Those wishing to scuba dive in Thailand head for the Similan Islands as first choice. This Thailand tour guide understands that the Thai coastline in a major attraction and these islands in Southern Thailand just west of Khao Lak have established a reputation far beyond the national borders.
The Park of the same names covers 140 square kilometres with part being an archipelago of nine granite islands. ‘’Sembilan’’ means nine in Malay and the name has stuck even though a further two more remote islands have been added to the Park. Anyone imagining a postcard of tropical paradise might subconsciously be thinking of any of these islands.
The coral reefs are thought to be around 5,000 years old and are part of the reason why the Park is expected to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.
How to get there
Divers can organise trips from different centres which may include actually living aboard the boat. Phuket, Khao Lak and Ranong are the three departure points. If you are planning from abroad there is an airport at Phuket either for international flights or domestic links with Bangkok. It does mean that Indochina tour packages can incorporate a visit to the south of Thailand.
Best time to visit Similan Islands
If you holiday in Thailand includes the south then December to April is high season when there is minimal rain. The monsoons arrive in May but the weeks just before them are great; the water is at its clearest with only gentle winds. Once the monsoons arrive the Park closes and opens again in November.
Things to do in Similan Islands
Diving is the number one activity and clients wishing to include scuba diving in Thailand tour packages may well look to this region. Visibility is excellent and there is a huge variety of fish; lionfish and clownfish add the colour, manta, barracuda and even whale shark the size.
The white sands are certainly appeal with perhaps a swim in the blue seas to cool off? Those not qualified to scuba dive can snorkel of course.
One of the islands is off limits; Koh Huyong has a turtle breeding centre. Flying foxes and the Nicobar Pigeon provide naturalists with something to see.
Accommodation in Similan Islands
Thailand travel packages include all accommodation arrangements. There is plenty of accommodation in places such as Phuket and life on board for those that want it. There are a few bungalows and tents for rent for those happier on land.