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Best Diving in Thailand - Similan Islands Dive Sites

 

The Similan Islands national marine park is widely recognized as the number 1 scuba diving area in Thailand, and most would agree that the reef and marine life is some of the best in Asia. The dive sites vary from gentle sloping hard coral reefs to wild current swept rocky landscapes. In general the Western sites are rocky, while the East coast features sloping reefs. This variety is making the Similan Islands increasingly popular, especially for liveaboard diving trips, and every year divers from all over the world head to Thailand to sample the fantastic diving in this area.

Similan Islands diving - beautiful waters and wonderful fish

 

What are the options for Similan diving?

There are around 20 dive sites in the Similan Islands. Combined with the Surin Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock, you have well over 25 top scuba sites to choose from, many of which cover an area too large for a single dive. Richelieu Rock for example is always worth 2 or 3 dives. From Phuket or Khao Lak, you can make day trips, overnight tours or liveaboards. Over the last 15 years, liveaboard diving has become very popular here. There are many boats to choose from all with different prices, comfort levels and schedules - contact Sunrise Divers - we can help you to find a trip to suit your needs.

Similan Islands Liveaboards | Day Trips | Photos

 

Similan Islands - Similan Diving Sites

 

Elephant Head (Hin Pusar)

Often rated as the most spectacular dive site in the Similan Islands, Elephant Head is composed of giant granite boulders which form a complex maze of swimthroughs, channels and gorges reaching depths of over 40m. From the surface, one rock resembles an elephant (if you have a vivid imagination). Currents can be quite strong, but shelter behind the rocks and the dive is not difficult. Located just south of Island No. 8 (Ko Similan). For sure one of the best dive sites in Thailand!

Christmas Point

Another of the Similan's best sites with boulders, soft corals, arches and passages spread out over a huge area on the west side of island no. 9. More than one dive is needed to see it all. Depth from 35m to the surface. A great site to explore and get lost! White tip sharks are often seen in deeper sandy areas. Beautiful soft coral gardens hide between the rocks, and the sand rubble bottom is great for critters like nudibranchs and ribbon eels.

Similan Islands beaches

East of Eden

Probably the best reefs and most variety of any site in the Similan Islands. This is a typical east coast site featuring a healthy hard coral reef mixed with soft corals. There is often a gentle current here, making it a great slow drift dive. East of Eden is true "aquarium" diving. Many divers rate is as their favourite site. Turtles are commonly seen on the shallow reef top.

Boulder City / Shark Fin Reef

These two sites are part of a rocky ridge that runs away from Similan island No. 3. Both are great sites for spotting larger fish such as bumphead parrotfish, napoleon wrasse and leopard sharks. Beautiful fan coral gardens decorate the passages between the enormous granite boulders. Both sites cover a wide area, with depths from 5-35m - too much to see in one dive.

Beacon Point / Beacon Reef

The Southern Tip of Similan island No. 8 is wild and rocky. A rock on the surface resembles a face (the Thai name is Na Ling - monkey face) , and if you descend here, you find huge boulders from 20-35m on a white sandy bottom. Heading North, you reach the reef that continues for several kilometers along the East of the island. Depending on your drop off point, a dive can be rocks or reef or a mixture of both.

Anita's Reef

Also called Barrucuda point for some reason - maybe an old name... This Similan dive site winds around island number 5, which from the surface is not much more than a rockpile, but there is a great reef underwater from 5 to nearly 30 meters and a lot of variety. There is a great big coral bommie on the east side and some big granit boulders right on the south of the island at about 30m depth. There is also a small wreck (a fishing boat) on the west side of the island, which lies at 28 - 40m. Enough to see here for several different dives!

Breakfast Bend

Along the Eastern side of Similan Island No. 9 is yet more healthy and beautiful hard coral. The fish life here is abundant, especially bannerfish, damsels, groupers and hunting trevallies who dart into clouds of tiny baitfish. The reef depth drops to 25m, making a great multilevel dive. Your safety stop can continue in the shallows where you should keep an eye out for turtles. This is also a great night dive site.

Fantasea Reef

Many people would agree that Fantasea Reef is one of the top sites in the Similan Islands. The variety and abundance of fish life is astounding, and the fish seem very curious. There are also some great rock formations, swimthroughs and soft corals that cover a wide area.

Note : The National Park had closed Fantasea Reef for regeneration, one of many new environmental projects being undertaken. After the tsunami on December 26th 2004, this site was reopened and is still great. It is likely that one or two other sites such as Christmas Point and Deep Six may be closed for a while. Overall the reef quality hardly changed due to the tsunami.

 

Manta Rays are often seen in the Similan Islands and at Koh Bon
click on the photo to enlarge

The dive site descriptions above cover some of the better known sites in the 9 islands of the Similan Island chain. All the islands have names, but are usually referred to by numbers. For further information, we now have an excellent Similan Islands Dive Site book for sale at our dive shop in Phuket. Price is just 1,150 Baht. The 3rd edition of this book was printed in 2008, and contains some very good dive site maps. Another good source is the well known Lonely Planet "Diving and Snorkeling in Thailand" guide.

 

Quick Links - Dive Sites of Thailand and Burma

Elephant Head | East of Eden | Christmas Point | Sharkfin Reef | Boulder City
Deep Six | Donald Duck Bay | Turtle Rock | Breakfast Bend | Snapper Alley

Note : Similan is often written Simillan, Similand, Simillian, Similin
Siliman, Silmilan, Similun, Simlan, Simian or Similion.
The correct spelling is SIMILAN.

 

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