Koh Surin & Richelieu Rock Liveaboards

manta ray whale shark nudibranch tropical sunset turtle


Koh Surin Liveaboard Diving: What to Expect

Joining a liveaboard diving boat is the beat way to experience diving in the Ko Surin Islands because the islands are quite remote so diving daytrips are not so practical. A huge benefit to liveaboard diving is that you get to visit the dive sites when there are no other divers around and also camaraderie between you and your fellow divers builds throughout the trip.

Experience Level

Different boats cater for divers with differing experience levels, many boats offer PADI Open Water Diver courses so you can join the boat with no experience at all. These boats will stick to the sites suitable for less experienced divers. On the other hand some boats cater to experienced divers so will visit the more challenging sites. Whatever your experience level there is a boat to match, it's important you discuss your experience level when you make a booking because you won't enjoy a trip that's too advanced for you.

Trip Length and Destinations

The majority of the liveaboards in the area only cover The Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock, not many make it up to The Surin Islands even though the sites have bigger fish and are less crowded. The majority of liveaboard tours are 4-6 nights but some boats allow you to join for as few, or many, nights as you wish. Liveaboards move around daily so you'll never visit the same site twice, most boats follow a set route and pretty much always include Richelieu Rock.

Many of the liveaboards that do come to Koh Surin also visit Burma Banks in Myanmar, these trips are very special as the sites are relatively unexplored and get few visitors, however the dives are usually open ocean drift dives so they're only for experienced divers. Visiting Burma Banks does incur additional costs and poses some difficulties regarding entry visas for Myanmar but the experience more than makes up for it.

When to Go

You can only visit Koh Surin from 16th November to 15th May each year, you wouldn't want to visit outside this time as the sea can be rough and the visibility is poor. December and January are the most popular time so expect prices to be a little higher. February and March can be very nice, after this there can be a bit more rain (tends to be short heavy showers).

What's Included

This varies from boat to boat but usually pretty much everything;

  • PADI qualified divemasters/instructors
  • Unlimited diving (usually between 3 and 5 dives per day)
  • Transfers to/from the boat from the designated meeting point
  • Meals, snacks, water and soft drinks (see below for more details)
  • Weights and tanks
  • Nitrox (not necessarily on all boats, check if this is a requirement for you)
  • Bed linen

What to bring

Space is limited on boats and cabins are small compared to a normal bedroom/hotel room so travel as light as possible.

  • Mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuit (3mm preferred, water temp 27-29°C), BCD, regulator etc (if you don't have your own equipment you can rent what you need from the boat)
  • Camera, underwater housing if you have one
  • Ipod
  • Towels
  • Medicine
  • Money, for alcoholic drinks and tips for the crew

Cabins

Cabins are quite small and usually for 2 people, with either 2 single beds or one double bed, sometimes there are bunk beds.

Facilities on the Boat

Some boats are luxurious, some cater to the budget market, the majority are somewhere in between.

At the luxury end you'll have an individual air conditioning unit for your cabin (with thermostat), en suite private bathroom and maybe a 32" flatscreen TV and media center with hundreds of movies and TV shows to choose from. At the budget end you might just have a small room with a fan and shared bathroom. If your boat has shared air conditioning you should take something warm to sleep in just in case the cabin temperature is too cold for you.

Food and beverages

All food, snacks, water and soft drinks are usually free. Alcoholic drinks are the only thing you might want to buy. Much to many people's surprise, the food is normally excellent, most boats will cater to any special diet requirements you have, just let them know in advance (when you book the trip).