Island Hopping Here We Go

We are thrilled to welcome a LOAD of new destinations to enjoy from 1st October; and yes, these are going to be open to both Sandbox and Domestic guests.

With the change in season, the seas become calmer so let’s take a look at the exciting new destinations which now become accessible; working our way out from our base pier in Boat Lagoon:

1. Khai Islands

Three popular and family-friendly islands offering shallow snorkeling only 15 minutes from the pier. These islands are close together and are especially good for beginner snorkellers as you can go straight off the beach and experience a plethora of tropical fish. Also, a great spot for a beach picnic.

2. Mai Ton & Coral Combination

5 Star Marine runs a respectful dolphin spotting program at Mai Ton Island which is around 30 minutes from Boat Lagoon, where you can also snorkel before making your way to Coral Island, with beautiful snorkeling, plus relax on the beach with great vibes on Banana Beach Club, which also offers activities, massages, lunch, etc.

3. Racha Islands

The two idyllic Racha Islands; Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi, provide some of the best snorkeling reefs in Thailand and quiet, tropical white powdery beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters. With Manta Rays and Whale Sharks hopefully coming back again this October / November, don’t miss your chance to spot these magnificent creatures.

4. Phi Phi

Phi Phi is a particularly well know location in the Phuket region, and now with the change in season you can take advantage of some stunning location all to yourself – literally, you might just be the only boat out there! Enjoy Phi Phi Ley and Bamboo Island and chance spotting turtles and clownfish.

5. Krabi Islands and Hong Krabi

The turquoise waters of the Hong Krabi Lagoon are to die for, and why not get your adrenaline going with a climb up to the new 360-degree viewpoint on Hong Krabi? This is arguably one of the best seascape views of the Krabi island sets, Phang Nga Bay, and surrounding islands in the national park that you can get from anywhere. It might be a long climb but it is worth the reward. Enjoy the infamous Railay beach for a lunch stop and gorgeous scenery too.

6. Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga truly is one of natures’ spectacular works of art; where the vast karst rock scenery presents a visually stunning location. This location provides a different type of tour, it is not a snorkeling tour, but more about the seascapes, canoeing, caving, and exploring.

7. Koh Rok

The sea becomes like a lake in high season, making Koh Rok and Koh Ha idyllic destinations to make the most of when the season comes around. This area combines stunning water clarity with a diverse range of colorful marine life and corals and therefore offers some of the best snorkeling opportunities you can find. In season, you can also regularly see whale sharks between here and Koh Ha also.

8. Koh Ha

This offers some of the best snorkeling, stunning soft sandy beaches, and is less crowded than the better-known Similan Islands. A little further to travel compared to most of our other day trip locations; but well worth every minute for the guaranteed natural beauty and a great stop on the way to Koh Lipe.

9. Koh Lipe

This will open up in the next few weeks and boy are we raring to go! Koh Lipe is bursting with things to see and do; enjoy a romantic time at Sunrise or Sunset Beach, explore the coral reefs snorkeling at Red Coral, head to Monkey Beach or Stonehenge Rock. You might even get to spot the odd whale shark, Manta Ray, or turtle.

10. Similan & Surin Islands

Two phenomenal island-hopping destinations are situated off the West Coast of Phuket.  These areas are bursting with amazing marine life, rich coral, and sandy white beaches. Enjoy a memorable boat trip to the renowned Similan Islands; a stunning archipelago in the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand, which is made up of 9 islands. We can’t wait for it to open from October 15th to May 15th. Further away and only open 6 months per year, due to the monsoon season plus in an attempt to preserve the marine environment.

11. Phuket By The Sea Tour

This unique program leaves from Boat Lagoon and travels under the Sarasin bridge then you make your way down to the banana beach past Surin, Kamala, and Patong for example, where you can stop off at a beach club or two!

So there you have it – 11 amazing tours opening up from 1st or 15th October. There are a few rules and regulations for Sandbox and Domestic customers, but please contact us to find out more, and in most cases just need your passport and proof of vaccination.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and explore while you can!

New Island Destinations for Phuket Day Tours

From the 15th of October 2021, there will be additional day tour options available to both Domestic and Sandbox customers. This time of year brings with it a change from the Monsoon to the Dry Season; where you can enjoy calmer winds and sea conditions which unite for a perfect combination for a day out on the sea.

This time of year also welcomes the reopening of the Similan and Surin Islands, by the National Park departments.  Two phenomenal island-hopping destinations situated off the West Coast of Phuket.  These areas are bursting with amazing marine life, rich coral and sandy white beaches.  Similan and Surin islands are only available to visit 6 months of the year, so this is something we have been looking forward to.

This year 5 Star Marine has licensed its fleet of boats to enter the stunning areas in and around the Similan and Surin Island National Parks.

The great news is that this means that both Domestic customers and Sandbox guests can all enjoy the natural marine richness and crystal clear blue waters these locations have to offer.

In addition to these destinations opening, the islands of Koh Rok and Koh Ha will also be able to welcome guests.  These are another two fantastic snorkeling and Day Tour locations that are a “must-see” and feature on many bucket lists.

To find out all the details about these new openings as well as take a sneak peek at what these destinations have in store for you, check out the YouTube video below:

The Heart-breaking Shortage of Life Bags

Today we take you along with us to show you the highs and the real lows of what a day out delivering Life Bags really looks like, from the inside. Join Nando from Sutai Muay Thai, Shaun Stenning, Khun Zeera, and the rest of the team from 5 Star Marine on a day in the life of their Food Relief Project.

As we haven’t been able to pack with volunteers for the last 6 weeks due to restrictions, we work around this and have 1,000 Life Bags all ready with our packing coordinators, to get out on the road using 2 trucks (which carry max 250 bags per run), plus we need to get some Villa Market supplies to another packing pod today.

The days start fairly upbeat, the team is motivated and we are getting ready to go with Khun Zeera steering truck one and Nando behind the wheel of truck number 2.

Stop #1

We start at our packing coordinators’ house. They have managed to pack an impressive 1,000 Life Bags (to put this in perspective, it normally takes 15-20 people over 3 hours to pack this amount). To see what 1,000 Life Bags actually looks like check out the video – it is a lot!

Stop #2

Loaded up we head off to Wat Chalong, where we were greeted by a long line of people waiting for food. There are only 150 bags for this drop, is it going to be enough? The community leader helps coordinate and people wait patiently, but it soon transpires that there are not enough supplies and it is so painful to see the look in the eyes of the people who are left empty-handed in the queue. We leave with heavy hearts knowing these people will not have any food today, it is a harrowing sight and feeling. We must move to the next community, but it can be hard to leave – sometimes we want to turn around and give more to the first drop but this is the situation we often face. In reality, we do run out. It hurts to see and be part of this, but we try to ensure the Life Bags go to the individuals most in need.

Stop #3

Next, we drive back to ‘Life Bag Base’ to refill and put a further 250 bags in per truck (when you have been doing this for 19 months you get pretty sharp at knowing how many life bags fit in a boot, front seat, back seat, etc!)

Stop #4

The next drop is to help Covid-19 infected households. This is where community volunteers step in and unload for us, to keep our teams safe and to restrict us from having to enter the households. There are around 25 houses with positive members, (each house has around 8-11 people inside), so the Public Health Team comes in and takes the Life Bags into the houses for safety reasons.

Stop #5

Next, we head to Bangtao where there is a community in isolation. Actually, many villages get locked down and/or put into community isolation however it is not widely publicized. We make it our business to know where these are – most have had no jobs for 19 months and now are being told to stay home with no way to get food supplies. Here, we do not go into the Home Isolation (HI) community; the whole street is sealed so we drop the Life Bags off to them at a distance.

This area in Bangtao had just spent 14 days in Hospital Quarantine, but when they got out unfortunately 1 person tested positive so now the whole community has to do 14 days of home isolation = 28 days without work, without support, without food.

Isolation What?

So, with all the talk of different isolation or quarantine types filtering into the day of deliveries, we thought we should highlight the different types people are having to go through:

  1. Hospital Quarantine
  2. Hospital Quarantine (quarantine in a hotel)
  3. Field Hospital Quarantine
  4. Community Covid Centre
  5. Community Isolation
  6. Home Isolation (HI)

Behind the scenes, this food relief program is foreigner funded, but let’s not forget it is all local Thai’s doing the actual handouts plus donating water and extra supplies – the community helps out a lot and the Phuhiyban and village chiefs are all very thankful and supportive.

Stop #6

We make a stop in the Manik area to drop off supplies after the Bangtao Home Isolation drop.

Stop #7

We return to base to fill the trucks with supplies once again.

Stop #8

Our penultimate is in Ban Rong, which has been devastated by Covid as the pier is centered around transfers that used to generally go to Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi; which are not getting many visitors right now.

It was agonizing to realize that in Ban Rong, just like Chalong earlier in the day, we were running out of Life Bags. At this point the camera was turned off; we were deflated and devastated. We stopped filming after Ban Rong, it was shattering and heartbreaking to run out twice in one day.

Stop #9

Khun Zeera headed for Phuket Town for the evening drop with 200 Life Bags in tow; this was the last drop of the evening and after starting pre 9 am, she did not return home until after 7 pm that night.

The Day Summary

This was just 1 day, a mere snapshot of the week and the 5 other locations the team had already been out delivering to. This is what a typical Life Bag day looks like, we try to drop a little hope to the people who need it the most, but we do run out and we do encounter traumatic scenes and people who are scared and want this all to end.

Nando Sums It Up Nicely

We asked Nando what keeps him going, and as he says: “The team; if you have a strong team, you cannot do this. Every time you go on a donation drive, and you see the gratitude on people’s faces it motivates me personally to carry on” Nando came from humble beginnings, and his dad set him an excellent example, often helping his workers’ families when needed. “I like to give without needing to receive. It’s a lot about how much love you give, not only how much you give, this can be enough, and what I learned as a kid is: do not expect to receive back.”

The Conclusions

We are the ‘Gap Guys’ – filling in until we are no longer needed, and tourism returns, and with it brings a positive difference in the economic situation in this beautiful country.

If you want to help or know more please contact us

 

5 Star Marine Wins 2021 Tripadvisor

Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Award

We feel extremely privileged to receive this achievement from Tripadvisor, which celebrates companies that consistently deliver the very best experiences possible to its customers, therefore earning top guest reviews. This award puts 5 Star Marine in the top 10% of businesses on Tripadvisor and celebrates them as the ‘best of the best for ‘things to do’ on the platform.

Shaun Stenning, CEO of 5 Star Marine commented: “We are not just honored, but also humbled to have managed to stand out despite the current climate and adversities, and are delighted that we have continuously delighted our travelers. We sincerely thank all our wonderful guests for their continued support throughout the last year, and of course our crew and staff for their dedication, hard work, and community efforts.”

As challenging as the past year has been, 5 Star Marine have kept their service levels consistently high to ensure all of their welcomed speedboat guests received a truly 5-star experience. It is an honor to receive the highest ratings and guest reviews on Tripadvisor, and 5 Star Marine appreciates the recognition for all their staff and crew members who have made this possible and exceeded guest expectations time and time again.

“Congratulations to all the winners of the 2021 Travellers’ Choice Awards,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “I know the past year has been extremely challenging for tourism businesses. What has impressed me is how businesses adapted to these challenges, implementing new cleanliness measures, adding social distancing guidelines, and utilizing technology to prioritize guest safety. The Travellers’ Choice Awards highlight the places that are consistently excellent – delivering quality experiences time and time again even while navigating changing customer expectations and new ways of working. Based on a full year of reviews from customers, this award speaks to the great service and experience you provided guests in the midst of a pandemic.”

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for our Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best award, we appreciate the support from the best experts possible: You, our real guests who have experienced a private speedboat day or overnight tour with us.

Domestic Vs Sandbox Rules

With all the different rules and regulations depending on if you are a domestic guest or a Sandbox visitor, we thought that this needed breaking down; so here it is: 

CURRENT REGULATIONS

 DOMESTIC GUESTSSANDBOX TRAVELLERS
PierBoat Lagoon, Chalong PierChalong Pier
Destinations*Coral Island, Racha Islands, Mai Ton IslandCoral Island, Racha Islands, Mai Ton Island
VaccinationProof not requiredVaccination certificate required
MorChana AppNot requiredMorChana App on phone required
ID**Passport copy or Thai IDPassport copy or Thai ID
Rewards StampAvailable for Racha and Mai Ton tripsAvailable for Racha and Mai Ton trips

* As we are unable to leave the Phuket province (until 16th August) the day trips are currently restricted to Coral Island, Racha Islands, and Mai Ton Island.

** Identification as indicated in the table has required a minimum of 24 hours prior to the boat trip departure.

AFTER 16th AUGUST?

For domestic guests, the following areas are due to open up after 16th August:

Please note that you will need to be fully vaccinated with the exclusion of children and those under 12 years old do who do not need a negative Covid-19 test. Fully vaccinated adults must provide a negative antigen test also (rules as of 8th August 2021)

Remember to request your Rewards Passport, to get stamps for your day trip experiences – collect all 7 destinations and get a totally FREE day trip, no hidden extra charges!

Whether you are a domestic or sandbox customer we at 5 Star Marine are ready to welcome you safely onboard our TAT SHA Plus certified fleet.

 

August Updates for Sandbox Guests

There have been a number of brand-new Provincial rule changes, so make sure you are up to date with the latest information. Let’s take a look at what has changed: 

WHAT WAS THE 7+7 MODEL?

There was previously a planned 7+7 model; this was essentially where Sandbox tourists would have needed to stay in Phuket for 7 nights before being able to explore other provinces, like Phang Nga Bay, Krabi, and Phi Phi, etc.

THE 14 DAY MODEL

However, this 7+7 model has been delayed until at least 16th August 2021. So as of now, the latest Provincial rules state that Sandbox tourists must stay in Phuket for the 1st 14 days.

CAN I GO ON A BOAT DAY TRIP?

Yes, absolutely, you can still go island-hopping and experience day boat trips and make the most of your time on holiday if you are here on the Sandbox scheme. During your 1st 14 days, you can head out to stunning locations such as Koh Racha Yai, Koh Racha Noi, Coral Island, and Mai Ton.

One of our most popular island-hopping day trips at the moment is the combination Dolphin Spotting and Snorkelling Experience. Spend time at the beautiful beaches on Coral Island, with restaurants, snorkeling spots, canoes, and plenty of Instagram-worthy setups; then head to Mai Ton for the afternoon for some dolphin spotting.

NO GO ZONES

Unfortunately, Phi Phi and Phang Nga are currently no-go zones. This is a brand-new update and is scheduled to be in place from 3rd August until 16th August. So, put simply, you cannot leave the Phuket Province (but can still enjoy day trips to Racha Islands, Coral Island, and Mai Ton as mentioned above as they are Phuket Provincial Islands).

WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER?

Yes, we do have some rain during the monsoon season, however, it’s not all day, every day. We are still getting many great weather days to go out on our boat tours, and take wind conditions and our radar readings into consideration when planning the destinations. We are more than happy to help advise when is best to get out and explore.

THANK YOU!

As an island that relies so heavily on tourism, we wanted to thank you for choosing to come here on holiday, and extend a very warm welcome to Phuket. This restarting of tourism is critical for everyone here on the island. As a company, we have been supporting our community who need it most; so many people have had no income and no way to survive this period. We support through our Life Bag packing and distribution efforts, (with essential food and hygiene products).

We understand that Phuket is not exactly how it used to be; there are more rules and regulations, not everything is open, but you coming here as an international tourist is supporting the island and this is exactly what we need right now to rebuild our domestic economy – so, THANK YOU!

 

5 Star Marine – TAT SHA Plus Approved

5 Star Marine pride themselves on continuously striving to remain an industry leader in all areas; and they were in fact one of the first private boat companies in Phuket to be awarded the TAT SHA Certification in 2020, followed by the TAT SHA Plus Certification in 2021.

As the Phuket Sandbox officially reopened to international guests on July 1st, 2021, this means that international travelers can be assured of their safety with 5 Star Marine’s speedboat tours. The Tourism Authority of Thailand awarded 5 Star Marine with this certification, as a tourism-related business on the island; and the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration Plus Certificate is now proudly held by the company. 

The TAT SHA Plus symbol shows customers that the business has been certified as adhering to all public health measures set up for Covid-19 safety. Although it only requires 70% of employees to have been fully vaccinated as part of the “Phuket Must Win” vaccination rollout – 5 Star Marine have gone over and above with 100% of employees having been fully vaccinated.   

This private speedboat tour company has taken extensive measures to ensure that its speedboats, staff, crew, policies, and procedures are industry-leading. Not only have they been accredited by the Thai Government by proving they competently following ‘Covid-19 Safe Guidelines and Principles’, but they have also gone the extra mile so that you can rest assured of all aspects of health and safety during this unprecedented time.

5 Star Marine is proud to be one of the first TAT SHA Plus certified tourism services and looks forward to welcoming more domestic and international travelers onboard for once-in-a-lifetime experiences on their private speedboats in 2021. 

46800 Meals Distributed In The Last 14 Days

As Covid continues to restrict the local Phuket economy our team here at 5 Star Marine, lead by Shaun Stenning continues to dig deep and help the community. The third wave of Covid created more devastation than any other wave has.

This means that our team has had to step up and deliver more life bags and meals than ever before. Take a quick look at the last 14 days in review: 

Paradise in Phi Phi

Phi Phi is infamous in the Phuket region, with one of its iconic islands featuring in the 2000 movie, “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio.

A Phi Phi private tour with 5 Star Marine offers crystal clear tropical waters with stunning coral reefs to produce fantastic snorkeling, abound with marine life. Plus, the spectacular and well-known Maya Bay is a must-stop spot for some snaps. Move onto a quiet picnic spot on the white sand of Monkey Beach, and experience the stunning Pileh Lagoon for a truly memorable day out. Pileh Lagoon is the perfect spot to cool down and take a dip in the turquoise waters whilst admiring the cove-like canyon which literally cuts into Phi Phi Leh.

Star Marine ensures that you discover the area in the best possible conditions, with the least number of tourists, and also get to discover hidden coves and caves that you will not experience on group tours.

Your day in the paradise that we refer to as Phi Phi could look something like this:

  • Photos at Maya Bay
  • Swimming at Pileh Lagoon
  • Stopping at Monkey Beach
  • Picnic lunch at Loh Lana Bay Beach
  • Snorkelling at Nui Beach

No Quarantine in Phuket For Vaccinated Tourists

International Travellers – What You Need to Know

Phuket will be the first destination in Thailand to reopen to overseas tourists, from July 2021. This comes after over 15 months of the island being closed off to tourists; and now the local businesses, restaurants, hotels, and shops are looking forward to welcoming travelers back. Thailand has a full Covid-19 plan to reopen the whole country, and this starts in July where fully vaccinated tourists can fly to Phuket without the requirement to quarantine.  

Under the ‘Phuket Sandbox’ program, Phuket will be the first destination to lift quarantine requirements for vaccinated foreign tourists, starting from 1 July 2021. Tourists will be required to spend the first seven days on the island, before being allowed to travel to other Thai destinations. (source TATNEWS.org)

Phase 1: Phuket

From the 1st July 2021, fully vaccinated travelers can visit Phuket without the need to quarantine on arrival. 

The main requirements for overseas tourists are set out below*

  • Proof of Covid-19 vaccination is required (full vaccination)
  • Obtain a Certificate of Entry (CoE) before departure
  • Travel insurance with Covid-19 cover
  • Download the Thailand Plus tracking application before departure and upload the required information
  • Must fly directly to Phuket International Airport*
  • Present a negative PCR test result (issued a maximum of 72 hours before departure)
  • Covid-19 test on arrival
  • Stay in Phuket for a minimum of 7 days

*Please enquire at the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in your own country for up-to-date travel requirements and to ensure you are eligible for quarantine-free arrival into Phuket. 

5 Star Marine Private Boat Tours

From July 1st, we are looking forward to welcoming back our international market VIP guests with a range of private boat trips. We are excited to give our staff the opportunity to work with international guests again and we also want to give you the chance to explore some exciting destinations whilst the islands are still blissfully quiet and beautiful.

From 1st July 2021 we are able to offer private tours to the following destinations:

Please contact us to book your bespoke VIP boat tour experience.