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Dive Review of SY Diva Andaman in
Myanmar/Burma

SY Diva Andaman: "Diving in Andaman Sea - Ray of Hope Expedition", Mar, 2019,

by Valera Sakhnenko, ON, CA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports with 11 Helpful votes). Report 10914.

Photos Submitted with this Report


Click on an image to see an enlarged version and captions

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments This was a Ray of Hope Expedition (March 4 to 12, 2019), led by Dr. Andrea Marshal, Queen of Mantas, and he husband Janneman Conradie.

Please refer to a short about this trip: [youtu.be link]

Our group gathering point was Khao Lak, with a nearest airport being at Phuket some 1.5 hr away from Khao Lak. To take a break from a Canadian winter, we decided to come four days earlier and enjoy warm weather and sea.

Flights

From Toronto to Phuket we flew via Hong Kong by Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon. It is 15 h 40 m flight from Toronto to Hong Kong, with layover 2 h 35 m , and then another 3 h 30m flight to Phuket. Cathay Pacific Airline is one of our favorite airlines, and we like Hong Kong Airport. The was no any issues or delays, so we made it Phuket in less than 24 hrs.

Transportation to and from Khao Lak

Being misled about high cost of taxis to Khao Lak, I initially booked transportation from Phuket to Khao Lak with I Asia Thailand via Expedia. However, there was a discrepancy between posted rates and the actual rates, which were much higher than rates for a taxi booked directly at the airport. For a round trip I paid approximately 50% of what a travel I Asia Thailand would cost me. So, I would not bother with an online taxi booking to and from Khal Lak. Get a taxi (not a meter taxi) at the airport (there are several booths outside of the terminal) for 1800 BHT, and for a travel back book a taxi from a numerous travel agencies in Khao Lak. We paid 1200 BHT for pick up at 8 am (it could cost 1800 BHT for earlier pickup) and got a huge party van for two of us (including a free WIFI).

Staying in Khao Lak (Takua Pa)

There are numerous hotels and resorts in Khao Lak for any budget. Based on someone’s recommendation, we booked three nights at Ocean Breeze Resort Kaholak. This is a fairly good resort at a very good location – it is right on the beach and just 10 min walking distance from the centre of the City. If we ever return to Kaho Lak, we would have no hesitation of staying at the same resort again.

Ray of Hope Expedition

On the first day of the expedition, the organizers picked us at our hotel in the morning, and we drove about 2.5 hrs to Ranong, which is at the border with Myanmar. At Ranong we went through immigration office, boarded SY Diva Andaman, and in a short while we were in Myanmar waters, where we had to go through Myanmar Immigration. Each of us had to pay $250 US in impeccably new bills. Yes, the US dollars should be absolutely perfect. The whole process took almost half a day, and a scary part of it was that they took our passports away for the duration of the trip. They also put a local rep on our boat while we were in Myanmar waters.

Our itinerary included diving at Mergui Archipelago (Myanmar) and Suring, Similans (Thailand), and more specifically the following dive sites: Rocky Island, 3 Islets, Blackrock (very fishy), North Twin pinnacle , South Twin, Lagoon, Richelieu Rock, Tachai pinnacle (crazy current) and Reef and Koh Bon.

A detailed itinerary of this trip could be found at the following link: [queenofmantas.com link]

We did not see as many mantas as we expected - only six (three - at South Twin and three - at Tachai pinnacle). We saw a few white-tip reef sharks, juvenile blacktip reef shark, octopuses, seahorses, orange spotted pipefish, schools of trivially, schools of barracudas, schools of dogtooth tuna, a huge marble ray (~6 ft), three cuttlefish, one turtle, schools of rainbow runners, many morays, massive schools of jacks, peacock mantis shrimps, blue spotted stingray, a lot of lion fish, stone fish, scorpion fish, a lot of saddleback anemone, feather stars, sea snakes, two pods of dolphins at a distance, etc., etc.

Although during our 3 days of diving at Blackrock we did not see any mantas, that dive site was full of live and actions. This was the best dive site of our trip.

With respect to diving in Myanmar waters, we did not see (and didn't hear) any dynamite fishing, but number of fishing boats in Myanmar waters was enormous. It was especially visible at night, when we were surrounded by lights of many fishing boats.

Regarding the famous Richelieu Rock, I expected much more from this dive site, which is considered the best in Thailand. It appears that there were more divers than fish over there. After two early morning dives, when we were leaving, there were about 10 big dive boats with 20+ divers each. It looked like an invasion.

Regarding diving in general, it was good, but, personally, I would rather go diving to Raja Ampat.

Boat SY Diva Andaman is not a luxury boat, but it is quite comfortable. Crew was incredible and did whatever possible to make us very comfortable and our time on the boat very enjoyable. Huge thank you to Jannick (owner), Oye (captain) and Tasneem, our dive guides Josu and Adrien and the rest of the crew.

A special thanks to Chef Somboon, who was beyond description. Somboon and his team (Them, Cha and Noom) worked very hard to meet personalized dietary requirements for every guest (gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, etc.). We all felt that we were dining at a high-end restaurant.

Overall we were very satisfied with this expedition and will be looking for an opportunity to join another Ray of Hope Expedition somewhere else.

To find more about Ray of Hope Expeditions, please refer to their website: [queenofmantas.com link]


Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, North Sulawesi, Raja Ampat, Hawaii
Closest Airport Phuket Getting There via Hong Kong

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, surge
Water Temp 26-27°C / 79-81°F Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 10-15 M / 33-49 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions 30 meters, 60 min
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments There is no a designated area/facility for cameras on the boat. People were using dining table and their cabins to deal with their cameras. I handled my camera mostly in our cabin, where there were four or five international receptacle, so I had no problem with charging all my batteries.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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