Liveaboard Questions

Liveaboard diving FAQ’s. lots of em. and some other tips, advice and random statements.

What should I bring with me?

Before the trip departs, we will need to see you diver certification card & log book. We understand that some people may not bring their log books with them, but we will try our best to confirm your experience level and number of dives. If you had 4 dives would you want your dive buddy to have 3000 dives?
We also strongly encourage these items:
sunscreen
toiletries
swim wear
logbook
Insurance policy
2 or 3 t-shirts
2 pairs shorts
sunglasses
hat

As evenings can sometimes be a little cooler, you might also bring a sweatshirt/jumper and light cotton pants. You always need less than you think. If you prefer to travel light, you can hire rental diving equipment on all liveaboards.

What do I need If I do a Course?

Proof of previous certification level. If you are hoping to do Rescue, we need to see Advanced Open Water and EFR/First Aid.
doctors certificate that you are fit for diving (40 years and under: not older than 2 years. 40 years+: not older than 1 year)

What should I NOT bring with me?

Try not to over pack. You will not need a dry suit! More than a single paperback. Souvenirs.

Can we put our valuables in a safe deposit box?

You are able to place any valuables you wish in our safe (within reason – it’s not THAT large).
We also have a storage area for your bags during your adventure. Feel secure that your goods are safe while you are traveling.

Certification?

You must bring proof of your current certification for presentation before departure.

I can’t find my certification card. Can I still dive?

If you’re a PADI or SSI diver we can check your details online, all we need from you is your full name, and your date of birth. If you’re certified with another diving organization then please let us know before arrival.

I haven’t dived for a while. Can I do a dive before I go on the boat?

Please! We love it if you ask this question. We are happy to offer this service to all guests. We can jump in our local pool in just a few minutes notice.
If you are certain that you can do the trip and remember everything – okay. If our very experienced staff feels otherwise you may be asked to do a “refresher” dive on the trip. This is great as you will be in a group of no more than two guests with our instructors. Of course there will be a small surcharge for this privilege. If our staff fells the course is mandatory – it shall be. No refunds or arguments please – safety first.
It is much better, both time and economically to do the Scuba Review on land before departure. Whether you do this back home before your trip begins, or with our staff right here – we are just pleased that you did one!

Can you pick me up from the airport?

Through our partners at Khao Lak Taxi, we are happy to help. We can arrange transportation anywhere within Southern Thailand. Krabi Airport, Phuket airport, Phuket, Surat Thani, Taplamu, Takuapa, Ranong. Just Ask!

Arrivals/Visas:

Most European Countries and North Americans will receive a 30 day visa upon arrival and you must have a return flight ticket. Please double-check with your local embassy or consulate if this is the case. Upon the day of your arrival, your passport must be valid at least 6 months!

Do I get a dive guide?

Yes. All our day trips and liveaboard trips are inclusive of dive guides holding professional diving certifications. We never dive in groups of more than 4 guests. In addition we offer our staff extensive safety training through our partner school Diver Safety.
Before each dive there will be detailed dive briefings and site maps.
If you are certified to dive as a buddy team and feel you do not need a guide – please reconsider. The service is free, we know the area intimately and of know the conditions.

Weather

Please check our blog for constant updates about the weather.

When is the best time to travel to Khao Lak?

There are 3 seasons in Khao Lak. The best time for a visit is between November and April. This is our “dry” season (during the day 30°- 33°C, during the night about 24°C), with a light east wind and wonderful conditions. May until the end of July is our “hot” season and we frequently get afternoon thunderstorms which can bring a lot of rain and can be therefore very refreshing. Our “wet” season runs from July through September with heavy rainfall and strong west winds. There is no scheduled diving during this time

What are the conditions like on the Similan Islands?

Please go the dive sites section on Similans.net for more thorough descriptions of each site an the conditions to expect

What about Travel Insurance?

We strongly recommend that you apply for travel insurance. Accidents do happen. This is unrelated to diving. Just like anywhere and anything in life you never know what will happen.
We also recommend an additional diving insurance
DAN
www.daneurope.org
www.danasiapacific.org
www.diversalertnetwork.org
www.dansouthafrica.org
If you do not have diving insurance, please thoroughly check your travel insurance whether it covers evacuation and treatments in the recompression chamber in case of emergency.
We do have insurance in case of accidents, both diving and non-diving. It covers accidents and treatments in Thailand, but does not cover evacuations and repatriation.

Do I need vaccinations?

Shortly before your departure, it is advised to see a tropical disease doctor to double-check for outbreaks. Or send us an email for advice. If you are traveling to South Thailand, you do not need Malaria vaccination. Your Tetanus vaccination should be up to date. Many of the areas we visit and stay in are quite safe and you should not OVER-anticipate problems.

Where are the nearest Hospitals?

Thailand has a very excellent health system. Privately run hospitals have, at a minimum, European standards and all are ISO certified. The closest hospital to the Similan Islands is the Takuapa Hospital (just outside Khao Lak). Here in Khao Lak we offer 24 hour Ambulance Service
The most modern hospital in the region is 75 minutes from Taplamu (the pier). Phuket International Hospital runs one of the most modern Recompression chambers in South East Asia as partners with SSS Hyperbaric Network – the only internationally recognized hyperbaric chambers in Thailand.

The nearest hyperbaric Chamber?

As noted above, the nearest chambers are on Phuket Island. The best and safest is the chamber located at Phuket International Hospital. It is operated by SSS Hyperbaric Network – the only internationally recognized hyperbaric chambers in Thailand. There are 2 more chambers, one large one run by the government of Thailand and a very small one used primarily for cosmetic surgery.

What about My safety While diving with Wicked?

3 of Wicked Staff are the Evacuation organizers for SSS Hyperbaric Network. They are all trained as Dive Medics, Emergency Medics and Remote location medics. In addition they all have experience dealing with and performing evacuations for all schools under all conditions. Rest assured that we are always ready. All staff are trained to the highest standards by Diver Safety and while we hope to never see you as a patient, our medical staff are on call 24 hour a day.

What happens if there is an accident?

In addition to have the most thoroughly trained staff in Thailand – we have many hours of 100% oxygen on the boat. Our emergency oxygen kits provide demand Inhalator valves, Non-rebreather masks and supplemental oxygen.
All staff are trained as DAN oxygen Providers, DAN hazardous Marine Life Injury, DAN Onsite Neurological Exams, Emergency First Responders and our Tour leaders all have satellite phones for direct contact (regardless of conditions) with local and international medical facilities.
Our partners, Diver Safety also offer the only evacuation service for the Similan and Surin Islands. You will always be in the best possible care.

If there is a Small medical problem?

There are several small drug stores and doctors in the area and they cover the medical need of the local people and also for the visitors. The local doctor in Khao Lak is quite affordable (100-200 Baht) So it is often a great way to achieve peace of mind without breaking the bank.

What about seasickness?

Seasickness can affect some people badly, and others not at all. It can affect some people sometimes and no affect them others. The dive season in the Similan Islands features generally calm seas. Mother Nature is always out there! So conditions can change. We do carry mild medication for these instances, as well as naturopathic solutions.

What kind of food is served?

Thailand is world-famous for the endless variety of tasteful dishes. Every Restaurant and roadside stand offers treats that amaze and delight. Great selections of fresh fruits make for delicious snacks and fresh juices. Always be aware that dishes can be spicy – ask for things prepared Western-style instead of Thai Style.Usually fresh fruit and vegetables are combined with both Asian and International Cuisines. We are happy to cater to all requests (within reason). Don’t be surprised to find French Fries next to Massaman curry, next to Sausages next to Fried Rice.

Is the food fresh?

One of the reasons we run shorter trips. All meals served are fresh and made right in the kitchen. Pop your head in and watch our chefs and their assistants prepare each meal.
As one of the great cuisines, the meals will always feature Western and Thai dishes and you will find an array of rare and exotic treats.

I have special dietary requirements – what should I do?

Tell us in advance. We will pass on your dietary requirements to our amazing cooks to prepare meals for you. We are easily able to offer Vegetarian, Vegan, Lactose intolerant, Halal. If you have specific food allergies – no problem – as long as we know about it ahead of time!
Several of our staff have food requirements, so please don’t be afraid to ask!

Can I access ATM machines in Khao Lak?

Oh boy can you! There are three within 100 meters of our shop. You can easily access Maestro, Cirrus, Visa, and Master Card. If you are wondering about other cards/systems, just send us a note and we’ll walk over and look.

Do I need cash on board?

There is very little to spend money on. Soft drinks, beer, diving courses, rental equipment, t-shirts, and gratuities for the staff and crew. We are happy to make a running tally of your expenses and charge your card on land at the end of the trip. Please note that there is a 3% charge for payments with credit card on liveaboards.

What currency should I take on board?

Please, it’s Thailand, pay in Baht. If you only have Dollars/Euros/Pounds/Yen we will be happy to arrange any payments.

Is alcohol included in the price of the trip?

No. We understand that this is your vacation and we are constantly striving to make it the best experience. We offer Alcohol for purchase aboard the boat. Please understand that we are here to make the trip amazing, show you the most amazing marine life and assure you of meticulous safety standards.

Alcohol and Diving?

However – NO DRINKING AND DIVING!!! If you have a beer, you are done diving for the day. Sorry, anything that could impair your decision making abilities is not allowed. Safety first.
End of the day…snorkeling…on the way home…beers are cold and ready for you. But not before. Please.
We are very strict and if you do have a drink or behave as if impaired before a dive – you are not diving. If we choose to, you will not be diving anymore that trip, and Wicked does not offer refunds in these instances.

Psst…What about other intoxicants? A little “weed” never hurts…

NO. If we smell or have reason to believe that anyone is high, on anything other than nitrogen, you are done. Diving is over. If we choose to, you will not be diving anymore that trip, and Wicked does not offer refunds in these instances.
Your safety and those of the people around depends on you making clear decision. Anything that affects you ability to make clear decisions is STRONGLY discouraged.
We hope that you take this decision very seriously. If you chose to dive with an operation that allows such behavior, are you diving with someone that cares about your life?
Wait three days, have a blast! In the meantime – enjoy what mother nature has to offer!

Do I need a wetsuit?

Yes. The water is not too cold, though we do get occasional thermoclines that can drop the water to 26, our normal temperature, year-round is 29° C. In addition to the thermal protection we can get, though uncommon, jellyfish and other irritants in the water, so at a minimum 3mm-5mm is recommended.

Got your own diving equipment?

Is your regulator DIN or INT? – we are able to supply adapters, just let us know! We are always happy to help. Not sure which one you have? Drop a line and we will sort it out for you.

Do you recommend I use a Dive Computer?

All guides use computers and we strongly encourage you to use one as well. There is NO DECOMPRESSION diving on any of our boats and NO SHARING OF COMPUTERS. Wicked Diving includes a dive computer in ALL equipment rentals

Can I rent diving equipment?

You can rent diving equipment from us. We use new equipment and are proud to show you the service records of all equipment and tanks.
The cost for a full set of gear is quite reasonable – 500 Baht per day. We also offer rentals of lights, cameras, video and computers.

Can I recharge my torch, laptop, phone and camera?

Yes, the voltage is 220. And is on from 06.00 to 24.00

How much should we tip?

Thai culture is a tipping culture. It is not, however a culture that tips a huge amount. Americans and Russians might be used to 20%, Europeans to 5%, Latin Americans to 10%.
As in any situation where tips are given – it is up to you and should be given voluntarily based on the quality of service provided. We are sure you will notice how hard the staff and crew work to provide you with the best possible experience. We hope you will note how the safety and enjoyment of everyone relies on this teamwork, professionalism and attitude. Many of our guests give a gratuity based on 5-10% of the cruise price or more.

Where are the other guests from?

Wicked Diving is a very eclectic mix of people and nationalities. English is used as our common language for briefings and courses. You will also hear Swedish, German, Dutch and of course Thai guests around you.
Rather than assume the other guests on our trips are German, or English or Swedish, assume they are divers or snorkelers who want to learn more about the marine life. We will also, no matter the nationality or orientation, present you and all the guests with a smooth, enjoyable and memorable holiday

Can we put our valuables in a safe deposit box?

You are able to place any valuables you wish in our safe (within reason – it’s not THAT large).
We also have a storage area for your bags during your adventure. Feel secure that your goods are safe while you are traveling.

Is there phone reception/email on board?

To many the idea of being on a boat in the middle of nowhere and out of contact with the pressures of the modern world is a little slice of heaven, there are others who do need to be in contact, whether for business or personal reasons.
For safety we do have a satellite phone. Email access is limited to the abilities of your mobile phone (3G is not available on the Similan Islands – yet). Mobile phone coverage is about 50% of the Similans, and about 10% of the Koh Tachai/Richelieu Trips.

Do we dive from the liveaboard or from tenders?

Yes, all of it. We decide at each site, depending on currents, visibility and your comfort level as to how we will enter the water. Our captain is very experienced and can drop us on top of the site. But if conditions warrant we will use the tender.

Will I see more sites than if I stay in Khao Lak?

This is one of the main reasons why, for many divers, a liveaboard is the best way to dive. Like a floating hotel you can move from one spot to the next, and take in a great range of dive sites – with plenty of time in between. We do more dives than the typical day trip and you get far more diving for your money.
Our liveaboard is able to get to the sites before the speedboats, so you can often find sites free of other divers.
We also happy to meet the requests of our guests (within reason) so if you prefer to see shallower sites we will favor those.
Now please note – we do not visit a few sites that we strongly encourage you see. Bon Soong Wreck and our local Lake are unique experiences.

What Kind of products do you use that are Green?

Our soaps and detergents are all free-trade, organic and phosphate –free. This means that any grey water from the showers, sinks and kitchen all produce waste that will be broken down and absorbed by the environment.
In addition they are very high quality and fun to use.
When you dive with wicked – you make a difference.

Biodiesel? Isn’t that still producing Carbon?

We use 100% locally produced Biodiesel. We have taken a strong commitment to our community and the by spending our money here, rather than on petroleum imports, a significant portion of all income is spent here – in our community.
Biodiesel does produce carbon and is not the perfect solution. But in the marine environment, petroleum pollutants cause a severe and irreversible break in the bond between coral and the symbiotic algae that live inside.

What about the Linens?

We have chosen to use 100% organic cotton sheets and towels. Both on the boat and on land you will find yourself in safe and guilt-free linens. (I also have to say that they are very comfortable) In the tropics and high humidity you don’t need much warmth, but the wicking abilities of natural cotton make for a comfortable and soothing sleep.

Bathrooms?

On the boat we have hot water showers and western style toilets. If you choose to sleep on the boat we have hot water showers and Western Style toilets. Our detergents and soaps are all organic, phosphate free.

I am traveling alone – will I have to share a cabin?

We at wicked Diving understand. We make every attempt we can to assure you of the most memorable holiday. We do, however have to accommodate all guests. If there are two males traveling solo, we will place them in the same cabin. If we do have to place and solo male and female in the same cabin, we will let you know. You may have the cabin to yourself, but don’t count on it. If you are willing to pay the supplement, you can have the cabin to your self.

Where is good for diving with Manta Rays?

Manta Rays are stunning and exquisite creatures. They are not endangered, but they are also not common. We do see them at several different sites. These sites tend to be the deeper sites, but you never know!
The most common sightings are at Koh Bon and Koh Tachai. But in the last 5 years we have seen Manta Rays at almost every site in the Similan Islands.

Will I see whale sharks?

These wonderful and increasingly rare creatures are amazing. Not us, nor anyone else can assure of seeing them. Whale Sharks have become increasingly uncommon and please don’t expect them. If you do, enjoy the amazing experience and celebrate. We do Research project in late march and April of each year.

How deep are the dives?

Only as deep as you are certified. We visit several different sites. Of course each site has many options. We choose each site on each trip according to skill levels. We are not here to challenge or intimidate you, so please don’t feel overwhelmed. Our very experienced staff can do each dive site at different levels.

What are National Marine Park Fee requirements?

The Similan Marine National Park Entry Fee of 400 Baht per person per each entry for both divers and non divers and National Park Fee for divers of 200 Baht per diver per day (diver only). (Prices may change without prior notice from the Thai Forestry department).

What are National Marine Park Fees for?

These fees go to the maintenance and upkeep of this, and other less visited parks. It pays for the buoys, subsidizes the Thai entry Fees, pays for the protection and monitoring of the usage and damage (did you know several sites are off-limits to divers?)

How many dives can I do in one day?

Wicked Diving encourages you to dive at your comfort level. One our trips we normally do a 2-4-3 schedule of diving. On Day one, 2 dives, on Day Two we offer 4 dives and on Day 3 we offer three dives.
Please remember that you are on vacation and there is no need to stress or hurry. If you are tired, take a nap. If it all seems like too much, we have snorkel guides. If you feel the need for more diving – sign up for the next trip – 3 more days, new dive sites, different marine life!

Are Night Dives included?

We do, typically, offer a Night dive. However your safety and comfort are utmost in our decisions. At the tour leader/ divemasters’ discretion we may conduct Sunset dives.

Can I touch things?

Wicked diving has a strict non-interference policy. We are here to enjoy the underwater world. By touching things underwater we could destroy a home, ruin a relationship or get injured. Please avoid touching things.
Learning to control our movements and position in the water benefits our own comfort and safety as well as the health of the reef. Both are important! Reefs are constructed primarily by colonies of coral animals called polyps. By secreting a limestone skeleton, covered with a thin layer of living tissue, over many years these slow growing creatures essentially create their own geology. Although the limestone is durable, the soft-bodied polyps can easily be damaged by contact with hands, fins etc.
While the loss of one polyp doesn’t appear to be such a big problem, this spot will be more susceptible to infections and can cause further mortality on the colony. Besides the impact on the coral, accidentally bumping into the reef can also harm you. Coral will easily cut through your soft skin, especially after you have spent some time in the water. Cuts in general, and coral cuts in particular, will heal slowly in the tropics, and are more susceptible to infection. For the mutual benefit of the reef and ourselves, we believe it’s both prudent and responsible to master the skills needed to minimize accidental close encounters with coral.

Is it okay to take souvenirs?

Yes – pictures and memories are strongly encouraged. Other than that and bad things could happen. Not only is it illegal to take souvenirs of any kind from a National Park in Thailand, but it could cause serious degradation.
Please Live and let live (or better yet, dive and let live). In contrast to its initial appearance of grandeur, living space on the reef is very scarce. Every little niche is or will be occupied soon by an organism of some type. Empty shells are a valuable part of the ecosystem, and they get recycled many times. Besides the obvious environmental concerns, some “live shells” can be quite dangerous. Some of the most beautiful (cone shells for example) contain animals that are highly toxic and when “captured” can cause serious problems. We discourage any shell collecting.

What about Trash?

Leave nothing but bubbles. Although you don’t see as many signs as along a typical highway, littering under water is just as inappropriate as it is on land. We always carry trash bags during our outings, both from shore and from boats. Please use these containers rather than disposing refuse in the water. Pay special attention to plastic bags. They blow away easily and once in the water they closely resemble jellyfish, the main diet of many turtles. As we strive to be a “leave no trace” dive center, we bring all our garbage bag to the mainland, and encourage you to do the same

Those turtles are cute – can I feed them?

Turtles may be cute and relaxed, but they learn to trust humans (and the boats they come on) and go to them for easy food. While you might not take one home to cook it, there are a great many people who will. Try not to teach turtles these bad habits

It’s just food, it’s okay if I toss it overboard?

We constantly strive to be a “no impact” . While dispersing “food” in the water seems an easy way to attract large numbers of fish, it will often attract just certain species that usually chase other species away. Clearly, this alters the natural behavior (and diet) of fish we have come to observe. We discourage feeding the fish.

I am mad for fishing – is it okay?

Ooops. I guess you haven’t figured out who we are. If you are looking for fishing, we strongly encourage you to go to your own home country, and look for a sustainable fish farm.