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Stories and articles from our luxury scuba diving trips in Phuket, Thailand & Myanmar

Scuba Explorer

Get your PADI Advanced Open Water while living aboard the Scuba Explorer

Advanced Open Water Course Similan Islands Phuket ThailandAdvanced Open Water Course Similan Islands Phuket Thailand

Imagine seeing a Whale Shark on your PADI Advanced Open Water Navigation dive? Or getting to identify a White Tip Reef Shark on your Fish Identification dive? If you are thinking of going from PADI Open Water diver to Advanced diver why not complete the course on one of Phuket’s finest luxury liveaboard cruises to the Similans & Surin Islands or South Andaman. This is a fantastic opportunity to not only dive some of the most beautiful dive sites in the world, but also to take your diving to the next level. Spend 3 or 4 days on board diving 4 or 5 times a day and relaxing in between dives in the crystal clear turquoise waters of the Andaman Ocean.

Course Requirements

You do 5 dives to complete the Advanced Open Water course, Deep and Navigation are mandatory; you choose the other 3 from a choice of 15 exciting dives. With 8, 10 or 12 dives in the cruise packages there is plenty of time to complete the course over the few days; your Instructor will choose the best site to complete each AOW dive to get the most enjoyment out of it. There is a bit of reading and a couple knowledge reviews to complete, this gives you a better understanding of all aspects of diving from decompression, to understanding nitrogen narcosis, learning how to identify marine life by shape, colour and habitat, understanding the oceans currents, and learning how to navigate by means of compass and natural features. This not only increases your knowledge and understanding of the marine environment, it will also enhance your diving skills and enjoyment.

Dive Choices

There are 15 dives to choose from. Choose the Fish Identification or Underwater Naturalist dive and you will be spoilt by choice on the marine life, you will learn so much about the different creatures and habitats under the ocean. Practice your buoyancy on Elephant Head Rock with the Peak Performance Buoyancy dive, the swim throughs on this dive will surly perfect your buoyancy as you swim close to the sand careful not to disturb it or hit your head on the overhead rock, some swim throughs are tighter then others, you will certainly be a better diver by the end of it. Where better to do the Deep dive then the magnificent Koh Bon, dropping to depths of 30m, where you may be lucky enough to be surrounded by Manta Rays. Take the Night dive on Richelieu Rock and experience the peace and serenity of the ocean at night, encounter all the wonderful critters that come out at night, Shrimps, Octopus, the Moray Eels hunting. Learn the Drift dive on Koh Tachai where the often strong currents give the perfect conditions for this exciting type of diving.

AOWC Special Offer – 6,000 THB

Take your advanced course on board the Scuba Explorer on a trip to the Similans or South Andaman and get 60% off the normal AOW course price; this is an amazing offer too good to miss. Whether you choose the standard, deluxe or suite cabin option you will only be paying an extra 6000 THB to complete your Advanced Open Water while diving at some of the world’s top dive sites.

There are so many options to choose from on the advanced open water course, and to get to take this course in the Similans means that not only will every dive completely different and equally as exciting, you will also get to see marine life you will never have encountered with visibility ranging from 20m-40m on many of the dive sites.

The dive sites in the Similans are so diverse, with so much marine life; it will be like nothing else you have experienced, an unforgettable lifetime opportunity!

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Night Diving on Richelieu Rock

Night diving on Richelieu RockWhale Shark encounter on a night dive

Richelieu Rock is often the very reason divers want to go on a Liveaboard to the Similans & Surin Islands, it is the dive site people most want to visit and the reason is justified. The dive site itself is breathtakingly beautiful, covered in purple soft corals, Anemones, Gorgonian Fans, Knotted fans, Sea Whips and full of life, it is easy to see why divers want to come back again and again.

No two dives are the same, and it is impossible to see everything in just 1 dive, for that reason the Scuba Explorer spends a whole day at Richelieu Rock making 3/4 dives. We have had the added pleasure of doing a night dive on Richelieu Rock, very few Liveaboards offer this due to currents, depth, customer experience or time. So of course we all jumped at the chance, kitted up and jumped in before the tour leader could change his mind.

The excitement of descending onto Richelieu Rock in the dark was apparent in all us Instructors, I don’t think the customers realised that a night dive here was not often done as they laughed at us all fighting to get in the water first. As we all descended with our torches turned on the colour of the corals light up under the artificial light, glowing in the beam it looks even more beautiful at night. The peacefulness of the Ocean at night and the fact that we were the only Liveaboard diving there made me feel utter calmness, like I was floating through space. I love night diving and this dive was definitely one to remember.

Whale Shark in the Similan Islands

Whale Shark in the Similan Islands

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Advanced Open Water course on the Southern Andaman Liveaboard cruise

Elephant Statue in Siam BayAdvanced Open Water Deep dive in Siam Bay Racha Yai

Freedom Divers asked me to come on-board the Liveaboard trip to the South Andaman for 2 days/3 nights to teach an Advanced Open Water course, of course I was delighted to accept, even the storm warnings were not enough to put me off.

I met my student to go over a few skills in the pool before we set sail that evening, after a few hours in the pool with her I was quietly confident that she would have no problems with the dives we had coming up. I also learnt that she was very excited and had never spent a night on a boat before, this was to be an experience for her.

We boarded the boat at 8pm ready to leave for Koh Phi Phi early morning for our first dive at 7am. The first dive I decided was to be a fun dive as my student had not dived in a year I thought it better to ease her into it and not throw her in the deep end with skills and knowledge, this turned out to be a good idea as there was limited visibility and fairly strong current on the first dive, it was still enjoyable and gave my student time to get used to diving again. Swimming through schools of Big Eyed Snapper my student gave my the thumbs up (wrong sign but I knew what she meant) to say she loved it, mental note here to recap some of the underwater hand signals. The following dives I got the correct signal of ‘awesome’ a lot.

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The sunset dive to end all sunset dives

Sunset diving aboard the Scuba Explorer liveaboardSunset diving aboard the Scuba Explorer liveaboard

This story all begins with some very nasty weather, nasty enough to almost have our entire guest list and some of the crew hugging the porcelain and wishing they’d stayed on dry land. But we as divers were not about to let some ocean motion get the better of us. So we parked the Scuba Explorer in Bay 1 at Racha Yai, usually only 1 hr from Phuket, but it had taken almost 4 to get there this time fighting the ocean the whole way.

Thankfully Bay 1 was calm, conditions had funnily enough been great all day, with 15 + meters of visibility and no current at all, we’d managed a few really good dives, you certainly would not have guessed it was so nice under the waves if you had been looking at them from above. So we decided to do something a little different for the guests and organised a rare sunset dive. You jump in at around 6.30pm the sun sets around 7pm and your dive turns into a night dive, very fun and you get to see the reef night shift take over right before your eyes.

Hanging out with the night critters

Hanging out with the night critters

To make this dive even more interesting for me, our tour leader had decided to throw his nice shiny torch off of the boat in a fit of bitter disappointment at losing the Texas Holdem tournament the night before, thankfully though he had also turned it off so that there was zero hope of ever finding it again. To this day no one knows how he truly lost it, but pretty sure he just wanted to test our searching abilities in case we ever lost anything important, you know, like another torch.

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Nitrox & enriched air diving on the Scuba Explorer

Nitrox Diving on the Scuba Explorer Phuket liveaboardNitrox Diving on the Scuba Explorer Phuket liveaboard

We highly recommend that when diving with us on the Scuba Explorer you dive on nitrox, during our cruises we do 4 to 5 dives per day, and nitrox will not only make you feel better and less tired when doing this many dives, it is also much safer and just generally better for you!

What Is Nitrox Diving?

Nitrox, simply refers to having a higher percentage of oxygen in your scuba tank, sometimes refereed to as a blend, NOX or EANX. Humans breathe air, and normal air is 21% oxygen, 79% Nitrogen, that is the same gas percentages we breathe underwater from our scuba tanks and it is the high percentage of nitrogen that causes us problems as divers. The main issue is that we can only absorb a certain amount of nitrogen while diving, this is how/why your computer calculates bottom time for your dive, and why you can run out of bottom time before running out of air. Excess Nitrogen is also the primary culprit when it comes to decompression sickness or diving related illness.

So if you can use a higher percentage of oxygen in your scuba tank, guess what? That’s right, you can increase your computers bottom time, decrease your surface intervals and also lower your risk of decompression sickness, as there will be less nitrogen to dissolve out of your body, because you simply absorbed less on your dives by breathing a higher oxygen percentage.

You may now be asking, why don’t we always dive on Nitrox if the advantages of enriched air diving are this awesome? Well the answer is simply that you need to be a certified Enriched Air Diver via PADI or one of the other training agencies to use Nitrox while scuba diving. Nitrox has it’s own pitfalls and peculiarities which you will learn about on the course, you’ll also learn how to handle and identify nitrox tanks, how to analyse the contents of a nitrox tank and how to set your dive computer to use the correct gas mixture when diving with nitrox.

Nitrox Certification – 4,000 THB

If you do not have a Nitrox certification we recommend completing it onboard with us. We offer the PADI Enriched Air Diver certification for a meager 4,000 THB including 2 dives on Nitrox.

The course takes about 2 hours and is by far the most essential certification you should do and have as a scuba diver, plus you will never find a cheaper way to do some nitrox diving, than doing it onboard with us and you certainly won’t find a better location or better instructors than we have for you!

Certified Nitrox Divers

If you are already a certified Nitrox Diver, we offer it as an added option for your dives on the Scuba Explorer, but you need to let us know when you make your booking if you wish to dive on Nitrox while onboard one of our cruises. Nitrox fills are 250 THB per dive, per tank, if you want Nitrox over the course of the entire trip, we will lower the price to 200 THB per dive, per tank.

If you want to know more about Enriched Air diving, Nitrox, EANX, you can read more about it by following this link, PADI Enriched Air Diver course.

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Night dives on the Scuba Explorer

Night diving onboard the Scuba Explorer liveaboardNight diving onboard the Scuba Explorer liveaboard

Night diving is one of, if not, the best form of diving ever conceived in the great minds of the divers that have come before us. Someone somewhere once jumped into the dark murky waters of the ocean at night with probably nothing more than a torch wrapped in duct tape to go in search of the reefs night time critters and wonders.

Thankfully night diving today is a lot less troublesome and is offered as an optional dive at the end of each day while you are onboard the Scuba Explorer. Our guides and Instructors are always willing to do these dives, so definitely ask them, most of the time they will probably be attempting to convince you to do one because it’s an amazing chance to see creatures that only come out onto the reef once the sun sets.

Night diving is exciting and completely safe, our guides and instructors are the best Phuket has to offer and safety is always their primary concern. Torches are provided for the night dives and your guide will have back-up lights just in case. When there a bigger groups of night divers the reef can be lit up like a Christmas tree for your viewing pleasure.

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