The Similan Islands is a small and remote archipelago 60km off the west coast of Thailand, not far from the border with Burma (Myanmar). It is by far the best place for scuba diving in Thailand, and many regard it as among the best in the world. This is reinforced by the large number of dive sites that can be enjoyed by all levels of scuba diver, and reached by both day trips and liveaboard diving safari cruises.
The warm and clear seawater is easy to dive in for up to four hours per day and attracts lots of colourful and interesting marine life species of all shapes and sizes. What many come to the Similans for is the opportunity to dive with Whale Sharks and Manta Rays. Although sightings are far from guaranteed, from February to April there is usually a fair chance of spotting them. In fact, the best place to see large pelagic species such as sharks and rays is the two uninhabited islands & one underwater pinnacle just a bit north of The Similan Islands. Koh Bon, Koh Tachai & Richelieu Rock are the country’s three prime dive sites, and teeming with exotic fish, invertebrates and even the occasional marine reptile. The Similan Islands & Koh Bon are part of the Similan Island National Marine Park, and Koh Tachai & Richelieu Rock are in the Surin Islands National Marine Park.
It’s possible for those who have never dived before to try Similan Islands Liveaboard diving, but equally possible for those who are diving professionals or very experienced to enjoy a deep, drift or deco dive while spending time underwater with species not found anywhere else in the world. However, the majority of Similan diving passengers who visit the Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai & Richelieu Rock are certified scuba divers with some experience at depth and in mild to medium currents. Most of our customers are AOW (Advanced Open Water) or higher, but there are generally more Open Water Divers than Divemasters.
What makes the Similan (& Surin) National Marine Parks so special? The distance from the mainland ensures that there is no pollution in the air or water, everyone feels ‘away from it all,’ but it’s not too far away in case of an emergency or to go there by day trip. The reefs are in excellent condition, and there are enough dive sites to accommodate all the Similan Island Liveaboard boats during the high season. It’s also quite easy on most dives to keep everyone happy. At most Similan & Surin Islands dive sites, it’s possible to drop experienced and professional divers off for a deep and exciting dive then move just a few hundred meters to let the less-experienced divers enter the water at a less-challenging point. 45 minutes to an hour later, everyone is ready to get back on the boat with plenty to talk about and smiles. When taking everything into account, such as value, great diving for everyone, and the logistics & options for getting there and back, there really is very little to beat the Similan Islands (and its neighbouring dive sites) in Thailand.
For Similan liveaboard diving and day trip diving go here www.similandivingtours.com
The national marine parks are closed for the Indian Ocean monsoon season, from May 16th to October 14th. Therefore, they're open from October 15th to May 15th. Sea & weather conditions are best from December to March.
The Similan Islands is made up of 8 uninhabited islands. On its western side, the dive sites are mostly granite boulders. On the eastern side, which is more protected, the dive sites are sloping coral reefs, and easily dived by all levels of diver.
The Similan Islands are on Thailand's western coast, in the Andaman Sea. The nearest pier or harbour on the mainland is at least 60 kilometres away.
Most scuba divers visit the Similan Islands as part of a scuba diving safari, also known as a liveaboard cruise. These are normally 4 days & 4 nights in length but can be shorter or longer. They nearly all leave from Khao Lak, but some leave from Phuket and a few from Ranong.
Day trips to the Similan Islands are possible, but these depart from Khao Lak. It's not practical to join a Similan Islands day trip from Phuket.
All levels of certified scuba diver can enjoy safe fun dives at The Similan Islands. Until 2018 it was possible to learn to dive at The Similan Islands, but this has been prohibited now. There are at least 12 dive sites, which vary in difficulty level, but Open Water divers can safely visit almost all of them. Experienced and professional divers need not worry, because almost every dive site has plenty of marine life and many offer the opportunity to descend below 30 metres.
There is a wide range of marine life to be seen at The Similans. Larger pelagic species (Whale Sharks & Manta Rays) tend to visit the northern sites more than the Similans, but they do come from time to time. Reef fish, reptiles, invertebrates and more can all be seen at the Similans, from near the surface down to as deep as you are certified to dive to.
The Similan Islands are home to Thailand's best and most popular dive sites. The remote location ensures clear water and healthy marine life. But it's so far away that you need to embark on a long voyage to get there. Also, being suitable for all levels of scuba diver enables new and experienced divers to enjoy the dives here.