Marine Life in the Similans, Surins and Mergui Archipelagos, Liveaboard Thailand
Updated: Jul 12
“What will I see underwater?” Regardless of whether you are a new or experienced diver, this is certainly one of the questions you will have when looking into a new diving destination. And quite right too! You’ve saved up your hard-earned dollars and spent hours planning your perfect Thailand liveaboard trip with us, so you want to know what you’ll get in return. Well, fear not, as Similan, Surin and Myanmar dive sites are some of the best diving liveaboard destinations worldwide and offer a plethora of out of this world scuba experiences. So charge up your underwater cameras and GoPros, as regardless of whether you are a casual snapper or seasoned underwater photography pro, you are in for a treat!
The Similans boast some incredibly interesting topography with a varied array of dive sites. From pretty reefs with colorful and healthy hard and soft corals to rocky boulder sites and deep granite pinnacles and plateaus, the marine diversity is richer here than at any other destination for diving in Thailand. So if you’ve already made your booking, congrats on picking the best Thailand liveaboard destination! If you haven’t booked yet, allow us to give you some food for thought. Our North Andaman liveaboards aboard the MV Deep Andaman Queen visit the best dive sites in both the Similan and Surin national parks and also explore further north into the Mergui archipelago in Myanmar (Burma). So whether you decide you book a Similan Island liveaboard or Myanmar liveaboard you can be assured of a variety of spectacular marine life encounters. Of course, we can never give you a 100% guarantee of everything you will see on any given trip (those pesky fish, they just keep moving!), but we can certainly give you a realistic idea of what to expect. Needless to say, Andaman Sea marine life rarely disappoints…
This could well be a whole blog topic all of its own, as there is an abundance of tropical fish that reside in the Andaman Sea. From the beautiful to the ugly, and from the weird to the wonderful, our dive guides will escort you around coral reefs that are home to all manner of creatures and critters. With several different types of anemonefish, and multiple genera of angelfish, butterflyfish, and bannerfish, there is guaranteed to be a highly colorful element to every dive. Parrotfish, pufferfish, trumpetfish, and wrasse are among the multiple other species to cruise around the shallow reefs, while yellow boxfish and juvenile harlequin sweetlips can be found under corals and rocky overhangs, using them for shelter and protection. Kuhl’s stingrays and fields of garden eels can be spotted hiding in sandy patches, and in slightly deeper waters you will find schools of batfish and red tooth triggerfish.
Everyone loves a good turtle sighting, and it’s incredibly rare that guests onboard our Similans liveaboards don’t bump into a few. The most common sightings are green turtles and hawksbill turtles. Here’s a handy hint for telling the difference…Hawksbill turtles (although often appearing green in color, hence the confusion) can be distinguished by their sharp, curved beaks. Whereas green turtles have rounder and less prominent beaks that lack the sharp, cutting edge of the hawksbill.
Pelagic fish are migratory and live in the open ocean, but tend to inhabit shallow areas of the water column. So out at the deeper dive sites like Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, Western Rocky and Black Rock you will definitely see schools of pelagic fish. Typical examples include snapper, barracuda, and tuna, which are commonly seen circling around the rocks and pinnacles. The top pelagic species that our guests want to see, however, are of course manta rays and whale sharks. This is most definitely a possibility, so be sure to check out our other blog posts about diving with whale sharks in the Similans and when to dive the Similan Islands to see manta rays.
Whitetip sharks and leopard sharks can be found at some of the shallower reef and boulder sites, proving that shark diving in the Similans doesn’t always mean having to go deep. However, having your PADI Advanced Open Water license is recommended to see as much as you can. The PADI Advanced Open Water Diver program is one of the most popular dive courses we teach onboard, and there are a bunch of great reasons to get your advanced certification on your liveaboard trip with us.
Octopus, Squid & Cuttlefish
Sightings of various cephalopods (yep, that’s the official classification for this lot of tentacled ocean dwellers) such as reef octopus and even mimic octopus can be seen through the day. It’s pretty special watching octopus manipulate their form to squeeze through various gaps in the reef and into hiding places in tight crevices - and the color display they put on in the process can be mesmerizing. Squid and cuttlefish can also sometimes be seen on day dives, but more likely you’ll see these on a night dive.
While seeing the ‘big stuff’ is always amazing, macro marine life and macro photography is a big drawcard to some of our repeat customers and experienced divers. Not quite on that level yet? Maybe you just spend so much time staring into the blue looking for your next manta or whale shark diving experience that you forget to look for the smaller stuff. Or perhaps you are just not that experienced in finding macro life yet. Either way, we love the array of macro marine life in the Similans and beyond, and our dive guides will be constancy scanning the dive sites to find you the best of the small stuff to enhance your Similans and Myanmar diving experiences, as well as the obvious marine life that is on show. From frogfish and seahorses to ghost pipefish, shrimps and an abundance of vibrant nudibranchs, we’ll make sure you get to see as much as possible. For more details have a read of our blog about macro marine life in the Similans and beyond.
Wow, going through all of this with you has made us even more excited than usual to see what we will find on our upcoming trips. Hopefully, you will be joining us on one of them to see for yourself! With manta ray season and whale shark season just around the corner, our favorite and busiest time of year is fast approaching. So if you have questions about the best Thailand liveaboard for you or information on when to dive the Similan islands etc., by all means, contact us with your questions. Our friendly and professional staff are waiting to make your dream diving liveaboard holiday a reality!