...Good for: Small animals, underwater photography, snorkeling, visibility, value-for-money, and advanced divers
Not so good for: Non-diving activities...
Comprising 9 granite islands covered in tropical jungle, washed by a clear blue tropical ocean and blessed with fine beaches, the Similan Islands are the most beautiful and diverse dive destination in Thailand. They lie in a 25 km long north-south chain, 65 km offshore from Phang Nga Province in the Andaman Sea, about 100 km from Phuket. The Similans achieved national marine park status in 1982. Liveaboards to these islands are some of the most popular diving cruises in the world.
The eastern fringes of the islands feature pretty hard coral gardens and sloping reef banks down to 30 metres. At some dive sites, large bommies (coral heads) rise from the sea bed and are blanketed with soft corals, fan corals, and swarms of smaller tropical fish. East coast Similan Islands diving is relatively easy-going, allowing you plenty of time to explore the sites at your own leisurely pace.
The western side, northern and southern points of the Similans offer more exciting diving as currents swirl around huge sunken granite boulders, which form a series of arches, tunnels and swim-throughs at sites such as Christmas Point and Elephant Head Rock. Growing on, and between, these enormous rocks you find a tapestry of colourful soft corals. In the channels between the boulders, sea fans can grow to some 3 metres across, and in such numbers that you cannot possibly swim through. The contrast between the east and west coasts and the variety of underwater topography is one of the reasons why the Similan National Park is so popular - every dive offers you something different. Show more
Liveaboard tours remain the best choice to dive at these islands. There are well over 25 different sites here, spread over quite a large area and far from the mainland. So, to truly experience all that they have to offer at a relaxed pace, we strongly recommend you choose a liveaboard.
If you are short of time or prefer land based diving, then there are many day trips packages, with and without accommodation, to choose from. These options run from Khao Lak and Phuket.
As a final alternative, there are a number of overnight trips that offer scuba diving opportunities at the Similan Islands. These operate with daily speedboats from the mainland that run you out to a main diving boat that you can sleep on. You can disembark whenever you like. These trips are cheap and very popular with budget travelers, but have constant disruptions