The national park of the Similan Islands (เกาะสิมิลัน) is in southern Thailand, 50 kilometers west of Khao Lak. It is considered the best place in Thailand for divers.
The park covers 140 square kilometers in total, 14 of those being land in the shape of an archipelago consisting of nine islands. They are Ko Bon, Ko Bayu, Ko Similan, Ko Payu, Ko Miang (two adjoining islands), Ko Payan, Ko Payang, and Ko Huyong. For simplicity they are often referred to by their number instead - 1 through 9 starting from the south. Recently, the park was expanded to include the two remote islands Ko Bon and Ko Tachai, but since "Sembilan" is Malay for "nine" this doesn't seem to stick in people's minds and those are not visited as often as the original nine.
The islands were created by upwellings of hot magma during the Tertiary-Cretaceous period some 65 million years ago, then smoothed by glacial ice and the erosion by the sea. The coral reefs are about 5000 years old and hence the oldest in Thailand. In 1982, the national park was established and now it is scheduled to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The 2004 tsunami left the islands and the underwater landscape almost unharmed, since the waters are very deep around the islands.
High season in the Similans is from December until April, when the monsoon stays far away. The best period to visit is March, when the winds are calm and the water clear. The national park is closed from May 16 to November 15.
The nine granite islands are postcard perfect images of paradise, covered in tropical jungle and equipped with beaches of chalk-white sand. As if this was not enough, the views under the water surface are even more impressive - this is the best dive site in Thailand. Skin-Diver Magazine has acclaimed the Similans to be one of the ten most beautiful places in the world.
There is an enormous diversity in species - both in fish and corals. The visibility is the best you will find in Thailand. You will see plenty of colorful fish such as lionfish and clownfish (Nemo), and if you're lucky you may spot a bigger one like a manta or even a whale shark.
On Ko Huyong Thai Marines run a turtle breeding facility, but access to the island is limited.
There are several dive trips going to the Similans from Phuket and some from Khao Lak. Both day trips and live aboard cruises are available. Dedicated cruises where your boat picks your group up from your destination and cruises around usually start at 4 days and 4 nights in length. Many shorter trips are available, often with operators who have a large vessel on the islands over summer and who do regular transfers using smaller speed boats.
Note that there is a national park entry fee of 400 baht per traveller and a further daily usage fee of 200 baht per diver per day. Most boats do not include this in their quoted price. It is paid to your dive operator before the trip.
Some diving liveaboard trips depart from Chalong or Patong. Most departures actually leave from Tap Lamu near Khao Lak but focus on the Phuket area, with offices in Phuket and pickups from major beaches:
''' Diving liveaboards:
Peterpan Andaman Diving Co.,Ltd. , Mobile : +66 (0) 84 638 6668 Tel : +66 (0) 76 521 948 or +66 (0) 76 521 949, Mobile : +66 (0) 84 638 6668 Tel : +66 (0) 76 521 948 or +66 (0) 76 521 949, 8/62-3 Moo 3 Kwang Rd. Tambon Vichit, Amphur Muang Phuket 83000 Thailand, Scuba Diving & Snorkeling Trip, Richelieu Rock Daily Trip, Surin Island Daily Trip, Liveaboard Trip, Burma (Myanma) Liveaboard Trip,Richelieu Rock – Burma (Myanma Liveaboard) Trip, Similan Islands – Surin Islands – Richelieu Rock Liveaboard Trip,Surin Island - Richelieu Rock Liveaboard Trip, Similan Island Liveaboard Trip, Private Cruise Charter, Wedding Cruise Charter,Corporate Event & Party Charter, PADI Course, Package Tours, Dive Equipment Rental and more with Dive in Thailand.
Scuba Cat Diving , +66 76 293 120, +66 76 293 120, 94 Thaweewong Rd, Patong Beach, Phuket, Scuba Cat Diving has several liveaboard options. There are three cruise vessels which do longer trips (4 days/4 nights and up) to the Similan Islands among other destinations. There is also a vessel, the MV Scuba Cat, moored on the Similans throughout the high season with transfers by speedboat on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and you can vary your length of stay from 2 days/1 night and upwards accordingly. The lack of daily transfers has its upside: there won't be the bustle of divers arriving and leaving every single day.
South Siam Divers , +66 76-286-016, +66 76-286-016, 459/1 The Best Villa, Patak Rd, Karon, Muang, Phuket, South Siam Divers has two boats moored on the Similan Islands, one with daily transfers and one with transfers 5 days a week (excluding Wednesday and Sunday). You can do daytrips through to living onboard for a week or more. The boat sleeps 28 and day trips are also possible, so during peak season there can be as many as 60 people on board for lunch between the arrival and departure of the speedboat. Divers are allowed 4 dives a day of 50 minutes each and must follow a guide.
White Manta Liveaboards , +65 9677 8894, +65 9677 8894, 18 Sin Ming Walk, #02-03, Singapore, White Manta is a Singaporean operator which has two vessels doing liveaboards in the Similans: the MV White Manta and the MV Black Manta. White Manta liveaboards are fairly high end, with the option of staying in luxury master suites with en suite bathrooms.
Khao Lak Trip Dive Centre (Khao Lak Trip Dive Centre) , Tel : +66 (0)76 485 297 Mobile : +66 (0)8 4638 6668, Tel : +66 (0)76 485 297 Mobile : +66 (0)8 4638 6668, 4/93 Moo 7, Kukkak, Takuapa, Phang Nga 82190 Thailand, 4 day/4night trip (up to 14 dives) to the Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock from 18.900 Baht
Overnight Diving Tours:
Snorkeling only liveaboards:
Similan Scuba Adventures , +66 76 485 610, 4/56 Moo 7, Tambon Khuk Kak, Amphur Takua Pa, Phang Nga, Similan Scuba Adventures have a day trip where divers and snorkelers go to different sites to get the most out of the experience. They also have liveaboards.
Kon-Tiki Khao Lak Diving & Snorkeling Center , +66 76 485 378, +66 76 485 378, 13/128 Moo 7, Khuk-Khak, Takuapa, Phang Nga 82190, Thailand, offering daily diving and snorkeling trips to Similan and surin island. PADI scuba diving courses and monthly IDC. Liveaboard to Similan islands, Burma Banks and Andaman islands.
Lanta Diving Safaris , +66 75 68 49 04, 289 Moo 1, Ban Saladan, Ko Lanta, Lanta Diving Safaris, Ko Lanta's only liveaboard, does periodic (about 1 per month) 7 day/7 night trips that include a day's diving in the Similans.
There are tours leaving from Khao Lak that offer diving and snorkeling tours. In addition, once on the islands there is the option of using the Marine Park boats for transit between the islands. This is not totally reliable, but is a less expensive alternative.
Incredible marine life, great scenery, white sand beaches.
The Similan Islands are home to some of the best diving sites in the world. They are also home to great snorkeling, bird watching and sunbathing.
There are both tents and bungalows available for rent. These are only available through the National Park headquarters in Taplamu or through agents.
Tents are available for rent. In addition, on Island #8 you can rent space and put up your own tent.
See the Stay safe section of the Scuba diving article for diving safety tips. Be aware that the islands are closed from mid-May to Early November of each year. Tour operators going to the islands during the closed times are not only risking your your comfort but safety.
The National Park fee is 400 baht/day (children 100 baht). For Thai citizens the fee is 40 baht, children 20 baht.
Diving fee is an additional 200 baht/day regardless of passport.
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Ryan Holliday, Palau, koh tao scuba, Jani Patokallio, hmu111, sarah, Paul Land, Stacy Hall and Johny Canal, Similan diver, Globe-trotter, Burmesedays, Inas, Rodericoco, Morph, Hypatia and Jake73
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