Koh Similan is concluding of the national park of the Similan Islands located 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 Koh Bon, Koh Bayu, Koh Similan, Koh Payu, Koh Miang (two adjoining islands), Koh Payan, Koh Payang, and Koh 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 Koh 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 World Heritage.
The 2004 tsunami left the islands and the underwater landscape almost unharmed, since the waters are very deep around the islands.
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.
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.
There are several dive trips going to the Similan 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.
If you traveling from Phuket most of these actually depart from Tap Lamu near Khao Lak but focus on the Phuket area, with offices on Phuket and pickups from major beaches:
Diving liveaboards such following
Diving liveaboards from Khao Lak
Overnight Diving Tours is so special especially for Similan Island
Snorkeling only liveaboards
* Similan Scuba Adventures, 4/56 Moo 7, Tambon Khuk Kak, Amphur Takua Pa, Phang Nga, โ +66 76 485 610 (fax: +66 76 485 610). 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. The day trip is 52 Euro for snorkelers and 76 Euro for divers (2 dives)
Diving liveaboards from Koh Lanta
* Lanta Diving Safaris, 289 Moo 1, Ban Saladan, Koh Lanta, โ +66 75 68 49 04,. Lanta Diving Safaris, Koh Lanta's only liveaboard, does periodic (about 1 per month) 7 day/7 night trips that include a day's diving in the Similans. 7d/7n trips approx 30000 baht plus fees.
Diving liveaboards from Krabi
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.
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 in the world. They are also home to great snorkeling, bird watching and sunbathing.