First off I just want to thank everyone on this board for their help in answering questions and such! Thanks esp. to Arandora - sorry didn't get to meet up with you and your wife. We were pretty much in and out of Cousin Resort!
For those of you who dont know, I found a website for Kuraburi at http://www.toursurinisland.com This might be easier for those of you who want to book in advance. The price was 5500 Baht and was the same price another couple who booked in Khao Lak at arrival. I think they booked thru their hotel, I am not sure.
Anyway it's been about 3 weeks since our time on Surin Islands...and it was definitely the highlight of our trip! The day started early with a pickup at our resort. The driver was on time and I felt a little bad that we kept the van waiting a bit...not that long, maybe just a few minutes! The drive to the pier was non-eventful. When we got there, we didn't really know what to do. So we kind of stood around for a bit until we discovered a check in table. After we checked in, we selected our snorkel gear. Note - they do provide towels, something I wasn't sure about. They also had some breakfast snacks consisting of tea, coffee, toast and jam.
The ride to the islands was fun. We took our shoes off and got into the boat. There were a lot of people on the boat just for transportation, a few of us were there for the snorkeling trip. But most of the people were Thais on vacation. There were some westerners. Since we Chinese, but from the States, I guess we kind of blended in. The guides did not care to translate for us assuming that we are Thai. Then I asked for English and people laughed. =) But I don't think in a mocking way....hahah!
Anyway to the good parts...the snorkeling was superb, some spots were super duper clear! The guides were so awesome and eager to show us the fish that they saw. I found this really helpful especially since it is all kind of overwhelming at first. You see all this beautiful coral and various fishies swimming by...you almost dont know where to look!!! The guides were also excited to take pictures and they would take pictures of both us as well as grab our cameras and dive down for close up shots of the fish. This was helpful because although our camera was good, you really dont get as brilliant colors unless you are close up.
We saw tons of nemos! (clownfish), turtles, octopus, sand sharks, sting ray, and other fishies that I dont know the names of. However, we also saw jellyfish. I got a couple pictures of some orange jellyfish - those didnt have tentacles so they didnt seem as scary. But later we ran into translucent pinkish jellyfish with long tentacles. Our guide got stung twice while waiting for us to all get back on board. He said they were not dangerous (fatal) like those box jellyfish. But it was stll kind of scary. I felt pretty safe despite that though and felt that they were looking out for our safety. I wish I had gotten a picture of them...=( The sad thing is the areas with the jellyfish had the CLEAREST water. Darn!
The food at the campsite was really good. I thought I saw some posts of people complaining about it, but my husband and I and another couple we met enjoyed the food. I felt like it was similar to home cooked style foods. My mom cooks similar foods and she grew up in Cambodia. So we are thinking that the food is pretty authentic and home styled...definitely not your pad thai, hot wok, type of food. But still very good. We also got lots of watermelon and pineapple - this was for every meal except for breakfast, and also as a snack on the snorkeling trips.
Bathroom facilities were okay. I didn't know about the manual flush toilets and did not understand even though the drawing was there to indicate usage. Haha! But no problems there. Typical asian bathrooms I suppose? There were lights lit up around the area at night so there was not a problem going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I brought my flashlight with me just in case and it was useful when closing the door of the stall.
The tents and provided sleeping gear was fine. The mat was not super helpful, but everything seemed very clean and at least smelled nice. So I was thankful for that. It was quite comfortable. My husband and I got so tired after a full day of snorkeling that we would pretty much sleep right after dinner....hahhaa!
I think the guides were really awesome!! They were just so nice and helpful. On our last day, there was free time before going back to the mainland. One of the guides who was with us on the 1st day asked if we wanted to go out snorkeling with him again. I was a little confused and worried about missing the boat back. But he told us to just load our belongings onto the boat. Turned out the boat was the same boat taking us back so there would be no issues. It was nice to get another round of snorkeling in because I dont knwo what we would have done otherwise.
Overall we had an awesome time on this trip and recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys snorkeling. The food was good, the sleeping accomodations were good and clean, and the guides were superb!!!