Just 84 km northwest of the deckchairs and the bustling crowds of Phuket's Patong Beach lies a gateway to another world. Koh Similan is one of the best-known island groups in the Andaman Sea, largely because of the wonders that wait beneath the clear blue waters that surround it.
Generally counted among the 10 most interesting dive areas in the world, this little archipelago has also become a favourite destination for yachts and tour boats.
"Similan" is derived from the Malay "sembilan", which means "nine". Each of the Similan Islands has a number as well as a name. These are, running from north to south: Koh Ba Ngu (#9), Similan (#8), Payu (#7), Miang (#4, #5 and, in some opinion, #6), Payan (#3), Payang (#2), and Hu Yong (#1). Hin Pousar, or "Elephant Head Rock", is alternatively designated #6 by some. Koh Bon, lying 17 nautical miles north of Ba Ngu, is part of the Similan National Park and may be granted honorary status as No. 10.
The conditions for coral growth are ideal, with a minimum prevailing sea temperature of about 28°C and exceptionally clear waters. More than 200 species of hard coral alone have so far been identified in this area, while these islands have the greatest profusion of reef fish in Thai waters.
In fact, in terms of both marine life and bottom topography, there's more variety than you'll find in most other dive destinations around the world. The Similan Islands has almost everything - coral walls (if we count Koh Bon, to the north, as one of the Similans), big rocks, huge sea fans and barrel sponges, caves, swim-throughs, and plenty of shallows for snorkelling as well. For, although the fringing waters around the islands average from 30-45m dropping down to 70-80m between islands, you'll find coral gardens in as little as 6 to 7 metres.
Koh Bon is a granite island which is part of the Similan National Park and is situated in the northwestern part of the Similan Islands. The western ridge of the island is probably the most popular amongst divers, where there is a steep drop-off into the deep blue yonder.
Colorful and plenty of both hard corals such as staghorn, brain and mountain corals, as well as soft corals and sea fans decorate the walls and provide shelter and homes for a wide variety of sea creatures.
A pinnacle located 800 metres northwest of the island is 18 to 45 metres deep and is covered with soft corals and huge sea fans. This deep dive site is recommended only for experienced divers as no decompression time needs to be taken into consideration and is exposed to potentially strong currents.
The western ridge and northeastern outer reef offers a good chance of spotting manta rays which visit the site for cleaning services by the local cleaner fish population. A variety of sharks including blacktip, whitetip and grey reef sharks and leopard sharks are often spotted. Nurse sharks can also be seen resting under rocks and coral formations.
Schools of barracuda, snappers, sweetlips, trevally make great subjects for underwater photographers. Other interesting marine life include nudibranch, octopi, sea snakes and shrimp.
Located to the east of the Surin Islands, Richelieu Rock is one of Thailand’s top dive sites. Richelieu Rock is characterized by a series of pinnacles, with the tallest one exposed about 1 metre above sea level during low tide.
The pinnacles exist in a horseshoe-shaped formation end steeply at a depth of about 35 metres on a sandy sea floor. A variety of marine creatures can be found in the various rock structures and many caves at the site.
You can expect to see a multitude of colorful soft and hard corals, gigantic sea fans, sea anemones. Underwater photographers will have a great time taking pictures of smaller marine life such as clownfish, frogfish, harlequin shrimp, nudibranch, pipefish, and seahorses. Various species of moray eels inhabit the many nooks and crannies whilst schools of pelagic fishes including barracuda, jacks, rainbow runners, snappers, and trevally patrol the rock formations. Giant groupers can be seen cruising lazily near the sandy bottom. Also keep your eye out for the whale sharks and manta rays that are often sighted in the surrounding blue waters.
Koh Tachai is an island with beautiful white sandy beaches, located 20 km north of Koh Bon, and offers two popular dive spots, namely the Tachai Pinnacles and the Eastern Reef.
Also known as Twin Peaks because of its pair of submerged pinnacles, the Tachai Pinnacle is located about 500 metres south of Koh Tachai. At a depth of 12 metres, the larger southern pinnacle is dome-shaped with huge boulders surrounding it and ends in a sandy seabed about 45 metres deep.
50 metres away from the southern pinnacle is the northern pinnacle. The smaller northern pinnacle is formed by a cluster of rocks and covered with large corals and sea fans, just like the southern pinnacle.
Manta rays and whale sharks can be seen feeding on plankton around the pinnacles. Sharks including blacktip, whitetip and leopard sharks and schools of barracuda, batfish, snappers, trevally and triggerfish are often seen. Try to look out for interesting marine life such as the camouflaged frogfish, and the colorful mantis shrimp, which can be quite difficult to spot.
The Tachai Pinnacle is notorious for strong curents, especially during the full and new moon. During such strong currents, divers will not be able to dive around the entire formation and can only do so in the areas sheltered from these currents.
The Tachai Eastern Reef is also known as Leopard Shark Reef. As both names suggest, the Reef is situated throughout the eastern side of the island and Leopard Sharks are commonly seen resting in the sandy portions of the reef. The southern part of the Reef slopes gently to a steep drop-off down to a depth of 30 metres.
Hard corals such as brain, fire and staghorn corals cover much of the Reef. Cuttlefish, lionfish including the Twin-spotted or Fu Man Chu Lionfish, moray eels, nudibranch, parrotfish, pufferfish and large stingrays provide great subjects for underwater photographers. Night diving presents opportunities to see various crustacean species such as crabs, lobsters and shrimp.
|Day 0||No dives||
Pickup between (1600HRS - 2000HRS)
Transfer to Thap Lamu Pier to MV Andaman Tritan for welcome and dinner on board
Sail overnight to Similan Islands
(Sailing time between 4 - 5 hours)
|Day 1||3 day dives
1 night dive
(Anita's Reef, Elephant Head Rock, West of Eden, Snapper Alley, Sail Rock)
|Day 2||4 day dives||Dive sites
(Christmas Point, North Point, Koh Bon - North Reef, Ridge, Pinnacle, Koh Tachai)
|Day 3||4 day dives||Dive sites
(Koh Tachai, Richelieu Rock)
|Day 4||2 day dives||
(Boonsung Wreck, MV Sea Chart Wreck, Premchai Wreck)
Return to Thap Lamu Pier by 1330HRS.
Transfer to hotel by 1700PM / airport by 1830HRS.
- Water Temperature: 27 - 30°C
- Visibility: 10 - 40m
- Dive Experience: All Levels
- Diving Season: November - April
- Package includes:
- All nights accomodation on board
- All meals, snacks, hot beverages
- Towels, toiletries, daily cabin services
- Diving cylinders (tanks), weight belts & weights
- Dive guides
- Scheduled pickups/drop-offs in Phuket
- Package Excludes:
- Flights & transportation
- Additional accomodation
- Marine park fees
- Port fees
- Dive & travel insurance
- Soft drinks, alcoholic beverages
- Dive equipment