By Paula Parker
The Similan Islands are considered one of the most spectacular areas for scuba diving in Thailand and one of the top ten dive sites in the world.
This group of islands lie approximately 100 kilometers, northwest of Phuket in the Andaman Sea.
The area is a marine nature park featuring some most beautiful beaches and marine life in Thailand, initially made up of a chain of nine granite islands, surrounded by clear tropical waters, breathtaking coral reefs and beautiful white beaches.
In 1982, the area was declared a marine national park, and so named Mu Koh Similan National Marine Park.
Today this group of small islands has become one of the leading attractions for visitors to southern Thailand and a favorite destination not only for scuba divers, but for yachts and tour boats as well.
In 1998 the park boundary was extended to cover two more islands, Koh Tachai and Koh Bon, these two islands are located further to the north of the other nine islands.
The Mu Ko Similan National Park authority maintains a residential center for Park Rangers and support staff on two of the islands, those being Ko Similan which is the largest Island and Ko Miang, which lies mid-way through the chain of islands.
While the Islands are an ideal destination for scuba divers; no holiday to Thailand is complete without a few days spent at the Similans.
The tropical beauty of these unspoiled islands will fascinate non divers as well, with the fine white sandy beaches and the unusual granite formations that are as spectacular as the waters that surround them.
Read reviews about the Similan Islands on Trip Advisor.
The nine Islands are named from South to North; however scuba divers more often refer to them by numbers.
Ko Hu Yong (Island 1)
Is the southernmost island and the closest island to Phuket, known for its rocky granite boulders and the island with the longest sandy beach.
Ko Payang (Island 2)
Is full of rocky mountains with cliffs and rock formations around the island.
Ko Payan (Island 3)
Is also quite rocky with cliffs, there are no beaches.
Ko Meang (Island 4)
Ko Meang is the second largest Island and the headquarters of the park.
This island has two stunning beaches, there is a large beach and a smaller beach on the other side of the Island, which is about a twenty minute walk through the forest. This is the best area to see wildlife or to stay overnight. The channel between Meang and Payu Islands is one of the best spots to go snorkelling.
Ko Ha (Island 5)
Is only very small but is full of soft and stony coral.
Ko Payu (Island 6)
Has a very good snorkelling and scuba diving sites on the eastern shore. Many divers prefer this site to any other because there are both hard and soft corals, sea fan and many species of fish. There is no beach.
Ko Hin Pousar (Island 7)
Has an elephant head shaped-rock outcrop. Beneath this rocky outcrop are caves, swim throughs and unique underwater formations.
Ko Similan (Island 8)
Ko Similan is the largest Island in the chain and an excellent location for hiking and snorkelling, there is a very small bay on the western side. Ko Similan has a very small bay on the western side; there is a huge rock formation and a hike to the top will give you sweeping views of the clear waters below.
Ko Ba ngu (Island 9)
Ko Ba ngu is known for good scuba diving at the north-western tip between some rocky outcrops known to local divers as Christmas point. The water depth is between 10 and 35 meters where you can find lots of fish amongst the rock formations.
Bon or Talu Island
Bon Island has a beautiful white powered beach, the waters around the island are also ideal for scuba diving, and whale sharks are often seen here.
Ko Tachai is located at the northern most tip of the National Park. There is a beautiful white powdered beach, but no accommodation. The waters around the island are ideal for scuba diving, whale sharks and manta rays are often found here.
There are ample things to do while visiting the Similan Islands, obviously the main activities are scuba diving and snorkeling.
However Koh Similan and Koh Meang are both excellent spots for hiking and bird watching.
When you have had enough of doing all the physical activities, relax and enjoy the beautiful beaches and picturesque scenery.
There are limited places to stay on the Similan Islands as there are no hotels, resorts or bars.
However the National Park authority has a few bungalows, campsites and tents available for overnight accommodation from November through to April.
If you are interested in booking accommodation at the Similan's you can visit the Mu Ko Similan National Park website or call + 66 2562 0760.
Or alternatively you can organise your accommodation with tour operators in Phuket or Khao Lak.
There is a visitor’s centre, restaurant, showers and toilets located at each campground.
If you don't want to stay overnight, and your not into diving you can take a daytrip from Phuket, to help you organise your day trip to the Similan Islands we highly recommend that you contact Easy Day Thailand.
Or if your staying in Khao Lak we can also recommend a speedboat tour of the Similan Islands.
The best way to see explore the Similans is to take a live-aboard dive trip from Phuket or Khao Lak.
There are many diving companies throughout Phuket that have this service as well as a variety of boats which range in price to suit most budgets.
If you are planning on arranging a liveaboard to the Islands around Phuket, you may want to contact Phuket Scuba Club.
Phuket Scuba Club can arrange liveaboard dive trips to suit your budget on board one of the most experienced and professionally operated liveaboard boats in Thailand.
The Similan Islands National Park is closed from May 1st to 31st October each year and it is not possible to visit the park or the surrounding waters during this time.
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