The Similan Islands is a group of islands in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Phang Nga Province, southern Thailand. It is a national park which was established in 1982.
Similan Islands National Park is known for long white coral sand beaches, crystal blue waters, warm tropical nights and cooling breezes. Nine Unihabited islands with some of the best scenery in Thailand.
The Similan Islands are very easy to visit. Located only 50 Kilometers from Khao Lak – The Similan Islands may be visited for one day, overnight or on tours. There are no resorts or stores on the Similans – only a couple of ranger stations and a few bungalows available for rent.
Home to the best diving and snorkeling in Thailand, The Similan Islands are home to a huge variety of marine life and incredible opportunities to see rare and endangered species. Often referred to as one of the best dive spots in the world – you will probably agree after visiting. While the underwater world may attract some people – there are also many varieties of birds and animals on the Similan islands. And of course – the long beaches!
Similan Islands Diving
The Similan national park is famous for its dive sites. It has typically two different kinds of diving.
East side diving consists of gently sloping coral reefs with sandy patches and the occasional boulder in between.
The west side is known for its huge underwater granite boulders with numerous swimthroughs. Maybe the most famous east side dive site is East of Eden, off Island number 7. Elephant head rock is arguably the most famous west side dive site with a maze of swimthroughs and the reputation for spin-cycle like currents running in every direction.
Elephant head rock was named by Horst Hinrichs from Germany in the mid 70s, founder of one of the oldest dive shops in Phuket, Santana Diving. Other popular dive sites include North Point, Deep Six, Boulder City and the awesome pinnacles off Koh Bon and Koh Tachai.
The most important of all dive sites in the Similans, which is actually part of Surin National Park, is Richelieu Rock, famous for its incomparable variety and abundance of marine life. Whale shark sightings are not uncommon here.
However, since 1999, its once most beautiful dive site, the Fantasy Reef, has been closed from all diving activities after its condition had significantly deteriorated. Park chiefs officially blame diving for the deterioration, while dive operators in the area claim that fishing boats, with or without permission, enter the national park during low season, when no dive operators are allowed in the national park.
The national park also claims that the dive site suffered significant damage from the tsunami in 2004, and continues to keep the reef closed. Since noone but the national park staff is allowed to dive Fantasy Reef it has been impossible to confirm that statement.