Some Similan dives in Thailand are reputed to be the most beautiful in the country (well above Koh Tao or Koh Phi Phi for example), so I had to do them! The Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock can only be done on liveaboards since Khao lak or Phuket. If you are a beginner, you can do a diving day to do a discovery dive, but you will not really see the Similan Islands ... For more experienced divers, the trip is nice, but I would not classify it in the top 10 of Asia, Instead, go to Indonesia (Raja Ampat, Komodo), Malaysia (Sipadan) or Philippines (Tubbataha, Apo reef)
Context: the Similan Islands are part of my 3 month diving trip to Asia during which I wanted to make all the most beautiful spots! I did a 5 day liveaboard which comprised of 18 dives.
ARTICLE GUIDELINES # Overview # Presentation # Diving with # Dive sites # Diving cruise # Seasons and conditions # Accommodation # Get to # My diving review
SIMILAN ISLANDS DIVING INFO
- Diving season Similan Island : October 15 to May 15.
- Similan manta ray season (Koh Tachai, Koh Bon): December to April.
- Similan whale shark season (Richelieu rock): January to April.
- Best Dive Sites in Similan Island : Richelieu rock, Koh Tachai, Koh Bon
- Common Marine Life : groupers, barracudas, kingfish, dog-toothed tuna, batfish, snappers, triggerfish, clownfish, stingrays, lion fish, scorpion fish, fusiliers, octopuses, sows, etc.
- Possible Species : manta ray (in season at Koh Tachai, Koh Bon), whale shark (in season at Richelieu rock), reef sharks , leopard shark.
- Visibility : 20 - 30 m.
- Access : only in diving cruise from Khao lak or Phuket.
Recommendations by category of divers: > New diver : no baptism, possibly an open water course. > Confirmed : to do absolutely if you are in Thailand! > Experienced : to do but know that it will be less good many destinations in Indonesia or Philippines.
PRESENTATION SIMILAN ISLANDS
Where are the Similan Islands?
- Some Similan Islands are in Thailand, it's an island archipelago which is in the Adaman Sea, off the west coast.
- They are granite islands, mostly covered with jungle.
- They consist of 9 islands : Koh Huyong (No. 1), Koh Payang (No. 2), Koh Payan (No. 3), Koh Miang (No. 4), Koh Ha (No. 5), Koh Payu (No. 6), Koh Hin Pousar (No. 7), Koh Similan (No. 8), Koh Ba-ngu (No. 9).
- Further North of these 9 islands are the islands of Koh Bon and Koh Tachai. They are often included with Similan Islandsbut technically they are not part of it.
Where are the Surin Islands?
- Even further North are the Surin Islands.
- They are also beautiful, but you don't dive there.
- To the East of these islands is a very well-known site: Richelieu Rock.
- It is actually a submerged pinnacle, which we see the "top" only at low tide!
- Some liveaboards of the Similan Islands often go to Richelieu Rock and in the Surin Islandsbut again, they are technically not part of the Similan Islands.
THE SIMILAN ISLANDS DIVING REVIEWS
How is diving at the Similan Islands?
- Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock are without a doubt the most beautiful dives that you can do in Thailand
- Whether at the level of number of pelagics, of the diversity and some preservation of coral, of the site topography or rare species.
Similan Manta Rays in Koh Tachai and Koh Bon
- On the islands of Koh Tachai and Koh Bon you have great chances to see manta rays !
- I did 3 dives in Koh Bon (on the “Dome” site), and I saw manta rays every time! It was really great !!
Whale shark Similan Island at Richelieu rock
- The best time to see whale sharks at Richelieu Rock is of January to April.
- Unfortunately for me, I went there in November and I haven't seen one…
- But apparently it is very common to see whale sharks at Richelieu rock, especially between February and March.
Large pelagic Similan Islands
- The Similan Islands are home to a lot of pelagic : groupers, barracudas, jacks, dogtooth tuna, batfish, snappers, triggerfish, clownfish, stingrays, lions fish, scorpion fish, fusiliers, octopus, cuttlefish ...
- Some reef sharks and the leopard sharks are supposedly present, but I have not seen ...
Similan Islands Wrecks
- You have several shipwrecks near the coast of Khao Lak : the Boosung, the Premchai, the Sea chart and the T13.
- Some liveaboards often end their turn with one or two of these wrecks.
- I did Boosung wreck and Premchai wreck. These are not huge cargo ships that couple your breath upon arriving, but both are bursting with life : moray eels, nudibranchs, scorpion fish, juveniles of all kinds (barracudas, angelfish, trunk fish ...)
Similan Islands diving video
Similan Islands Diving Photos
BEST DIVING SITES IN THE SIMILAN ISLANDS
Similan Islands Divesite Map
Where are the Best Similan Islands divesites?
- Elephant head rock
- West of Eden
- Christmas point
- North point
Koh Bon and Koh Tachai, Thailand
- Koh Tachai: the Dome, a cleaning station with mantas rays.
- Koh Bon: West ridge and North ridge
The Best Dive site in Thailand: Richelieu Rock
- Richelieu rock is a immersed limestone pinnacle or middle of nowhere and is full of marine life:
- A coral of beauty : the site is covered with pink pudgy corals, anemones, gorgonians, some coral barrel and sponges or any kind.
- Some whale sharks are very frequent from January to April.
- Some manta rays are also emerging.
- Big stuff: : benches barracudas, jacks (trevally) or snappers wandering around, lots of groupers, feeding sharks and leopards that can pass, turtles…
- Lots of macro : seahorses, ghost fish, frog fish, harlequin shrimps, nudibranchs, porcelain crabs ...
- A place of cuttlefish reproduction.
- A lot of morays present (giant, zebra, white-eye ...).
BEST PERIOD FOR DIVING IN THE SIMILAN ISLANDS
The diving season in the Similan Islands is from October 15 to May 15.
When to dive in the Similan Islands?
- Whale shark season Similan islands (Richelieu rock) : January to April.
- Similan manta ray season (Koh Tachai, Koh Bon) : December to April.
Diving Conditions Similan Islands:
- Visibility Similan Islands : from 20 to 30 m.
- Water temperature Similan Islands : 27 to 30 °.
- Current Similan Island : it depends on the sites, but not reputed to have strong currents.
DIVING CRUISE SILILAN ISLANDS IN THAILAND
Liveaboard Diving Info on Similan Islands in Thailand
- Some Similan Islands are located far enough from the coast, so it's hard to go dive to the day (excursions are offered in high season, but it's really a long day).
- All centers therefore offer liveaboards (of liveaboards) 3 to 7 days, the most common being 4-5 days.
- Departure from Khao lak or Phuket.
- 10h of navigation about to get to the first sites.
- There are many cruise ships for the Similan Islands, you can find them all on liveaboard.com.
From where to take a cruise to the Similan Islands
- Some liveaboardsof the Similan Islands leave from Khao lak and Phuket.
- I advise you to do it from Khao Lak, it is closer and much cheaper.
Choosing a Liveaboard to the Similan Islands: There are Several Options
- Liveaboards do not all go to exactly the same place depending on the number of days you choose
- Basically the longer the trip, the further you go, the more beautiful the sites you see.
- The most frequent options:
- Only Similan Islands (3 day cruise)
- Similan Islands + Koh Bon and Koh Tachai (4 day cruise)
- Similan Islands + Koh Bon and Koh Tachai + Islands Surin and Richelieu Rock (5 day cruise)
- Koh Tachai and Koh Bon really worth it for see manta rays and Richelieu Rock is really essential, certainly the most beautiful site in Thailand !
I you advise to do : Similan Islands + Ko Bon / Ko Tachai + Richelieu Rock. The liveaboard should normally last 5 days.
Comparing Liveaboards for the Similan Islands
- At the moment I have not found better than liveaboard.com to find and compare the best deals in real time.
- The different ranges and boats that I recommend to you compared to the info I have and the ratings on liveaboard.com.
- The cheapest cruises for the Similan Islands: The Manta queen range offer the most affordable budgets (around 100 $ / day): Queen 7 (94 $ / d), Queen 5 (97 $ / d), Queen 8 (104 $ / d), Queen 2 (104 $ / d), Queen 1 (106 $ / d), Queen 3 (107 $ / d).
- For longer cruises (6-7 days) and / or with more comfort the Junk, the Bavaria where the Marco Polo.
- For high-end comfort : the Hallelujah , Deep adaman and the Thailand Agressor.
Understand the final total price
Like all commercial offers, Similan Islands Cruises try to always attract you with the best prices, but beware there are sometimes additions:
- Equipment rental (12 to 15 € / day).
- Park fees : 12 € / day.
- Some add a VAT at their displayed base price (the Manta queen range especially).
- Some add postage or other : from 30 to 300 € per cruise.
Tips to Pay Less for Liveaboard in the Similan Islands
- By booking at the last minute!
- No need to book your liveaboard 1 year in advance at Similan Islands!
- There are so many boats (over 30), that they are rarely all full, even in high season.
- As always it's a gamble, but if you know which period you are going to, look 1 to 2 months before on liveaboard.com, there are always specials, -10, -20 and up to -30%.
- For my part, I bring you all the good plans to my knowledge here.
- If you are in long travel mode and have time
- As always, having time on the spot is the best way to to be able to pay less.
- There are liveaboards that leave every day, so of course, if the day before they are not full, they can offer you last minute discounts.
- That's what I did at the time, I went around the centers for 3 days, there was 1 place left on a liveaboard leaving the next day and I managed to reduce the price by 25%!
- But to do it again, even while on site I would mix with a follow up liveaboard.com, because it's still easier to follow all the offers in real time than going to see all the centers one by one!
SIMILAN ISLANDS DIVING CLUB
The best Similan dive centers in Khao lak
- There is a lot of diving clubs in Khao lak.
- If you do not want to cruise on the Similan Islands you can also just dive from Khao lak (you will not be of the same quality of course).
- All diving clubs in Khao lak also offer PADI or SSI diving training:
- Discover diving by doing a first dive in Thailand.
- Learn to dive and pass open water PADI or SSI, the equivalent of the diving level.
- Continue to improve by doing your Advanced or your Rescue.
- You can also do your Divemaster in Thailand!
French Diving Centers Similan Islands in Khao lak
Thailand is very touristy, there are a lot of diving centers that speak French, you won't have any trouble finding them!
HOTEL DIVING SIMILAN ISLANDS, KHAO LAK, PHUKET
Just like diving centers, accommodation on Khao lak and Phuket is not lacking ! Things are moving so fast that the best is really booking.com !
- Hotel diving Khao lak
- Diving Resorts Phuket:
HOW TO GO TO SIMILAN ISLANDS
It is quite simple to get to the Similan Islands from Phuket or Bangkok.
Getting to Phuket
Land directly in Phuket
- The simplest is really to land directly in Phuket by plane.
- It's a international airport very well served, whether from Asia (Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Bali, etc.), Europe or Australia.
Bangkok to Phuket route
- If you are in Bangkok, the easiest way is again by plane: flights all day, cheap, 1 hour trip.
- Otherwise, cheaper you can go there by bus It's okay take you 12h!
Getting to Khao lak
- You can dive in Similan Islands from Phuket but as explained above, it will cost you less to leave directly from Khao lak.
- Bus from Phuket to Khao lak : direct shuttle from the airport, 1.5 hour journey.
MY DIVING REVIEW ON THE SIMILAN ISLANDS
I did the Similan Islands at the end of my 3 month trip to Asia, after Raja Ampat, Komodo and Sipadan for example. My first impression was to be disappointed… Thailand is not in the The Coral Triangle and it feels… Not at all the same quantity and quality of marine life that I had seen elsewhere in Asia. With the back I would say that the sites of Similan Islands have very interesting topography and that many fish from the Asia zone are represented. Koh Bon and Koh Tachai are worth the trip, especially for manta rays very often present! Finally, Richelieu Rock is a must, a great site, very colorful and varied where you may have the chance to see whale sharks in season. For an experienced diver, I will recommend many other destinations in Indonesia or to Philippines before the Similan Islands. For a new diver, the Similan Islands are without a doubt the best in Thailand!
Articles that may interest you:
- Richelieu rock: the best site in Thailand
- SIPADAN: the best destination in Malaysia
- RAJA AMPAT: the best destination in Indonesia
- TUBBATAHA: the best destination in the Philippines