Destinations » Thailand » Similan Islands

Similan Islands

Spectacular granite boulder formations, pristine coral reefs and a superb diversity of marine life are what makes the Similan Islands one of the world's most popular dive destinations.

Southeast of the Bay of Bengal and west of Thailand lies the Andaman Sea (forming part of the Indian Ocean), home to a group of uninhabited islands that were formed 250-260 millions years ago between the Paleozoic and Mesozoic periods. These islands, as with many of the islands along the west coast of Thailand, are mostly granitoid in nature although there are some exceptions such as Koh Bon and Koh Tachai. Malay fisherman frequently travelling and fishing in the Andaman Sea referred to the islands as the “Sembelan Islands (Nine islands)” in their own Yawi or Malay language.
The climate of the Phang Nga province is classified as tropical monsoon Am, with significant rainfall most of the year. The Marine Park is closed annually between 15th May and 15th October. The best time to visit is late-February through to mid-March when the water is at its calmest, the days are hot and the evenings are warming up. There is however manta mating season to consider when planning a trip to the Similans which takes place between January and February.
In 1982 the Similan Islands became part of the Mu Koh Similan National Marine Park, an area covering 128 km/sq. Each of the islands is referred to by a name and a number running from south to north with #1 being furthest south and #9 being furthest north. Koh Bon and Koh Tachai are also included in an honorary fashion within the marine park making 11 islands in total.
The white, sandy bottom of the eastern side of Similans provides a stunning backdrop for the lush fields of vibrant soft corals and sloping hard coral gardens that reach down to depths of 30-40m/100-130ft. On the western side the topography changes to a more dramatic scene with the huge granite boulders tumbled together creating impressive canyons and passageways.
With such fantastic habitats and rich feeding grounds it is small wonder that the marine park would play host to an inredibily abundant and diverse marine life. Whale sharks, manta rays, white tip reef sharks, guitar sharks, leopard sharks and napoleon wrasse are to name but a few of the larger residents and visitors to Mu Koh Similan. In addition, the macro life present a photographer’s dream with such weird and wonderful critters including several species of seahorse, frogfish, ornate ghost pipefish, harlequin shrimps and nudibranchs.