Reggae Queen review
Here is some feedback from a South African couple who enjoyed their trip on the MV Sawan (aka Reggae Queen) snorkeling liveaboard this February. The Sawan runs 3 day 3 night trips that either start in Khao Lak and end in Kuraburi or vise versa. Transfers are included from Khao Lak hotels. But these guys stayed in a tent at the Similan islands prior to the liveaboard and in a tent at the Surin islands after the liveaboard. We helped them to book the tents (it’s hard to to on the English language version of the National Park website) and we arranged for them to be picked up from Similan and dropped at Surin Islands.
We did not do Thailand like many, we went north from the airport to a little town called Khao Lak then onto the islands of Similan and Surin for the snorkeling – Feb 2014. Let me start off however in Khao Lak. We stayed at Fasai House which was good value for money as all we needed was a bed and it was a stone through away from the main ‘drag’. They even arranged evening transfers and late check in without any problems. White Sand Beach was an awesome stop on our hired moped – a cheap and must do transport if you want to experience getting around Thai style. Khao Lak’s beaches are pleasant but a distant cry compared to those of Similan, Tachai, and Surin as would be expected. Khao Lak comes alive at night until 10pm. The streets are lit up with shops and restaurant lights while many tourists ‘walk the beat’ shopping and dinning. The beach restaurants are in hotels and are well worth the experience if you want to enjoy a romantic meal. The nearby national park has some great views and worth a walk through – be ready to sweat though.
Our island stay started on Similan Island no.4. A very picturesque island with clear waters but the tenting and bungalows are not for the Miss Prisses of society, can I add, all ablutions are worse. The food is very basic and all food tastes like fish unless you ask for food without fish sauce. Staff on the islands are definitely not as helpful as those in Khao Lak. The beauty of the place however compensates for its downfalls. 2 nights however were enough and we were on the Reggae Queen liveaboard. Now there’s a way to see the islands. The sees were calm and Ralf the owner and guide on the boat along with his staff are out to make your stay as pleasant as they can – they are great people. The accommodation as small as it is still sleeps better than on the islands and the food is infinitely better. The snorkeling at Tachai and Surin are definitely better than Similan and quieter too. Ralf will always see to take you to those sights verses the crowed areas and reefs full of swimmers with life jackets on (nothing against them please). Take the Reggae Queen 4 night 3 day trip if you want to see the islands in the best way, otherwise Surin has long tail boats that you can hire to take you to reefs of your choice. The reefs in Tachai and Surin are best and recovering from the bleaching. Small fish are plentiful and some larger, mostly Parrot Fish, are around. Sharks are ‘almost’ missing and the big rays are hard to find, so too are the other larger meat eaters like Moray, game fish etc. Then again the snorkeling reefs are close to shore in 6 -1m waters. Of all the islands Surin was the best – all things considered. Can’t comment to much on the shopping during our stay apart from a market that comes to Khao Lak every Saturdays and Wednesdays for 4hrs. The shops in Khao Lak have what you need but I’d expect them to be a little more expensive than those in Phuket. Patrick, Feb 2014