Koh Similan is a group of islands that offers some of the best diving in Thailand and the world. Many divers argue that what makes the diving so great at Similan is the big variation in the underwater environment found here. No other place in the world offer such a variation in the same dive area.
The Similans are located approximately 100 kilometers north-west of Phuket. There are a total of nine granite islands covered with tropical jungle and surrounded by chalk white beaches and crystal clear blue water. The name Similan was derived from the Malaysian word for nine, "Sembilan", which was used long ago by Malaysian fishermen when they called the islands "The Nine Eyes". Today, each "eye" of the nine islands has a number as well as a name. For example Huyong, island number 1, is the southern most island in the chain.
Today the area is a national park and is protected as a reserve. The National Park Authority have camps on two of the islands; Koh Similan, island number 8, which is the largest and Koh Miang, island number 4. The last few years these islands have gained much attention from the royal family who themselves are eager divers and outdoor people.
The islands are geographically situated as chain from north to south, and if we draw line through the middle we get two different types of environment below the surface, one on each side. The east side has beaches and hard corals that drop down to a depth of around 30 to 40 meters. There the sand takes over. On this side, current diving along the corals is the most popular activity. In several places you will find cliffs covered with wonderful soft corals. Diving on this side is easy and underwater navigation is a simple task.
The west side offers a bit more excitement since the currents often are stronger here. Strange things occurs when the currents wind around large submerged rocks. These rocks make up cave-like formations and passages that are very exciting to explore. The rocks are overgrown with colorful soft corals that are marvelous to look at. They are so plentiful that the rock is hardly visible anymore. In the channel between these rocks "sea fans" are growing and may reach 3 meters in height. An enormous selection of fish and other species make up for some very interesting diving. Most of the diving on the west side should be done with a dive-guide since navigation can be pretty tricky.
If you like to look at or photograph small coral fish, then Similan is for you! If it is larger fish you are looking for, then a bit north might interest you more, especially "Burma banks". But we do encounter rays and whale-sharks at Similan, too. And its not unusual that we see the famous Thai Leopard-shark. Occasionally, we run in to White Tip and Black Tip sharks. In some of our most recent trips we have seen small schools of whales, not to mention dolphins. In short, Similan is remarkable for its variation and its beauty. One surprise or another will surely pop-up; You never know! You have to come and see for yourself!
The only place where you can spend the night is on island number 4 and 8. Here you can rent one of the few bungalows available in this area. But getting there is easier said than done, since few ferries frequent the islands on a regular basis. Therefore its better and easier to join one of the live-aboard dive-boats to visit this paradise.
There are more than 20 mapped out dive sites around the Similans. The following pages will describe some of our favorites. Our hope is that it will give you a picture of whats to come when you come to Thailand for a diving adventure at Similan islands.
Similan is unique in more than one way. Different projects and other environment saving actions have left their marks. This has also increased the quality of diving. We have heard that many other areas have had a decrease in quality, but here at Similan the opposite is true. Here everybody helps safeguarding the environment.
This is one of the most popular sites around Similian. Enormous rocks, as large as houses, create a special underwater landscape that attracts large amounts of fish. We can often get close to fish like "the Clown trigger", normally a quite shy fish. The interesting species are found between 15 and 40 meters depth. Recently we saw at least 10 "cow tail rays" in the sand, some over three meters long. All of them where busy with each other, entertaining themselves with their mating ritual.