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The Best Thailand Liveaboards

INTRO

Thailand’s seas harbour a range of spectacular underwater features and environments – from splendid coral reefs to compelling underwater wrecks to vast and mysterious open waters!

Found throughout, are a range of species that are as distinct as they are stunning. Whale Sharks, Manta Rays, Dolphins, Bryde Whales- these are just a few!

Embarking on a Liveaboard in Thailand, is without a doubt the number one way to experience all of this.

That’s because of the best diving in Thailand can only be accessed by liveaboard due to being too far away from inhabited islands to reach in a day.

But with so many liveaboard options available, how do you choose the one that is the right for you?

What locations do these liveaboards visit? What is the best luxury liveaboard in Thailand?

How about, for budget backpackers, the cheapest liveaboard??

The best Thailand liveaboard for beginners!?

When is even the best time to go on a liveaboard?

Diving Squad are here to answer all of your questions! This is the ultimate guide to liveaboards in Thailand.

Below is a list of the best Thailand Liveaboards, no matter what you’re looking for.

For more information regarding the locations these liveaboards visit along their itineraries, scroll down to the liveaboard locations

^QUICK JUMP to DivIng Sqaud's Favourite Thailand Liveaboard!

SCUBA FACT

What is the World's Longest Deep Dive? Hover over this box to find out...
Richard Presley holds the world record for the longest deep dive. He stayed underwater in a deep module for 69 days and 19 minutes, a feat he accomplished in 1992, at Florida, United States!

QUICK LOOK - The Best Thailand Liveaboards

Liveaboard
Best ForDaily Cost (Euros)Max Guest Capacity MAIN Itinerary Length (Nights)No. Of Logged Dives RequiredMonths of OperationDive LocationsCHECK BEST PRICE
The JunkOverall€ 11618A: 6

B: 2
0A: October – May

B: May – October
A: Similan Islands and Surin Islands

B: South Islands
GET BEST PRICE
Manta Queen 5Budget€ 862030October – MaySimilan IslandsGET BEST PRICE
Thailand AggressorLuxury€ 2691670November – AprilSimilan Islands and Surin IslandsGET BEST PRICE
The HallelujahBeginners
.
€ 1962540November – AprilSimilan IslandsGET BEST PRICE
The Gentle GiantAdvanced Divers€ 15220521November – AprilSimlan Islands, Surin Islands and South IslandsGET BEST PRICE
The OktaviaShort Trips€ 1192020January – MaySimilan IslandsGET BEST PRICE
Diva AndamanLong trips€ 224161830AprilSimilan Islands, Invisible Banks, Southern Islands, Burma BanksGET BEST PRICE
MV GiamaniSmall Groups and Underwater Photography€ 15910A: 2

B: 4
0A: October – August

B: November – April
A: Southern Islands

B: Similan Islands and Surin Islands
GET BEST PRICE
The PawaraGroups with Non-Divers
.
€ 1422240October – MaySimilan IslandsGET BEST PRICE

Thailand Liveaboard Reviews

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Diving Squad Presents:

Best Liveaboard Overall in Thailand

The Junk

  • An ICONIC liveaboard with a fascinating history!
  • Visits: Route A) Similan Islands, Surin Islands and Richelieu Rock OR Route B) Southern Islands!
  • € 116 a day!
  • 7 Days/6 Nights trip (A) OR 3 Days/2 Nights (B)
  • No Minimum Logged Dives Required
  • Operates Year Around (October – May = Route A, May – October = Route B).

The Junk – June Hong Chian Lee Liveaboard, was once part of a micro merchant fleet that traded up and down the coastline from Burma to Malaysia over the 1960-80’s.

So charismatic is the Junk’s appearance that it has been used in several movies including James Bond’s “The Man with the Golden Gun” as well as “Swiss Family Robinson”.

More recently, it was used in the ZDF documentary “Dan Weisse Gold”, to show what life would have been like centuries ago when junks like this, were the main mode of transportation around South East Asia.  

In 1997, it underwent a total renovation and this stunning 33m authentic sailing vessel was transformed into the pleasure vessel for liveaboards that it is now.

It is presently equipped with 6 air-conditioned cabins; 2 private with double bed, 2 three berth and 2 four berth, taking up to 18 passengers.

Each includes an ensuite bathroom, this extravagant vessel also includes an air conditioned salon with a fully fitted out entertainment system as well as shaded sun deck offering amazing views.

The Junks dive guides have made it their personal goal to conscientiously educate passengers about the fascinating local insights into marine life and give passionate briefings and debriefings.

Not to be outdone, the chefs aboard this boat take meals very seriously and cook a huge variety of meals and even do double breakfasts!

With several cabin options, The Junk travels across the Andaman Sea on trips ranging from 5 – 9 days and typically includes visits to Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, the Surin Islands (rarely visited  by liveaboards) and Richelieu Rock.

The Junk also sometimes offers a special 8 night long trip: the Manta Expedition with the Manta Trust, which explores both the Similan and Surin Islands AND the islands of southern Thailand, including the fabled Koh Phi Phi.

Passengers; prepare to be amazed by this liveaboards phenomenal variety of stunning and varied dives – which will leave all other future dives you take, having big fins to fill.

At 116 Euros a day, the Junk Liveaboard Experience can honestly boast a price that is both comparatively low as well as exceptionally reasonable for the five star experience it provides.

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Diving Squad Presents:

Best Budget Liveaboard in Thailand

Manta Queen 5

  • Cheapest Liveaboard in Thailand whilst still offering great quality service, yacht and diving!

  • Visits the Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock

  • Only €86 a day = one of the worlds’ cheapest liveaboards!

  • 4 Days / 3 Nights Trip.

  • No Minimum Dives Required

  • October May

This large (26m long) boat has 3 shared bathrooms and caters for its guests in 10 twin bunk cabins with AC. As of 2018, free onboard wifi is also available.

Because it doesn’t travel north to Koh Tachai or Richelieu rock, the marine park fees are cheaper than other trips and less travelling is required, giving passengers more time to relax.

Onboard PADI courses are common for Manta Queen 5 guests, due to their competitive rates and the great diving conditions of the locations visited along the Manta Queen 5’s route.

The Manta Queen 5 explores some of the most popular dive sites around the stunning Similan Islands and Koh Bon, including the immensely popular Elephant Head Rock, a suitably named rock featuring many small caves, arches and swim throughs that make it a divers playground.

Many shark species including leopard, whitetip and blacktip sharks can be seen here in addition to pelagics like giant trevallies and barracudas.

Other great dive sites include Christmas Point, Koh bon Pinnacle and Boonsung Wreck.

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Diving Squad Presents:

Best Luxury Liveaboard in Thailand

M/V Thailand Agressor

  • Incredible facilities, including Jacuzzis, entertainment room, massages and more!

  • Visits the Similan Islands, Surin Islands and Richelieu Rock

  • € 269 a day

  • 8 day / 7 night cruise

  • No Logged Dives Required

  • Operates November – April

What is it that makes a luxury liveaboard in Thailand truly luxurious? The sort, that at the end, will leave it’s crew having to pry passengers from the boat kicking and screaming at the thought of returning to land?!

Is it lavish staterooms equipped with ensuite bathrooms and showers, televisions and individual climate control?

An onboard menu with a variety of American fare and local cuisine perhaps? An air conditioned lounge?? A sun deck jacuzzi!? Maybe it’s actually loungers and deck chairs…Or Bar Service…with Stereo players.

There’s no need to choose. The M/V Thailand Aggressor has all of these things and more; along with a highly attentive crew of 8 ready to ensure the comfort and satisfaction of up to 16 guests.

Use best image of featured liveaboard from the inside - eg. lounge area, dining area, bar... Width: 700 X

This 35m long world class liveaboard yacht offers year round diving cruises around the Andaman Sea, departing from Phuket.

Tours last 7 nights and include up to 5 spectacular dives a day, along with night dives around the stunning Similan Islands, Koh Bon and the even more rarely visited Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock.

With the M/V Thailand Aggressor, divers will swim along spectacular coral and reef coated walls and can expect encounters with mantas, leopard sharks, silvertip reef sharks and even manta whale sharks.

A favourite dive site of all time on this liveaboard itinerary is Leopard Shark Reef, Tachi Reef. Hard covers cover this entire area, most of which are staghorn corals, pore corals, brain corals and fire coral.

It is named after the  iconic Leopard Sharks that dominate this area.

Scuba Divers regularly see resting leopard sharks, stingrays and an enormous assortment of reef fish including puffer fish, lion fish parrot fish and moray eels.

At night several crab and shrimp species emerge to hunt. It’s also possible to see the rare twin spotted lionfish here as well as cuttlefish, nudibranchs and colourful flatworms!

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Diving Squad Presents:

Best Liveaboard for Beginners in Thailand

The Hallelujah

  • Full range of Padi Beginner and Advanced Courses Available during this trip

  • Visits the Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock

  • € 196 a day.

  • 5 day, 4 night trip

  • No logged dives required

  • Operates November to April

Onboard, the full range of PADI beginner and advanced open water diving courses are available (at extra cost), led by the immensely encouraging and experienced staff.

With thousands of dives under their belt, these dive staff aboard have honed striking the fine balance between guests safety and enjoyment, to a fine art.

They are also multilingual, speaking English, German, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Dutch, Flemish and Japanese and can also “accommodate just about any request” for language requirements beyond this.

To ensure that all guests get the full attention and prioritisation that they deserve, dive groups have no more than 4 guests. This also means that divers of similar levels are paired.

This is also a snorkeller friendly liveaboard, meaning that on the rare circumstance guests do not take to diving, they can still enjoy the stunning dive sites by snorkelling.  

Accommodating up to 25 guests, this 35m yacht is one of the most spacious, comfortable liveaboards cruising the Andaman Sea. It is all steel constructed to ensure maximum safety.

The Hallelujah features 10 twin cabins, 2 deluxe doubles and one VIP single cabin, all of which have AC and ensuite bathrooms.

There is a large, air conditioned lounge complete with library, large TV and DVD player (as well as countless DVD’s!) where guests can relax and socialise in luxury.

For those who want to catch some rays, the sundeck up top is the place to be, with stunning Similan views.

Finally, with an inside and outside dining area, and a team of talented chefs dedicated to providing the tastiest liveaboard experience possible, this liveaboard diving trip is almost as enjoyable for the incredible yacht experience as it is the dives!

Described as the hands down best thailand liveaboard to learn to dive and for beginner divers, despite its large passenger capacity, the Hallelujah often books up months in advance. To avoid disappointment, make a reservation now!

Over 5 days and 4 nights, the perfect time span for novice divers as it allows enough time to attain the Padi advanced open water certification without tiring newbies out, guests will dive a total of 14 times, for just 186 Euros a day.  

To name just a few, dive sites include Richelieu Rock where divers will look for everything from Seahorses to mighty Whale Sharks, Koh Bon, renowned for massive Manta Rays and striking Eagle Rays, and Elephant Head Rock with stunning reefs.

Divers – novice or experienced, prepare to be blown away by the incredible beauty of the Similan Islands. This Thailand Diving holiday will leave you hungry for more.

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Diving Squad Presents:

Best Liveaboard for Advanced Divers in Thailand

Gentle Giant

  • Night Dives, Nitrox Dives, Deep Dives, Drift Dives, Wreck Dives and more. Veterans eat your heart out.

  • Visits the Similan Islands, Surin Islands AND Southern Islands ALL IN ONE TRIP.

  • €152 a day.

  • 6 day, 5 night trip.

  • 21 logged dives required.

  • Operates November – April

For experienced divers the Gentle giant offers an utterly unique Thailand diving holiday across the Andaman Sea.

What makes it so unique? The itinerary. Compared to most other liveaboards in thailand, the Gentle Giant is a total one off.

You see, nearly all other Thailand liveaboards offer trips to the Similans and Richelieu Rock OR to the southern islands of Koh Haa and Hin Daeng.

The gentle giant however, features trips to both on every trip. In total, it’s 6 day, 5 night itinerary, covers:

The Similan Islands, Surin Islands, Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon and Koh Tachai (all located in the north)…

…Before it then travels down to the southern islands of Hin Daeng, Hin muang, King Cruiser Wreck, Shark Point and Anemone Reef near Koh Phi PHi.

Divers will see mighty whale sharks, curious leopard sharks, graceful manta rays, blue spotted stingrays, scorpion fish, puffer fish, yellow fin tuna, endless varieties of reef fish and much more.

To add to the variety encountered along this liveaboard diving trip even further, and catering specifically to divers seeking a challenge, it’s itinerary includes, wreck dives, deep dives, drift dives, sunset dives, night dives and nitrox dives.

Every cabin in the gentle giant has AC and sea views, with 2 double master cabins and 8 twin standard cabins available, with this yacht taking up to 20 guests.

It is equipped with a full air conditioned indoor salon featuring a 55 inch TV and entertainment area where guests can unwind and socialise.

 

For those who would prefer to relax outside there is also an outdoor covered dining area and a sundeck to soak in the tranquil views from feather soft sun beds.

The highly experienced staff are veteran divers and strike the perfect balance between ensuring guest safety and enjoyment.

At just 152 euros a day, this truly special Thailand liveaboard trip is only offered 6 times across the year between November and April. It’s no surprise whatsoever it books out so fast.

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Diving Squad Presents:

Best Liveaboard for Short Trips in Thailand

The Oktavia

  • Crams an incredible liveaboard experience into just 3 days and 2 nights.

  • Visits Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock

  • €119 a day – one of the cheapest Thailand liveaboards!

  • No logged dives required

  • Runs January – May

It’s an experience many scuba divers know well: being in an amazing location with endless sights, dives and activities to do, and not having enough time for them all.

Would-be-liveaboard-divers who feel they don’t have time…could-be-liveaboard-divers with the Oktavia!

This huge Thailand liveaboard crams an impressive selection of great dives into just 2 nights (it also offers a 5 night itinerary) and thanks to it’s laid back and professional staff, somehow avoids make the whole thing seeming rushed.

The MV Oktavia Liveaboard sails across the Andaman Sea, visiting famous dive sites including the Similan Islands, the less frequented Surin Islands (on it’s longer route), Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock.

Big enough for 33 passengers, the Oktavia only takes on 20 – meaning each passenger gets enough space for all of yourself plus another 65% of a person!

All cabins posses AC, whilst Master cabins also have a TV and entertainment system along with writing desks, seating areas and double beds.

On the upper deck the dining room serves delicious meals and snacks as well as possessing a shaded lounge area for divers to relax and socialise.

You can tell this is one of the best thailand liveaboards out there on account of the critically acclaimed reviews it receives from guests – many of whom return to dive with the Oktavia a second…third…fourth time when they are next passing through Phuket.

Guests aboard the Octavia have frequently commented on the extremely friendly and helpful staff, who despite having a large number of passengers to cater to, maintained a relaxed, light hearted and fun loving atmosphere, onboard and off.

Despite the short time budget, the Octavia dives are orchestrated with spectacular smoothness and seamlessly transition from one to next.

Divers will swim across stunning coral reefs, alongside species like Manta Rays and Leopard Sharks, as well as have access to Nitrox and a formidable 4 dives a day!

At 119 Euros a day, this is the perfect scuba diving holiday in Thailand for those who are pushed for time.

 

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Diving Squad Presents:

Best Liveaboard for Long Trips in Thailand

Diva Andaman

  • Visits the Similan Islands, Invisible Banks, Southern Islands, Burma Banks Richelieu Rock and more! 

  • € 224 a day.

  • 19 day, 18 night trip!

  • 30 logged dives required

  • Operates over April

For Scuba Divers who want to stretch their Liveaboard Diving trip last out long as possible, the Diva Andaman is the (sea)horse you want to back!

This luxurious 35m yacht offers a range of itineraries starting from 6 nights, and at certain times of year (notably April, enquire for more details), spanning to a whopping 18 nights long.

Departing from Khao Lak, Phuket, this mahoosive  19 day itinerary includes diving trips around the Similan Islands, Burma Banks, Invisible Banks, Southern Islands, Havelock, Barren Island, Narcondam Island and Richelieu Rock to name a few.

Guests will dive over pristine coral reefs in the crystal clear waters around the Similan Islands, through eerie sunken wrecks, be carried by the current over adrenaline pumped drift dives, embark on surreal night dives and more!

Encounters can be expected with iconic species such as Whale Sharks, Manta Rays, Turtles, Reef Sharks, Octopuses, Cuttlefish, countless reef fish and more.

In addition to a total of 40 dives, guests will enjoy the wide range of activities this Thailand diving holiday has to offer including island touring, snorkelling and kayaking.

This is more than just a Thailand diving holiday – it is an adventure holiday through and through!

With 7 luxury AC ensuite cabins, the Diva Andaman has an average capacity of 8 guests and a maximum of just 14 in order to deliver the full deserved attention to each of her charges, with no more than 4 guests per 1 dive guide in dive groups.

Onboard services include traditional thai massages, refreshing cocktails and two specially designed wine cellars. A passionate onboard chef serves the fines cuisine, with three course dinners served beneath the glistening stars.

The dive staff aboard the diva andaman are a group of die hard dive veterans who take the safety of guests as seriously as they take ensuring everyone has a laughter filled, enjoyable time with smiles all round.

Because the extended itinerary aboard the Diva Andaman occurs infrequently and is just 224 Euros a day, book to avoid disappointment, book now!

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Diving Squad Presents:

Best Liveaboard for Groups W Non-Divers in Thailand

Pawara

  • EXTENSIVE Onboard entertainment facilities

  • Visits the Similan Islands an Richelieu Rock

  • € 142 a day.

  • 5 days, 4 nights trip

  • No logged dives required

  • Operates October – May

What if you can’t dive due to a medical condition, some other circumstance or simply haven’t learned how to yet? Perhaps you are the long suffering partner of a diving fanatic.

For non-divers – this is the Thailand Liveaboard Trip for you.

The Pawara – a 35m custom built, steel hulled Similan Islands liveaboard boasts (or should we say… “boats”🙂 onboard WIFI, a wholesome entertainment room equipped with flat screen TV, DVD, sound system, games and more.

In addition to this, the Pawara liveaboard offers a partially shaded sun deck with soft mattresses where passengers can relax and soak in the gorgeous surrounding views.

This is also a snorkeller friendly liveaboard, meaning that staff are available to take passengers on snorkel trips, utilizing the onboard dingy to transport them to and from snorkel spots and pristine white beaches for maximum chillaxing capacity.

The Pawara offers the standard range of PADI Diver Beginner and Advanced Courses, meaning those who haven’t dived yet, but want to can learn over the duration of this liveaboard adventure.

Offering 4 night long trips from October – May, across a number of top Similan dive sites in addition to Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon and koh Tachai.

Divers aboard this boat regularly witness Whale Sharks, Manta Rays and Leopard Sharks in addition to beautiful hard and soft corals and a rainbow coloured assortment of reef fish.

Divers can leap off the roomy dive platform which provides more than enough room for gear storage, whilst qualified divers can chug down the FREE Nitrox on offer.

As well as this, the Pawara has an incredibly talented chef and a friendly crew who are utterly committed to attending to the specific needs of every one of their passengers.

At only 142 Euros a day, it’s no wonder this Thai liveaboard is often sold out months in advanced!

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Diving Squad Presents:

Best Liveaboard for Small Groups and Scuba Photography in Thailand

MV Giamani

  • Takes just 10 guests and has large camera table on deck.

  • Visits Southern Islands (Route A) OR Similan Islands, Surin Islands and Richelieu Rock

  • €159 a day

  • 3 days, 2 nights (Route A) OR 5 days, 4 nights (Route B)

  • Runs October – August (Route A), November – April (Route B)

For divers who like to have their own space and/or are serious about underwater photography… the MV Giamani is the best Thailand Liveaboard to go with.

Taking a maximum of just 10 passengers, and at 24m long, this large yacht provides more than ample space for those on board to have as much seclusion as their hearts desire.

Although with a such a relaxed communal area as this luxury yacht has, like minded souls usually end up in a tightly knit bunch, socialising in the glamorous salon.

The air-conditioned salon, is fully equipped with TV, DVD player, music system and library…in addition to a well stocked bar.

Those who prefer the open air, can unwind in the shade of the Mv Giamani’s spacious outside dining area – or on the the upper deck where breathtaking island views are to be had from the comfort of soft sun mattresses.

But there is another great reason to dive about the Giamini and that is for the large camera table on it’s dive deck.

This, combined with the versatile range of word famous dive sites along this yachts itinerary and the small groups, make it the mostly highly rated liveaboard for serious underwater photography in Thailand.

It visits national parks at the Similan, Surin, Koh Lanta and Mu Ko Phi phi, Hin Daeng, Hin Muang, Koh Haa, all of which have crystal clear waters and pristine, untouched and widespread corals.

On this ultimate Thailand liveaboard trip, divers often see mighty whale sharks, manta rays, leopard sharks, scorpionfish and blue spotted stingrays.

Deluxe cabins on the main deck feature a double bed and additional extra bed for twin sharing. They have climate control, ensuite bahtorm and mini fridge with spectacular views just outside of the sea.

The master cabin is located on the upper deck and has one double bed, an additional sofa bed, mini fridge, ensuite bathroom and shower box.

At 159 Euros a day, with highly professional and attentive staff, and a talented chef serving a range of delicious Thai and international meals in addition to ice cream..

… this is without a doubt the best Thai liveaboard for those who want privacy or are passionate underwater photographers.

Thailand Liveaboards - What You Need to Know

Diving Insurance – It’s absolutely essential that you’re covered by proper diving insurance before you start your liveaboard adventure.  Find out more. 

Scuba Gear – You’ll need to either bring along your own scuba gear or rent it from the liveaboard for an additional fee. 

Find out more. 

Thailand Liveaboard Packing List – To ensure an enjoyable and comfortable trip, there are several must bring items. Find out more. 

Thailand Diving Season –

The dive season in the Andaman Sea of Thailand’s Western shores, spans from mid-October to mid-May, with different months offering varying diving experiences.

The Southern Islands around Thailand such as Koh Phi Phi, can be dived all year round, however some months are better to dive than others.

 Find out more.  

Weather in Thailand –Thailand boasts consistently warm temperatures all year round, with water temperature around it’s Andaman Sea area typically ranging from 27 – 30 degrees.

Because of this, divers many not feel the need for a full wetsuit, or for the truly hardy any at all! On land, the weather is toasty – bring plenty of sunscreen and your best ray catching game.

Thailand Diving Conditions – Generally speaking the dive sites around the Similan and Surin Islands, offer a range of conditions.

These vary from beginner level, with calm, shallow waters, to advanced with adrenaline pumping drift dives, deep dives and wreck dives.

Choose the liveaboard that best matches your ability, using the “Best Liveaboards” category above.

Water Visibility in Thailand –

Visibility in the Andaman Sea dive sites around Thailand is truly incredible. Depending on the season, it can range from an impressive 20m…to a truly incredible 40m!

On dive season months where visibility is at the lower end, this is due to plankton blooms which attract pelagics such as Whale Sharks and Manta Rays.

National park fees –

The Similan Islands (which includes Koh Bon and Koh Tachai) and Surin Islands (which include Richelieu Rock) are both separate National parks.

Phi Phi also resides within a national park, whilst Hin Daeng, Hin muang and Koh Haa are in a different one.

Each national park has an entrance fee of 500 baht per foreigner and an additional 200 baht diving fee.

Many liveaboard prices do not include the national park fees, so you will have to pay these additional fees yourself.

Considering that 700 baht equates to just $21, assuming your liveaboards diving trip visits all 5 national parks this is still just an additional $105.

This money goes towards a great cause – helping with conservation and protection such as setting up mooring buoys and keeping fishing boat out.

It is well worth it to ensure these dive sites remain in fantastic condition for future generations.

Diving Insurance in Thailand

SPLASH! It’s important to remember that scuba diving is an extreme sport. Accidents can happen. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble.

What’s more, because diving can take you all around the world, it’s absolutely essential you make sure you are properly covered by the best scuba diving insurance before leaving your home country.

We recommend going with Dive Assure. Why?

  • Unbeatable prices.

     

  • They offer both short term and long term insurance.

     

  • Cover loss of diving equipment, emergency medical and evacuation expenses and flight/accommodation costs following injury.

Squad Inventory - Scuba Gear

Ok Squad! Here’s the deal. Scuba Diving requires a ton of gear. This should come as no real surprise, considering that the very nature of this sport is to breathe underwater – the exact opposite of what us humans are evolved to do! 

When you go on your liveaboard adventure, you have two options on the gear front:

  1. You can either rent the gear, at an additional cost, per piece. This generally costs around $25 for a full equipment rental per day (exact prices provided in the liveaboard links).

  2. Or you can buy and bring along some or all of your own scuba gear. This comes with two distinct advantages:
  • You get scuba gear that perfectly fits you and suits your tastes, budget and style. And hasn’t been peed in.

     

  • You will never again have to pay to rent scuba equipment! Think about all the diving you have ahead of you. Ultimately this can save a lot of money.

     

Below is a full listing and description of the entire inventory required to scuba dive. Let’s jump right in:

Diving Mask – Full Face Snorkel Masks are taking the world by storm but they can’t withstand pressure beyond several meters depth.  For diving you need an old school dive mask.

BCD – A BCD is the jacket divers wear to maintain optimum buoyancy, which they can adjust by operating the inflate and deflate buttons. This makes sure they neither sink to the bottom nor rise to the top of the water! As well as this, the BCD holds the divers regulator(s), dive gauge and air tank.

Regulator / Octopus – The regulator reduces pressurised breathing oxygen to ambient pressure and delivers it to the diver through a mouth piece. Remember, you need two – one for you and a spare for a buddy in case of emergencies!

Diving Torch – Absolutely essential for Deep Dives and Night Dives. So you can…you know – see. Bioluminescent plankton anyone? 

Scuba Tank – This contains the pressurised breathing gas – i.e. oxygen, that you will be breathing underwater (after it’s been reduced to ambient pressure by the regulator). Pretty essential right? 

Scuba Weight Belt – A diving weight belt assists with maintaining optimum buoyancy, by stopping divers from floating to the top of the water. How much weight you take will depend on your build, weight and diving ability.

Dive Computer – The Dive Computer is used to measure the time and depth of a dive. In doing so, it calculates a safe ascent profile, vital for avoiding decompression sickness. 

Dive Gauge – Essential for keeping track of your air consumption and the depth at which you are diving. The best ones also feature compasses and can read the water temperature (useful for bragging rights when you go on extremely cold dives!).

Scuba Fins – Fins greatly reduce water resistance when swimming and thus help to conserve energy and swim faster / against currents. They also allow you to unleash your inner mermaid/man. 

Dive Boots Designed to be worn under your fins, dive boots prevent rubbing and skin irritation from said fins – whilst also keeping your feet toasty and warm. 

Wetsuit – Crucial for keeping you warm. Even in hot countries, when you dive deep, it gets cold. Which one you pick will depend on the climate of where you’re diving. 

Ultimate Combo Package Whew! That’s a lot of gear we’ve covered. If you don’t yet have any scuba gear and want to bulk buy at great quality and value, this is the number one scuba starter pack out there.  

Thailand Liveaboard Packing List

Whether you decide to rent scuba gear or buy  your own, there are some essential items that won’t be provided for you. You would not want to go on your liveaboard adventure without: 

Reef Safe Sunscreen It’s a little known fact that some sunscreens contain products that are highly toxic to coral reefs. Dive responsibly, avoid burning to a crisp and use eco friendly sunscreen. 

Reef Safe Body Wash and Shampoo – Many brands of body wash and shampoo also contain chemicals that are toxic to coral reef and fish. Dive responsibility whilst still not smelling like a Dead Whale.

Diving Camera –  Any normal camera will break if taken diving – even if it’s waterproof it won’t be able to withstand high depth pressure and the focus will not be designed for underwater photography. To share your diving adventures with the world, make sure you have a proper scuba diving camera.   

Full Face Snorkel Mask – In between dives, you’ll get countless snorkelling opportunities on your liveaboard trip. For snorkelling, it’s much better to utilise a full face snorkel mask for maximum comfort and 180 viewing! The best ones have an attachment mount for GoPros. 

Reusable Water Bottle Having a durable, reusable and recyclable water bottle that’ll keep liquids cold is essential for both eco awareness and hydration = scuba success! We love the TankH2O – It is all of those things and looks like a scuba tank!

Microfibre Towel Essential for getting all those bits of ocean off you. Microfibre towels are compact, dry quickly and lightweight. To look like a ninja of the sea, wrap around face. 

The

diving squad title 300

Backpack of Choice

After trying and testing an ocean of backpacks, we’ve come to the coralusion that the Dometool Waterproof Dry Backpack is the number one backpack for divers! Why? Well:

  • It’s completely waterproof and also floats.

  • Front zip pocket for easy access, waterproof storage of your phone, wallet, etc. 

  • Equipment ring at one side, water bottle bag at the other. 

  • PVC tarpaulin materials = resistent to tearing, corrosion and aging.

Diving Season in Thailand

The best liveaboards in Thailand all sail across the Andaman Sea, which is off of Thailand’s Western Coast.

There is a distinct diving season season within the Andaman Sea, outside of which the Similan Islands and Surin Islands are closed to all vessels, making it impossible to dive these areas.

In addition to this, even within the diving season, conditions vary across months – on some you have a greater chance of seeing iconic pelagics such as Whale Sharks, whereas others offer greater water visibility. It all depends on what kind of diving holiday you want to experience.

Southern Islands in the Andaman Sea, such as Koh Phi Phi, can be dived all year round, although some months are better than others!

Knowing when to go on a Thailand liveaboard is more than half the battle for making sure that it is the best liveaboard experience you can have.

Use the month by month guide to go, to work out when is the best time to go on a liveaboard in Thailand for you.

Thailand Liveaboards in January –  January is a great month for Thailand liveaboards, as during this month, the Andaman Sea enjoys clear and calm waters, both up North around the Similan and Surin Islands, as well as in the South Islands.

It is also during tourist high season, so book early to avoid disappointment.

Thailand Liveaboards in February – February is another fantastic month to dive in the North Andaman Sea around Thailand as well as it’s South Islands, which continues to experience clear and calm waters around this time.

Thailand Liveaboards in March  Waters remain calm in the Andaman Sea, although visibility is somewhat reduced on account of the large blooms of plankton that occur around this time of year here.

However, these plankton attract pelagics, making March one of the best months to see whale sharks off Thailand’s Western Coast.

For this reason, many pelagic lovers consider March to be one of the times, both in the North and South of Thailand’s Andaman Seas.

Thailand Liveaboards in April- In the Andaman Sea, waters remain calm. Large plankton blooms reduce visibility somewhat but these attract pelagics such as Whale Sharks and Manta Rays.

Because of this, April is another one of the widely considered best Thailand liveaboard diving months for pelagic lovers.

Thailand Liveaboards in MayFrom Mid May onwards, the Similan Islands and Surin Islands are closed due to the onset of monsoon season.

However, the South Islands, such as Koh Phi Phi, can still be dived at during this time. Good dives can still be had, although the weather is harder to predict and less consistent.

Thailand Liveaboards in June – The Similan Islands and Surin Islands are closed due to monsoon season.

However, the South Islands, such as Koh Phi Phi, can still be dived at during this time. Good liveaboard dives can still be had, although the weather is harder to predict and less consistent.

Thailand Liveaboards in July – The Similan Islands and Surin Islands are closed due to monsoon season.

However, the South Islands, such as Koh Phi Phi, can still be dived at during this time. Good liveaboard dives can still be had, although the weather is harder to predict and less consistent.

Thailand Liveaboards in August – The Similan Islands and Surin Islands are closed due to monsoon season.

However, the South Islands, such as Koh Phi Phi, can still be dived at during this time. Good dives can still be had, although the weather is harder to predict and less consistent.

Thailand Liveaboards in September The Similan Islands and Surin Islands are closed due to monsoon season

However, the South Islands, such as Koh Phi Phi, can still be dived at during this time. Good dives can still be had, although the weather is harder to predict and less consistent.

Thailand Liveaboards in October From the middle to late October onwards, liveaboards in the Similan Islands and Surin Islands are back open for business!

Hailed as the best month for liveaboards in the Similan Islands, October marks the end of the monsoon period around Thailand’s West Coast. Waters are mostly calm with incredible clarity. This is also one of the best months for Thailand liveaboards in the south islands.

Thailand Liveaboards in November: This is one of the best months in the Andaman Sea. All liveaboards to the Similan and Surin Islands are up and running. Waters are calm and crystal clear both here and in the South Islands, making November a great month to dive both.

November marks the start of high tourist season – those heading to the Andaman Sea in particular, should book early to avoid disappointment.

Thailand Liveaboards in December – With calm and crystal clear waters in the Andaman Sea, this is one of the best months for Thailand liveaboards both in the Similan and Surin Islands as well as the South Islands.

Because it is during tourist high season, divers should book well in advance.

Thailand Liveaboard Destinations

Similan Islands (Thailand's North Andaman Sea)

Donald Duck Bay, Simlan Islands

Fifty two miles north west of Phuket, lies the fabled Koh Similan Marine National park – an archipelago of eleven granite boulder islands arranged in a South to North access. In order from South to North, they are:

 

Koh Huyong (Island 1, at the southernmost tip of the mini Archipelago)

Koh Payang (Island 2)

Koh Payan (Island 3)

Koh Miang (Island 4)

Koh Ha (Island 5)

Koh Payu (Island 6)

Koh Hin Pousar (Island 7)

Koh Similan (Island 8)

Koh Bangu (Island 9)

Koh Bon (Island 10)

Koh Tachai (Island 11, at the Archipelagos northern end)

 

Your yacht captain will almost certainly refer to these islands by their number and not their names!

 

Reef fish and Coral Grouper

Above the vibrant blue water, the views are simply breathtaking. Lush neon green rainforests adorn the islands, the dense vegetation jostling for space to reach the fiery orange sun beating down upon it.

Swooping and swinging, skittering and scuttling, crawling and flying through this noisy tumble of jungle are crab eating monkeys, dusk langurs, squirrels, lizards, bats and a colourful assortment of tropical birds. To all of these exotic animals, this is home.

Around the edges of the island, the vibrant jungle reluctantly fizzles out to give way to immense boulders littering the fine sand beaches that are almost as white as snow.

But it is what lies beneath the crystal clear waters surrounding these islands, that has given the Similans their formidable reputation as one of the top scuba diving destinations in the entire world.

The eastern Similan dive sites showcast rainbow assorted coral reefs, with psychedelic coloured sea anemones lazily waving their tentacles in the air as countless reef fish dart above them.

Waters here are tranquil, with dives of moderate depths, suitable for all levels of divers and also snorkelers to.

Baby Whale Shark off South West Pinnacle

Meanwhile, along the western dive sites are mighty granite boulders which descend all the way down to 40 meters, featuring swim throughs, caves and tunnels for the boldest and most intrepid of divers.

Strong, drift dive offering currents, provide bountiful nutrients for immense living walls and carpets of crescent coloured soft corals and sea fans which coat every feasible surface.

Mighty Whale Sharks and Graceful Manta Rays frequently visit these waters between February and April, hoovering up the living clouds of plankton that accumulate here around this time.

Massive barracuda, jackfish, batfish and snapper shoot after the smaller reef fish, whilst camouflaged scorpionfish, stonefish and octopus blend in seamlessly with their environment.

Alien like cuttlefish scoot to and fro’, as lethal lionfish drift ominously drift through the water and nosy moray eels poke their head from hidey holes.

Peek carefully, among the coral and crevices, the reefs and rocks, the cracks and gaps, and delicate seahorses, dainty pipefish, skittish shrimp, surreal nudibranch and all manner of other weird and wonderful micro critters await your discovery.

It is impossible to do any real level of justice for the true beauty that awaits divers in the Similan through words or even pictures.

To fully realize the splendor that awaits you there, you will simply have to go.

Green Turtle off the Similan Islands

Dive into the Squads' Favourite Read

ATTENTION! Diving Squad Member – Do you love a great book? Yarp!? We already know you love diving

Dive Atlas of the World, offers a beautifully photographed and professionally detailed tour of the worlds best dive sites, including both classics and new discoveries.

This stunningly presented book covers everything from Wrecks to Reefs, Muck Dives to Macro Photography, Blue Holes to Epic Walls and adrenaline soaked Drift Dives

Get inspired, learn something brand new and prepare for your next diving adventure.

This is hands down the most informative, stunningly presented and all encompassing scuba diving book known to Diving Squad. 

Surin Islands

Use picture of featured destination underwater. 700 X

100 KM further north of the Similans, is the even less frequented, but no less spectacular Surin Islands.

The 2 main main islands forming the bulk of this 320 KM mini archipelago are:

  • Koh Surin Nuea
  • Koh Surin Tai.

…In addition to 3 smaller, satellite islands that enhance the overground visas and provide additional fringing reef:

  • Koh Ri
  • Koh Khai
  • Koh Klang

This National Park status also extends to Richelieu Rock, a huge seamount in the middle of the sea 10 km southwest of Koh Surin, which is renowned as one of the top ten greatest dive locations in the world, as well as one of the most likely places to see a Whale Shark.

 

Whale Shark Spotted at Richelieu Rock

Because the Surin Islands are visited even less frequently than the Similan Islands, divers will enjoy having these crystal clear waters all to themselves.

It is like stepping back in time, to an era where life beneath the waves was still unaffected by the hand of man.

The coral reef here is in spectacular condition and home to a wide assortment of reef fish and other marine life.

Whale Sharks and Manta Rays are frequently seen around the Surin Islands, as well as Turtles and sometimes even Bryde’s Whales.

Dive conditions range from beginner to advanced, with everything from shallow to deep diving, calm waters to drift current dives and cave to open water diving being available.

For those who can make it, there is something here for everyone.

As with the Similan Islands, only a small fraction of the true magnificence of the Surin Islands can be conveyed through word or picture.

To truly appreciate the incredible diving holiday that can be had here, one has to actually go.

Green Sea Turtle swimming around the Similan Islands

How to Give up Plastic - A Crucial Guide

“It is one world. And it’s in our care. For the first time in the history of humanity, for the first time in 500 million years, one species has the future in the palm of its hands. I just hope he realises that that is the case.”
Sir David Attenborough
Broadcaster, Natural Historian and Knight.

Some 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year, devastating the marine ecosystem by killing countless fish, seabirds, turtles, marine mammals and other creatures. 

How to Give Up Plastic is the definitive guide to learning what you can do in your home, commune and workplace to start bringing about the end of our plastic dependent age.

It covers everything from easy wins such as using a reusable keep cup for your morning coffee, to lesser-known hacks like fixing a filter to your washing machine to catch some of the microfibres released from your clothes (microfibres are responsible for up to 30% of plastic in the ocean).

This is an essential overview of why we should all be working together no matter where we are in the world to reduce the amount of plastic being produce. Diving Squad is thoroughly committed to ending plastic pollution and marine conservation. 

Southern Islands

Koh Phi Phi

Phi Phi Islands: 45 KM East of Phuket, in the Krabi Province, is the gorgeous 6 island archipelago of Koh Phi Phi. They are regarded as one of the most beautiful island groups in the world.

The two largest islands, Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh phi phi Leh, make up the bulk of landmass, with the former being an ancient settlement that is a melting pot of Thai Buddhists, Chinese Buddhists, Muslims and Sea Gypsies – and now backpackers!

Towering limestone cliffs climb into the sky from these two islands, where the dense canopy of jungle atop them stretches further towards the heavens still.  Beaches, coves and bays are scattered across them, to make for a diverse assortment of dramatic landscape.

The four smallest islands, Koh Mai Phai, Ko Yung,  Bida nok and Bida Nai are little more than limestone rocks jutting from the sea although the diving to be had around them is just as stunning.

Diver with Anemone Coral

There are many incredible dive sites around the Phi Phi Island group, consisting largely of incredible coral and gorgonian fan adorned wall dives, where the limestone drops to a depth between 10m – 25m, and feature various caves and swim throughs for thrill seekers.

That said, most local dives around here are suitable for beginner level divers, whereas some of the further flung dives featuring currents and deeper waters, better suited for experienced dives in search of action.

Expect a phenomenal range of marine life including Wrasse, moorish idols, rays, travallies and angelfish.

Keep an eye out for leopard sharks cruising along the bottom and blacktip sharks patrolling over the reefs. Turtles, Manta Rays and Whale sharks regularly present themselves to the lucky.

Leopard Shark cruising through the waters around Koh Phi Phi.

King Cruiser –  Wreck Dive Lovers, The King Cruiser is for you! Once an ex-car ferry that travelled between Phi Phi and Phuket, in 1997 the “King Cruiser” cruised straight into an anemone reef and sank a short distance away. Happily, nobody died and divers were left with an awesome wreck!

Now mostly broken up, the King Cruiser is coated with beautiful soft corals and is inhabited by large schools of Barracuda and Snapper, as well as Groupers, Eels and Crabs… more still lies in wait those who know how and where to look.

With strong currents and reaching down to 32m deep, this is a great dive site for advanced divers or those looking to rack up the experience as part of their PADI Advanced Open Water Course.

With stunning views both from outside and the cavernous inside, the King Cruiser is regarded as the best wreck dive around Phuket.

 

King Cruiser Wreck from outside

Shark Point – Named after the large numbers of peaceful Leopard Sharks that are regularly seen here, Shark Point is a series of 7 pinnacles running north to south, that lie halfway between Phuket and Phi Phi.

Covered in red, pink and purple soft corals, large sea fans and all colours of sea anemones, they are home to a variety of reef fishes as well as seahorses, barracuda and occasionally other shark species such as black tips. It is a favourite drift dive for experienced divers!

Stunning coral reef near shark point.

Koh Doc Mai – Also known as “Flower Island” this is a small piece of jungle topped sheer rock located between Shark Point and Phuket. Although tiny, it regularly provides divers with huge memories due to the incredible wall diving and macro species encountered here.

Those who regularly dive this favourite site report encountering something different every time, from seahorses, frogfish, nudibranchs and ornate ghost pipefish and even to tiny, cute bamboo sharks.

For the intrepid there are also some thrill seeking opportunities here including a spacious cavern and an air pocket in one of the caves to make for a mind blowing surfacing experience at 13m.

Koh Doc Mai Island.

Diving Squad Debriefing

Diving Squad! Give yourselves a big wet slap on the back!! You have made it to the end of this MONSTER guide to the best liveaboard diving in Thailand!!!

We have covered the best liveaboards in Thailand for all categories – the best thailand liveaboards for beginners, the best luxury thailand liveaboards, the best thailand liveaboards overall and so much more…

We’ve also looked at best time to go on liveaboards in Thailand, learned about each of the best liveaboard dive locations in thailand and reviewed the cost for a range of different budget types.

We’ve looked at dive itineraries, diving conditions, dive season, national park fees and regulations and hopefully learned some cool things we didn’t expect to along the way!

Now you are fully equipped to have the best thailand liveaboard of your life. All that remains is to go and actually have it.

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Help Diving Squad with Marine Conservation

EPIC FAIL HUMANITY:

  • Over 18 billion pounds of plastic enters the World’s Oceans every year. That’s enough trash to cover every foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic (Every. Year).

     

  • As well as containing it’s own toxic chemicals, like BPA, plastic absorbs even more potent toxins from other pollutants in the Ocean such as oil, untreated sewage and radioactive waste.

     

  • Plastic is indestructible and never degrades. Instead it simply breaks down into smaller pieces which accumulate together, en masse.

     

  • Today, each square mile of ocean has over 45,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.

     

  • Plastic is mistaken for food and eaten by marine animals. Because it can’t be digested, it fills their stomachs and causes them to starve to death.

     

  • For those “lucky” individuals that don’t eat plastic, the toxic chemicals present in every part of sea water from plastic, wreck havoc throughout the ecosystem causing changes in animals behaviour, immune systems and reproduction.

     

  • There are 200 known ‘dead zones’, or areas deprived of oxygen and devoid of life, (area between 1 and 70,000 km²),  in the world ocean, due to plastic: this number has doubled every decade since 1960.

     

  • Chemicals in heavily polluted waters can make their way back to us and cause serious health issues like reproductive problems, hormonal problems, kidney damage, and nervous system damage.

     

  • It’s estimated that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight). AND IT’S GETTING WORSE

The Time to Act is NOW

To Diving Squad, the grizzly stats above are appalling, tragic and completely UNACCEPTABLE. That’s why we are working hard towards combating plastic pollution in the ocean.


How do we do this? Through spreading awareness, providing informative guides on eco friendly diving and donating
10% of all profits that we make towards combating plastic pollution in the Ocean.


So, how does Diving Squad make money? Through You! Every time you click on one of our painstakingly, yet lovingly researched liveaboard, gear or insurance links and spend money – we earn a % commission thanks to affiliate partnerships.


We then donate 10% of this towards Marine Conservation Schemes that target plastic pollution.


What does this mean? It means that if you book a Liveaboard through a Diving Squad link – some of that money goes directly towards Marine Conservation. Buy a piece of Gear through a Diving Squad link?

 Nice! You’ve just contributed money towards Marine Conservation. Booked yourself Diving Insurance through Diving Squad? Go, go Marine Conservation!


So help us…help you…help the Ocean. Together, we can do this.


To which Marine Conservation charity do we donate, you might ask?
Our squad is already hard at work selecting the ideal candidate. The winner will be announced at the end of 2019. Have a suggestion? We’d love to hear… If we pick your suggestion, there just might be something in it for you…


Contact us at: Alex Hatton:
[email protected] (Grand Admiral at Diving Squad).