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Dive Review of Khao Lak Scuba Adventures in
Thailand/Andaman Sea

Khao Lak Scuba Adventures: "subpar diving on inferior live aboard", Dec, 2015,

by David A Lawlor, NY, US ( 2 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 9383 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 1 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 1 stars
Comments My son and I dove aboard the Manta Queen II with Khao Lak Scuba adventures in December of 2015. Although it was good to be diving, the trip by Khao Lak Scuba Adventures was far from satisfactory. The first complaint was that is was a three-day trip in the Andaman Sea to four different sites. The first dive site was Koh Bon, a small-rock outcropping that had been decimated of hard corals. I couldn't believe the damage to the coral beds; it had to have been a result of a tsunami or dynamite fishing. The ocean floor was literally covered with dead, broken pieces of coral. A dive instructor aboard boat attributed it to bleaching but it was far more traumatic than a bleaching incident. This could have been overlooked; however, we had four of our eleven dives on Koh Bon, on different sides of the rock outcrop. If Khao Lak Scuba Adventures was serious about providing a superior dive experience, one dive (to see the destruction) would have been sufficient and we could have used it as learning experience to discuss the issue of coral destruction. As it was the dive instructors tried to skirt the issue. These four dives were some of the worst dives that I have ever had. The next dive site, Koh Tachai, was better with healthy hard coral and beautiful soft corals and abundant coral fish. We saw our only large pelagic, a manta ray, at this site. There were no whale sharks, turtles, sharks or large groupers on any of the dives even though the crew kept telling us about previous sightings. As we sailed at night to the various dive sites, we found ourselves in an entourage of dive boats, going from one site to another. Upon reaching Richelieu Rock, which we though would provide the best dives, it was discouraging to find 8-10 dive boats had converged on this partially submerged rock pinnacle. There were excellent soft corals but I have never experienced the density of divers as experienced at Richelieu Rock - there were divers above us, below us and all around us. We were bumping into one another or intruding on underwater photographers. The pinnacle is small and can't accommodate a large number of divers. Khao Lak Scuba Adventures can't regulate the number of dive boats at site but they can look for other dive sites than Koh Bon.
I was also disappointed that our dive instructor was only interested in hurrying us along his chosen path and minimising our dive time. Several times, he instructed me to spend less time with the photography and stay closer to the group of six, five divers and him. He was not proficient in spotting small creatures and didn't seem interested in identifying any species. We found ourselves surfacing earier than most groups when we still had bottom time available. There were 20 divers aboard boat, broken into five groups, but the Manta Queen II was barely a step above a "cattle boat".
The quality of the dive briefings varied considerably as Matias, the dive leader, gave informative briefings concerning water conditions, currents, communications and dive profiles. However, he quickly relinquished his role as dive briefer and turned it over to the more junior Khao Lak employees. One fellow, Dan, an American, turned the dive briefings into his attempts at comedy improv, regaling us to be on the lookout for "vegan" fish. In the group of twenty were a number of teen-agers who would have benefitted from a more classical, informative dive briefing before embarking on their dives.
The Manta Queen II provided acceptable accommodations, although a number of other divers complained of the noise level as their bunks were next to the engine room. The food aboard boat was good with Thai and Western choices. The Thai dive crew were extremely proficient in helping us into our gear and out of the water. Their dedication to the work exceeded the Western staff of guides and instructors.
The Andaman Sea is not particularly noteworthy as a dive site but if your are in the area, looking for a dive, I would recommend to look for another dive operator, other then Khao Lak Scuba Adventures. My experience with them was not pleasant, at times it seemed they were only interested in completing the eleven dives as quickly as possible and finishing the trip.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Virgin Islands, Cebu, Philippines, Hawaii, Thailand, Aruba, Bonaire, Cozumel, Florida Keys, East Timor
Closest Airport Phuket, Thailand Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp -°F / -°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40-60 Ft/ 12-18 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Depth and bottom-time were set prior to the dive by the dive leader and varied depending on if it was first or last dive of the day.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 2 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments One large bucket was provided. No special accommodation was made for photographers for recharge stations and bench-top space. Not many photographers in the group.
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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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