SCUBA DIVING SIMILAN ISLANDS
The Similan Islands is part of Phang Nga province in Southern Thailand. It consists of several small islands within the Andaman Sea. It belongs to the Mu Ko Similan National Park, which was established in 1982 in an effort to preserve the natural resources in the region. Today, it is one of the most famous diving destinations in Thailand.
SIMILAN ISLANDS DIVING
The Similan Islands is one of the most talked about and coveted dive sites in Khao Lak. Aside from the Similan Islands, there are also several other dive sites nearby, which are often included as stops in many dive tours in the area.
There are 9 islands that form the Similan Islands. Each of these islands is protected since it belongs to a marine national park. Only islands 4 to 9 are open for diving. Meanwhile, you will find the visitor centers at islands 4 and 8.
There are no airports or ports in Similan Islands. In fact, it is made up of remote islands that are not too large in size either. The national park is manned by rangers who are put there to protect the natural resources of the islands. If you come to the islands for diving, you will find many dive tour operators to take you on a boat trip to the famous dive sites in the area.
BEST DIVE SITES
West of Eden
This dive site is located northwest of the Similan Islands group where at some point it merges with another famous diving site– Deep Six. This dive site promises a garden of coral outcroppings as soon as you descend from the surface of the water. The maximum depth of this dive site can reach to 12 meters (around 40 feet). Aside from the hard and soft corals at the West of Eden dive site, you will also encounter several marine species like angelfish and snapper. If you care to look inside holes in corals and rocks, you could stumble upon clown fishes and spiny lobsters, too.
Elephant Head Rock
This dive site is one of the most interesting ones you can explore within the Similan Islands. On the surface, it looks like a portion of a giant elephant’s head is submerged. This dive site is based around a pinnacle and is located in between two islands; it has the tendency to experience strong currents. This is best reserved for advanced divers and is not suited if you are going on your first dive. Other major features of this dive site include swim throughs, channels, and boulders. The depth of every dive area can range from 12 to 30 meters.
Koh Bon West
If you like to spot manta rays during your dive, Koh Bon is the best site to go for diving in the Similan Islands. The currents at this dive site can be unpredictable – some days it has calm currents, other times it can be strong. It is important to observe the weather and sea conditions prior to your dive to see if it is safe to go.
Koh Bon West promises a variety of yellow, purple, and blue soft corals during your dive. You can also find limestone walls that have cracks in them, which has been transformed into homes for numerous marine species like banded coral shrimps and pipefish. Occasionally, you can also spot Maldivian sponge nails in this dive site.
Koh Tachai Pinnacle
Koh Tachai has been closed off from tourists but the dive site Koh Tachai Pinnacle (that is located offshore) is still available for divers to explore. This dive site is sought after by diving enthusiasts because it can be challenging and exciting. It is located at the northern tip of the marine national park. The strong current on this dive site has earned it the nickname “The Dome of Doom”. For that reason, this dive site is recommended only for intermediate or expert divers.
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BEST TIME TO DIVE
The best time to dive in the Similan Islands is anywhere from late October to early May. Most of the dive sites in the area are fairly calm and moderate, though some tend to have strong currents. If you dive at the optimal season, you can expect water visibility up to 30 meters in depth during your dive.
The national park where Similan Islands is a part of is also open only during November to mid-May. Hence, this is the only time you can book a dive trip to these dive sites.
HOW TO GET TO SIMILAN ISLANDS
To travel to Similan Islands, you need to book a flight to the nearest airport, which is Phuket International Airport. The airport is about 70km from the pier. You can take a bus or taxi to the pier to get to Similan Islands.
You can take the night bus from Bangkok to get to Similan Islands by land. Choose routes headed for Ranong or Khao Lak. Once you reach either destination, you can take a boat to get to the islands. The total travel time (from the bus to the boat) is roughly 13 hours. The boat from Ranong or Khao Lak to Similan Islands alone can be about 2 hours.
HIGHLIGHTS OF SIMILAN ISLANDS
As part of a marine national park, the Similan Islands boast of a rich array of diverse wildlife and natural landscape. In particular, there are many islands to explore that offer an endless amount of water and adventure activities.
Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities in Similan Islands, if you are looking for an alternative to scuba diving. The island is filled with giant snorkeling boats that operate on a daily basis. Book one of these boats for a day trip filled with snorkeling.
If you would like to explore another side of the islands’ beauty, hiking or trekking is another popular activity among tourists. While the islands are not large and not really made for trekking (some don’t even have trails or paths), you will be able to find small trails in some parts of the island. Island #8 is the best choice to go to as it has a long trail.
If you want to experience a relaxing holiday, the Similan Islands is a great destination in Thailand. There are several gorgeous beaches – most untouched and undeveloped – that you can go to for swimming, sun bathing, bird watching, and more.
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The Similan Islands is located about 70 kilometers from the coast of Phang Nga Province. It is made up of 9 small islands and is part of the Mu Ko Similan National Park. The name “Similan” is of Yawi origin, which literally means “nine” (in reference to the nine islands it consist of).
The largest island in Similan Islands is Ko Similan. This island has water that can be as deep as 60 feet. The underwater rock formations and coral reefs are one of the most unique features of the island. The species that live above water is also as diverse as the marine life.
In 1998, the islands of Ko Bon and Ko Tachai were added to the national park.