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The Wild & Wonderful ANDAMAN SEA of THAILAND:
U.S. DIVE TRAVEL offers the PEARL of THAILAND LIVEABOARDS --
AGGRESSOR FLEET's sleek NEW THAILAND AGGRESSOR !
Exciting news, sunseekers: the former STAR DANCER of Papua New Guinea fame
at Christmas time in 2012 moved west to the new home port of Phuket, Thailand
where she'll sail the exotic coral-rich waters of the North & South Andaman Sea.
For 20 years you asked us for an Aggressor in Thailand -- now she's here to enjoy !
Feel free to phone John or Susan at 952-953-4124 for more info or to book a cruise.
All cabins on this diving yacht, Deluxe or Master, will be priced the same for this year.
The Hottest New Live-Aboard Ticket in Town: THAILAND AGGRESSOR -- -- Please call us for details on periodic seasonal pricing specials.
Discover the beauty of the South Andaman Sea with stops at some of our favorite sites:
· Shark Point - named for the frequent leopard shark sightings.
· Anemone Reef - blanketed by a living carpet of anemones.
· Phi Phi Islands - filled with rich and colorful diverse marine life.
· King Cruiser - 85m catamaran passenger ferry wreck with multiple decks and open passages that will thrill every level of wreck diver.
SEE if YOU QUALIFY for SPECIAL CLIENT BENEFITS: SUPER-SAVER SPECIALS 12 MONTHS a YEAR with U.S. DIVE TRAVEL -- for ALL AGGRESSOR FLEET & DANCER FLEET YACHTS!!
• PRICES ALWAYS SUBJECT to POSSIBLE CHANGE: all Master & Deluxe cabins priced the same. Add $95 local port tax.
• For more details on this beautiful yacht, or to book a Thailand diving trip, call 952-953-4124.
• Active-Duty or Retired Military Personnel, with official ID card, receive a full 10% discount.
• $100 discount for Teachers with proper school district ID (active or retired).
• $100 discount for High School/College Students with student ID (age 22 and younger).
• $100 discount for Law Enforcement Officers, Firefighters & EMS pros with proper ID.
• $100 discount for Senior Citizens 65 & over with passport or driver's license ID.
• $100 discount for Airline Pilots & Flight Attendants with flight pro ID.
• $200 discount for Non-Divers.
• $200 discount for Consecutive Charters (within 30 days on either fleet).
• $100 discount for 2nd trip within 12 months.
• $200 discount for 3rd trip within 12 months.
• Kids ages 5-10 receive 25% off on 'Family Weeks'.
• On Family Weeks, children ages 5-10 must stay in a cabin with a parent. On regular charters, the minimum age is 10 years. No discount applies.
• Money-saving specials cannot be used in conjunction with discounted charters.
• When multiple discounts apply, only the most generous (one) can be applied to the charter rate. Please notify your U.S. DIVE TRAVEL agent of any discounts or vouchers at the time of booking. In all cases, notification after final payment will result in forfeiture of discount.
NITROX is available for certified divers on all Thailand diving charters; & it makes a wonderful difference!
The Aggressor Fleet's THAILAND AGGRESSOR, TECHNICAL LIVEABOARD SPEC'S
* Port of Registry: Phuket, Thailand
* Construction: Aluminum
* Type: Mono Hull
* Length: 120 feet
* Beam: 23 feet
* Number of Passengers: 16
* Accommodation: 8 cabins
* Number of Crew: 8
* Number of Tenders: 1 for emergency transport
* Fuel Capacity: 3800 gallons
* Fresh Water Capacity: 2200 gallons
* Desalination Production: 3200 gallons per day
* Cruising Speed: 11.5 knots
* Range: 1000 nautical miles
* Navigation Aids: VHF, SSB, Radar, echo sounder, GPS, weather fax.
* Oxygen On Board: Yes
* Compressor: 2 K-14 Bauer
* Nitrox Facilities: Yes
* Voltage: 110 volts
* Air-conditioning: To all areas indoors
* Length of Charters: 7 & 10 night itineraries
* Dives Per Day: Up to 5 tanks of superb scuba!
* Photographic Services: E6 processing, Camera rental
* Photo instruction, Video rental, Video instruction
HERE'S WHAT YOU GET on a U.S. DIVE TRAVEL /
THAILAND AGGRESSOR SCUBA DIVING VACATION in the ANDAMAN SEA:
* 120 ft x 23 ft aluminum monohull built for 16 divers
* 7 or 10 night itineraries on board the M/V Thailand Aggressor
* Round-trip transfers from & to Phuket airport
* Individual stateroom air conditioning
* Private en-suite heads & showers
* Window and/or portlight views
* Breakfasts cooked to order
* Buffet lunches
* Gourmet Dinners served to your table
* Fresh mid-morning & mid-afternoon snacks
* Complimentary beverages while on-board (alcoholic & non-alcoholic)
* Morning coffee service to your stateroom
* Nightly turn down bed service w/pillow mint
* Bathrobes available for use on board
* Fresh stateroom & deck towels daily
* Digital photo processing often available
* Government Sales Tax included
* Up to five dives daily
* Filled tanks, weights & weightbelt are included
“Sahwasdee…” WELCOME to the BEAUTIFUL NEW THAILAND AGGRESSOR !
(Sunday-to-Saturday 6-day diving cruises)
Phuket, Thailand is often referred to as the “Pearl of the South” and for scuba divers it’s the crown jewel of the Andaman Sea. This island paradise lies only 8 degrees north of the equator and enjoys a tropical climate year round. For divers, the true treasures of the Andaman Sea are found at famous sites such as the Similan Islands, Phi Phi Islands, Richelieu Rock, Hin Daeng, Koh Raja and Shark Point, where the warm, clear water draws large schools of tropical fish, manta rays, and the awe-inspiring whale shark. The wealth of aquatic life will delight underwater photographers and marine naturalists when scuba diving Thailand.
THAILAND DIVING ITINERARIES:
Andaman Sea (South) -- from May to October, the Thailand Aggressor will travel the south route diving sites such as Shark Point, Anemone Reef and Phi Phi Islands.
Andaman Sea (North and South alternate every week) -- from November to April, the Thailand Aggressor will alternate routes every week. Traveling the North itinerary one week and the South itinerary the following (or visa versa). This will give guests desiring a longer charter the opportunity of being able to experience the best of both itineraries.
There will be one day between the two 6-day charters where guests will stay one night complimentary at the Duangjitt Resort & Spa Phuket located at Patong Beach. Hotel night and hotel transfers will be complimentary for this 13-day itinerary.
GETTING to THAILAND AGGRESSOR:
The island of Phuket lies in the Andaman Sea off the south west coast of Thailand in the geographic region of Mainland Southeast Asia. Phuket is separated from the mainland by a channel at its northernmost point, where the Sarasin Bridge connects the island to the mainland. Countries bordering Thailand are Malaysia, Burma, Cambodia and Laos. The Phuket International Airport (HKT) is in the north of the island, and is Thailand's second largest hub to Bangkok. There are numerous connecting flights from the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia and Australia offering daily service to Phuket via Bangkok, alternate direct flights from Dubai, Hong Kong and Seoul to Phuket. Airlines offering service are Korean Air, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Thai Airways, Asiana Airlines and Malaysia Airlines.
ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE INFO:
We highly suggest arriving a few days early and visiting Bangkok. Guests may board the yacht anytime between 3 pm - 6 pm on Sunday and will check out Saturday morning at 8 am. The Thailand Aggressor departs from Chalong Pier, which is located in the southern part of Phuket. Sunrise Road starts at Chalong Circle and ends at Chalong Pier, Phukets principal boat anchorage and the islands largest bay. It is the center of the islands yachting and diving businesses. The yacht will depart the dock early Sunday evening for its first night anchorage to prepare for diving the next morning. After 5 days of diving, the Thailand Aggressor returns back to the Chalong Pier in Phuket Friday evening for guests departure Saturday morning. The crew will host a cocktail party and dinner onboard Friday evening on the final approach to Phuket. We recommend guests fly out of the Phuket International Airport beginning Sunday afternoon to allow for adequate surface intervals.
THAILAND AGGRESSOR: YACHT SPEC’S
Port: Phuket, Thailand. Thailand Aggressor will become an Aggressor Fleet destination in March, 2013. The Thailand Aggressor is built to U.S. Coast Guard and A.B.S. standards with a full complement of safety equipment.
· Length: 115 ft.
· Beam: 23
· Passengers: 16
· Staterooms: 8
· Crew: 8
· 6-night trips
· Boarding Sunday: 3 - 6 p.m.
· Check out Saturday: 8 a.m.
THAILAND SCUBA DIVING ENVIRONMENTS:
• Whale sharks, Mantas, Leopard Sharks, Silvertip Reef Sharks, Walls and Reefs with over 500 species of hard and soft corals and abundant marine life everywhere.
• All dives from skiff.
• Water temperature: 79 - 84F, 26 - 29C.
• 3mm wetsuit recommended.
TOP DIVE SITES – THAILAND AGGRESSOR
The Similan Islands lie approximately 100 km Northwest of Phuket, Thailand. Declared a National Park in 1982, the Similans are comprised of 9 islands, which run roughly North to South with numerous smaller rock outcroppings. With snow-white beaches, lush tropical jungle and spectacular dive sites in stunning turquoise waters, it's not surprising that the Similans are ranked as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world! Thailand LiveAboard diving is some of the best diving in the world.
Nearly all of the 9 islands are surrounded by huge underwater rock formations, eroded by the action of a relentless sea. These stone giants are home to an amazing variety of marine life, with depths often reaching 40 meters or more. Narrow swim-thru's, caverns and underwater canyons form a truly unique diving landscape. With names like 'Elephant Head', 'Boulder City', 'Sharkfin Reef' and 'East of Eden', you'll soon appreciate why the Similans deserve the reputation they've obtained.
Koh Bon & Koh Tachai
Are two uninhabited islands, situated between the Similans and Surin National Park to the North of the Similans. They offer a variety of excellent dive sites - including a breathtaking drop-off - with a wealth of hard and soft corals, and great opportunities to see passing manta rays and whale sharks.
The best dive site in Thailand, lies Northeast of Ko Tachai, close to the southern border of Burma. This small rocky outcrop is covered in soft corals and offers an amazing variety of marine life, with the chance to see Stingrays, Guitar Rays, Leopard Sharks and large schools of Trevallies and Barracudas. And best of all, Richelieu Rock is a ‘magnet’ for Whale Sharks and ranks among the world’s best places to observe these gentle giants. Close encounters with two or three whale sharks are fairly common, making this site a unique experience for any diver.
About 1½ hours South of Phuket is a beautiful tropical island with a lot of good hard coral reefs, colorful shallow water coral gardens and a great opportunity for some enjoyable drift diving. There are several excellent dive sites particularly suitable for the beginner and snorkeler, making this island a favorite destination for everyone. Raja Noi offers in addition to Raja Yai's attractions some truly spectacular sites with giant underwater boulders and scenery almost like the Similans and a great chance to see manta rays and whale sharks.
A small rock outcropping about 1½ hours East of Phuket, is a famous marine sanctuary due to its tremendous variety of marine life. Particular attractions you should look out for are the colorful soft corals and sea fans decorating the limestone pinnacle, the great range of tropical fish and the famous leopard sharks, found on the sandy bottom.
This submerged reef located not far from Shark Point is similar in character and you will be amazed at its extensive fields of sea anemones. Harmless leopard sharks are also to be found together with some massive schools of smaller fish and some larger pelagic such as tuna and barracuda.
Phi Phi Islands
3 hours due East of Phuket, the Phi Phi Islands are a famous destination even for those unaware of the great diving available. As a diver, you will find that the spectacular limestone cliffs above the water become sheer drop-offs and craggy coral encrusted landscape under the water with a rich and colorful diversity of marine life and even whale sharks are known to visit.
On the 4th of May 97 King Cruiser, a 85 m catamaran passenger ferry, strayed off course and hit Anemone Reef ripping one of her twin hulls open. Subsequently King Cruiser sunk within an hour with no loss of life. With its multiple decks, great open passages and depths between 12 and 30 meters the King Cruiser is an ideal wreck dive site for all divers.
Koh Doc Mai
This small, jungle topped island lies halfway between Shark Point and Phuket. It provides some of the best wall diving in the area with sea fans, soft corals and colorful sea life decorating its underwater cliffs.
North Andaman Dive Sites:
Similan - Bon - Richeliu + Surin - Richeliu
Anita's Reef - Barracuda’s Point, “Hin Muan Deaw”
The Thai name for this spectacular rock is “Hin Muan Deaw” and is the best way to describe how beautiful this rock really is, as it directly translates to “Whole roll (of film) rock”, as one can use an entire roll film solely on this rock. The reef slope falls from the reef flat at 15 – 35 ft (5 – 10 m) to the sand bottom at a maximum of 85 – 90 ft (26 - 28 m). Shallow coral gardens comprise huge pore and staghorn corals with small pinnacles. A big outcrop located on the southeast makes this dive site unique and attracts many photographers. Colorful soft corals, gigantic sea fans, and many species of hard corals surround this fantastic rock.
West of Eden
West of Eden basically comprises giant granite boulders that create nice canyons, with walls covered with colorful soft corals and giant sea fans. Some areas are characterized by rubble and sand slope falling to a depth of 100 – 115ft (30 - 35 m). The shallows are home to many reef fishes, and have stacked granite boulders covered with hard corals, soft corals, gorgonians and feather stars. This area is a nice place to look for macro subjects like nudibranchs and frogfish. Keep an eye out for cleaner pipefish and many banded pipefish in small crevices, as well as long-nose hawkfish perched in black coral bushes. The rubble and sand slope are good place to search for ribbon eels, dragonets and red fire gobies. Back at the reef, moray eels are quite common, as well as turtles and schools of angelfish. Occasionally, whitetip reef sharks cruise by.
Bon - Koh Bon West Ridge, Koh Talu
The wall, part of the Similan National Park, is decorated with various colorful soft corals and hard corals. From the ridge to the northeastern side are reefs that stretch along island. The reef slopes from a depth of 30 ft (10 m) down to a sandy bottom at 80 – 100 ft (25 - 30 m). The majority of corals here are hard corals, including staghorn coral and brain coral that are interspersed with a few big coral heads. To the northwest of the island, there is a submerged pinnacle. The pinnacle is at a depth of 60 – 150 ft (18 - 45 m) and is covered by an abundance of yellow soft corals and large sea fans. This site is a cleaning station for manta rays, so there is a high chance of finding at least one during a dive, particularly at the western ridge and northeastern outer reef. Koh Bon also has many kinds of sharks, such as leopard sharks and whitetip and blacktip reef sharks. Sometimes grey reef sharks swim by, and nurse sharks can be seen lying under coral heads. Schools of yellowtail barracuda, fusiliers, trevally, sweetlips and black and white snappers are all common in the area, as well as octopuses, sea snakes, and nudibranchs.
Tachi Reef – Leopard Shark Reef
Tachai Reef stretches through the eastern side of the island, going from the northeast to the southwest. The reef slope falls from 16 – 33 ft (5 - 10 m) to the sand floor at 82 – 98 ft (25 - 30 m). Hard corals cover the entire area, most of which are staghorn corals, pore corals, brain corals, and fire corals. In the southern part, the gentle slope becomes a steep drop-off that continues from the island down to 98 ft (30 m). Divers regularly see leopard sharks lying at the outer sandy area and sometimes in shallow areas. Large stingrays are found on occasion too. General reef fish include pufferfish, lionfish, parrotfish, and moray eels. At night, several species of crabs and shrimp come out to hunt. It is possible to see twin-spotted lionfish, a rare species of lionfish that tends to be shy and hide in crevices. Cuttlefish, nudibranchs and flatworm are also common.
Richelieu Rock – Hin Plo Naam
One of the most famous dive sites of Thailand, Richelieu Rock is an isolated pinnacle to the east of Surin Islands. Forming a horseshoe figure, the pinnacle fall steeply to the surrounding sand bottom at a maximum depth of 115 ft (35 m). The south side is a bay with a slope that gently falls to the deep, while the rest comprises sheer walls, groups of rock and numerous small caves that are home to various marine life. The majority of corals are colorful soft corals jostling against the wall, accompanied by huge sea fans, hard corals and sea anemones. Due to the diversity of small and large creatures, Richelieu Rock is a paradise for underwater photographers. Ghost pipefish, frogfish, harlequin shrimp, seahorses, Janss pipefish are some of the smaller marine life that can be spotted here. Also, divers have often encountered cuttlefish mating. In addition, plenty of anemone fish species, particularly tomato clownfish, are regularly sighted. Different types of moray eels such as giant moray, zebra moray, and white-eyed moray are common. Pelagic fish swarming around the small outcrops include chevron barracuda, rainbow runners, and giant groupers resting on the sand floor are a common sight. Lastly, this site is famous in Thailand for being a hotspot for encounters with both whale sharks and manta rays.
Tachi Pinnacle – Twin Peaks
A solitary island located 20 km. north of Koh Bon, Koh Tachai has magnificent white sandy beaches with two interesting dive spots, southern pinnacles and eastern reef. Tachai Pinnacle or Twin Peaks are a pair of submerged pinnacles located 500 m south of Koh Tachai. The southern pinnacle is bigger, at a depth of 40 ft (12 m) from the top. It is a dome shape surrounded by large boulders. The sand bottom is at a depth of around 100 – 150 ft (30 - 45 m). To the west you will find large boulders, some of which have formed swim throughs. In the east, you will find stacks of small rock, most of which are cover by hard corals and sea whips. Colorful soft corals and sea fans dominate the northern area. The top of the pinnacle is a wide flat plain with bush and mountain coral. This huge pinnacle links to the small one with a sand patch at 80 ft (24 m). The smaller pinnacle comprises of a wide range of rock clusters and is home to large sea fans and corals, which are similar to the ones found in the southern pinnacle. Manta rays visit this area for feeding and circling around the pinnacles. Some divers have encountered whale sharks as well. On the outer sand bed, divers can usually see leopard sharks, sometime three to four of them in the same dive. In addition, it is possible to find Jenkin’s rays, as well as whitetip sharks and blacktip reef sharks here as well. Swarming schools of chevron barracuda, bluefin trevally, batfish, snappers, and fusiliers are common here.
Elephant Head Rock -- Hin Pusa, Hin Hua-ka-loak
Visible from the surface, Elephant Head Rock is the biggest pinnacle in the Similans. It is located 1.5 km south of Koh Similan. There are three large boulders that emerge above water. At this site, submerged boulders are piled up, forming sheer walls and swim-throughs that are covered with assorted colors of soft corals and sea fans. The site is surrounded by sand at a maximum depth of 115 – 130 ft (35 to 40 m). One of the outstanding features of this site is the swim-throughs. In addition, cave walls are full of soft corals, creating plenty of magnificent scenery that makes you feel like you are swimming in an underwater valley. To the west of the giant rock is a sheer wall that falls to a depth of 130 ft (40 m). Divers have often seen whitetip and blacktip reef sharks outside the boulders. In addition, juvenile whitetip reef sharks can sometime be seen laying in the cracks of the boulders. In mid-water, schools of fish, including bluefin trevally, fusiliers and rainbow runners are common. Near the exposed boulders, giant trevally and great barracuda are a common sight. Also, divers may encounter large snappers and sweetlips in cracks, holes and swim-throughs.
A cluster of submerged boulders, with the exception of a pinnacle at the surface that is located on the northwest ridge of Koh Ba-Ngu. Underwater, there are number of large stacked boulders that stretch from the island to a depth of 115 – 130 ft (35 - 40 m), which create an arch like swim-throughs at 80 ft (24 m). Colorful soft corals and sea fans cover the crevices. A hard coral garden made up of rows of staghorn and pore coral is located at a shallow depth of 30 ft (10 m). Around the borders of the rocks and beyond, at a depth of 80 – 130 ft (25 - 40 m), you are likely to find leopard sharks, whitetip and blacktip reef sharks and other big fish such as Napoleon wrasse, great barracuda, giant trevally and tunas. At the swim-throughs, giant sweetlips and groupers can be seen hiding in crevices. School of fish including bluefin trevally, neon fusiliers, goatfish, and long nosed emperors are frequent visitors. Many small fish, such as purple fire gobies and red fire gobies are a familiar sight here. Ribbon eels, a rare species that camouflages on the sand like whip corals, can also be seen. Also, pipefish, nudibranchs, and porcelain crabs cab be found. It is possible to spot manta rays passing by as well.
Shark Fin Reef -- Hin Phae, San cha-larm
A formation of granite boulders and hard corals to the southeast of Koh Pa-Yan. The site itself is approximately 1 km. long and lies from the northwest to the southeast. Normally three pinnacles can be seen from the surface, which gives the reef its name Shark Fin Reef. Boulders that fall steeply to 115 – 130 ft (35-40 m) and are surrounded by sand occupy the vast majority of the site. Due to the fact that the boulder formation is long, coral reefs have been divided into northern and southern areas. Both areas are steep and cliff-like. The northern area has more corals consisting mostly of staghorn coral and soft corals, combined with tiny rocks and sea fans. The southern side is made up primarily of sheer walls. Overall, at various parts of the reef, some pinnacles have stacked themselves on top of one another, forming many swim-throughs that divers can enjoy. Near the sandy areas, you likely to find leopard sharks, whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, Kuhl’s stingrays and spotted garden eels. Furthermore, this site is one of the few areas in the Similans where you can see Napoleon wrasse and hump head parrotfish. Bigger than usual adult cube boxfish are often seen, particularly in the shallow waters of the east. Among the boulders, a lot of camouflaged marine life can be seen, including octopuses and devil scorpionfish. Manta rays can be spotted during the month of April and whale sharks have been report in the vicinity as well.
South Andaman Dive Sites
Koh 5 - Lepe - Hin Mung Hin Dang - Phi Phi - Anemone Reef
KOH HAA-LAGOON - Koh Haa No. 2 & No. 4
Located in the middle of Koh Haa group, the Lagoon is a 16 ft (5 m) deep area surrounded by a pair of small limestone towers (Koh Haa No.2 and No.4) to the east, and Koh Haa No.3 to the west. The south tower, covered with colorful soft coral, huge see fans, black corals, fields of anemones and orange cup coral, forms the south side of the islands, with the outer sand bottom at a depth of around 80 ft (24 m). A number of rocks are scattered beyond the wall, where divers may find snappers, and you will find hard coral scattered all around the sandy, sloped area connecting the two islands. The north tower is quite similar to the south, except things are on a larger scale. Koh Haa No.3, a long island to the west of the lagoon. It is also another good dive spot, however, less famous than the two towers. This site is perfect for macro lovers. Because of the nature of limestone cliffs, there are many cracks and crevices along the wall, offering shelter to many small creatures like shrimp and crabs. Take a closer look at a sea fan, and you may find ornate ghost pipefish and cowries camouflaged among the fronds. Harlequin Shrimp and sea moths have been spotted between the two islands sometimes. Many species of nudibranchs make their home at the wall, and lobsters and squid can also be found here.
KOH HAA – NEUA - The Chimney, Koh Haa No. 1
Koh Haa – Neua is the northernmost island of Koh Haa group. Reefs surround this island with the north coast featuring a wall line covered with soft coral, sea fans and barrel sponges. A hard coral reef slope stretches from the southeast side to the east side of this island. The maximum depth at Koh Haa – Neua is 80 – 100 ft (25 – 30 m). The most popular diving spot on this island is located on the south side, and it is characterized by stunning outcrops covered by dense growths of south corals and sea fans that create a dazzling swim through. At 50 – 60 ft (16 – 18 m), there is a grotto that leads to a chimney-like vertical hole – another highlight of this dive site. This chimney has two exits at a depth of 15 ft (5 m). Kuhl’s stingrays, moray eels, scorpionfish and puffer fish are common sightings. Leopard sharks have also been spotted in the sand beyond the reef. Divers should also take the time to explore crevices – you may find ornate ghost pipefish, or even rare species such as the tiger-tail seahorse. Eye – catching harlequin shrimp have also been found in the area.
KOH HAA – YAI - The Twin Cathedral
The biggest of the Haa islands is Koh Haa Yai. It is characterized by a steep cliff perpendicular to sea level that stretches all the way from above the water to depths of up to 100 ft (30 m). Koh Haa Yai is surrounded by reefs, and the most famous dive spot is the rock wall at the south side of the island, which ends in a sandy bottom at 80 – 100 ft (25-30 m) and is covered with a variety of soft corals, sea fans and hard corals. There are two underwater caves on the southeast side. The entrance of the first cave is at a depth at 40 ft (12 m). As this cave gets narrower as you go deeper, cave penetration is not recommended unless divers have obtained cave diving certification. The second cave is actually a shallow cavern, and can be found to the east of the first. The entrance is split into two by a vertical rock plate, but the rest of the cave is spacious and well illuminated. The hall height of the cave is 7 – 10 ft (2-3 m). above sea level, so swimming to the surface from inside the cave is possible. This cave is also known as “The Cathedral” because of the blue light reflected from the surface. The exterior of the cave is covered with soft corals, sea whips and rock outcrops, ending in a sandy bottom at depths of 90 – 100 ft (28-30 m). Leopard sharks and Kuhl’s stingrays are often found around the sandy bottom. Juvenile lobsters and a variety of nudibranchs can be spotted around crevices at the cliff, especially at the entry of the cave. Look closely, you may also find ghost pipefish camouflaged among sea fans or soft corals. Schools of squid and yellowtail barracuda are normally seen near the surface close to cave’s entry. Reflection from school of copper sweepers can be seen when you shine a light into the cave. Hawksbill turtles have also been spotted in the area.
If Richelieu Rock is the best dive site in the Northern Andaman area, then Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, the striking twin outcrops alone in the open sea, are undoubtedly the best of the Southern Andaman region. Meaning ‘red rock’ in Thai, Hin Daeng is covered with red soft corals, which makes the rock appear red. Only three small pinnacles are visible from the surface, but once underwater, the vast from of Hin Daeng stretches 100 – 130 ft (30-40 m) down before reaching the sandy bottom. A long rocky wall consisting of soft corals, sea fans, and black corals stretches from the west to the south side of Hin Daeng, reaching to the sandy bottom 130 – 165 ft (40-50 m) underwater. The east and the northeast side, on the other hand, is a reef slope with pinnacles and hard corals. The contour slopes down to the sand to depths of around 115 – 130 ft (35-40 m). Divers can also swim across the big channel on the north side of Hin Daeng, which lead to the west side. Diversity of marine life here ranges from big pelagic fish like manta rays and whale sharks, to the rich variety of nudibranchs. Manta rays in small group of 3-4 are often spotted at Hin Daeng and whale sharks are also frequently sighted, particularly during the peak season (Feb.- Apr.) when they stay for a long time in these feeding grounds. Leopard sharks are often seen resting in the sand in the daytime, and gray reef sharks have also been reported. You may even get to witness big fish like barracudas or moray eels hunting. Heading back to the rocky wall, you may also find an abundance of macro critters such as the ghost pipefish, harlequin shrimp, long nose hawkfish, and nudibranchs.
The twin outcrops to the west of Hin Daeng are referred to as Hin Muang, which means, “purple rock” in Thai. The outcrops are totally submerged, and are covered with purple soft coral, hence the site name. The outcrops are long and narrow, reminiscent of loaves of French bread. There are several pinnacles, with drop-offs stretching down to the sandy bottom at 150 – 200 ft (45-60 m). The drop-offs around Hin Muang are rich with marine life and covered by soft corals, gorgonian sea fans and black corals. Hin Muang is an oasis in the expanse of the South Andaman Sea, attracting a wealth of pelagic visitor like manta rays and whale sharks, particularly during the peak plankton-bloom period around the end of March and April. In addition, schools of rainbow runners, barracudas, snappers, batfish and many other tropical reef residents surround the pinnacles of Hin Muang, while other fish like groupers, snappers, and giant morays lurk among the many crevices. In sandy areas, divers frequently come across leopard sharks, as well as gray reef sharks and marble rays. The area is also rich in macro life, such as ghost pipefish, harlequin shrimp and an unimaginable variety of nudibranchs just waiting to be discovered. Take a peak among the intricate branches of a black corals forest, and you may spot a long nose hawkfish.
Boasting a remarkably dramatic underwater topography, Koh Bida Nok is characterized by steep precipices, caves, swim-throughs and underwater crags. It is no wonder that Koh Bida Nok and its sister island Koh Bida Nai are two of the most popular dive site in the Phi Phi islands. There is a small underwater bay at the southern side of the island made up of a reef slope and rocky floor that starts at 20 ft (6 m) and ends in a sandy bottom at 65 ft (20 m). A vertical swim-through at the southwest side of the island, beautifully illuminated by surface lights, is not to be missed. Outcrops of various sizes are scattered along the west coast, sloping down to depth of 85 – 90 ft (26-28 m), while the east coast is a reef slope with a mixture of hard and soft corals and small outcrops. Leopard sharks are usually found lying on the sandy bottom, and blacktip reef sharks may sometimes be found along the reef line. Kuhl’s stingrays are common in the area, and look out for small bamboo sharks hiding in cracks. Look to the blue beyond the reef and you may also see schools of pickhandle barracuda and bigeye snapper. Along the reef, you will also find a variety of colorful reef fish, such as pufferfish, porcupinefish and lionfish. Macro lovers should also keep a sharp lookout for ornate ghost pipefish and seahorses.
Like its sister island, Koh Bida Nai has an amazing topography of underwater crevices, huge boulders, and fields of staghorn reef. Stretched across the south and west coasts of the island is a gradual reef slope that starts at a depth of 15 – 30 ft (5-10 m) and is made up of hard corals like pore corals, table corals and staghorn corals. There are also some big boulders and a swim-through on the southern side. The eastern side of the island is a big sand slope with fields of staghorn corals. Divers can find leopard sharks snoozing in the island, or swim out to the large pinnacle beyond the reef for the big school of trevally, barracuda, and other fish. The top part of the pinnacle is around 45 – 60 ft (14-18 m) from the surface, and goes to depths of at least 30 m. The topography on the northern side of the island, on the other hand, consists mostly of stunning crags and cliffs, with wall dropping vertically to depths of 65 – 80 ft (20-25 m) before hitting the sandy bottom. In this section, there are soft corals, sea fans and lots of huge barrel sponges. Leopard sharks are quite common in this area, especially on the eastern side of the island. Blacktip reef sharks and whitetip reef sharks have been known to make appearances in the area, and be sure not to startle bamboo sharks, which may be hiding under rocks or in cracks. Divers may even spot a turtle or two. Schools of barracuda and trevally are often sighted near the east pinnacle, as are snappers, mackerel and other pelagic species. Divers may also see sea snakes, cuttlefish and Kuhl’s stingrays. Macro species such as ghost pipefish, nudibranchs, and porcelain crabs are also frequently sighted.
King Cruiser was a car and passenger ferry servicing the Phuket to Phi Phi Island route that sank on 4 May 1997 after hitting a submerged rock known as Anemone Reef on its way to Phi Phi Island. Luckily, no lives were lost during the incident. Having fortunately settled in an upright position at the sandy bottom, the wreck stays relatively close to Anemone Reef and Shark Point and is 25-27 km. east of Chalong Bay with a north-south orientation. The depth is around 105 ft (32 m) at the sand bottom and about 45 – 50 ft (14-15 m) on top. The wreck is 280 ft (85 m) long by 82 ft (25 m) wide, with four decks with large passages, and window holes divers can use to gain easy access to explore the specious interior. However, some past of the wreck has noticeably deteriorated, and in mid 2003 the top deck at the stern collapsed into the mid-section, so the wreck is now considered unsafe foe penetration. Divers can explore the passenger deck level at a depth of around 60 – 75 ft (18-22 m), while others may be more interested in checking out the remains of the wheelhouse at the top level. For those interested in shark-sightings, a nurse shark has been seen sleeping in near the remains of the propellers at the bottom, and a gray bamboo shark has been spotted at the opening around the middle level at the stern. Hundreds of scorpionfish are usually camouflaged almost everywhere on the barnacles and rusting steel of the wreck. Thus, divers are advised to be careful if they absolutely have to hold on to part of the wreck or touch something. Along the stern, hovering lionfish are a common sight, and divers may find themselves surrounded by schools of trevally, snapper, rabbitfish, and fusilier at the top of the wreck. Other creatures that can be spotted on the wreck are a few species of nudibranchs, eels, crabs and lobsters. Occasionally, one may even encounter a huge great barracuda or a hawksbill turtle.
Shark Point - Hin Mu Sang
Named for the frequent sighting of leopard sharks in the area. Known as Hin Mu Sang by locals, this dive site is made up of 3 main pinnacles that lie in an almost north-to-south formation, with the axis slightly tilted to the east. These pinnacles are usually referred to by their numbers – the north-most pinnacle is “Number 1”, and so forth. This site has the most diversity of fish and corals in the area. Each pinnacles is about 35 – 50 ft (10-15 m) away from the others and has areas covered with striking purple and pink soft corals, sea fans ranging from 50 cm to as big as a person, as well as beds of table coral, staghorn coral and coral head. Pinnacle No.1 is the only one visible from the surface and has a small lighthouse, with a surprisingly large submerged portion. No.2’s peak is 15 – 25 ft (5-7 m) below the surface and No.3’s peak at 50 ft (15 m) underwater. The sand bottom is about 40 ft (12 m) down on the north side, and the pinnacle stretches out a little to the northwest to a depth of around 80 ft (24 m) and shallower, to depths of around 50 – 75 ft (15-22 m) on the south and east side, with scattered rock all around. The dive usually starts from one pinnacle and finishes at the next pinnacle, with the direction dependant on the current. As there is a great diversity of marine life here, it is almost impossible to cover all three pinnacles is one dive and do justice to the site. The third pinnacle is rarely visited because the average depth is quite deep. For a more enjoyable one-hour dive, most people dive from No.1 to No.2 or vice versa. Some species of marine life that inhabit the area are scorpionfish, lionfish, pufferfish, blue-ringed angelfish, snappers, groupers and a few types of eels. On the rock and between corals, look for colorful nudibranchs, Durban dancing shrimp and also cute little juvenile fish like the cube boxfish and harlequin sweetlips. Above the reef, there are also schools of fish like the yellowtail barracuda, yellowline snapper and soldierfish. Shark Point is the place to go for divers eager to spot big fish. There is always a good chance of finding leopard sharks lying on the bottom next to the pinnacle, and gray bamboo sharks can also be found hiding under corals heads or inside small crevices. However, sharks are not the only highlight of the site-tiger-tail seahorses and ornate ghost pipefish frequently provide divers with a pleasant surprise among the sea fans and corals.
Anemone Reef - Hin Jom
Located around 25-27 km. to the east of Chalong Bay, Anemone Reef is a submerged pinnacle with its top around 15 ft (5 m) underwater, giving this dive site its Thai name “Hin Jom”. Its English name is similarly straightforward- sea anemones dwell in stunningly dense populations in the shallow areas, presenting an amazing view of sea’s own version of the living carpet. The pinnacle has a north-south orientation, with a small, sloped channel close to the south part. The depth ranges from 15 – 80 ft (5-25 m), and while there is a gentle slope down to the sandy bottom on the east side, it is steeper on the west side. Because of the quantity and the variety of marine life that lives in the beautiful soft corals and sea fans that cover the pinnacle, Anemone Reef is the choice site for naturalist courses and is no doubt a favorite among photographers as well. Anemone fish and clownfish are common, as are big schools of snapper that cloud the pinnacle. Schools of yellowtail barracuda are also often seen circling the rock, together with groupers, oriental sweetlips, juvenile harlequin sweetlips, scorpionfish and solderfish that flit among corals, cracks and crevices. Leopard sharks, possible “escapees” from the famous dive sites nearby, may also swim by from time to time. Small critters such as tiger-tail seahorses are also found here on occasion. At the shallow areas near the mooring line, a couple of ornate ghost pipefish and even an anglerfish have been seen here before.
Do you want to know more about Andaman Sea diving? First let's get to the soul of the matter. Andaman Sea diving, Thailand diving, it's all a kind of maritime poetry. Here's one way to try grasping the depth of Thailand diving. Even Yeats & Frost, if their eyes ever had rested on the extraterrestrial wolf's-eye blue of these lagoons, would have laughed at using ordinary words to capture how Thailand made them feel. They would have just sat down on a vessel deck & absorbed the shifting, dancing colors. Then they'd have grabbed a tank & slid under the waves to wander among the energetic fish battalions & the waving rainbow corals. Later they'd have surfaced, satisfied, a little dazed maybe, content just to sit topside & sip a drink, sifting the day's experience quietly with a half-grin of grade-school-kid pleasure. But that's it. That's how far they would have gone with Andaman Sea diving.
They'd have thrown in the towel on trying a poem, afraid that any attempt at clutching the ineffable would produce words so lame they'd inspire eye-rolling. Kind of like these words do right now. Smiling yet? Here is the lowdown on the monarch of Andaman Sea live-aboards: the Thailand Aggressor.
So where do we start? We're trying here to talk about the strange things that Thailand diving does to the souls of a lot of men & women. Forever. Sure, there are some folks who are impervious to beauty; & Thailand might never touch them. But we don't have a lot of time for them. We're interested in connecting with curious, vigorous people like you, who really live life with brio, who grab it hard & don't let go. Here's what's at the root of this enchantment in Thailand. Here's a rough & ready attempt to write it down; & it will fail in some way.
That is because some places on Earth are so powerful, so singular in their beauty, that no symbol can touch them. They are their own symbols, standing alone against the dross of ordinary life. They are beyond writers, beyond cameras. These power spots are like Aldous Huxley's visions of the gems we all carry subconsciously, buried in the collective human memory, gems tucked way back inside the brain like iridescent iris bulbs waiting for blooming time -- a foretaste of eternity, maybe a hint of heaven. So when you first come face to face, in the here & now, with a subconscious archetype of heaven, while it's something you've carried inside your head all your life & never witnessed, the impact is astonishing. That's Thailand. That's the mission of U.S. DIVE TRAVEL & the Aggressor Fleet's M/V Thailand Aggressor. Pure & simple.
Yeats & Frost would have been smart enough to leave their word games alone. They would have given up. Yeats & Frost would have thought: "To sod with the poems, I'm going diving again before the sun sets." Leave the poems for everybody's own minds & memories. No pens, no lenses can ever capture the blue of Thailand diving in Melanesia, nor the life that infuses that blue, beneath the Ur-blue. So what about the M/V Thailand Aggressor? We're getting there. Enjoy a chill & please don't gnaw your reg, amigos del mar.
Thailand of Melanesia is where you come to recharge & renew. And no way is better than on a majestic scuba diving vessel of the famed Aggressor Fleet. The Aggressor Fleet's Thailand Aggressor -- foremost of the Thailand live-aboards many critics claim -- will take you to places so dramatic in their beauty that you'll be searching far & wide to find an adventure buzz that tops it. One of our Pacific agents has been to Thailand a dozen times & he still struggles to find any half-reason imaginable to justify another business trip to the mellow blue universe of Thailand. He's beyond obsession, beyond definable habit. He's a certifiable flaming goner. So that's why we issue this Dutch Uncle warning about Thailand live-aboards in general. And about the Big Daddy of Thailand live-aboards specifically -- the Thailand Aggressor.
Here, therefore, are the two serious risks you take when diving from the Thailand Aggressor near Phuket, Thailand. First, you might get swept away, too, by the indefinable Blue. Then you might not want to return home to your job. Your friends & family would blame us & we'd feel guilty. But whoa Nelly, there's even one more risk; & we feel ethically bound to reveal it.
These 5-star Aggressor Fleet's vessels are so exceptionally luxurious, with service so far superior to most live-aboards in the Pacific, that you'll likely be jaded to the quick when the next vacation bug bites you. Then the Big Question looms overhead, like a Great Dane with halitosis -- "Where do I go from here?" Don't worry; it's not an issue yet. You're here & Thailand is over there. So just go for it. Book a trip on a stellar Aggressor Fleet live-aboard yacht, the Thailand Aggressor near Phuket, Thailand. Sort out all the spiritual fallout later. If you need a deeper experience, there's always the hidden atolls of New Caledonia, or Fiji -- or Venus. Do I hear Neptune, anyone?
Here's what's in store for you as you relish Thailand diving on the wonderful new Thailand Aggressor. On any Thailand diving day you're likely to see a broad spectrum of the 300+ coral species & more than 500 species of reef & pelagic fish, that wrap around Thailand the way electromagnetic fields wrap around livewires. These countless teeming little modules of multi-colored life are flitting & bipping & bopping every which way with their riotous tints flashing in the sunlight. And where they live is amazing, too. There are deep, plunging walls everywhere to explore, most of them carpeted in sweeping fields of visually delicious corals, hard & soft, in scores of colors.
Ever wonder what it feels like to be floating calmly, sipping air in maybe 25 feet of water, right on the clean edge of a cliff that plows down vertically a few thousand feet -- just like that! -- & you're perfectly buoyant above it all looking down into the floorless Void, while thousands of living creatures drift past you, this way & that, up & down, swimming circles around you, all of them serene, oblivious, electrically alive? Try Thailand diving.
What's more, Thailand diving offers divers warm water, even as high as the mid-80s in the shallows, plus ultra-clear viz, abundant big fish life, too, & dazzling corals everywhere you turn. Way out on the outer reefs, the dramatic walls are alive with large pelagics.
There are mushroom-like rock islands jutting out of turquoise seas, with a universe of life seething just below the surface under their rocky bulbous bulks. There's even more to Thailand diving. In some places you'll find awesome schools, legions of wiry wary gleaming barracudas. These barracuda schools are so vast that when you swim through one of them it instantly forms a seething spiraling silver funnel around you, & wraps you up in living glitter like the Time Tunnel, or like something from the CAD screens of Industrial Light & Magic.
Hey, enough's enough. We got carried away. Just try Thailand. Because it's there. Thailand live-aboards are the way to go, most assuredly, the local dive experts affirm, because who wants to bake in the searing sun for 2 hours each way riding in a gut-churning sixpack runabout out to dive sites that the Thailand Aggressor can just anchor at for days, if her skipper feels like it?
When you choose to cruise with Aggressor Fleet, you'll shed your shoes & lose your blues, & dive down to pelagic zoos. So John & Sooz say -- "Tip the crews & spread the news!"
Now back to planet Earth. Each & every one of the Aggressor Fleet's 5-star luxury live-aboard yachts provides clients with turndown bed service every day, morning coffee served in your stateroom, bathrobes, sit-down dining with a choice of two entrees every supper, snacks every morning & afternoon, clean towels every day in your stateroom, removal of your tank as you stand at the diving platform after surfacing, & around-the-clock hands-on service from a crew that will treat you like royalty.
The Aggressor Fleet vessels are equipped with air-conditioning in all staterooms & common areas such as salon & lounge. All Aggressor Fleet vessels offer private en-suite bathrooms, hot freshwater showers, audio & video entertainment centers, nightly entertainment, light tables for slides, excellent photo & video labs, open-air sundecks with some covered areas for sun protection, lockers for your dive gear, spacious stern jumpoff areas with 2 exit ladders & showers right there waiting when you surface, camera work tables conveniently on the dive deck, & rigid decompression bars underwater, to increase your profile safety (except Thailand Aggressor).
Every Aggressor Fleet live-aboard is also equipped with twin Diesel engines, plus two 110/208-volt & 60-cycle generators, ultra-modern navigation gear, radar, depth finders, GPS & Weather-Fax systems, VHF & SSB radios, desalination plants that pump out from 2,400 to 3,600 gallons of fresh water each day, rescue & chase craft ready at all times & powerful dual air compressors, so you never have to deal with an empty tank.
These splendid scuba diving vessels, of the incomparable Aggressor Fleet, are the creme de la creme of world live-aboards, & their prices are just plain affordable. All Thailand live-aboards, & Melanesia live-aboards, look to the Thailand Aggressor with a meld of envy & admiration. That's because Thailand Aggressor is where the Thailand diving action is. Thailand live-aboards have a standard to meet, & that standard is the Thailand Aggressor, amigos del mar.
Remember, if you have any questions at all about any of these following web-travel topics -- U.S. Dive Travel, dive travel, live-aboards, live-aboard, liveaboard, Thailand Aggressor, Thailand live-aboards, Thailand live-aboard, Andaman Sea live-aboards, Andaman Sea live-aboard, Thailand diving, Andaman Sea diving-- please feel free to phone us any time at 952-953-4124. We are always happy to call back same day.
Please feel free to contact:
John Hessburg, General Manager
Susan Hessburg, Operations Manager
U.S. DIVE TRAVEL Network
PMB 307 -- Suite # 116
15050 Cedar Avenue S.
St. Paul, MN, USA 55124-7046
Voice Mail: 952-953-4124
IMPORTANT REMINDER about THAILAND LIVE-ABOARD DIVING PRICES & TARIFFS:
All Thailand scuba diving package prices listed here, for all Thailand live-aboards, are subject to possible change in this steadily evolving travel market. Lodging, side tour & diving prices are traditionally stable, as are live-aboard package prices; however air prices can fluctuate daily. Until air tickets are issued, all airlines reserve the right to change airfares without notice -- an industry standard per FAA rules. We at U.S. Dive Travel will price-protect you to the utmost of our professional ability on your Thailand diving tour; & that has been our pledge for one decade now. Our Thailand diving vacation experts normally secure excellent wholesale discount air tickets for our clients who book early enough to secure limited seats in the best price categories. Remember please, the federal government has deregulated all U.S.-based airlines, so only they control their pricing -- not any travel professionals. Early is good when seeking the best air ticket rates to connect with your Thailand live-aboard diving tours.
Unless specifically noted, these above Thailand scuba diving packages are prices for only the live-aboard portion of your dive trip, in most cases reflecting double-occupancy rooms. On no Thailand live-aboards, will there be no triple-occupancy staterooms offered. International air tickets & commuter "island-hopper" seats are always extra above these land costs. Nominal service fees are also extra for air tickets & the dive vessel + side tour components. The baseline tariffs for all clients start at $55 per person for the live-aboard package portion + $55 pp for the air tickets. Late-booking clients on our Thailand live-aboards may receive slightly higher tariffs. Solo scuba diving clients on our Thailand live-aboards always will pay a single supplement to secure a private stateroom -- normally 65% or more than the standard double-occupancy rate for the live-aboard of your choice, unless you are willing to twin-share. This is pretty well SOP among all quality Thailand live-aboards.
The preferred payment mode for all of our Thailand live-aboards, Thailand dive resorts, side tours & air ticket specials is by cashier's check or wire transfer in U.S. dollars. All clients living outside the USA or Canada will need to pay for their dive vacations via direct wire transfer only. No personal checks will be accepted for any reservation. Thank you for your gracious understanding. Our service level is the highest & our prices the lowest in this industry, & thus we need to preserve a reasonable margin.
Remember, all Thailand diving vacation clients to all foreign destinations will be asked by local officials overseas, upon departing the airport on your final day, to pay a nominal government departure tax, usually between USD $35 - $40 per client. USDT cannot collect this tax beforehand, so you simply pay it down there, in your host country. Be sure to stash away a little cash for this final moment at the airport, so you'll get your exit visa stamped quickly with no fuss; & away you go. Best of luck with your Thailand diving plans. We hope your Thailand scuba diving vacation is a safe & satisfying adventure. Blessings & best wishes with ALL your Thailand live-aboard dive vacations.Best wishes....
Best fishes too!
John Hessburg & Susan Hessburg, Mgrs.
U.S. Dive Travel Network.
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