The whole family joined us for a big romp around Thailand this holiday. We did many of the awesome things to do in Bangkok — Floating Markets, Muay Thai boxing classes, hidden bars, Wat Pho, High Tea, bustling weekend market scavenger hunt and so much more. Then, we took the overnight train to Chiang Mai and stayed at the charming Tamarind Village Resort. We loved this place — so traditional, friendly and in a great location to explore the city. The highlights here were a day at an Elephant Sanctuary, tour of the city and environs on foot and by motorcycle, and yummy khao soi. We jetted off to Koh Samui and Koh Tao for some beach and relaxation time over the New Year. Most of the family headed home, but Griffin and I flew over to Phuket to join the Phinisi for a 6 night dive trip to the Similan and Surin Islands and famed Richelieu Rock. I can’t say enough good things about the Phinisi and her dive operation and fabulous crew and chefs! Even some of our fellow very well seasoned passengers remarked that the crew of the Phinisi was the most attentive and friendly dive staff they had ever encountered. I really appreciated their extreme mindfulness of our enjoyment as well as our safety and the conservation of this beautiful sea.

Griffin and I are somewhat new to the dive scene so we really enjoyed honing our dive skills with Dive Master extraordinaire, Marco. We quickly learned that a day on a liveaboard basically means dive, chill, eat and repeat. The comfortable, mostly clear and warm waters of the Andaman Sea were a delight to all on board from us novice divers to the hardcore photo dive buffs. We encountered just a beautiful and bountiful array of tropical sea creatures (too many to list here) including turtles, an octopus which we promised never to eat, moray eels, and most impressive a ‘herd’ of magnificent massive humphead parrot fish. Too cool! We all agreed that a hidden bay in the Surin Islands was our overall favorite location….just a happy place for sea life and divers alike. You might be surprised that Richelieu Rock was not our favorite. The crossing from Surin to Richelieu Rock takes about 45 minutes. The day that we motored over was pretty rough and visibility was not great. Plus, there were loads of dive boats there with so so many divers. It was a bit chaotic on the sites around the Rock. Our second dive was truly spectacular just due to the very healthy and beautiful purple anemones and massive amount and diversity of fish life. I was happy to see how healthy the Rock is and one of our dive mates who dove there over 20 years ago said it hadn’t changed at all. Our Dive Master and Captain agreed that we wouldn’t go over on our second day as the seas were quite rough at this point and 10-12 large dive vessels were hellbent on getting their divers in the water. We all applauded this decision and enjoyed the serene beauty of the Surin sites as well as a beach stop at a Sea Gypsy village. We are really happy to promote outfitters like the Phinisi who act responsibly and follow the discretion of the captain and dive crew. A dive trip should guided by Mother Nature and Neptune afterall.

If your travel plans are taking you to Thailand, be sure to tack on a dive trip with either the Phinisi or the Junk—you’ll be amazed.