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Similan & Surin Islands

Diving ratings Similan and surin islands
Best months for diving Similan and surin islands

Similan & Surin Islands

Diving the Similan & Surin Islands

Diving the Similan and Surin Islands can only be done between October and May every year. Liveaboards and day trips are not allowed to enter the marine park outside this period.

The best time to visit, I would say is between February and April, since the chance to see whale sharks in this period is most likely.

Liveaboards differ in prices and services. But expect to pay between 25000 and 35000 baht($1000-$1500) per person for a 4-night, 5-day trip, all-inclusive. Usually, this does NOT include gear, nitrox and of course tips, so calculate accordingly.

Day trips offered to various places around the Similan & Surin Islands usually charge about 5000 baht ($170) per person. Gear, and park fees not included! 

Batfishes
Whale shark

Khao Lak & Phuket

Khao Lak and Phuket are both viable options to stay, especially when you plan to do a liveaboard. 

Khao Lak is centered around the Similan and Surin islands while Phuket offers many day trips in the south Andaman Sea as well.

If you're planning to do more than just a liveaboard I would recommend Phuket as a base of operations. 

If your sole purpose is liveaboards, whether it be the North Andaman Sea or South Andaman Sea, Khao Lak is probably your best choice.

"Rated as one of the best places in the world to diving. Remote, pristine, and away from the hustle and bustle of society"

Liveaboards

Where to stay?

By far, the best choice is to book a liveaboard. You can choose to go to the north Andaman Sea, which includes the Similan and Surin Islands. Or even book yourself a liveaboard to the South Andaman Sea, visiting Koh PhiPhi, Lanta & Lipe among others.

If you're strapped for time, you can arrange day trips to the Similan or Surin islands from Phuket and/or Khao Lak. Prepare to be on a speedboat for 1 - 3 hours one-way though, since the best dive sites are about 50 kilometers away from civilization!

Diving in the Similan & Surin Islands.

The Similan and Surin Islands marine park is strictly monitored and rangers in small boats will check permits every other day.

No single-use plastics are allowed, and the minimum requirement for diving is to have an advanced certification. Most dives will be between 20 and 30 meters deep before shallowing up, so Nitrox diving is highly recommended.

The Similan islands are known for their landscapes mostly. Big boulders, bigger than the biggest liveaboard scatter the seafloor, making for dramatic landscapes with fish, small and large swimming through.

The Surin Islands are known for 1 dive site in particular: "Richelieu Rock". This pinnacle in the middle of the ocean will blow your mind. The amount of fish on this small reef is simply incredible! You have a chance to find everything you can think of on this reef. With manta rays, whale sharks, and other sharks present, as well as macro critters like seahorses, harlequin shrimp, and nudibranchs. 

 

Maldivian Sea Slug

How to get there?

Khao Lak:

Most if not all liveaboards leave from Khao Lak, specifically Thap Lamu Pier. Usually, you will meet at the dive center in Khao Lak and after a short bus ride, will be checked in the boat.

Many liveaboards offer pick-up service in the area, reaching as far as Phuket, so I recommend making good use of this.

Phuket:

Phuket is a main port of entry for people flying from Bangkok, Singapore, or anywhere else for that matter. Arriving a day before departing the liveaboard should make your whole trip more comfortable and pick-ups will be done in the area of Phuket.

Leaving the Liveaboards:

I highly recommend staying at least 1 or 2 nights in Phuket or Khao Lak after the liveaboard is over. That way, you avoid having to skip the final because of your no-fly time. And trust me, after 5 days and 19 dives, you need a good night's rest!

Cat Shark
Similan Islands

Koh Tao is a diving paradise for those who want to learn this amazing hobby/ sport. All sorts of diving are offered, from easy to tech diving the Unicorn wreck at 50 meters deep. I have made a map with the most important dive sites you can visit. There are more, but they are just not worth it because others are way better!

Diving sites, more in depth:

Below I will go more in-depth (pun intended) into these dive sites. The history is very often interesting! I will not note currents here, since there are almost none in the area.

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Similan Islands dive sites
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"Deep Six"

Deep six got its name from the fact it's a deep dive, going to 40 meters max. There are at least 6 huge boulders to be found underwater. If I say huge, I mean as big as the boat or bigger! An amazing landscape to admire. Best done early in the morning since you want to spend as much bottom time as possible here!

Depth: 20 - 40 meters

"Turtle Rock"

Turtle Rock is named after the rock overlooking the dive site from above the waterline. This dive site is not really about fish or marine life, but rather about swim-throughs, overhangs, and caverns. An amazing journey through passages, and caverns will make you want to turn around and do it all again!

Depth: 15 meters

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Cave diving
"Boulders"

Another deep dive, with the reef boulders forming from 20 meters to 40 meters down. Admire this amazing landscape with great wide-angle views. You can see smaller fish in between the rocks, while bigger pelagics are circling to hunt them!

Maximum depth: 40 meters.

"Koh Bon"

Koh Bon is one of the most northern islands in the Similan island group. This island has a nice "window" you can look through above the water and a good reef, especially on the west and north side. You will probably do 2-4 dives here, exploring the deeper and more shallow waters. 

You can find the rare Maldivian Sea Slug here, supposedly only found in the Maldives, but made his way here somehow.

 

Maximum depth: 25 meters.

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"Wreck dive Boonsung"

This wreck dive is usually done on the way back to Khao Lak pier. It's not actually a shipwreck. A dredger was sunk here many years ago, and although it was intact before, storms have scattered the wreck all around this divesite. You can find countless of scorpionfish and many moray eels, especially the Honeycomb moray eels often make their home here!

Maximum depth: 20 meters.

Surin Islands

Surin Islands marine park is just 1.5 hours by boat north of the Similan Islands and although diving is very, very good here, most boats limit the dive site to "Richelieu Rock". This is one of the best dive sites you will ever experience in your life!

Almost impossible to fully appreciate 1 or 2 dives, most liveaboards will schedule 3-4 dives per day here. Sounds like too much? Don't worry! You wish it was more!

Harlequin Shrimp

Diving sites, more in depth:

Below I will go more in-depth (pun intended) into these dive sites. The history is very often interesting! I will not note currents here, since there are almost none in the area.

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"Richelieu Rock"

Surin Islands marine park is just 1.5 hours by boat north of the Similan Islands and although diving is very, very good here, most boats limit the dive site to "Richelieu Rock". This is one of the best dive sites you will ever experience in your life!

Almost impossible to fully appreciate 1 or 2 dives, most liveaboards will schedule 3-4 dives per day here. Sounds like too much? Don't worry! You wish it was more!

Maximum depth: 36 meters.

Below some photos and impressions

If you want to share your impressions and/or photos you're more than welcome to share them!

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