By: Mark Shandur – WWDAS Director

My family and I have been lucky enough to experience several liveaboards together as a family, including Galapagos in Ecuador, French Polynesia and Tubbataha in the Philippines. Now that my daughter is going to school, organising family liveaboard trips requires a little more planning, but fortunately we can still make it happen. Friends who planned to visit us in Thailand was the only excuse we needed to charter The Phinisi for an amazing 4-night trip around Phuket and the Similan Islands.

Five of our friends joined us on board as PADI Open Water Course referrals. They had already finished the confined dives, as well as the e-learning. They only needed to do their 4 Open Water Dives to finish their course. As Open Water courses cannot be taught in the Similans, we started our trip in Racha Yai and Racha Noi, just a little south of Phuket. We were treated with 30 metre visibility. Our friends completed the remaining 4 course dives with flying colours. As we chartered the cruise, our schedule was completely flexible to accommodate the training.

While enjoying the beautiful sunset, we set out on a comfortable overnight cruise to the Similan Islands. We woke up to gorgeous green, lush islands surrounded by the whitest powder sand beaches you have ever seen. The huge boulders that decorate the islands and beaches add to the already breathtaking tropical scenery. We went snorkeling with the children in Donald Duck Bay, at Island No. 8. To add to the adventure, we went on land to explore more of the island. We climbed all the way to the viewpoint on the top to enjoy spectacular views over the photogenic islands.

Highlights the following day included Koh Bon and Koh Tachai, two islands that well live up to their reputation in the top 5 of Thailand’s best dive sites. Here, we took the kids for another snorkel trip, accompanied by friendly turtles. A few members of our party even saw a banded sea snake. While the adults and older, qualified children enjoyed the diving, the youngsters were entertained by the crew and the babysitters we brought on board. This made the family diving holiday possible, and enjoyable for all.

Our freshly Open Water certified friends were rightly awed by the whale shark we encountered at Richelieu Rock! Personally, I had to wait 10 years after my Open Water certification before seeing one. They were definitely super lucky to see a whale shark so early in their diving career.

The Phinisi, as well as her sister boat The Junk, are laid out perfectly for accommodating families, with a choice of flexible twins/doubles, triples and quad cabins. The crew welcomed our children with open arms; we even brought a 6 month old baby on board. If you are looking for a family trip that offers something for all family members, I can truly recommend this dive/snorkel cruise experience on The Phinisi or on The Junk. My friends have already booked their next family cruise on board The Phinisi!


If you’re interested in chartering one of these beautiful liveaboards for your family and friends, we still have some last-minute availability in 2019.

Simply contact a member of our expert travel team on