I am often asked when I join our customers on tour what is my favorite destination to visit on a Private Boat Tour. The answer to the question is difficult and my answer will change dependent on the season. But one part of my answer will always stay the same and that is that Phang Nga Bay is the most visually stunning above the water area to explore.
Why Is Phang Nga Bay So Stunning?
With 47 Islands in the Bay (I think there is more, but at 47 who’s counting?) just entering Phang Nga Bay is a stunning and moving experience. As you cruise into the bay and see the length of the bay, the number of islands, the stalactites, and formations you will be stunned.
I often say to our customers that entering into Phang Nga Bay is like stepping into a Jurassic Park movie. The setting is very similar and the feeling of the bay is amazing. As you look around Phang Nga Bay and marvel at how the island formations were made, how some of the stalactites have grown you really start to appreciate it’s a true wonder.
Is James Bond Island In Phang Nga Bay?
While Phang Nga Bay is better known to tourists as the area where James Bond Island is located, to me as a Private Boat Charter Company I truly believe that James Bond Island is just one of many stunning islands and formations in Phang Nga Bay.
I feel the overwhelming joy that James Bond was filmed in Phang Nga Bay as it gives a marketing attraction and motivation to enter the Bay. But the reality is that once you are in the Bay James Bond Island becomes irrelevant as you marvel at the true wonder and beauty of Phang Nga Bay.
There is no better way to explore Phang Nga Bay, the Mangroves, the Hongs, and the Hidden Caves then by Private Speedboat. Let us take you on a journey into the mystical Phang Nga Bay.
After a pretty rough 2020, we were hoping that 2021 would see a more stable and predictable Domestic Tourism market and the return in a small way of an international tourism market. The reality is that the start of 2021 has seen a lot of uncertainty combined with a resurgence in Covid 19 cases here in Thailand.
To date, Phuket has been lucky enough to not have reported many cases from the recent outbreak but with the amount of inter-provincial travel that occurred over the New Year period, it’s a matter of time before more cases are reported.
What Is 5 Star Marine Doing In Response To The Covid Resurgence?
At this time the Provincial Government of Phuket has not restricted our business or Private Boat Tour companies from operating. We have been ordered to increase the amount of Covid Screening we are doing at our pier.
So in response to the Covid Resurgence, we have implemented as follows:
1. Travel Advice – We have advised customers of ours that have booked multi-day tours outside of the Phuket Province about the possible effect that Covid will have on our ability to complete these tours. We have offered our customers the ability to cancel and refund their tours. We do not offer credits or deferred dates, we prefer to provide full refunds and wait for the government response to Covid to stabilize.
2.One Day Tours – We are operating all of our single-day tours to Phi Phi, Raya, Phang Nga Bay, Hong island, and beyond as normal. For these tours, you will be screened at the pier per our normal TAT SHA accreditation with hand sanitizer and medical masks available on all our boats.
3.Staff Screening – We are screening all of our staff per our TAT SHA regulations and response plan. To date, our staff has not returned any failed screenings but we continue to monitor the situation.
4.Boat Cleaning – We deep clean our boats daily, sanitize all our equipment, and use recommended and regulated procedures to do this in addition to our Company Response Plan which has been in play since March 2020.
Do You Have Availability?
For certain we have bookings and availability on all our boats. Due to orders issued by the BMA and advice provided to inter-provincial travelers a lot of our pre-bookings have now canceled and crews of all our boats are available to complete tours upon request.
Will You Continue Your Donation Program?
We have recommitted with our volunteer team to continue our Life Bag donation program in 2021 with the first day of packing starting on January 4th, 2021.
As we continue to grow our customer base and offer more unique Private Boat Charter Experiences it’s important we feel to write a post that offers answers to our most asked questions.
Find some of our most frequently asked questions answers below:
What Do You Have On Your Private Boat?
In all of our Private Boat Charters, we include Water, Soft Drink, Fresh Fruit, Masks, Snorkels, Life Jackets, Beach Mats, and Fins. At request, we can put on an outdoor cushion, picnic equipment, plastic cups, wine glasses, and more. If we have it in supply we are happy to place it onboard for you.
Can We Bring Our Own Alcohol?
You are more than welcome to bring Alcohol on board. We have an icebox on all of our boats with plenty of ice to cool down and keep cool your Alcohol. Additionally, we can purchase alcohol for you and place it on board and you can pay the receipt of the purchase.
We do not mark up on Alcohol purchases and do not charge corkage fees.
How Long Do We Have The Private Boat For?
Quite simply put, we do not limit time on our boats. We hire out our boats once per day so the boat is available to you for the day. Whether you want to start at sunrise or finish at sunset we do not mind as long as it’s safe to be out we will stay out with you.
Do You Include Return Pier Transfers In Your Pricing?
Our price quotes do not include Transfers from your Hotel to our pier. We can provide this service to you at an additional price with no issues. Our team of drivers are professional, safe, and have baby seats available for you.
Do You Include National Park Fees In Your Pricing?
National Park Fees are not included in our pricing, this is an extra charge that is payable on the day direct to the National Park officers. As this is not a fee we collect we prefer for you to pay it directly to the National Park Officers.
Do You Include Lunch In Your Pricing?
We do not include lunch in our pricing. For an extra charge, we can organize a picnic lunch for you, or you can ask our Guide for a recommendation on the best restaurants for you on your tour. The reason we don’t include lunch is that most packaged lunch options are limited and do not cater to everyone’s needs. We prefer to allow you to select the meal you want at the price you are willing to pay.
During this Covid 19 Season, the 5 Star Marine team has been well supported by the local and domestic markets booking private boats and excursions. Combine this with our Donation program that has seen over 100,000 meals donated by the team we thought it was time to move to a location more central to the areas that we operate from.
During November our team started the cleaning, set up, and operations of a new office for our Private Boat Charters at Phuket Boat Lagoon. Considering the location of Phuket Boat Lagoon, we thought it was strategic as it allowed easy and quick access to our office from all over Phuket.
Whether you are coming from Rawai, Patong, Laguna, or beyond Phuket Boat Lagoon is a centralized location. So when you board for your next tour with 5 Star Marine you will be checked in and prepared for your tour at our newly opened office for our Private Boat Charters.
A huge shoutout to our Administrative and Operations team for setting up the office and making it comfortable for our clients and staff. We welcome you to come to the office at any time for a chat.
Here at 5 Star Marine, we have taken the opportunity during Covid to expand our product offerings and also expand our assets. In the last week, we have been lucky enough to launch our 3rd boat, Lucus 3, into the water and have it out on Charter.
Lucus 3 is similar to our Lucus 1 boat, a very stable boat and capable of doing all trips in all conditions safely. Lucus 3 is 39.9 feet with a back deck extension ideal for relaxing, fishing, and diving.
With 2 250 HP Yamaha engines powering the boat we are able to cruise to each destination at speed while also maintaining safety. The crew of Lucus 3 have been working hard to prepare the boat for charter.
The boat comes with an inbuilt Cool Box, Bluetooth Sound System, VIP Matting, and all the fixtures and fittings of Lucus 1 and Lucus 2. If you are looking for a safe, reliable, and cost-effective Private Boat Charter in Phuket then Lucus 3 is a great addition to the 5 Star Marine team.
One of the frequently asked questions I received from customers prior to booking a Private Boat Charter with us is how long they get the boat for.
The answer to us is simple, as long as it’s safe to be out on the water. We do not hire out our boats more than once per day, so whether you take the boat for 1 hour, half a day, or the full day the price does not change.
When we price our Private Boat Charters we include the cost of fuel, so our price is not based on how long you have the boat but where the boat is going.
Now I know that seems like a really vague answer to the question, so let me give you a few guidelines. Most of our customers end up using our boats from between 5hrs to 8hrs. Generally, after 8hrs the customers are exhausted and want to head back to the pier, but this is not because we are rushing them, or forcing them back to the pier.
Our team is trained to ensure that our customers are happy and your happiness and satisfaction is our number one priority so we will only go back to the pier when you have had enough and are ready to go home.
There is an exception to that rule though. If we feel that you are asking us to stay out and it’s unsafe then we will advise you that the safest thing for you, our crew, and the boat is to go back to the pier.
What Do I Mean By Unsafe?
Generally, that means that it is getting too dark to stay out. Our boats are available to you from sunrise to sunset, so if you are getting close to sunset we will ask you to move to an island closer to the pier so that once the sun has set, we don’t have a long cruise back to the pier.
So feel free to use the boat as you like, our guide will provide advice to you on the best program for you on the day as well as guide you on how to ensure we get back to the pier at a time that is safe and not in the dark.
Avid followers of our social media know that multiple times a week we are out in the local community donating Life Bags to villagers who are in need. Covid 19 has devastated the local economy here in Phuket where more than 90% of our GDP was reliant on International Tourism.
When Covid 19 first hit Thailand we all thought it would be around for just a few months and then we could “get back to normal” but Thailand and the world have faced a completely different reality.
Over 100,000 people in Phuket have lost their job with no hope or way of getting another job. Over 50,000 people have left Phuket for other provinces searching for work in a country that has limited opportunities due to Covid.
Despite all of this, when we are out donating Life Bags we are often asked “Why Are We Helping?”
The answer is simple, I have been living here for 13 years and during that time I have built a number of successful businesses and without the help of the local Thai people, without the help of these communities, this would never have been possible.
I remember when I first started out running boats in Phuket we had all types of trouble. Boat engines would have issues, fuel lines would clog, you name the problem and I’ve probably experienced it. Being a foreigner on the water with these kinds of problems can often be a little scary.
Not in Phuket!
Even if I just slow our boat down to stop at a fishing spot you’ll find 3 or 4 boats that are passing by coming closer to “check we are ok”. It is this kind of seamanship and community spirit that has allowed our company here at 5 Star Marine to prosper.
So now I believe that I, my team, and our entire 5 Star Marine company have an obligation to lift up the community, the very same community that helped lift us up. We have been successful, we are a well-respected company and we now want to use our success to help the local people “Stand Up And Fight”.
This time is temporary and if I know that my company, my team, or our donation program can in any way help even just 1 person to fight through this hard time, to feel hope, to have faith that “this too shall pass” then this entire donation program is well worth.
To help our fellow man is the greatest service we can give and I am honored every day to be joined by our volunteers, to be joined by our staff, and to be joined by our friends in delivering Life Bags and support to communities in need.
Are you looking for a Private Boat Charter while visiting Phuket? You may be overwhelmed by the options available to you. Just a quick google search will show up millions of results from large companies to small, from owner-operated companies to agents. So how do you decide which is the right Private Boat Charter for you?
Selecting A Phuket Private Boat Charter
In our experience of selling, operating, and provided Private Boat Tours for 13 years here in Phuket we find that Private Boat companies fall into a couple of different categories:
Private Boat Agents
Private Boat Agents are companies that don’t actually own the assets that they are chartering to you. They have a relationship with the owner of the company that they are chartering from and make a commission. While Private Boat Agents are necessary to help owners like us, you will find that Agents will be providing prices and promises above what the Private Boat Charter company will deliver.
For example, in 2019 we received a booking from an Agent and they told us that they had explained to the customer the need to pay the national park fee and that it was not included in the price paid to the agent.
Upon meeting the customer we did a pre-trip briefing and found out they had no idea what the National Park fee was and the agent told them that everything was included. To ensure a good customer experience our company took a loss and paid the National Park fee for them and cut ties with the agent.
So when booking with a Private Boat Agent ensure that every promise they are making to you is a promise that the Boat Owner will back up. An easy way to tell if they are an agent is to ask for a photo of the exact boat they promise you will go on, or even call the owner so you can talk to them.
Group Tour Companies Providing Private Rentals
These companies are companies that generally target the Group Tour market, but if you wish you can choose to take one of their Group Tour boats on a Private Boat Charter. Generally, this means you will be taking a boat that has a lot of wear and tear with a crew that is set on a normal “route” and is not experienced in offering true private tours.
When I first came to Phuket I did this and would say it was the single worst experience I have had on a tour in Phuket ever. The crew did not care about our experience, were unhelpful about lunch options, and wanted to get back to the pier as soon as possible.
While these companies have their place in the market, from a price point of view they are on part of even slightly higher than a True Private Tour company but they offer service which is of an inferior standard on boats that don’t appear or operate as VIP.
True Private Boat Charter Companies
I believe that 5 Star Marine is one of those companies. We do not do group tours, our staff is trained to provide Yacht Like service to our customers, and we design and run programs that go anywhere from Phi Phi to Phang Nga, Krabi to Koh Rok and Koh Haa and beyond.
Our team is heavily trained on making sure they avoid crowds, they deliver custom experiences and receive feedback from our customers and adapt on the fly. Each and every single tour we do here on our Private Boat Charters are 100% customized we never do the exact same tour twice.
With travel looking like it will still be restricted in the upcoming Christmas break some of us are looking at what we can do to keep our kids entertained and maybe explore something that we have not seen before.
The good news is that in the December / January period we are past the Wet Season and into our Dry Season which means flat seas, clear water, sunny skies, and the opening of all of the national parks around the Phuket area.
As an owner of a Phuket Private Boat Charter company, my recommendations are a little biased but they are based on firsthand experience.
Multi-Day Island Hopping Trip
Over the last past few weeks, we have done trips like this. Where we pack onto the boat and head off exploring. Booking accommodation last minute, jumping from island to island and just living a free life on the sea.
The first trip we did was a 3 Day 2 Night trip that took us to Phi Phi, Krabi, Yao Yai, and beyond. We had some adventurous customers on board so we went snorkeling, swimming, lagoon hopping, and even went and snorkeled with some reef sharks.
The second trip we did was a 3 Day 2 Night trip that took us to Koh Haa, Koh Rok, Koh Lipe, and Koh Lanta. A truly stunning trip with some of the most amazing snorkeling that you have ever seen. If you really want to find the untouched paradises this is the trip for you and it’s suitable for people of all ages.
Koh Haa / Koh Rok / Koh Lipe
Out past, Phi Phi is these 3 paradise islands. Koh Haa is a beautiful spot for snorkeling where you have a high chance of seeing turtles and other amazing marine life. The coral reefs are alive with color and marine life. Do yourself a favor and while the international borders are restricted take a break out to Koh Haa.
Koh Rok is just 35 minutes past Koh Haa and again has the most amazing reef. You will see heaps of Clown Fish and other amazing varieties. What we love about Koh Rok is the colorful reef as well as the clear water.
Koh Lipe is a bit of a ride from Phuket, so take a few days to stay over while out there and explore things like 8 Mile Rock and the Black Beach. See Whale Sharks and more at locations like this. Truly an idealistic paradise.
Similan Islands / Surin Islands
With the change of season islands like Similan Island and Surin Island open up as possible destinations and are great places for relaxation, snorkeling, and exploration. Similan is a set of islands and Surin is just a beautiful untouched paradise.
Here are just a few ideas to get you started on what you could be doing this Christmas holiday. If you would like some custom recommendations just contact us and let us know what you’d like to experience and we will tailor something for you.
We have been asked a lot the last month or so what happens to a Private Boat Tour if the weather is bad, the wind is high or the sea is rough. It’s a good question and relevant this September and October as we are still in the Phuket Wet Season.
The answer is different from company to company. For example, today as I write this the rain is bucketing down but I am seeing video footage of tours going out.
Now in some cases, the Private Boat Tours will go out in bad weather as the customer requests it but in other cases, the companies do not allow for cancellations.
Here at 5 Star Marine Phuket, we offer a flexible cancellation policy. The policy allows you to cancel a tour up to the day before the tour for any reason without needing to lose a deposit or make full payment.
On the day of the tour if the weather is poor cancellation is allowable for the weather. This means we will not force you, your family or friends to take a tour in bad weather, sea conditions or wind conditions.
We wish your private boat experience to be a GREAT experience and the only way to do that is ensure we have good conditions for you, our customers. So to be clear, as a responsible Private Boat Company we will always give you the option to cancel ON THE DAY of your TOUR if the weather is bad.
IF you wish to go out this is your choice but we will never force you to take a trip just because you are booked. This is something that our company does differently from most private boat companies in Phuket.