About The Similan Islands and Surin Islands
Similan and Surin Island liveaboard trips have always been popular with divers looking for the best Thailand diving sites and liveaboard dive trip itineraries, and our professional and passionate boat crew are always on hand to give you as much information as they can about the marine park, its dive sites, and marine life inhabitants, etc. But how much do you know about the park and its history? Well, we’re here to fill in those blanks for you!
About the Similan Islands
The Similan Islands themselves are located in the Andaman Sea, lying approximately 70 kilometers off the Western Coast of Southern Thailand. Explored for the first time in 1982, they were added to the list of Thailand Marine park protected areas just one year later in 1983. Originally the Similans consisted of just 9 islands stretching over 24 kilometers, and its name comes directly from the local Yawi language (a Malayan dialect) for ‘nine islands’.
In 1998 the outlying islands on Koh Bon and Koh Tachai were added to the Similan Islands National Park remit. Now with these two islands added, the full name of the marine park is Mu Koh Similan National Park. The full list of islands included is as follows, and with Koh Bon and Koh Tachai included, the archipelago now stretches over approximately 140 square kilometers, however only about 26 kilometers of this is actual landmass, the rest is a vast expanse of tropical blue sea.
Island 1 - Koh Huyong
Island 2 - Koh Payang
Island 3 - Koh Payan
Island 4 - Koh Miang, where the marine park headquarters is based.
Island 5 - Koh Ha
Island 6 - Koh Payu
Island 7 - Koh Hin Pousar
Island 8 - Koh Similan
Island 9 - Koh Ba-ngu
Island 10 - Koh Bon
Island 11 - Koh Tachai
About the Surin Islands
The five islands in this chain are also designated as part of Thailand’s national marine park system, and have been since 1981. They lie north of the Similan Islands and are collectively known as the Mu Koh Surin National Park, which, like Mu Koh Similan, covers an area of around 140 square kilometers – although over 75% of this is the ocean.
The five islands are:
Koh Surin Nuea
Koh Surin Tai
Koh Ri (Koh Stork)
Koh Kai (Koh Torinta)
Koh Klang (Koh Mankorn/Koh Pajumba)
The Surin Islands are home to a population of approximately 150 ethnic Moken minority natives, spread across two small communities. Known locally as "Chao Lay", meaning Sea Gypsy, Mokens are nomadic sea dwellers.
Diving the Similan Islands and Surin Islands
Many divers consider this area to be the home of the best liveaboard diving destinations in Thailand and South East Asia in general. Crystal clear waters and the white sandy beaches of the islands make it a picture-perfect location. We always make a point of taking a break on some of the golden sandy shores as scheduled stops on our Thailand liveaboard trips, so you can have a break from boat life and relax on land for a little while. The range of dive sites is amazing though…fields of Anemonefish (nemos) adorn rocky pinnacles, Barracuda and Batfish gather in large pelagic shoals at the deeper sites, and Turtles graze at some of the shallower sites. Every dive site has a multitude of hard and soft corals, and the biodiversity of marine life and sheer variety of reef inhabitants, from macro critters to huge Manta Rays and Whale Sharks, keep guests coming back for our Similan and Surin island liveaboard trips year after year!
Our Similan and Surin Island liveaboard itineraries offer world-class diving at great value prices and will take you to some of the best dive sites in the archipelago. The top Similan Island dive sites according to guest reviews are Elephant Head Rock, Koh Bon and Koh Tachai. The undoubted favorite dive site in the Surin Islands is Richelieu Rock, which is a fixture on every one of our trips.
While there is no denying that Similan and Surin Island marine life is impressive, the wildlife extends as far above the surface as below, including a large range of tropical birds and reptiles. Nicobar Pigeons, Black Kites and White Bellied Sea Eagles are regularly spotted, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some land-based nature encounters too!
National Marine Park Operations
Marine park operations include cycling some of the islands through closure programs. The whole park is off-limits in the monsoon season between May and October, but some islands are singled out for closure on a rotation system even within standard park opening dates, to allow them to recover and/or regenerate when needed. Both the Mu Koh Similan Marine Park and Mu Koh Surin Marine Park as a whole, have limitations imposed on them for the number of visitors accepted in any given day, week, month, etc. This is why we are required to charge guests onboard our North Andaman liveaboard trips a National Park Fee. We see this as a positive, however, as it means the government is actively working with us to ensure that reefs and marine life populations are kept healthy. In addition, Thai law prohibits sport fishing and commercial fishing in specific areas, which helps to further protect the wildlife within.
How to Get to The Similan and Surin Islands
Both Mu Koh Similan and Mu Koh Surin National Parks are best accessed from either Khao Lak or Phuket. Liveaboard trips booked from either location can be organized to include a round trip transfer service to the boat departure point. All of our Andaman liveaboards depart in the evening, meaning after a sound night’s sleep in one of our spacious and luxurious cabins, you are in the marine park and ready to start diving.
We hope you are excited to join us onboard one of our Similan and Surin Island liveaboard trips soon. Take a look online for the most up to date offers and liveaboard diving deals.
You can also check trip availability and book online to secure your place. If you’d like any further information about our boat, trip schedules or logistics, please contact our helpful land team at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be happy to assist you.