually take a lot of divers on a relatively small boat. Communal areas including the dive deck can be cramped. The cabins offer little more than a place to sleep after a busy day diving. Bathroom facilities are shared between guests, dive staff and boat crews. Check with your operator about this as you maybe sharing a three bathrooms with up to 30 other people.
Even though these trips are the cheapest, when on board expect the hard sell with PADI courses and weak Nitox packages. Budget companies have to generate as much income to make up for the for the cheap trip price.
Remember you get what you pay for. Finding the cheapest Similan liveaboard on offer usually has a number of downsides. Paying a little more can be worth it. Paying slightly more puts you in the midrange liveaboard class which can be a vastly improved experience onboard.
Midrange Similan Liveaboards
Midrange Similan liveaboards put more emphasis on the quality of you Similan diving safari in between the dives. Some midrange liveaboards cater for a smaller capacity of divers, others will hold as many as the budget boats. What differers is mid range boats are a lot more spacious. Larger communal areas gives you more space to relax between the dives. There are often air-conditioned saloons on mid range liveaboards as well as shaded areas of the sun deck with proper sun loungers.
Cabins on mid range boats tend to be more spacious and have en-suite bathrooms. Most boats offer different cabin types too with optional upgrades to deluxe and master master cabins. Larger boats also means a larger dive deck. Many midrange liveaboards offer better facilities on their dive decks, including dedicated camera buckets and decent Nitrox fills. On a budget boat you have to rinse your camera in the mask spit rinse buckets.
There are plenty of mid range Similan liveaboards currently operating. Some just at a fraction of the cost more than a budget boat, others a fair bit more. For the ultimate Similan diving safari, if you can afford the price it is well worth looking into a high end Similan liveaboard.
High End Similan Liveaboards
Though not common there are a select number of high end Similan liveaboards. These cater entirely for a smaller capacity of divers, usually no more than 14. A Similan diving safari on a high end liveaboard offers the same facilities as mid range boats, including spacious en-suite cabins, air-conditioned saloon, camera facilities and spacious dive decks.
It is the quality of the boat and service that sets these Similan liveaboards in a different class.
The quality of furniture and construction should be of a very high standard. Services onboard should be similar to services offered by a 4-5 start hotel, including more creative menus, daily cabin cleaning, fresh towels and services such as professional Thai massage. Some cabins on high end liveaboards also feature LCD TV and a mini bar.
Learning to Dive on a Similan Liveaboard
Learning to dive on a Similan liveaboard is becoming increasingly more popular. It is considered the best way to learn to dive. A typical Simian diving safari offers 14 dives. That is a lot of dives to master your underwater skills. You also save time learning on a liveaboard. There are no daily, lengthy transfers to and from the dive sites. You can put the greater amount of free time on a liveaboard to better use learning with your instructor. Being on a Similan liveaboard also means you are always close to the water. If you are experiencing difficulty mastering a particular skill then the water is only a few metres away for extra practise.
Of course there is always the chance you may not enjoy diving once you begin to learn. Then you are committed to 4 days on a liveaboard. However, experience shows that virtually all people who begin a diving course readily take to the underwater world and can not wait to dive again. In only a few select cases has someone begun a Similan liveaboard and not wanted to continue their course on board. If you are in any doubt about this it is possible to do a discover scuba dive prior to the live aboard as a check that you know what is in store.
Mid range liveaboards often have a comfy air-conditioned saloon. This may also double as your classroom for the duration of the course. Also whilst learning you will be surrounded by more experienced divers. Something that can aid the learning process. The whole atmosphere on board is all about diving and it wont be long before you feel like a more experienced diver.
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The Similan Islands is one of the most scenic archipelagos in South East Asia. It is also home to some of the most interesting dive sites and some beautiful marine life.