This stunning 70-sq-km marine national park is loved by divers globally. Extending 70km offshore from Phang-Nga Region, it has soft granite islands that are as majestic over the bright-aqua water as they are under, edged with blindingly white beaches, topped with rainforest, and sprinkled by coral reefs. Coral bleaching has destroyed many of the ancient hard corals, but delicate corals are still intact, the fish and fauna are still there, and it remains a popular (and lovely) place to dive.
In the early 2000s, Thailand expanded the park from its nine islands to include Ko Tachai and Ko Bon; both have remained unharmed by coral bleaching, making them some of the best snorkeling and diving regions. Two of the 11 islands, Ko Similan and Ko Miang, have exclusive ranger stations; the multilinguistic park visitors’ center and most famous activity centers are on Ko Miang. ‘Similan’ originates from the Malay word Sembilan, which basically means ‘nine,’ and, while each island is named, they’re more generally known by their numbers.
Hat Khao Lak Island, where most dive institutions are based, is the park’s jumping-off point. The mainland national park and pier headquarters are at Thap Lamu, 12km south. There’s a multilinguistic visitor center on Ko Miang.
Sadly, mass tourism invasion means that many Similan beaches and snorkel/dive area get fully packed with day-trippers. There can be considerable lines to climb up viewpoints, and some snorkeling outfits go so far as to feed the fish, which is a significant ecological no-no. That would never happen if this were a marine national park! But, hang on.
Happily, however, overnight stays were outlawed on the Similans in 2018 (though experienced divers can stay the night on a rented liveaboard) and Ko Tachai is now monthly closed to day-trippers as part of a yearly environmental review. A new quota system limits the number of visitors that can explore the islands – it’s a great idea to book ahead during peak periods to guarantee you can get on a ship or a boat.
Flora and Fauna in Similan Islands
There is an immense diversity of fish species. Underwater visibility is the greatest you will find in Thailand. You will see lots of colorful fish such as clownfish and lionfish, and if you’re lucky, you may spot a larger one like a whale shark or a manta. The corals in the area have fallen mainly victim to coral bleaching in the first decade of 2000 and have not yet fully recovered, though the fish still make diving and snorkeling worthwhile.
How to reach Similan Islands?
Several dive trips go to the Similans from Phuket, Ranong, and Khao Lak. You can take both day trips and liveaboard cruises. Dedicated cruises usually start at four days and four nights (4d/4n) in length. Many shorter trips are also available, often with fancy operators who have a large vessel on the Similan islands.
Top Things to See in Similan Islands
- Koh Similan, also called the Koh eight Is Similan’s largest island. Big Bend is a lovely bay called Horseshoe Bay as white flour. Bay Snorkeling can be relatively shallow. The bay’s right side with mounting rock formations stand out like a sail as a priceless symbol of the Similan Islands. You can climb it to view it.
- York stone paving, also called the stone skull, is a small island. It is shaped like a skull with ancient rock above the water. The submarine with fine stones and holes is hollow and has a magnificent dive.
- Koh Pa Yu or Koh seven. The east has both deep and shallow water diving is very amazing. Many divers favor this island most, because of the solid coral reef with fish species and soft coral.
- In the West, Koh Five is a large rock with fish and soft corals near the park, and ducks are happy to trap food.