The national park of the Similan Islands  (เกาะสิมิลัน) is in southern Thailand, 50 kilometres west of Khao Lak. It is considered the best place in Thailand for divers.
Liveaboard traffic in Donald Duck Bay
The park covers 140 square kilometres in total, 14 of those being land in the shape of an archipelago consisting of nine islands. They are Ko Bon, Ko Bayu, Ko Similan, Ko Payu, Ko Miang (two adjoining islands), Ko Payan, Ko Payang, and Ko 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 Ko 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 5,000 years old and hence the oldest in Thailand. In 1982, the national park was established and now it is scheduled to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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 and many people believe 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.
Flora and fauna
There is an enormous diversity of fish species. Underwater visibility is the best you will find in Thailand. You will see plenty of colorful fish such as lionfish and clownfish, and if you're lucky you may spot a bigger one like a manta or even a whale shark. The corals in the area have largely fallen victim to coral bleaching in 2010 and have not yet recovered, though the fish still make snorkeling and diving worthwhile.
On Koh Huyong, the Royal Thai Marines run a turtle breeding facility and access to the island is restricted.
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 Similans from Phuket, Khao Lak and Ranong. Both day trips and live aboard cruises are available. Dedicated cruises usually start at 4 days and 4 nights (4d/4n) 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 500 baht per traveler 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.
Some diving liveaboard trips depart from Chalong or Patong. Most departures actually leave from Tap Lamu near Khao Lak but focus on the Phuket area, with offices in Phuket and pickups from major beaches
Diving liveaboards and dive trips
- Local Dive Thailand, Chalong, Phuket, ☎ +66 076384285 ([email protected]), . Local experts with all the inside knowledge about diving the Similan Islands, day trips, courses and liveaboards with the very best Thai hospitality. edit
- Aloha Diving, Rawai, Phuket, ☎ +66 97-934-3483 ([email protected]), . A small family owned and operated company that is dedicated to providing quality Snorkeling- and Diving Tours as well as Liveaboard Trips and Diving Courses at affordable prices. edit
- Aussie Divers Phuket, Patong, Phuket, ☎ +66 76-688-113 ([email protected]), . Aussie Divers Phuket is a PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre and the home to Phuket's most professional scuba diving education. edit
- Dive Asia., 24 Karon Road, Kata Beach, 83100 Phuket, ☎ +66 (0) 76 330598, +66 (0)76 284117 ([email protected], fax: +66(0) 76 521949, mob +66 (0)81 8948588), . Scuba diving and snorkeling trips, Richelieu Rock, Similan liveaboard trip, Richelieu Rock, Similan Islands, Surin Islands, Richelieu Rock liveaboard trip, Surin Island - Richelieu Rock liveaboard trip, Similan Island liveaboard trip, PADI course, package tours, dive equipment sale and rental. edit
- Peterpan Andaman Diving Co.,Ltd., 8/62-3 Moo 3 Kwang Rd. Tambon Vichit, Amphur Muang Phuket, ☎ +66 76 521948, +66 76 521949 ([email protected], fax: +66 76 521949, mob +66 84 638 6668), . Scuba diving and snorkelling trip, Richelieu Rock daily trip, Surin Island daily trip, liveaboard trip, Burma (Myanma) liveaboard trip, Richelieu Rock, Burma (Myanma liveaboard) trip, Similan Islands, Surin Islands, Richelieu Rock liveaboard trip, Surin Island - Richelieu Rock liveaboard trip, Similan Island liveaboard trip, private cruise charter, wedding cruise charter, corporate event and party charter, PADI course, package tours, dive equipment rental. edit
- Phuket Scuba Club, 241 Koktanod Road, Kata Beach, Phuket (Opposite Mom Tris Boathouse Hotel), ☎ +66 76 284026 ([email protected], fax: +66 76 284026), . Regular Liveaboard departures from Phuket and available throughout October-May high season. edit
- South Siam Divers, 459/1 The Best Villa, Patak Rd, Karon, Muang, Phuket, ☎ +66 76 286016 ([email protected], fax: +66 76 286020), . South Siam Divers has two boats moored on the Similan Islands, one with daily transfers and one with transfers 5 days a week (excluding Wednesday and Sunday). Daytrips through to living on-board for a week or more. The boat sleeps 28 and day trips are also possible, so during peak season there can be as many as 60 people on board for lunch between the arrival and departure of the speedboat. Divers are allowed 4 dives a day of 50 min each and must follow a guide. From 11,000 baht for 2d/1n. edit
- Sunrise Divers, 269/24 Patak Rd, Karon Beach Phuket, ☎ +66 76 398040 ([email protected], fax: +66 76 286130), . In Phuket since 1999, offers liveaboards and day trips to the Similan Islands on a wide variety of boats from backpacker style to more luxurious. edit
- Thailand Divers, 129/8 Nanai Road, Patong Beach , Phuket, Thailand., ☎ +66 76 344 155 ([email protected], fax: +66 76 344 156), . Liveaboards and day trips to the amazing Similan Islands edit
- Thailand Liveaboards, 9/368 Moo 6, T. Kathu, A. Kathu, 83120 Phuket, ☎ +66 76 384 672 ([email protected]), . Liveaboards to the Similan Islands including Koh Tachai, Koh Bon and Richelieu Rock budget to 5 star. edit
- Scuba Diving Phuket - All4Diving, 169/14 Sansabai Alley, Patong Beach, Phuket, ☎ +66 76 344 611 ([email protected], fax: +66 76 343 015), . Similan Liveaboard diving holidays and day trips edit
These are dive centers which have offices in Khao Lak
Diving liveaboards and dive trips
- Aloha Diving, 87/18 Moo 2, Rawai, Muang, Phuket, ☎ +66 979243483 ([email protected]), . Liveaboards to Similan Islands ,Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock from Khao Lak and Phuket. edit
- Khao Lak Explorer Dive Center, 4/81 Moo 7, Khao Lak, Takua Pa, Phang Nga, ☎ +66 76485308 ([email protected]), . Liveaboards and Daytrips to Similan Islands ,Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock from Khao Lak.Koh Phi Phi Liveaboard Daily departures for any duration. edit
- Khao Lak Trip Dive Centre, 4/93 Moo 7, Khuk Khak, Takua Pa, Phang Nga, ☎ +66 76 485 297, +66 8 4638 6668 (in[email protected], fax: +66 76 485 296), . 4d/4n trip (up to 14 dives) to the Similan Islands, Ko Bon, Ko Tachai and Richelieu Rock. From 18,900 baht. edit
- Manta Point Dive Center, 91 Moo 6, Khao Lak, Takua Pa, Phang Nga (Khao Lak main road next to the yellow bank (Bank KrungSri)), ☎ +66 76 485 624 ([email protected]), . Operate liveaboards to Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock from Khao Lak. Daily departures for any duration. edit
- Oktavia Dive Center, 5/21 Moo 7, Khao Lak (located next door to Siam Commercial Bank (purple bank)), ☎ +66 83 634 0383 ([email protected]), . Owners and operators of MV Oktavia, one of the largest vessels cruising the Similan Islands for divers, snorkelers, and sun-worshipers alike. edit
- Similan Dive Center (Khao Lak Dive Center), 67/7 Moo 5 Moo Bang Niang, Khao Lak, Takua Pa, Phang Nga (located at Bang Niang main road), ☎ +66 76 490 965 ([email protected]), . 10 AM - 21.00 PM. Similan Dive Center is a Padi dive center and authorized Mares Diveworld shop which offers the biggest collection of diving and snorkeling equipment, sun protection shirts in Khao Lak. Daily departing liveaboards from 2 days - 1 night to 5 days - 5 nights to Richelieu rock, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and the Similan islands.All Padi courses are available in combination with liveaboard trips. Similan Dive Center is open all year and managed by experienced dive professionals who live in Khao Lak all year round. edit
- Similan Diving Safaris (Khao Lak Dive Center), 13/19 Moo 7, Khao Lak, Khuk Khak, Takua Pa, Phang Nga, ☎ +66 76 485470 ([email protected], fax: +66 76 485471), . From 16,100 baht for 3d/3n Operating two liveaboards Dolphin Queen and Similan Explorer to Similan and Surin. edit
- Similan Paradive, Bang Niang, ☎ +66 76 485324 ([email protected]), . French dive school PADI and CMAS From 11,500 baht for 2d/1n. edit
- Similan Seven Sea Club, 4/79 Moo 7, Khao Lak, Takua Pa, Phang Nga, ☎ +66 76 485237 or 24 h Hotline +66 869 542 777 ([email protected]), . Daytrips to Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock, departures every day. PADI Dive Courses. From 12,900 ThB. edit
- Thailand Dive & Sail (Khao Lak Dive Centre), 4/88 Soi Bang La On, Moo 7, Khuk Khak, Takua Pa, Phang Nga (on the side street leading to Banana Bungalows near the Viking Restaurant), ☎ +66 87 887 3878 ([email protected]), . Reliable, independent information and booking services for scuba diving, snorkelling and sailing trips to the Similan Islands. edit
- Wicked Diving (Khao Lak Diving), 4/17 Moo 7 Khao Lak, Khuk Khak, Takua Pa, Phang Nga (adjacent to Viking Restaurant in the heart of Khao Lak), ☎ +66 76 485 868, +66 76 486 868 ([email protected]), . Khao Lak's only dive run to ethical and environmentally friendly standards. Operating two liveaboards offering 3 and 5 day expeditions to the Similan and Surin Islands providing for all diving skill levels. Also offer diving training, overnight tours and 3d/2n diving adventures with the nights spent on the the islands and days spent at various dive sites. 3d/2n trips depart on Monday and Friday. edit
Snorkelling only liveaboards
- Similan Tour, 1/6 Khao Lak, Lam Kaen, Thai Muang, Phangnga, ☎ +66 76 443258 ([email protected]), . A snorkeling-only liveaboard for 3d/2n, departing Tuesdays and Fridays. 7,400 baht. edit
- Kon-Tiki Khao Lak Diving & Snorkeling Center, 13/128 Moo 7, Khuk-Khak, Takuapa, Phang Nga 82190, Thailand, ☎ +66 76 485378 ([email protected], fax: +66 76 485378), . Daily diving and snorkeling trips to Similan and Surin island. PADI scuba diving courses and monthly IDC. Liveaboard to Similan islands, Burma Banks and Andaman islands. edit
- Similan Dive Center (Khao Lak Dive Center), 22/37 Moo 4, Khuk Khak, Takua Pa, Phang Nga (opposite Bangkok Bank in the center of Khao Lak), ☎ +66 76 485 792 ([email protected]). Open all year. Daily departing snorkeling tours to the Similan islands, Surin islands and Koh Tachai. Two or three overnight trips at the Similan islands. Official Mares Dive Center with a large range of diving and snorkeling equipment. Operated by Khao Lak residents with over 20 years of experience in environmental research and diving. edit
- Similan Scuba Adventures, 4/56 Moo 7, Tambon Khuk Kak, Amphur Takua Pa, Phang Nga, ☎ +66 76 485610 (fax: +66 76 485610), . Day trip where divers and snorkelers go to different sites to get the most out of the experience. They also have liveaboards. Day trip is €52 for snorkelers and €76 for divers (2 dives). edit
- Aladdin Dive Safari, Offices at Ranong, Koh Chang and Koh Payam, ☎ (+66) 87 2786908 and (+66) 8 72 74 76 01 (contact via website only), . Fully inclusive dive tours featuring Koh Surin, Koh Similan, Koh Lanta, Krabi, Phang-Nga and the Mergui Archipelago In Burma (Myanmar). Prices starting at 14,000 baht. edit
The National Park fee is 700 baht/day (children 100 baht). For Thai citizens the fee is 100 baht, children 50 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.
- Similan Islands are a major tourist attraction on the south-west coast of Thailand. Activities are mainly scuba diving and snorkelling. There are two islands which have beaches that can be visited by the public. These are Island 4 (Koh Myung) and Island 8. As well as lots of marine life, there are resident Nicobar pigeons, Flying Foxes, Sea Eagles and plenty of other wildlife. Fresh water on the island is home Campsite shops welfare. And take a long tail boat snorkeling.
- Koh Similan or Koh eight Is the largest island. Big Bend is a beautiful bay called Horseshoe Bay as white flour. Bay Snorkeling can be shallow. Right side of the bay with towering rock formations stand out like a sail as a symbol of the Similan Islands. Can climb to view it.
- Koh Pa Yu or Koh seven. The east has both shallow and deep water diving is very beautiful. Many divers prefer the most. Because the hard coral reef with soft coral and fish species. Followed by the West. The north side has a coral mound. The island has no beach.
- York stone paving or stone skull. A small island. Shaped like a skull with a rock above the water. The submarine was unusual stones with holes are hollow and have a spectacular dive.
- Koh Five in the West is the large rock with soft corals and fish around the area near the park and ducks are proud to trap food.
- Fantasy mound. Scuba diving is in the northeast of the island of Koh Ba Ngu or Koh nine. Mound complexes are filled with soft corals and sea fans.
- However, around the Similan Islands National Park. The diving area has been popular with many. The deep dive Koh Ta Chai at the north end of the park. You will find the batfish, barracudas, whale sharks, manta rays, Koh Bon in the northeast of the Similan Island.
The Similan Islands are home to some of the best diving sites in the world. They are also home to great snorkeling, bird watching and sunbathing.
- Boat Charter Thailand, ☎ +66(0)884907290, . Sailing Yachts, Motor Boats, Bareboat or Crewed, Luxury Charters, Fishing Trips, Traditional Boat Tours. ("""",) edit
There is a small souvenir shop on Similan Island #4. Owned and operated by the National Park, it has limited products. One can get some very limited sundries, like sunscreen, but do not expect to restock supplies if staying on the islands.
Although there are some tents and bungalows on one or two island which are run by the authorities, most visitors are scuba divers who sleep on liveaboard diving boats or just visit the islands on a day trip.
There are both tents and bungalows available for rent. These are only available through the National Park headquarters in Tab Lamu or through agents. Bungalows are only available on Island #4 and tents are available at both Island #4 and #8. There are no other lodging options.
Tents are available for rent. In addition, on Island #8 you can rent space and put up your own tent.
Your are not allowed to camp with your own tent on any island!(22.01.2013)
See the Stay safe section of the Scuba diving article for diving safety tips. Be aware that the islands are closed from mid-May to mid October each year. Tour operators going to the islands during the closed times are not only breaking the law, but also risking your safety.