Hoping you all can help. I am newbie diver who is potentially traveling to Thailand at the end of this month for a month of volunteering and relaxation. If the plan holds, I will be volunteering in the Surin Province (taking care of elephants!) for a week, maybe spend a few days or a week in Bangkok, but then want at least 2 weeks of relaxing vacation somewhere near a beach.
I have had a very mild case of the bends (1x) and out of shape, so I don't think I want my 're-entry' dives to be somewhere so remote. So, I am looking for: incredible snorkeling, clean beaches, inexpensive hotels/pensions, and no big tourism development. But at least a few restaurants/bars so that I don't go completely nutty being by myself for 3 weeks. Want to avoid chain hotels (I travel for a living) or $200-$500 per night honeymoon palaces...but I think I'm too old to camp for 2 weeks straight!
In terms of reference (for my definition of excellent) I have snorkeled/dove on Grand Cayman and Belize, and over the last 5 years, I have grown less enamored of Grand Cayman due to its dwindling fish population. And to give you a sense of what I like, SMB on GC is waay too busy for my taste (heck, even Rum Point/Cayman Kai is too busy for me!). I loved Placenia, Belize (where I learned to dive), but really don't want to return there on a once-in-a-lifetime trip (that's an easy weeklong trip for me).
If I stay in Thailand, was thinking about Koh Tao, Koh Mak or Koh Kood. But given that Thailand isn't known for their snorkeling, do you recommend I fly somewhere else for the remainder of my trip? (I'm willing to do it, if it's not prohibitively expensive). Had been thinking of Fiji..but I think that is too long of a connection.
Maldives might be an option...but it would either be a riduclously expensive ticket (Boston>Bankok>Maldives>Boston) or reasonably priced, but one heck of a long return flight (Boston>Bangkok>Maldives>Bangkok>Boston). Plus I was wondering if I shouldn't save Maldives for when I can feel safe diving again (hopefully a year or so)??
I would love to find a snorkel liveaboard for a week...that would be my idea of heaven. These are hard to come by, though...since most are scuba (and good scuba sites are often poor snorkelling) but recommendations are appreciated.
Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated...From my reading, I also understand the coral health/ecosystem has changed dramatically over the last ten years, so recent experience would be a huge plus!
Thank you...I've spent the last few days reading here, and there are just so many options it's mind bogging. If there are specific threads that I should be reading, please, post away!
JenEdited: 2:22 pm, February 02, 2013