In our humble opinion, Phuket is by far the best place to base a diving holiday in. Here you will find hotels of all possible categories and comforts, from cheap backpacker hangouts to luxury hotels that truly attract the famous, the glitterati and Royalty from all over the world. The huge and varied restaurant offerings range from simple but clean huts on the street where a lunch costs around US$ 1 to gastronomic palaces which rival their French and Italian brethren in Europe.
Indeed one of them, with a 16/20 rating in the Gault Millau, is considered by some cognoscenti the very best European restaurant in all of the Kingdom. Add the fabulous shopping, which today is probably the best to be found south of Bangkok and north of Hat Yai, and it's easy to understand why Phuket is the destination of choice also for the keen diver.
A disadvantage has often been that the very best dive sites are situated a fair distance away from Phuket. The Similan Islands and Richeliu Rock are no problem. These should ideally be done by liveaboard anyway, and we provide our very own intimate and cozy liveaboard, the “Jonathan Cruiser”, where we draw on our 15 years' of experience in diver enjoyment.
The fine dive sites of Racha Noi and Phi Phi require many hours on a traditional dayboat, however, and the fantastic dive sites of Koh Ha, Hin Muang and Hin Daeng have effectively been impossible to reach on regular scheduled daily dive trips from Phuket.
Starting this season, Jonathan Cruiser will cooperate with a specialist operator on these routes. This is exciting, and uncharted waters, but the management of Jonathan Cruiser know the owners and management of the speed catamaran since many years, and believe in the concept.
Indeed, we have personal experience of just how easy and comfortable it has been to run daily trips all the way to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang with this very catamaran, albeit on a smaller scale. Certainly there are few diving platforms in the world more suited to this task from the point of view of comfort and safety and we speak as experienced instructors and divemasters.
The Speed Cat has been fully refurbished this season and with its two new 300 hp engines she can reach Racha Noi in merely 50 minutes, Koh Ha in just over an hour and a half, and the great pinnacles of Hin Muang and Hin Daeng in just over two and a half hours. This is faster than most daytrip boats from “nearby” Koh Lanta some 30 nautical miles away ...
For the first time it is now possible to join us on a liveaboard trip to to the Similans and Richelieu and follow, or precede this with a daily trip to Hin Daeng & Hin Muang or Koh Ha. All the while retaining the same hotel and losing no valuable holiday time travelling on tiring ferries or buses.
It also means that your average Diving Mom or Diving Dad, or indeed both, unwilling or unable to leave their better half and kids ashore for a full liveaboard trip now can slip away for a day or two of world class diving in the southern end of the Andaman Sea. Yet get back home every evening for dinner and cuddlies with the family...
The Speed Cat is roomy, highly seaworthy and comfortable. It has a proper toilet which can be used by grown-ups as opposed to hobbits, full electronics including GPS to aid the experienced skipper, a comfortable sun deck above and plenty of space for diving equipment and tanks on lower deck. Maximum speed is around 40 knots, but we prefer a cruising speed of 28-30 knots. There is plenty of space around the table on lower deck for a nice lunch during the surface interval.
We firmly believe there is no better way to reach Koh Ha, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, weather permitting. Through Jonathan Cruiser we both hope and believe that many more people can experience a wider range of great dive sites from the comforts of Phuket.