Sunrise Divers - Tuesday, 11 December 2007

A trip to Thap Lamu and Khao Lak

We like to adopt a hands on approach to liveaboards - we make sure that we inspect every boat that we offer to our customers, plus we rely on customer feedback to ensure that boats are running well throughout the season. There are a lot of liveaboards running trips to the Similan Islands; we take a look at our selection every year and make changes - some boats we decide not to offer any more, while often there are newer boats being launched. We check the boats and the prices and decide which offer the best value for money in every price range from backpacker to luxury.

View of Khao Lak beaches

A couple of weeks ago we took a trip to Khao Lak and the nearby port of Thap Lamu. We wanted to meet a few people, since some boats have their operations offices in Khao Lak, and we wanted to check a few boats.

Longtail boats at Thap Lamu

In particular, we had to see Le Mahe which has been a top seller over the last few years, but during the summer had been in the shipyard undergoing a major refit. Many people has asked about booking Le Mahe, but we preferred not to book any customers until we had inspected the "new" Le Mahe! More about this boat later...

Fishing boats at Thap Lamu

Thap Lamu is a large port where many Similan Islands liveaboards depart from, as well as being a fishing port and a naval base. There's not a big town here, but the port is busy. We found the Dolphin Queen liveaboard getting ready to depart, and some of the speedboats that run day trips to the Similans were sitting in the port too...

Speedboats at Thap Lamu Dolphin Queen at Thap Lamu

Le Mahe was parked behind the fishing boats with a small army of workers finishing the boat.. she is now (mid December) running as scheduled. We had to walk the plank to reach the boat... You won't have to do this if you take a trip on Le Mahe!

Le Mahe at Thap Lamu

Le Mahe now looks very different to before. She was 20m long, now 26m. Inside, the downstairs twin cabins are gone, and all cabins now have large windows, TV, DVD, minibar.. sounds almost luxury - we should point out that its still a "mid price" boat, nothing too fancy but with several nice touches.

Inspection visits like this are important to us. Seeing the boat is the only way to be sure that what we are offering our customers is good quality and good value for money. Now Le Mahe is open for bookings again.

We finished the trip with a drive round Khao Lak.. not too much to see there, really. There are many nice hotels on the beach, it's very quiet, we promise no loud bars or Mc Donalds! We visited the offices for the MV Jazz and Dolphin Queen liveaboards and ate a late lunch at the "Happy Lagoon" restaurant before heading back to Phuket.