Your experience diving in Phuket can be very different depending on whom you go diving with. While prices are slightly different the quality of the experience can differ to a very great degree.
We have always offered dives with a duration of 1 hour and our guides work very hard to help you all to reach the maximum dive time. This can be by offering you a bigger tank or by helping with your buoyancy control or just simply slowing down under water and diving a more shallow dive profile. We do realize that most of our divers are holiday divers and are not diving all the time so we guide all divers in small groups of 5 guests per guide or less. We also offer a scuba review on our boat for those that have not been in the water for a while to get them comfortable under water again. We do not allow our guides to take cameras and sell guests the pictures after the dive. Some of the guests may not agree but we find it important the guide is concentrating on the guest and showing them what's there to see rather than ignoring the guests and taking pictures to sell afterwards.
Recently one of our old guests came to our office to book some diving days with us. He admitted to being out with another company the day before and choose to come back to us even at the slightly higher price we have. The description of his day with the other company was: "It took nearly 2 hours from the time I was picked up (late) to the point where the boat went out. The boat was overcrowded with more than 70 people on board. The dive guide was taking pictures the whole time and did not show us anything. The allowed dive time was 45 minutes and the guide took us deep and against the current so we were out of air after 35 minutes already. Asked why the guide did not show anything the answer was you can buy the pictures for 1500 Baht. Surface interval between the dives was less than one hour so we had to rush trough lunch for the second dive. Getting dressed for the dive was a real challenge since the dive deck was very crowded. We did 3 dives and where back in the harbor at 5 PM. Dinner was not included and not necessary."
Altogether the price was only a little cheaper but the value for money the guest got in this instance was a lot less.
Have a look at what's really offered and decide for yourself, but in our opinion spending a little less but having a bad day because of it means you just wasted the money. The general rule in business that you get what you pay for is trough in diving as well. You cannot expect the same level of service, safety and comfort for a much lower price. That's simply not realistic. The only way to have a much lower price is by putting a greater number of customers on the boat, using less expensive or even unqualified guides, safe on Safety equipment (yes, there are still boats out there without oxygen) and on maintenance.
You are on vacation and you want to enjoy your dive day. We know it is not cheap to dive in Phuket due to the distances and the logistic involved but still, spend a little more and have a great day rather than wasting you money on a sub standard operator. There are several good boats and operators out there all it takes is looking around a little to finds them. The first question you need to ask is:" do you own your own boat?" Most dive shops in Phuket do not own a boat and will book you on a "cattle boat" with a very low price (for them and not necessary for you) to maximize their profit acting only as a booking agent and not being responsible for the trip you take at all.
As a rule, book with the boat owner and operator directly and stay away from the lower end of the pricing spectrum. Spend a few minutes talking with them and finding out how guiding in board is regulated. Are guides allowed to take a camera or not? How long is the allowed dive time, how long are the surface intervals? What all is included in the price or rather what will I be charged extra on board if at all? There are many questions you can ask and some that you will probably not get a good and honest answer for but asking about Oxygen on board should be not be necessary but as we recently discovered is a must again.
Go diving and have a great day doing so. After all you are on vacation and deserve to have a good day.
Recently i stumbled over a
article about the Peacock Mantis Shrimp and all i can say is WOW this must be
one of the strangest gritters on this world. Though mantis shrimp are
relatively common, a lot about them isn't. The colorful crustaceans have remarkable
resilient armor, and the fastest punch on earth. When they strike, they
swing out their dactyl clubs, armlike appendages normally held close to their
bodies, at 80 kilometers per hour, accelerating faster than a .22-caliber
bullet. Mantis shrimp use this mechanism to smash their often hard-shelled
prey, and can do so as many as 50,000 times between molts without destroying their
One great place describing this great little animal is found at this link but here are a few facts:
Its lineage can be traced back five hundred million years.
It is multicolored with shades of bright green, orange, red and blue on its shell and forearms covered in spots.
There are 400 species of mantis shrimp worldwide.
A peacock mantis shrimp can punch with a speed equal to a .22 caliber bullet.
It is able to see ten times more color than human beings, including ultraviolet light.
The peacock mantis shrimp can kill prey larger than itself by using its deadly appendages. It typically feeds on gastropods, crabs and mollusks.
Mantis shrimp typically grow to lengths of two to seven inches.
This species is found in the warm waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
This species is not threatened.
Some large fish make a meal of the mantis shrimp.
I would like to thank you and your staff for making my daughter's, Erika and my diving in Thailand a truly wonderful experience.
Erika is 12 and after doing a lot of internet research I chose Dive Asia as the facility for her initial instruction. All the positive reviews just scratch the surface in complementing the Dive Asia operation. The positive experience started with the detailed program you offered for both of us via email, it was explicit and flexible enough to adjust to our travel parameters. It allowed her to learn independently while I had the opportunity to dive with my daughter.
When we arrived in Karon Beach we stopped into the office where we were greeted by a friendly and extremely knowledgeable staff. They treated my daughter with respect and in a way that gave her added confidence for the upcoming experience. When they realized I had not dove in more than 4 years they insisted in a refresher course for me. I truly appreciated that aspect as my re-qualification was done alongside Erika which demonstrated to her the importance of keeping one’s skills current. I enjoyed the refresher and just to let you all know Erika could “ride” the cylinder and re-don her BCD faster than Dad.
You matched my daughter and I with Vicky, she worked wonders with her gentle ways and patience, while at the same time displaying an extensive knowledge in diving skills and how to transmit that knowledge to both a 12 year old and 59 year old. Vicky is to be commended for both her water skills and teaching ability.
The last 2 dives were with Simon, he gave Erika the space she needed to boost her self confidence in the water and yet was close and surveyed her movements and technique like a hawk.
The boat crew and all dive masters worked as an efficient team, I have been on a lot of dive boats and have never seen the efficiency and teamwork that was demonstrated by all aboard Dive Asia II.
We have already recommended Dive Asia to other potential customers here in Dhaka and rest assured you will see Erika and me again in the near future. Your team have awakened the underwater world to a 12 year old and rekindled the passion for diving in her father.
Thanking all of you at Dive Asia
Leo and Erika :)
Our recent trip to Hin Daeng & Hin Muang took place on Jan 21st to 24th 2011. We did 8 dives with Mermaid's itinerary. The visibility was nice, over 18m at the Red Rock & 12m at Purple Rock; while at the Koh Ha Chimney and Twin Cathedral, we had over fantastic 30m. Despite we didn't run into Manta or Whale Shark, the marine life was really good.
Divemaster Andrea found a pair of Harlequin Shrimps and guests found Tiger-tailed Seahorse at the Chimney. Takako found Peacock Mantis Shrimp running around, and DM Ray found its cousin, the Giant Mantis, staring out from its lair. Schooling fish, like the Bengal Snappers, Blue-striped Snappers, Hatchet (or Bullseye) and heaps of Glassfish were posing for cameras. Soft coral and hard corals were healthy and blooming in the current. The light-purplish-colored soft coral fields at the exit of Chimney simply blew our minds. We have NOT encountered such tall soft coral (some over 1.3m tall) and large soft coral fields in Asia. The Sea Whips nestled amongst the colorful soft corals and the giant submarine arches really made Stephen's trip, while the friendly fish and dozen species of Nudibranchs gave Takako chances to get good shots.
Staying on Mermaid II, we continued with the Similans/Surin Special from Jan 24th to 30th. Visibility at most Similans' sites hit over 30m. Despite seeing some dying hard corals due to the recent coral bleaching on some reefs here, we encountered schooling Goatfish, Snappers, Surgeonfish, Horse-eyed Jacks, Blue-spotted Jacks, Blue-spotted Stingrays, gazillions of Glassfish (Stephen's favorite) and lots of wonderful smaller creatures. Anita's Reef was incredible for macro.
DM Andrea again found the rare Ceratosoma magnifica Nudi and a juvenile Rock Remover Wrasse captured DM Lara's attention, while Takako located the rare nocturnal Reef Lobster, Enoplometopus occidentalis, and a juvenile Fuscus Triggerfish (both our first). At Shark-fin Reef, we located over 5 species of Shrimp-Gobies in an area less than 16 sq m, while DM Cassandra pointed to us two large Dogtooth Tunas mildly cruising at X'mas Point. Then, friendly turtles came to the back deck of the boat playing with guests near Elephant Head. Andrea discovered possibly a new species of Pygmy Pipehorse. Then, Richelieu Rock again delivered its world class magic - schools and schools of fish, including 3 species of Barracudas - the Chevron, the Yellow-tailed and the Small. We both missed the pairing Cuttlefish at the shallows, as Takako was busy with Seahorse, Pipefish, Blennies, Tiger Cowry, etc., while Stephen was having fun with a 1.3m Flowery Grouper (the giant fish was initially in a cave and blocked completely by massive clouds of Glassfish) and nearly got stabbed by the 7# resident Lionfish.
Here at Richelieu, guests also encountered a large Marbled Stingray and Ghostpipefish. Soft Corals and Sea Fans at Richelieu, Koh Boh and Koh Tachai looked superbly healthy. 2 Spotted Eagle Rays soared in front of all divers at Koh Boh Pinnacle. Despite the vis was not perfect, Boon Song Wreck gave possibly more pounds of fish than any local fish market. Cruise Director Ramon discovered a pair of Stonefish on the wreck (we missed, too busy with other creatures). Takako brought Stephen to observe the family of 1m long, oddly-looking African Pompano on the side of the wreck (another first time observation in our lives on this trip), with some individuals still have long trailing fins. Sorry, too far for fisheye, no pix of the Pompano ... sobs!
Not trying to blow sunshine up anywhere, but these two trips were awesome and full of surprises. The crew and their friendliness made the trip for everyone. Then, of course, we miss Chef Ting's delicious gourmet! In a jiffy, we want to go back, especially when the vis has been so good.
Takako Uno & Stephen Wong
Marine Wildlife Photojournalists
www.TakakoUno.com & www.StephenWong.com
We would like to clarify the situation and let you know the truce to the best of our knowledge and experience.
There was coral bleaching that hit Malaysia and Thailand in May/June 2010. Shallow water hard corals down to about 15 meters on fringing reefs have been affected (fringing reefs are reefs around islands) but the bleaching has not much affected Soft Corals and has not significantly affected the granite boulder sites we dive at so often.
The Thai Government has decided to close some reefs and we agree with their efforts to help protecting the reefs.
They have closed 17 dive sites all along Thailand's west coast but only 2 sites in the Similans have been closed and non of our day trip dive sites.
For more details visit the special TAT - Tourism Authority of Thailand - Website.
Divers coming back from our day trips are coming back with big smiles and great reviews, having had an excellent trip and of course, great diving. Visit our Archive with our daily dive conditions where we have been recording all kinds of sightings on a daily basis in the past.
"Green" diving practices as well as information on how to protect the fragile coral reefs provided by our experienced Dive Guides and Instructors are naturally part of any of our dive briefings.
To ensure the future of one of the most wonderful diving areas in the world we support the closure of this sites. The closures are at dive sites we would not visit for this very reason and this is not affecting the conduct of our Day Trips or Liveaboard cruises conducted by our Partners.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further queries and we respectfully request you to not believe everything you read in the press. Some even announced wrongly that all of the Similan and Surin National Parks and in fact the whole Andaman sea area where closed.
All pictures with courtesy of Nathaporn Chotmaneepithak and Khao Lak Scuba Adventure
Dive Asia welcomes the 1st Prize and 3rd Prize Winner of our Dive Asia Quiz. Mats from Sweden and Britta from Germany enjoy their free dive trips with us this week. Mats and Britta are two of the four Lucky Winners of our all June long dive quiz. We received more than 900 answers from 200 players. Once more, congratulation from the entire Dive Asia Team.
Click here to learn more about Soi Dog
Dr. The and Fergie form Soi Dog receiving the cheque from Melanie & Juergen.