Ko Similan is often acknowledged as Thailand’s best place to dive. These nine small deserted islands are located far on the open seas 60 kilometers from the shore. Their reputation is deserved, even though some consider Richelieu Rock, which lies close to the Ko Surin Islands, to be even a superior dive site.
Read more: Diving in Thailand
It is not only about diving, though: the waters are great for snorkeling too, and even if you are not planning to go underwater at all, Ko Similan is worth a visit just for its otherworldly island scenery.
The west side of the islands is dominated by handsome, gray granite boulders, crafted by millennia of monsoons and rolling waves of the Indian Ocean. The sheltered eastern side has white sand beaches and verdant jungle.
Diving in Ko Similan
Read more: Ko Similan’s Top 5 Dive Sites
Divers get to enjoy colorful coral gardens, but Ko Similan is even more famous for its huge granite boulders, often the size of multistory apartment houses, that form majestic canyons and tunnels to dive through.
The water is incredibly clear, the visibility reaches easily up to 30 meters, and the richness of species is astounding: you will see something new on every dive. If luck is on your side, you might even see manta rays or the world’s largest fish, whale shark.
Travel to Ko Similan
Most boat trips to Koh Similan depart from Khao Lak, the beach destination closest to the islands. You can make a daytime speedboat trip to Ko Similan, but the best way to enjoy the distant archipelago is to join a multi-day liveaboard trip. Liveaboard trips leave also from Phuket.
Read more: Liveaboards in Thailand
There are plenty of choices of liveaboards for all kind of travelers, from cheap backpacker boats to luxurious cruises. Khao Lak has also two liveaboards aimed solely for snorkelers, probably the only ones of their kind in the world.
It is also possible to travel to the islands independently and camp there on a camping ground, which is maintained by the marine park guards. The regular boats to Ko Similan’s camping ground run once a day from Khao Lak’s Tap Lamu pier in the mornings.
Accommodation in Ko Similan
The park wardens rent out tents (around 400 baht/day) and snorkeling gear (although its best to bring your own, just in case), and cook food in a small cantina. There are also a handful of bungalows for rent.
The accommodation can be booked in advance through the National Park’s office on Tap Lamu pier.
Snorkeling trips can be organized through the national park’s wardens.
Best Time to Travel to Ko Similan
The national park is closed during the rainy season from May to November.