Diving in the Similan Islands
Similans National Park
Without question, Similan Islands diving is the best that Thailand has to offer. No other region offers such a number of excellent dive sites and such wonderful diving as can be found in this protected national park. The Similans are a chain of 9 tiny and verdant islands fringed with white sand beaches and surrounded by some of the area's richest waters.
Liveaboard boats cruise around this picturesque scene stopping at the choicest sites to allow divers to explore at their leisure all the marine life that abounds: leopard sharks, white tip and black tip reef sharks, batfish, moray eels, snappers, barracudas, triggerfish, surgeonfish and unicornfish.
On the eastern side of the Similan Islands, hard corals in big numbers cover the steep slopes down to the sea floor, with impressive table corals and staghorn corals being the most prevalent. Bommies bedecked with soft corals are a magnet for the sea life and dot the seabed.
Elsewhere, huge granite boulders, a dominant feature of diving in the Similans, rest mightily on the sandy sea bed and provide an imposing backdrop to all the fish action as well as being the canvas upon which is painted a riot of colourful soft corals and gorgonian fans.
Given the diversity and convenience of such wonderful dive sites it is little wonder that the Similan Islands continue to be a popular choice for discerning divers, many of whom return year after year.
Elephant Head Rock - Named after the rock that sits out of the water and, to the imaginative mind, resembles a Pachydermal cranium, this is another Similan dive site where the stunning topography is the chief feature - with more penetrable holes than a Swiss cheese factory. Around this inspiring underwater scene you can check out all the resident sea-life including groupers, turtles, trevallies and reef sharks. Sometimes a little bit tricky with current but always exciting, Elephant Head Rock is another 'must do' site.
West of Six - With impressive rocky drop-offs and huge gorgonian sea fans, this site has become a bit of a favourite thanks to several resident frogfish and ribbon eels, unusual sights in these waters. The shallow areas feature several canyons covered in hard corals and provide regular encounters with turtles, barracuda, batfish and octopus. A colourful dive site with fantastic landscapes, West of Six has something for everyone.
Christmas Point - This is a dive site which in many ways typifies Similan Islands scuba diving since it is dominated by the enormous granite boulders, arches and swim-throughs that make diving here unlike anywhere else. Using the walls as substrate, soft corals and huge sea fans proliferate and act as the backdrop to the passing sharks, jacks and fusiliers. A dive site with impressive and unique topography, there are plenty of reasons to look forward to Christmas Point.
How to Dive the Similans
When choosing your Similan scuba diving trip there is really no substitute for a liveaboard. There is no other way to visit all 25 or so scattered sites at your leisure. Furthermore there is such a range of liveaboards in the area that there is something for just about every taste and budget.
So whether you are seeking a rough-and-ready backpacker trip or a deluxe, 5 star cruise then you will find what you want in our Similan Island liveaboards section.
You can, however get a taste of the Similans by doing one of more day trips from Khao Lak or Phuket. The journey times are greater (45 or 90 km away, respectively) for a smaller reward, but if you are short on time or don't fancy staying on a boat for a few nights, then this may be the choice for you. You can check out our day trip packages, which can be both with or without accommodation, in our Khao Lak day trip and Phuket day trip pages.
Got a question?
Have a look through our Frequently asked questions
October to May is the high season in the Similan Islands and is the period during which the liveaboards operate. The most constant weather patterns, and therefore the most stable conditions, tend to be between November and April.
Good for: Small animals, underwater photography, snorkelling, visibility, dive value-for-money and advanced divers
Not so good for: Non-diving activities
Depth: 5 - >40m
Visibility: 20 - 40m
Surface conditions: Calm
Water temperature: 26 - 29°C
Experience level: Intermediate - advanced
Number of dive sites: >25
Distance: ~90 km north west of Phuket (5 hours), 65 km west of Khao Lak (3 hours, or 1½ hours by speed boat)
Access: Similan diving day trips and liveaboards from Phuket or Khao Lak
Recommended length of stay: 4 - 6 days
Dive Site Descriptions
If you want more detailed descriptions please read our Similan Islands dive sites:
• Koh Similan travel information
View a map of:
• Similans and Surin Islands - Thailand
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