Phuket Dive Sites

Phuket scuba diving: Similan dive cruises
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Phuket dive sites: Similan Islands

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 it’s 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 it’s 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 what’s 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.



 

Similan Islands Elephant Head Rock X-mas point Snapper Alley Fantasy Reef Richelieu Rock AndSaman Reef

 

Elephant Head Rock

This is probably the most "famous" dive site at Similian. The name comes from a formation of three rocks that breaks the surface. The largest of the rocks resembles a elephant head. The rock formation makes it seem like you’re watching a big theater-play above the surface. Under the surface it is like diving in an enormous aquarium. Fish and corals in all the colors of the rainbow. The rocks forms large and small tunnels, which makes a dive here one of the most exciting dives there is. The variations are enormous! This is one of the most exciting dives around the Similians. A must!

 

Christmas Point

Of all the dive sites around Similian this is the most dramatic. The first part of the dive starts at 24 meters depth where we find hundreds of soft corals and sea-fans. A lot of different fish swim back and forth in this area. We meet large shoals of "Trevally" hunting smaller fish. The dive comes to an end close to the island with exciting tunnels formed by large rock formations. Often you see some big fish taking a "siesta" in the tunnel crevices.

 

Snapper Alley and Gorilla Bay

This is a typical east-coast dive and one of our favorite sites from which we like to start of our dive trips. The light is incredible early in the morning, hence the name. The hard coral is large and healthy. At depth where the coral ends and the sand take over we find "Garden eels". Leopard sharks are often seen in the sand here. Recently we saw a large Napoleon fish at this site, which is very rare in these waters.

 

Fantasy Reef

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.

 

Richelieu Rock with Whalesharks!!

This is one of our favorite sites, probably because we saw our first whale shark here. This place has an incredible amount of different coral reefs that drop 35 meters straight down from the surface. We believe that there is more than 300 different species of coral here! This is the site for those who like to explore.

 

Andaman Reef

A typical east-coast dive. Here we find huge coral formations from 10 to 22 meters depth. This site probably has the densest fish population at the Similians. Last year we got lucky and were able to photograph a yellow "frog fish" at this site. It kept to the same place all season. These fish are very pretty and what made it all special was that all the while it was sitting on a throne of corals.

 

Similan Islands Elephant Head Rock X-mas point Snapper Alley Fantasy Reef Richelieu Rock AndSaman Reef

 

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