360 Degrees, Yes Please

Ko Hong Krabi and the smaller Krabi province archipelagos are typically quieter than the more popular Phi Phi or Phang Nga Bay areas. However, the area provides you with everything you could want from a day out with your friends or family – snorkeling, discovering white sandy private beaches, hiking, or sightseeing – there is something to keep everyone happy. 

Ko Hong Krabi sits in-between the Koh Yao Islands and Krabi mainland and already had a great name for itself with its stunning lagoon. Entering through a narrow passageway you are greeted by the scenic and mesmerizing Ko Hong Lagoon. This striking turquoise body of shallow water is surrounded by high rock walls lined with lush mangroves giving a forgotten world feeling to it. Only accessible by small boat or longtail, some areas are so clear and shallow you can easily see your feet on the underwater sand.   

You could even get to enjoy the mystical sense of being in this bright turquoise lagoon all to yourselves as 5 Star Marine have the knowledge and expertise to miss the rush and give you the most private and memorable time here.  

After taking in the vibrant colors of Ko Hong Lagoon, let your adventurous side loose and make your way around to the most recent addition to the island; the breathtaking 360o Viewpoint. This impressive metal staircase structure was built in 2020, during Covid, and was designed to give panoramic 360o views of Krabi and the surrounding islands. It certainly delivers and 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. 

The climb is not for the fainthearted as you need to ascend the metal stairs (all 419 of them) and progress along wooden walkways for around 10 – 15 minutes in the heat before reaching the top viewing platform. Here, your efforts will be greatly rewarded with the most spectacular view. At around 109 meters above sea level, it is definitely a steep climb, but totally doable and worth the exertion to get to the top to see views of tropical islands and karst limestone mountains jutting out of the emerald waters. This experience is perfect for a group of friends or families with children; just remember to take shoes with you.

Once you have had your fill of these stunning panoramic seascapes, make your way back down to the shore and catch your breath before heading out to your pick of fantastic snorkeling and island locations nearby. With clear waters, secluded lagoons, and abundant marine life in the shallow and deep-water coral reefs; you could even get lucky enough to spot a reef shark on your adventure. 

With so much to see and do, the Krabi Islands are a perfect mix for sightseeing, adventure, snorkeling, and private white sandy beaches. 

360 View Hong Krabi

Photo credit – sunny_rung

Important Update on Cancellations – April 2021

Customers

At 5 Star Marine, we are proud to say that you, our valued customers, always remain our top priority. This means that if you would like to cancel your April adventure on the sea with us, we will happily provide a refund of your deposit, no questions asked.

We understand that right now, with everything going on, you might want to postpone your plans until you feel safer traveling. We will honor all cancelations – not with credit notes, but with honest fast refunds. 

Just get in contact with us via the booking channel that you used and provide us your bank details so we can swiftly process your refund.

We are dedicated to making your time on the sea a 5-star experience in every way, and look forward to welcoming you back in the future should you decide to cancel your current booking. 

Community

5 Star Marine wants to reassure everyone that our essential community work will continue; supporting the most vulnerable people with our life bag donation program we have been running for over 14 months to date. Our life bags are crucially needed to help those in need during this economic crisis; each one supports a family of 4 people for 5 days.

Please note that our volunteering packing life bag efforts at Sutai Muay Thai on Saturday mornings will pause for the time being. This decision was made (6th April 2021) as a proactive measure in the interests of all our volunteers’ safety. Please rest assured that life bags will still be packed and distributed, but only by 5 Star Marine staff in a controlled environment.

How do you like my island, Mr Bond?

With virtually no tourists around, why not take some time now to visit one of the (normally) busiest islands in Ao Phang Nga National Park – the one and only James Bond Island. 

With a custom Phang Nga Bay tour, 5 Star Marine will guide you around hidden coves and lagoons, as well as stopping off at the iconic island which became a major attraction after featuring in the 1974 Bond movie, The Man With The Golden Gun.  

Phang Nga truly is one of natures’ spectacular works of art; where the vast karst rock scenery presents a visually stunning location. In fact, with the sheer number of unique formations, you could explore here for days. 

On your private day trip, you could stop by Panak Island to float along gently inside one of the hidden caves surrounded by mangroves, before enjoying a peaceful golden bay all to yourself. Move onto Ko Kudu Yai to take in the exquisite beauty of the clear turquoise water in this stunning lagoon. 

At lunchtime make a stop at the small island community of Koh Panyee; where huts, houses, and restaurants are built on stilts over the water. Don’t miss the opportunity to see their unique floating football pitch either! Then get your Bond Instagram to pose ready as you make your way to James Bond Island, (Khao Phing Kan); An internationally renowned tourist destination since appearing as the hideout for Bond’s antagonist, Scaramanga. 

Boats are not allowed too close, as this is a protected marine area, but you can view the famous sight from Koh Ping Ghan; an island with an immensely tall leaning rock and some small caves to explore. With the tourists gone you can see the island properly minus the crowds. Take your time to stroll around, in peace and quiet for the first time in around 40 years. 

After getting your fill of this notorious island, you can continue on to enjoy some sea canoeing or more cave exploring before making your way back to base. Perhaps you might make a final sunset stop at Koh Pear, a small strip of an island that looks and feels like you are walking on water – a perfect end to the day. 

5 Star Marine’s Phang Nga Bay tour creates an unforgettable time at this world-renowned destination. 

Covid 19 Donation Update February 2021

As we move towards the end of February I felt it was important to give a quick update to our customers, friends, family, and supporters on our efforts to provide food relief to local Phuket residents. 

We are now past the 12-month mark of the devastating effects of tourism here in Phuket.  We are seeing more and more businesses closing, people giving up and desperation coming forth. 

Thailand was hit with a resurgence of Covid during the December / January period which saw Phuket shut down Domestic Travel.  This “Second Wave” was devastating to morale as well as the financial resources of those surviving. 

During the past month and a bit we have received more and more requests for help, and the requests have become more desperate. 

As we visit communities they share with us that they have been without work for 12 months, they don’t know where to turn, and they are just struggling. 

The good news is that we have increased our funds available for donation meaning we can reach more people, help more people and provide more support. 

In addition to that, to make things more fluid and to take some pressure from Sutai Muay Thai Team and 5 Star Marine Team we have recruited volunteers. 

As you can see in the video below our packing days are getting lots of people turning out to help. 

This would never have been possible without the help of UWC Thailand, its teachers, students, and volunteers.  In addition to UWC Thailand, we have also had great ex-pat help. 

To help manage our volunteer efforts to of our wonderful friends and customers Stepped into the position of Volunteer Managers. 

Huge shoutout to Pete and Nina for taking on that responsibility and allowing us to help more people more efficiently. 

So as the year continues, we expect to continue to be providing food relief support to our local Phuket communities. 

Stay Safe
Shaun

Phuket Boat Lagoon Private Boat Charter Office

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.

How Long Do We Have A 5 Star Marine Boat For During A Private Charter?

 

 

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.

Why Does 5 Star Marine Donate Life Bags To The Local Community Of Phuket?

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.

Phuket Private Boat Charter

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.

What’s Left To Explore? Some Ideas for The Upcoming Christmas Break!

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.

Why You Should Support Local Businesses During Covid 19 Pandemic

 

During this difficult time of the COVID 19 Pandemic as many as 70% of tourism businesses have not been able to re-open here in Phuket.  Whether that is from a lack of customers, financial problems, or staffing problems it doesn’t matter, what matters is that this means a lot of people are without work.

As a responsible company that is invested in the local community, as you can see from our regular donations, we also choose to support local businesses by spending at local restaurants, booking local staycations, and supporting businesses that have been supporting local people.

This is something we promote heavily on our social media as we strongly believe that the only path for tourism here in Phuket is through Domestic Tourism until at least the end of 2021.  While the government has started to let in long-stay tourism the number of tourist arrivals is just not enough to sustain the local economy.

So we encourage you, if you can, to spend local, stay local and support local businesses.  Also, pay special attention to those local businesses that are investing in keeping the community going.

Businesses like ours here at 5 Star Marine that are offering significantly discounted COVID Rate trips, businesses like ours that are making regular community donations, and businesses like ours that are taking the time to promote and help other local businesses.

Stay Local, Support Local and You’ll Discover Places You Never Knew Existed!