Liveaboards are without doubt the best way to explore the outstanding beauty of the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand. Boats nowadays more than meet diver’s expectations, various options are available from simple budget liveaboards to vessels with superior comfort levels featuring spacious cabins with en suite bathrooms and queen sized beds.
A typical liveaboard trip lasts for 4 days and 4 nights. Over the 4 days you will have the chance to dive up to 15 times, which for the dive addict, offers far better value for money than regular day trips. You’ll also get to visit hidden beaches, bays, and islands when other tourists have left, so you really can have your own slice of paradise.
Mv Aquatic liveaboard passing by Koh Tachai, near to the Similan Islands
MV Aquatic liveaboard is now completing a third season after a major overhaul in August 2014. Although being around for a few years, MV Aquatic is still relatively unknown to most people in the dive business here in Khao Lak, where the boat mainly operates from. The boat has distinctive paint work, the rear is bright blue with a diagonal pink stripe which turns out to be one of the owners high school colours, and he uses it on some of his other ventures.
MV Aquatic is easily recognized with its blue and pink coloured rear end
Onboard MV Aquatic you are immediately greeted by warm inviting tones of teak wood, which almost give it captain hook style feel, you definitely know you are on a boat. The boat is medium sized with 10 en-suite cabins, yes every cabin is en-suite! That is pretty rare for liveaboards in Thailand. The cabins are also lined with teak wood and either feature large double beds or bunk beds for twin occupancy.
En-suite master cabins are surprisingly affordable onboard MV Aquatic
Standard twin bunk cabins also with en-suite bathrooms
On the upper decks there is a main common area with tables and comfortable seating. On a lot of liveaboards the safety railings also form the back rests for the seating area, but on Aquatic there are cushioned seats with a nice teak wood back rest which provides that extra bit of comfort you need whilst on multiple day diving trips.
Aquatic’s staff will cater for all your needs in the dining/common area by serving you cold drinks, fresh coffee, and fresh fruit throughout the day. After each dive you will be able to enjoy delicious buffet style all you can eat Thai and Western food freshly cooked onboard. A few other nice touches are fresh bread which is made each morning for breakfast, BBQ night on the top deck, free soft drinks, and a large selection of twinings tea.
The main dining and common area decorated with teak wood provides a warm welcoming feeling
The air-conditioned saloon is a great place to chill out in-between dives. There is a large selection of movies to enjoy on the flat screen t.v, or you could use the table and seating area to plug in your laptop and browse/edit your diving photos.
On the top deck there is a large seating area, it gets very hot during the daytime, but its absolutely perfect for sun worshipers. Its great to sit here in the early mornings and evenings to watch the magnificent sunrises and sunsets. There is also a shaded area to the rear of the sun deck with hammocks to really relax and take in the scenery. The top deck is also the location for an under the stars BBQ night which takes place on every trip.
Relaxing on the top deck at the Phi Phi Islands
Looking out to a pristine beach at Koh Tachai, near to the Similan Islands
MV Aquatic’s captain and crew have been trained by Polphut Bualoi, who is a highly respected local scuba diving instructor, in the past Polphut worked as superintendent of Than Sadet Ko Pha-Ngan National Marine park. The crew know their jobs well, they are very well drilled and safety conscious which is a testament to Polphut and his hard work training them. MV Aquatics dingy operator stands by during every dive and communicates with the captain to help pick up divers at the end of the dive.
If needed the crew assist divers with their equipment before and after each dive, and serve drinking water, and a warm soothing face towel when divers are safely back onboard. At the end of the trip, the crew will disassemble all of the guests diving equipment, rinse in fresh water, and then dry it out, so its ready for guests to take to their next destination.
Aquatics well trained crew are warm, welcoming, and go the extra mile for everyone onboard
Divemasters on Aquatic are all experienced locals, they know the dive sites extraordinary well and can easily draw free-hand sketches of each site, detailing each rock and crevice. Juan, with over 10 000 local dives is more fish-like than human! He has worked on liveaboards for 20 years, his trademark feature is his strapless mask which magically sticks to his face, even above the water!
On a typical trip with 20 divers there will be 5 divemasters, 1 for every 4 divers. Although the local divemasters speak English, western divemasters often work on aquatic taking advantage of the vast amount knowledge gained from the locals and passing it on to divers onboard.
Divemaster Juan with his trademark strapless mask
Experienced local and western Divemasters to guide you around the dive sites
MV Aquatic covers the Andaman Sea on Thailand’s west coast. During October to May, MV Aquatic is mainly stationed at the Similan Islands, operating from Tap Lamu Pier in Khao Lak. There are also scheduled trips to the South Andamans dive sites at Koh Haa, Hin Muang, Hin Daeng, the Phi Phi islands, and Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago.
There are a whole host of Thailand liveaboards to choose from, and as I work as an instructor, I have seen many. I can confidently say that MV Aquatic is up there with the best. I have now made it my mission to get the liveaboard more noticed and try to ensure the boat and crew get the credit they fully deserve.
Update – 08 August 2017: MV Aquatic has now been sold to Khao Lak Scuba Adventures becoming part of their successful Manta Queen Fleet. Aquatic will still be operating at the Similan Islands but under new management.