Often referred to as the rainforest of the sea, divers near the Similan Islands can expect to see a plethora of marine life that will floor even the most experienced of explorers. Kuhl stingrays, manta rays, eagle rays, and shovelnose rays are just a few of the rays divers can expect to see. Underwater explorers may come across a number of different sharks, including leopard sharks, white and black tipped reef sharks, and whale sharks for those extremely lucky divers. The list of marine life that diver’s have the chance of seeing is seemingly never-ending, so be sure to keep an eye out as you take to the Andaman Sea at the Similan Islands.
Divers should be prepared to see a plethora of both hard and soft coral while taking on the Similan Islands, located some 60 kilometers from Thailand’s western coastline. Coral Gardens is probably the best dive site for those hoping to see some stunning coral. The dive site goes about 29-meters deep, so underwater explorers will need to be deep dive certified to take on this site. It is found on the north side of one of the smaller Similan Islands. In addition to this dive site, many of the spots found around the Similan Islands are equipped with just as noteworthy finds, including tropical coral reefs so shallow even snorkelers can get a sneak peek from the water’s surface.
There are seemingly one too many dive sites to choose from when taking on the Similan Islands. Each of them has a lengthy list of pros and cons, but there is a dive for everyone here. Some of the sites allow explorers to descend up to 30-meters, while others are only a few meters from the surface, which make it a perfect place to start for beginners as well. Out of the nine islands that make up the Similan Islands, only six allow visitors to dive or snorkel for marine conservation reasons. Visitors can choose from a range of sites, including Christmas Point, Breakfast Bend, Richelieu Rock, East of Eden, West of Eden, Elephant Head Rock, North Point, Koh Bon, Honeymoon Bay, Shark Fin Reef, Anita’s Reef and Coral Gardens.
These dive sites can be split up into subsections, some of which are in the south, central, north, and outer Similan Islands. Each region is unique and noteworthy for its own set of reasons. For example, sites on the southern side tend to have stronger currents, so while they are just as stunning as the others, descending into this area is a bit more difficult. Because of this, less divers visit this site, and those who do are a bit more experienced. Be sure to do your research before deciding which one will be the best dive site for you.
Because the Similan Islands are protected by the Similan Islands Marine National Park, travelers might think they would be unable to stay on the island for environmental reasons. This is not the case. The national park offers a few accommodation options for those who want to explore these islands for more than just a day. Visitors can also hop on liveaboards heading from Khao Lak to the Similan Islands, where they will stay overnight on a boat and dive each day spent on the Andaman Sea.
Thailand offers visitors some of the most affordable diving in the world and the Similan Islands are no exception. Though more expensive than say, Pattaya, visitors will not feel as though they are dishing out one too many baht to enjoy all that these island’s underwater realm has to offer. Two dives can cost anywhere from ฿6,000-7,000, and those who opt to climb aboard a liveaboard, though initially more expensive, tend to give divers more bang for their baht. Snorkeling day trips usually start at about ฿3,000 and can go up to ฿4,100.
Snorkeling can be just as rewarding as a deep-sea dive in the Similan Islands. Gear can be rented from the Similan Islands Marine National Park Headquarters. Visitors can also opt for a day trip from places like Phuket or Khao Lak for reasonable prices. Be sure to visit the Similan Islands sometime between October through May. The park is otherwise closed because of bad weather conditions.