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WHERE ARE THE SIMILANS?

The Similan Islands are located 65 kilometers off the coastline of Phang Nga province in southwestern Thailand and were established as a National Park marine reserve in 1982.

WELCOME TO THE SIMILAN ISLANDS

“Everything you need to know about the Similan Islands, the history of the islands, how they were named, how to get there, the best time to go and what to do there.” The Similan Islands are one of the most beautiful destinations that you will find in Thailand. We have outlined activities that are available, including diving and snorkelling, plus information about the sites you will see both underwater and above. There are details about liveaboards and about sailing in the Similans, with some accommodation options too. All you need to know about these stunning islands on the west coast of Thailand.

Wildlife on the Similans

Although the dinosaurs are long gone since the time the Similan Islands were formed, the sea surrounding the islands is still home to giants of around the same era. Whale sharks and Giant manta rays, a relatively newcomer to the scene at just 50 million years in existence, migrate through the marine national park heading north towards Burmese waters or south down the Malay peninsula.

Ancient reptiles can still be found on the islands themselves. Monitor lizards are frequently seen. They can grow to an impressive size of 3 metres and resemble the famous Komodo Dragons found in Indonesia. As well as the large life that you might be lucky enough to see on the Similans, there are also the smaller critters than clamber across the sand or flit between the trees such as chicken crabs and a vast variety of birdlife. READ MORE HERE

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Immerse yourself in clear blue waters, play on peaceful white sand beaches and spend your days discovering the abundant tropical wildlife ecosystems of the Similan Islands.

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SIMILAN ISLANDS FACTS


Name Mu Koh Similan National Park
Location Phang Nga Province, Andaman Sea, Thailand
Founded 1982
Area 140 km² (80,000 Rai)
No. of Islands 9 + 2
Season October 16 to May 16
Weather North Eastern Monsoon. Daily forecast
Activities Scuba Diving, Snorkelling, Sailing, Camping, Bird Watching, Kayaking
Accommodation #4 Koh Miang and #8 Koh Similan. More
Wildlife Similan Islands Nature & Wildlife Guide
Geology Similan Islands Geology Guide
Fees 2015 500 THB general admission + 200 THB per day per diving guest
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HISTORY OF THE SIMILAN ISLANDS

The history of these islands stretches far back in time. Malay fishermen frequently travelled in this area and would refer to the Islands as the “Nine Islands”, the “Sembelan Islands”. This is the most common fact about this beautiful part of the Andaman Sea.

Did you know there is more to the naming of the Similans than just them being named after the Malay word for the Number “nine”?

The fishermen would travel along the Malay Peninsula, between Malaysia and Burma; this will have been a busy thoroughfare back when borders were not so strictly defined. Undoubtedly they would have encountered the nomadic sea gypsies, also known as Moken, along their way. The Moken hold many fascinating tales, legends and campfire stories about their existence in the Andaman Sea. The Similan Islands feature in one of the central stories to their folklore, the epic poem of Gaman the Malay. This is a masterpiece of Moken oral history and the one which has given the momad society its cultural identity. Koh Bon and Koh Tachai, also in the Similan National Park, are well documented in this story too. It’s also interesting to note that the Moken refer to the islands as the Seway Islands, interestingly, this means number 9 in the Moken language.

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Even today the Moken still inhabit the coastline and islands from as far south as Phuket, travelling through the Similans to the Surin Marine National Parks and up to as far north as the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar. Their stories of the Similans hold many secrets from the past, however, when searching for information about the islands it is not these interesting tales that you will readily find.

In the past, during the successful reign of the East India Company and back when Great Britian had a very strong bond with what was then known as “Siam”, the British Navy would refer to the Similans as the Seway Islands. When you search for the Seway Islands on the internet nowadays, you will be taken to maps of the Similans.

THE FORMATION OF THE SIMILANS

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One of the most fascinating pieces of information about the Similan Islands is the fact that these granite rock formations are so incredibly old.

It is astonishing to learn that this intriguing landscape was formed more than 250 million years ago in the Paleozoic period, a time even before dinosaurs roamed the earth. This was an important period in our planet’s geological past. It was a time when the marine environment was dramatically changing, when fish, amphibians and reptiles were evolving. The landscape was changing and it’s inhabitants were developing accordingly. The Similan Islands are formed of granitoids, bodies of rock formed by cooled magma. Their appearance is unusual and striking, completely unique. As they have been slowly weathered over the years, these fascinating rocky outcrops are now suspended above and below the Andaman Sea along the coast of Burma and Thailand. A much more detailed geology of the Similans can be found here. It is easy to see this landscape as timeless: when sitting on a Similan liveaboard of an evening, staring out at the beautiful rock formations sat in the Andaman Sea, it is possible to completely lose track of time.

The Similans are a place for ultimate relaxation and stunning natural beauty.

THE SIMILANS: AN UNFORGETTABLE LOCATION

The mammoth boulders that characterise the Similan Islands are just one aspect of this slice of Thailand that is a must see destination. The Islands are an ideal and easy-to-reach destination for dive safaris, sailing and snorkelling trips. They are even perfect for hiking and birdwatching.

The varied forest systems that are present here and the huge array of both land and marine plant and animal species make this an intriguing and visually breathtaking place to see.

The immense diversity of the islands and marine sites guarantee that each and every visitor has an unforgettable experience both above and below the surface of the water.

Welcome to the Similans!

CHECK OUT OUR SIMILAN ISLANDS LIVEABOARDS

Interested in diving the Similans with a highly experienced and knowledgeable team? We offer an unforgettable experience on our liveaboard trip… Join us and get on board for sailing in the turquoise waters to the amazing Similans!

THE BEST TIME TO GO TO THE SIMILAN ISLANDS

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When you can visit the Similan Islands is strictly controlled by the Marine National Park and the Royal Thai Navy. The Similan Islands are open from November to April and closed May to October. The actual dates vary slightly year to year. For the 2014-2015 Similan diving season the National Park will open on the and will likely close around

When you can go to the Similan Islands is essentially controlled by the annual monsoons that govern Thailand’s weather and climate. Khao Lak’s high season and when the national park is open coincides with the north-east monsoon, November to April. The wind blows across Thailand from China, bringing with it cooler and dryer air. Off shore winds make for more perfect Andaman Sea conditions. From May to October the weather and climate is controlled by the south-west monsoon. South-westerly winds  bring hot, humid air from the Indian Ocean which in turn bring clouds, heavy rainfall and can make for unsafe sea conditions. The Similan National Park close the islands for these six months to give the natural resources time for rehabilitation. Visiting the islands during this time is not only highly dangerous, the Royal Thai Navy strictly enforce the closed policy.

The annual monsoons play a large role in determining the conditions at the Similan Islands. There are also other considerations, especially for scuba divers in planning the best time to visit the Similans, including tides and water visibility.

HOW TO GET TO THE SIMILAN ISLANDS

Many roads lead to Khao Lak, the main point of departure to the Similan Islands. Here is where the adventure begins! From Khao Lak it is short journey to your waiting boat at Thap Lamu Pier. Divers and snorkelers will usually be picked up at their Khao Lak accommodation, or meet at the dive centre, for a group taxi ride to Thap Lamu.

Safari boats also depart to the Similans directly from Phuket, or provide a direct taxi transfer from Phuket to Thap Lamu. Thailand Dive & Sail will gladly advise you of your exact itinerary and best options for travel.

National Park HQ: Situated on the road to Thap Lamu pier, 14 km south of Khao Lak, 4 km off Highway 4
Thap Lamu Pier: 500 m past National Park HQ
From Bangkok: Daily flights to Phuket or Krabi Town with Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways and Air Asia, then taxi or bus to Khao Lak, taxi to Thap Lamu Pier
From Phuket: Taxi, mini-van or hourly bus service leaving Phuket Town to Khao Lak, then taxi to Thap Lamu Pier
From Krabi: Taxi, mini-van or hourly bus service departs Krabi Town to Khao Lak, then taxi to Thap Lamu Pier

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SIMILAN ISLANDS SCUBA DIVING

The Similan Islands are also home to some of the most interesting and diverse dive sites in Thailand, making it a number one spot for scuba divers who visit the land of smiles. A top holiday destination, Khao Lak is ideally located for visitors wishing to combine relaxation, Thailand’s well renowned hospitality and an activity packed trip diving at the best dive sites. There are a number of different options for those wanting to explore the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea, just off the coast. Whether you are looking for a quick diving fix, a slightly longer overnight trip out to the islands or an extended diving liveaboard, there is something for everyone.

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Dive with a smile :)

The first type of diving trip that we would recommend to any scuba fanatics visiting Thailand would be a Similan liveaboard.

This really is the best way to explore all that the Similan Islands have to offer as you have an extended stay within the marine national park and without lengthy daily transfers. Waking up next to a tropical island and getting straight into the water is a special experience, and one that you will only have on an overnight trip or liveaboard safari. This option also gives you the opportunity to take in more of the better dive sites that are situated to further north, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock. There is such a variety of marine flora and fauna here that one day is just not enough to experience it all.

If you have only a few days in Khao Lak then an overnight trip is also a good option.

On a 2 day 1 night, or better still – a 2 day 2 night trip, you will get the chance to get more dives in (typically 6 or 7) and will wake up at the dive sites. Usually the shorter overnight trips focus on one area of the Similans; this may be the Similans only, or it might incorporate Koh Tachai, Koh Bon and Richelieu Rock. Either way you will get the chance to expand your dive log and fit 3 day trip’s worth of dives into 2 days – meaning only 2 transfers instead of 6.

For those that really are short of time on their holiday, or those popping into Thailand for a mini break (many people do!), then the diving day trip is the best option to maximise your time and fit in some diving too.

As previously stated, Khao Lak is ideally located for diving in the Similans, it’s proximity to the dive sites means that it is the best place as a departure point for day trips. A day trip will be via speedboat or catamaran and will involve approximately and hour and a half trip there and back. The Islands that you will visit may be limited, due to the distances travelled. Day trip options include days dedicated to the Similans, Richelieu Rock, Koh Tachai or Koh Bon, or you can try a combine trip to Koh Tachai and Koh Bon on the same day.

Which ever type of trip you choose to visit the Similan Islands, you will not be dissapointed.

This beautiful part of Thailand is one of the main reason why people visit Khao Lak, and if you choose to venture out there, you will see why for yourself.

For more information about diving in the Similans read our Similan Diving Guide or check out our latest news about last season’s sensational diving with Whale Sharks and Giant Manta Rays.

SEE OUR SIMILAN DIVE-SITE GUIDE

KOH BON, KOH TACHAI & RICHELIEU ROCK

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SIMILAN ISLANDS SNORKELING

Person snorkeling under water, Havelock Islands, Andaman Islands, India

Similan Snorkelling at a Glance

Season: 1 November – 30 April
Best time to go: January – March
Experience: Suitable for all levels
Water Temperature: 29-30˚C average surface water temperature.
Visibility: 12 – 40 meters.
Tides/Currents: Weak to moderate; stronger at full and black moon.
Recommended Sites: Anita’s Reef, Hideaway Bay,Beacon Beach and Reef, Breakfast Bend, East of Eden, Koh Bon Ridge, North Point to Christmas Point, Princess Bay. For maps of these snorkel spots please see our dive-site guide
First Aid: All dive-staff trained in emergency first response, first aid and secondary care; all boats carry 100% emergency medical oxygen; evacuation plans in place; doctor stationed at Island #4
Equipment: Buoyancy jackets, mask, snorkel and fins in all sizes are provided by your boat operator. You may prefer to bring your own.
Fees: 500 THB general admission fee
Clothing: A swimsuit is sufficient, though we recommend more sun protection in the form of a long-sleeved rashguard, t-shirt and shorts.
Protection: Please make sure to wear high-spf sunscreen while snorkeling, ideally all over, but pay attention to the back side of your body, as the sun will be shining directly onto you. Don’t forget to protect your neck, ears, back, thighs, shoulders, upper arms, etc.! We cannot stress this point enough.
Contact Lenses: If you wear lenses, please bring a spare set just in case you lose one.
Wildlife: Similan Islands Wildlife
Note: Island #1, #2 and #3 are Royal Thai Navy marine reserves and turtle breeding grounds! While snorkeling is permitted, access to the beaches is strictly prohibited.

An exceptional and safe opportunity to discover the underwater world for the non-diver. The coastlines near the beaches of the Similan Islands are studded with beautiful bommies, coral gardens and rock formations at shallow depths, allowing for a birds-eye view over the expansive seascape. Swim with turtles and mantas, skin-dive amongst schools of tropical fish and perhaps even follow the divers at sites far below the surface. Experienced professionals on every boat are there to guide you for your safety.

Please click here for Thailand Dive and Sail’s complete Similan snorkelling day trip and overnight options as well as private charter trips and snorkelling at Koh Tachai and undiscovered Koh Prathong.

SIMILAN SAILING

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Similan Islands Sailing at a Glance

Moorings: Always available in picturesque, sheltered spots around the islands and in the bays. To protect the environment, please DO NOT drop anchor in the Similans or Surins, but use the moorings provided.
Water: Non-potable water sources available on Island #8. Fresh drinking water is not available in the Similans, please make sure to stock bottled water!
Provisions: Can be arranged by Thailand Dive & Sail
Food: Small, simple restaurant on Island #4 and Island #8
Refuse: Please do NOT dispose of any garbage or non-biodegradable items on the islands or in surrounding waters. Take it back with you. Large bins and dumpsters are available at the main piers in Phuket, Thap Lamu and Khuraburi for disposal.
Waste: Please do not empty holding tanks or bio-degradable items in the vicinity of the islands.
Pets: Domesticated animals are not allowed in the National Park. If you have house pets with you on your own boat, please leave them on board.
Flags: All marine vessels are required to fly a Thai flag when sailing Thai waters.
Immigration: Ranong, Phang Nga and Phuket provide immigration checkpoints and stamp-in for around-the-world travelers. Advance arrangements may be made via Thailand Dive & Sail.
Diving: If you are certified, equipment rental available via Thailand Dive & Sail, dive boats in the vicinity offer air and Nitrox filling service for approximately 200 THB per tank, some may also provide a guide. Please see our Similan Island Dive Guide.
Snorkeling: Unlimited. Please see our Snokeling Guide for recommended sites.
Wildlife: Similan Islands Wildlife
Note: Island #1, #2 and #3 are Royal Thai Navy marine reserves and turtle breeding grounds! While snorkeling is permitted, access to the beaches is strictly prohibited.

Experience the beauty of the Similans on your own sail boat! For individuals, groups and families of sailing enthusiasts, the islands are the ideal tropical destination and stunning basis for extensive diving, snorkeling and island exploration. Moor in stunning bays and enjoy the peace and relaxation of a remote, uninhabited island atmosphere. Adventure on your own time and at your own pace in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Let us charter your sail boat, skipper and crew to the Similans, arrange diving and snorkeling gear and customize your independent sailing trip itinerary. We are able to recommend and book charters with or without crew, as well as introduce you to experienced freelance dive staff and guides to accompany you on your adventure. If you are sailing independently throughout the local area on your own boat, please feel free to contact us regarding marine conditions, equipment and insightful tips and information about sailing the islands. Diving and snorkeling sites are listed in our Similan Island Diving Guide / Snorkeling Guide. Please also refer to Similans Islands at a Glance, as well as our Wildlife Page.

SIMILAN ACCOMMODATION

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Similan Islands Accommodation at a Glance

Island #4 – Koh Miang:

Accomodation options include bungalows, longhouses and tents. Facilities include electricity from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am daily, a simple restaurant and gift shop, public bathrooms and a doctor on duty. As there is no source of fresh drinking-water on the island, please remember to drink only bottled water.

Bungalows: 20 simple, clean and air-conditioned wooden bungalows with en-suite bathrooms, bedding included, most with a view of Princess Bay. Cost: 2000 THB per night, reservations a must.
Longhouses: Two five-room wood and bamboo longhouses with fans, bedding included, communal bathrooms. Cost: 1000 THB per room per night / reservations a must.
Tents: 35 large, simple tents located right next to the beach, bedding, floor pad and mosquito net included, communal bathrooms. Cost: 570 THB per night, reservations a must.

Island #8 – Koh Similan:

Accomodation in tents only. Communal facilities include electricity from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am daily, a simple restaurant and gift shop, as well as public bathrooms. As there is no source of fresh drinking-water on the island, please remember to drink only bottled water.

Tents: Large, simple tents located right next to the beach, bedding, floor pad and mosquito net included, communal bathrooms. Cost: 570 THB per night / reservations not possible. You may also set up your own tent on Koh Similan for a minimum fee.
Contact: Mu Koh Similan National Park

93, Mu 5, Ban Thap Lamu, Phetkasem Rd.,

Lamkaen Sub-District

Amphur Thai Muang, Phang Nga

Thailand 82210

Tel: +66.7645.3272 / Fax: +66.7645.3273

The best way to experience the Similans is from a Similan liveaboard. Spending a 4 day 4 night trip on board floating accommodation is the ultimate way to see the islands and wake up next to some spectacular views. Most liveaboards moor near the islands at night, meaning that sunset and sunrise have awesome backdrops.

The SY Diva Andaman initially started it’s voyages as cruises through the islands, the diving came at a later stage when the activity was more in demand. As a diver visiting the Similans on a liveaboard is the best option as you wake up next to the dive sites, however, if you are not a diver there are still some excellent options that incorporate snorkelling into the itinerary for you, such as the MV Oktavia.

A liveaboard is the best way to stay within the Similan Marine National park very comfortably, but if this is not for you then there are other options. The Similans are an excellent destination to escape from the modern world and lose yourself in the stunning natural surroundings of the islands. Here you can relax on the beach, explore the jungle and view points and snorkel in the shallows off the shores edge.

Similan Islands #4 and #8 even have accommodation options, allowing you to stay well beyond the last speedboat heads back to main land. The accommodation options are simple, with basic facilities and amenities. You can rent a bungalow for a few nights or camp out in a tent under the stars and close to nature. All on-land accommodation is maintained by the National Park head office.

NOTE: PLEASE CONTACT THE SIMILAN ISLANDS NATIONAL MARINE PARK DIRECTLY FOR ACCOMMODATION ENQUIRIES