Pattaya Pakarang Semi-Submarine and Pirom Submarine of Pattaya have built a business around the basic tenants of ecotourism, as defined by the International Ecotourism Society (TIES) founded in 1990 to ensure such businesses exist, and act ethically by:

Ensuring that each tour facilitates environmental awareness.
Ensuring that any tour minimizes the impact on the environment.
Ensuring that all tours give back some direct financial benefits to conservation and preservation efforts.
Ensuring that the tour respects the culture of the locals.
Ensuring that the tour involves travel to a natural destination.
Ensuring the tour provides financial benefits to the local community.
Ensuring the tour supports democratic movements and human rights.

These are the basic actions taken by any tour operator whose claim to fame and fortune include the brand “Ecotourism.

In the case of submarine tours into protected coral waters, this type of tourism over the other kind: massive rampant destructive and neglectful, mean the difference between having a natural beach environment – or not!

You see, coral reefs do more than provide habitat for more than 4,000 species of fish and thousands of other plants and animals, these reefs protect nearby shorelines against storm erosion and wave damage; and without these shorelines would shrivel, along with the tourist numbers with it.

So the Pattaya Pakarang Semi-Submarine and the Pirom Submarine companies practice a “busload” approach to coral viewing that is more eco-friendly then individual diving or glass-bottom boat tours. No anchors are dropped on fragile formations and no damage from inexperienced scuba divers is ever incurred.

Instead, passengers are comfortably shown the natural wonders of the deep, with a minimum of environmental impact.

It all begins with an 8km ferry ride out to the submarine platforms offshore, near Koh Sak & Koh Lan, with passengers embarking from Laem Bali Hai Pier in Pattaya. Then either a one-hour ride aboard a semi-sub or full sub takes all into the reef proper.

A semi-sub is a submersible that does not go far below the water, but instead has a viewing port below that exposes all the wonders you would expect, and then some. The submarine is a true submersible and dives over 25 meters, giving all a closer look at the life below.

Both tours give you an in-your-face experience amid some of Thailand’s best coral reefs, which fortunately for the local economy, is still in excellent condition. And both tours give all passengers the satisfaction that they are doing their part to help preserve this natural beauty for generations to come.

Sure, it may feel like you are being bused around instead of having that personal freedom to swim wherever you want, but it’s this slight sacrifice that also gives you that warm fuzzy that you have done the right thing, for the reefs, the locals, and your children to come.

For more information on these ecotours, see one of the following operators:

Pirom Submarine ( whose office is located at 311/7, Mu 10, Pattaya Tai Road. Tickets are 2,000 baht per adult and 1,500 baht per child. The sub leaves on the hour, every hour on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. During the week the schedule is 10:30 am, 11:20 am, and then at 1:00 pm. To contact a customer service rep, you can call 0 3841 5234 or visit their website.

Pattaya Pakarang Semi-Submarine has a local administrative office at 125 Soi 4, Beach Road, North Pattaya. Tickets are 1,800 baht for adults and 900 baht for children. This tour includes lunch. To contact a customer service rep, call 0 3841 1001 in Pattaya or if in Bangkok, call 0 2503 3791.


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