...Highlights: turtles, schooling fish/big pelagics...
...Diving environment: beginner and advanced divers, very popular...
Without question, the Similan Islands represent the best diving that Thailand has to offer. No other region offers such a number of excellent sites and such wonderful scuba 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. Show more
Anita's Reef - On the east coast of Similan Island No.5 you can find Anita's Reef. This is a gentle sandy slope boasting some stunning coral bommies and areas of both table corals and staghorn corals. Some of the fish life you can expect to see here are lionfish, the colourful Oriental sweetlips and the gorgeous but less commonly seen clown triggerfish. Show more
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, whether you are seeking a rough-and-ready backpacker trip or a deluxe 5 star cruise. Trips range from a standard 4 night cruise to 9 or 10 night safaris that visit Burma too.
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 sections.
Early November to early May is the period during which liveaboards operate at the Similan Islands. Day trips and overnight trips run from October through to May. The most constant weather patterns, and therefore the most stable conditions, tend to be between February and April. The diving at this time of year is great as the visibility is always between 25-40m, and calm seas are the norm as the monsoon winds cease to blow. Clouds are rarely seen in the sky.
The Similans are only 8 degrees north of the Equator and therefore exhibit a tropical climate, including a water temperature that usually ranges between 26-29°C, being warmest towards the end of the season (February-May). Even at depth, the water is usually only 1 degree less than at the surface. Similarly, the light conditions are good as divers descend to depth.
Currents tend to be stronger towards the end of February, making drift dives more interesting and also attracting more pelagics in the area, such as manta rays and whale sharks. Green and hawksbill turtles are often seen at the dive sites. Their breeding season is from November to February.
Being closed for 6 months of the year, the dive sites have a much needed period of recuperation from the effects of constant diving and boats operating in the area during the main season. This closed rainy season fortunately co-incides with a period of spawning for many of the fishes.
Review our maps below of the Similans and their host country Thailand. Here, you will find information on how to get to Phuket or Khao Lak, and then on to the Similan Islands.
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)
Recommended length of stay: 4 - 6 days