The Andaman Sea is famous for its spectacular diving. The marine life and coral reefs surrounding the Similan and Surin islands have been attracting scuba divers from all over the world for years. But recently, more and more divers are discovering the underwater wonders both north and south of these well-known dive sites. To the south, the Phi Phi national Marine park and southern islands of Koh Ha, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, and to the north, Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago.
NOW there are two new dive liveaboard boats that specialise in these emerging diving destinations. Based in Phuket, ‘The Phinisi’, a traditionally designed yacht runs dive trips to the southern islands, the Similan and Surin Islands and north into Myanmar. The ‘Smiling Seahorse’, based in Ranong on the Thailand and Myanmar border, offers dive cruises to the Similan and Surin Islands, and is a specialist in Myanmar’s remote Mergui Archipelago.
The South: from Phi Phi to Hin Muang
The Phi Phi National Marine Park and the southern islands of Koh Haa, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang offer pinnacles, incredible limestone walls covered in healthy soft corals and gorgonians, with caverns and swim-throughs with lots of macro life. There is a good chance of seeing large schools of barracuda, Jack fish and snapper, as well as, manta rays, leopard sharks, black tip sharks, if you’re lucky, maybe a whale shark.
The Similans, Surin Islands and Richelieu Rock.
In the Marine National Parks of the Similan Islands and the Surin Islands you’ll see over 200 species of hard coral spread amongst walls, coral gardens and pinnacles, where turtles, giant trevallies, schools of Jack fish, barracudas, and many kinds of tropical fish, patrol. All this as well as one of the best dive sites in the world, Richelieu Rock – one of the few dive sites in the world so special it has its own website.
Myanmar and the Mergui Archipelago
Still relatively undiscovered and under-explored, Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago offers marine life for all kinds of underwater fauna lovers. From mantas, dogtooth tunas, and barracudas to frogfish, cuttlefish, and seahorses. Macro lovers can expect to see all kinds of crabs, shrimps and experience some rare macro interactions.
Many different kinds of sharks also populate the area. Its reefs are some of the most impressive, not just because of the beauty of the corals, gorgonians and table corals but also because of their size.
The Phinisi Liveaboard, which starts operating in November 2018, has three itineraries offering the very best diving in Thailand and Myanmar: in the south: the islands of Koh Haa, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang; in the north: the Similan Islands and Surin Islands (and the infamous Richelieu Rock); and in Myanmar: the Mergui Archipelago.
The Phinisi is a 34m custom built diving liveaboard yacht of traditional Indonesian gaft rigged Phinisi style with 7 sails. She hosts 18 guests in 7 en-suited cabins. The main deck features a large indoor salon with comfortable sofas and personal storage. There is an outside dining area with bench seating to the rear complete with full refreshment making facilities. Forward of the Salon is the dive deck, outdoor shaded relaxation area and camera charging station. Upstairs is the large half covered sun deck with cushioned loungers for après dive cocktails.
Celebrate the launch of The Phinisi with a 40% discount on all Thailand trips from November 2018 to January 2019. Choose from a 4-DAY Southern Trip: Koh Ha, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, or a 6-DAY Northern Trip. OR do the two itineraries back to back for a 10 night best of Thailand trip from just USD 1620 pp (quad-share). Find out more HERE.
The Smiling Seahorse
The new MV Smiling Seahorse Liveaboard commenced operations in October 2018. With itineraries in Myanmar and Thailand, an experienced and knowledgeable crew, the MV Smiling Seahorse liveaboard presents the best opportunity to dive some of the region’s least explored dive sites in air-conditioned comfort.
Dive Thailand’s Richelieu Rock, considered one of the Top Ten Best Dive sites in the world, or visit the Torres Islands or the Burma Banks for some exploratory diving to sites that have rarely been dived before. The Smiling Seahorse can also take you to Western Rocky in Myanmar, highlight of which is a tunnel/cave at 20m that goes right through the island, plus a dive in a volcano the very next day with some very rare marine species.
Get the gang together.
To celebrate their launch, the MV Smiling Seahorse liveaboard every fifth diver goes for free. So find four friends to join you and you could cruise for FREE. This offer, effectively a 20% discount for a group of 5 is available on their first six Thailand trips, and also Trip 3 The Mergui Archipelago on the 7-12 December trip. Find out more HERE.