I must say that the Similan Islands are one of the best scuba diving destinations in Thailand, if not in the world! In fact, they offer divers an unforgettable experience with their rich marine life, crystal-clear water, vibrant corals, and stunning underwater topography. No wonder, many avid divers flock to these islands to discover the amazing beauty and diversity of the Andaman Sea.
My recent trip to the Similan Islands was an experience like no other. As a passionate diver, I have visited many diving spots across Thailand, but this one stands out from the rest. Everything about this trip was unique and memorable, from the warm fuzzy feeling of the sun on my skin to the sounds of seagulls flying by. I knew I was up for an adventure that would take my breath away, literally and figuratively.
In this blog article, I will share my unforgettable diving excursion in the Similan Islands. I will tell you everything you need to know before packing for your trip, from the best time to visit, what to pack, where to stay, and how to plan your diving itinerary. I will also highlight the underwater treasures that make the Similan Islands a world-renowned diving destination. So, join me as we explore the Similan Islands, and unlock the wonders of the deep blue sea!
Overview of the Similan Islands
Nestled in the crystal blue waters of the Andaman Sea, the Similan Islands promise an unforgettable diving experience unlike anywhere else on earth. Situated northwest of Phuket, the Similan Islands are comprised of nine limestone islands and their surrounding waters, which are home to coral reefs, colorful fish, and a wide array of marine life. A visit to the Similan Islands offers breathtaking scenery, picture-perfect beaches, and world-class diving opportunities that should not be missed.
Best time to go diving
While the Similan Islands are open to visitors year-round, the best time to visit is between November and April, when the seas are calm and the weather is dry. During this period, divers can enjoy crystal-clear waters with visibility up to 30 meters, making for perfect underwater photography conditions. From May to October, the weather can be rougher, and visibility can be reduced, but this period can be ideal for those looking for more adventurous and challenging diving experiences.
Top dive sites around the Similan Islands
The Similan Islands boast dozens of world-famous dive sites, each with its unique features and attractions. Here are just a few of the most exciting diving locations that you should consider during your visit:
East of Eden
East of Eden is a popular dive site that offers divers a chance to observe stunning coral gardens and colorful marine life. Schools of small and medium-sized fish can be seen here, including snappers, trevally, and barracudas. East of Eden is also a great spot for macro photography, with the possibility of finding seahorses, nudibranchs, and other tiny creatures hiding among the corals.
Elephant Head Rock
Elephant Head Rock is another famous dive site in the Similan Islands that offers divers a chance to see a wide variety of marine life. The site is named after a rock formation that resembles an elephant's head, and its waters are home to schools of sweetlips, groupers, and snappers. Divers can also spot leopard sharks, moray eels, and turtles here.
Christmas Point is an advanced dive site that is known for its strong currents, but also the incredible underwater scenery. The dive site is particularly popular for its enormous underwater rock formations, which are covered in colorful sea fans and soft corals. Divers can also spot large pelagic fish such as mantas, whale sharks, and barracudas.
Beacon Point is another must-visit dive site in the Similan Islands, popular for its picturesque underwater landscape. Here, divers can see massive granite boulders, cut through by complex swim-throughs and covered in colorful corals, sponges, and sea anemones. Divers can also spot barracudas, reef sharks, and tunas here.
Interesting marine life found in the area
The Similan Islands are home to an abundant and diverse range of marine life, ensuring that scuba divers are never disappointed. Here are some of the most exciting marine creatures that you can expect to encounter during your visit:
The Similan Islands are one of the best places in Thailand to see manta rays up close. These majestic creatures often glide past divers gracefully, their huge wingspans measuring up to 5 meters across. Divers can spot mantas at various dive sites around the Similan Islands, including Banana Rock and Koh Tachai.
Whale sharks are another thrilling sight in the Similan Islands, with the waters around Koh Tachai known for their abundance of these magnificent creatures. Growing up to 12 meters long, these gentle giants make for an unforgettable sight for divers and snorkelers alike.
Several species of turtles can be found in the waters around the Similan Islands, including hawksbill, green, and olive ridley turtles. Divers can spot them grazing on the underwater plants or breath-taking a break on the sandy seabeds. Remember to keep a healthy distance and admire them without disturbing them.
Several species of reef sharks can be found around the Similan Islands, including whitetip, blacktip, and leopard sharks. These creatures are generally not dangerous to humans, and divers can observe them at close range in a safe and peaceful manner.
Accommodation options on the islands
There are no accommodations on the Similan Islands themselves, but several liveaboards offer dive cruise packages that offer accommodation on their vessels. The liveaboards act as floating hotels, with comfortable cabins, delicious meals, and expert diving guides to ensure an unforgettable diving experience.
For those wishing to stay in a hotel, the nearby areas of Khao Lak and Phuket offer a wide variety of accommodations, from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxury resorts.
Tips for a memorable diving experience
- Book your dive trip in advance to ensure availability, especially during the high season.
- Choose a reputable dive operator or liveaboard with experienced and knowledgeable dive guides.
- Bring your own dive gear if possible for maximum comfort and familiarity.
- Follow the rules and regulations of the Thai Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation to minimize the impact on the environment.
- Always maintain a safe distance from marine creatures to avoid disturbing their natural behaviors and habitat.
- Respect the underwater environment and avoid damaging corals or collecting marine life.