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Similan Islands

Dive Map Similans Richelieu RockKo TachaiKo BonBreakfast BendEast of Eden
The Similan Islands are Thailand’s most famous group of dive sites. Lying around 100km north of Phuket and 40km off the mainland, they offer great visibility, stunning corals, prolific marine life and fascinating topography.

Further north, Ko Bon, Ko Tachai & Richelieu Rock bring more superb diving opportunities and a great chance to come face to face with a Whaleshark.

Accessed primarily by Liveaboard, the sites are in a strictly controlled marine park and are considered by many to be the crown jewels of Thailand’s diving. As well as the diving, they also offer picture perfect beaches and unspoilt habitats.
Manta Ray Clownfish Soft Coral Leopard Shark Dive Map Similans
 
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Whale Shark The name Similan is thought to originate from the Malay word Sembilan, meaning nine, as there are nine islands.

The east side has sloping coral reefs & bommies, with a wide variety of hard & soft corals and a host of interesting marine life, especially for macro enthusiasts. The most famous site here is probably East of Eden, which has a huge coral bommie famed for its abundance and sheer diversity of life.

The western side is dramatically different, with enormous boulders creating one of the most unusual dive environments around. Caves, canyons, overhangs & swim-throughs, make these boulders a joy to swim through, while their sheer size will leave you feeling truly dwarfed.

A very popular site on the west coast is Elephant Head Rock, so named because of its topside appearance. Many of the boulders here are covered in soft corals, while White-tip Reef Sharks are often seen cruising in the blue. The most northerly sites of the Similan Islands offer the best chance to see larger marine life, with Reef Sharks, Sting Rays, Leopard Sharks & even Manta Rays.

The island of Ko Bon, just a little north from the Similan chain, has a large limestone ridge descending from its western side down to around 40m. The ridge receives very strong currents, which can reduce visibility, but these nutrient rich waters also attract Manta Rays. Fields of staghorn coral burst with smaller life, while sharks sometimes put in an appearance. There is also a deep pinnacle just off the ridge which, if conditions are good makes for an excellent dive for experienced divers.

Ko Tachai, a little further north again, is a fully submerged plateau starting at about 14m and gradually sloping away to 35m. On the south side, a series of boulders hide sleeping Leopard Sharks, while the north & west sides are home to fields of large Gorgonians sheltering an abundance of interesting marine life. Barracuda & Batfish hang in the blue, while Manta Rays & Whalesharks are also known to cruise by.

The star of the Surin Islands area is Richeleu Rock, a horse-shoe shaped rock that just breaks the surface. It has stunning corals along with a great variety and profusion of marine life, including many exotic species for the keen eyed, such as Ghost Pipefish & Frogfish. It also just happens to be one of the best places in Asia to meet a Whaleshark. These gentle giants are more frequently sighted here than in any other place in Thailand. Throw in the beautiful corals and diverse marine life and you have a truly world-class dive site.

To the west, the Surin Islands do not support comparable marine life, but do have beautiful beaches and vistas to enjoy while you recharge your batteries.

  Barracuda Turtle Harlequin Shrimps Batfish
 
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The Similan Islands are usually dived by Liveaboard from Phuket or Khao Lak, often in combination with the dive sites further north. It is also possible to arrange Liveaboard trips from Ko Lanta & Ko Phi Phi further south. The Similan Islands can also be visited as a day trip from Khao Lak.

Liveaboard trips usually run from 3 days up to a week, depending on your itinerary. The main diving season runs from October until May.
  • Phuket
  • Khao Lak
  • Ko Phi Phi

Dive Map PhuketDirectory Find Dive Centres in Phuket

Phuket is one of Thailand’s most famous & well established tourist centres. It is a large island, around 50km from north to south, and can almost be considered part of the mainland as it is connected by bridge. The island is fairly mountainous, with numerous white sand beaches.

Dive Phuket  Dive
The dive industry in Phuket is very well established and there are literally hundreds of dive shops to choose from. Many run a combination of Liveaboard trips to the Similans & beyond, plus local day trips to sites around Phi Phi & Phuket.

Stay Phuket  Stay
There is a huge range of accommodation options in Phuket, from budget hotels to luxury resorts & spas. Most of the accommodation is centred around the main beaches of Patong, Kata & Karon, but there are places to stay all around the island.

Travel Phuket  Travel
There is a well-connected international airport on the island, with flights to destinations in Asia & Europe. The airport is in the north of the island, while most of the tourist facilities are in the south. While the island is busy, it has excellent roads so getting from the airport to the resorts is no problem. The island can also be reached by passenger ferry from Ko Phi Phi & Ko Lanta. There are also land connections north to Bangkok & Khao Lak and south to Krabi.

Do Phuket  Do
There are numerous other activities aside from diving in Phuket. There are many beaches to explore, plus vibrant nightlife & great restaurants. It is a great place for shopping, with numerous malls selling Thai & western goods. There are many watersports available and even a zoo for kids.

Dive Map Khao LakDirectory Find Dive Centres in Khao Lak

Khao Lak lies north of Phuket on Thailand's Andaman Coast. It is the closest jumping off point for Liveaboards to the Similan & Surin Islands. It is named after a nearby mountain and the surrounding area is a great place for nature lovers.

Dive Phuket  Dive
There are many well established & professional dive centres in Khao Lak, meeting the demand for liveaboard trips to the Similans, plus sites over the border in Burma. In addition to Liveaboards, dive operators also run day trips to the Similans and a few local sites.

Stay Phuket  Stay
There is a wide range of accommodation options in Khao Lak, from cheap hotels & bungalows to luxury resorts. Most are spread out along the main road which follows the Andaman coastline.

Travel Phuket  Travel
Khao Lak is around 100km north of Phuket, which has an international airport. Buses make daily trips to and from the area from Phuket and Phang Nga.

Do Phuket  Do
Aside from diving, the Khao Lak area is rich in natural beauty and is on the edge of a national park, with nature trails to waterfalls & caves. There are also some nice beaches and also some beautiful Buddhist temples to visit.

Dive Map Ko Phi PhiDirectory Find Dive Centres in Ko Phi Phi

Ko Phi Phi is a stunning & hugely popular tourist destination about 40km off the coast of Krabi on Thailand’s west coast.

Dive Phuket  Dive
Ko Phi Phi's numerous dive shops make daily trips to all the local sites, including the Bida Islands, King Cruiser & Shark Point. Occasionally, there are speedboat trips to Hin Daeng in Ko Lanta Marine Park to the south & Liveaboard trips to the Similan Islands to the north.

Stay Phuket  Stay
There are many accommodation options on the island, although due to its popularity & small size, the rates tend to be higher than most places in Thailand. The most luxury resorts tend to be on private bays away from the tourist centre and can only be reached by boat. It is advisable to book in advance, especially in high season.

Travel Phuket  Travel
The island is well connected, with airports close-by in both Phuket & Krabi. From either airport, you simply hop on a minibus to the ferry port and then on a passenger ferry for the short journey to the island. In the high season, there is also a ferry connection to Ko Lanta, 30km to the east.

Do Phuket  Do
The island is famous for its lively nightlife, with many bars remaining busy into the small hours of the night. Due to the numerous limestone cliffs around the island, Rock-climbing is also popular, as are day-trips to Maya Bay, where the hit film 'The Beach' was filmed.

 
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