Thailand SCUBA Liveaboard Experience: Day #1

Wake up, dive #1, eat breakfast, dive #2, eat lunch dive #3, snack, dive #4, dinner and beers, go to sleep, and repeat. This pretty much sums up the average day on a liveaboard dive boat. As you can imagine, the purpose of liveaboard is to dive as much as possible from sun-up to sun-down, and even sometimes at night! And even though my wife, Courtney, has been diving for 20 years, this was both of our first experiences on a liveaboard dive boat, and to add to this, it was going to be off the coast of Phuket, Thailand on our honeymoon trip!

We chose to go through Similan 7 Seas Diving Shop (No Troubles Just Bubbles), aboard the MV Lapat, which offered a 3 day 2 night liveaboard trip that would take us from Lamu Pier, near Khaolak, to the Similan Islands and eventually up to Richelieu Rock. Over the course of the dive trip, we would do a total of 11 dives! And because of how many dives we’d do each day, the schedule is jammed backed from start to finish each day. The first day started of with a 1 hour speedboat ride from the pier out to the ship that was moored off the Similan Island #7, at the West of Eden dive site. We jumped aboard, dropped our bags, had a briefing about the boat, met with our dive group and dive master, had a quick briefing about the  dive site, then we were off into the water for dive #1 (all within 30 minutes).

Dive #1 West of Eden (Lifetime Dive #12)

This dive dropped us into a world I could never have fathomed before this trip. Crystal clear, blue water, with a visibility over 60 feet. The amount of sea life, colorful coral, and small fish was breathtaking! Like most “first” dives on a diving trip, this dive always feels awkward and uncomfortable, having to get used to diving again since we go so infrequently each year. But once I descended with the group to the sea floor of 60ft, I felt perfectly comfortable again. But comfortable in the water is one thing, because I was completely astounded by what I was seeing under the water in the Andaman Sea. Infinite corals, titan trigger fish, scorpion fish, and countless moorish idols just to name a few of what I saw.

Of course the exciting part did not end when we got back to the surface. While we were under the ocean for an hour, a storm came in and turned our calm water into a choppy nightmare. After surfacing, waves were crashing over our heads, requiring us to keep our regulators in as we waited for the inflatable boats to come pick us up. We all struggled, trying to time the waves to fall into the boat, but the heavy weight of the SCUBA gear pulled us back into the water. Half the group had to take their gear off and throw it into the boat before they climbed in. And once all of us where onboard, the boat was constantly taking on water over the transom on the stern of the boat as the waves crashed around us. And then, we had the same struggles once we reached the dive boat’s platform, as the small inflatable boat dropped as the waves came in. But all in all, it was an eventful, and challenging first dive of the trip!

MV Lapat

The boat is a 16 guest ship that finds the perfect balance of size, guest capacity, luxury and budget. The boat has 8 air conditioned cabins, 6 with bunk beds and 2 with double beds. Outside of the cabins, there are three main decks on the ship, a partially covered sun deck on the top. The main deck, has the tables to hang out with the group and also eat all of our meals. This deck wraps around to the bow of the ship and is also where an indoor lounge is located, but we didn’t spend any time in there because the weather was so nice. On the bottom deck is where the dive platform, kitchen, and cabins are located. Though not the biggest boat, and sometimes crowded feeling during the day with all the day-trip divers that arrived via speedboat, the nights and mornings were incredible and the ship was plenty spacious and luxurious for our needs.

Dive #2 Shallow 6/Deep 6 (Lifetime Dive #13)

Was highlighted  by one of the coolest things I’ve seen to date, we found NEMO! Near the end of our dive, we saw a couple of clown fish swimming in and around a sea anemone. These are so much fun to shoot & film because the clown fish won’t leave their home out of fear. They were more vibrant than I could have expected. This dive was also a good test of our new dive lights that we got before the trip to use at night, but they also double as a really good camera light at deep depths to bring the color back into the photos.

Dive #3 Slow 6 (Lifetime Dive #14)

Had us diving into another new site off Similan Island #7, where we saw large puffer fish, soft starfish, sea snakes, and a massive eel. This was an evening dive, which meant the fish were out and about, really flourishing on the reef. And it was also fun getting to know the other divers in our group, and have everyone point out amazing things they would find on the reef. Courtney and I would quickly swim over to try and capture them on camera. By this point, with dive #3 of the day, I was finally getting comfortable under the water again, especially with filming. I’m getting better, but admittedly, trying to film underwater, keeping the camera steady, and not consume too much air while doing it, is beyond difficult for me. This unfortunately, lead to me breathing improperly and starting to feel sick after each dive.

Evening on the Boat

After the last dive, we finally got out of our wet bathing suits, into dry clothes, and got comfortable for the night. We cracked into our 60 TBH ($2) beer and laughed into the night about traveling stories with our dive group. Our group consisted of a married couple from Austria, a guy named Benoit from Brussels, and a younger girl from Switzerland. Of course, we were the odd couple out that didn’t speak any of the common tongue of German, but fortunately everyone accommodated us and spoke in English. Throughout the night, we swapped stories of dives all over the world, the good, the bad, and the memorable moments the group has had under water.

For dinner, we had a combination of rice, curry, stir fry, and a delicious banana based dessert. This was just the start of some of the most incredible Thai food we had on the entire trip, and it was cooked up in a small kitchen for 20 people on a boat out at sea. The chef was incredible, and so kind as he would swing by after dinner to see how the dishes were received, which were always delicious! The boat found safe harbor for the night on the west coast of Similan Island 8, and we retired to bed. The rooms are just big enough for double bed (or bunk bed) and a small area to stand or put your bags and gear. We slept like rocks, as the boat rocked us to sleep, preparing us for the next days dives!

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