The Similan Islands are a group of nine virtually uninhabited tropic islands approximately 80 kilometres (50mi) northwest of Phuket. The group was declared a Marine National Park and increasing efforts are being made to keep them in their present pristine condition. The islands encompass some of the best dive venues in Thailand.

The dive possibilities range from viewing coral gardens to adventurous drift diving in strong currents. In the judgement of Asia Magazine (issue of October 18 to 20, 1991 : "Every diver has particular favourites, but few would dispute that the Similans are one of the best. The visibility tops 100 feet between the November-April peak season, revealing a wonder world among the giant granite coral-coated boulders stacked one atop the other to depths of 90 feet and more."

Ko Huyong, the southernmost island of the Similan group offers a magnificent coral garden in 7-14m (23-46ft) depth. The garden consists of many varieties of soft and hard corals and abounds with small colourful coral fish. This site frequently has over 30m (98ft) visibility, only slight currents and is considered a very safe site.

An extensive reef runs off another of the southern islands and provides at least 4 different dive sites. One bottoms out at 25m (82ft) and has many large rocks which provide a most interesting contour; many large schools of fish inhabit the area. Another part of the reef has an excellent 20m (65ft) dive, with a lot of small lava type rocks which provide a home for colourful anemones , hydroids and soft coral as well as moray eels and red grouper. The visibility is seldom less than 30m (98ft) and frequently more. There is often a strong current here, a good site for drift dives.

The central island of the group, Ko Miang, is the only island which is inhabited. There is also a number of excellent dive sites around this and the small adjoining island including one which features huge boulders leaning together forming many interesting tunnels and small caverns. This dive often has a strong surge which attracts a large variety of marine life. Small white tip sharks, rays, snapper and turtles are just a few of the species of marine life at this site.

An excellent night dive site is just around the corner and close to a safe overnight anchorage and a beautiful white sand beach. This dive site is a coral drop-off and depths range from 10m-20m (33-66ft). The almost complete absence of currents is what makes it ideal for night dives. Lobster and large red crabs are usually seen here.

Hin Pousar or Elephant Rock is one of the best known dive locations of the area; it has at least 3 more excellent sites. There are again many big holes and caverns created by the unusual rock formations. Anemones and coral provide a kaleidoscope of reds, yellows, blues and browns. Frequently large rays, tuna or barracuda can be seen.

Further to the north lies an off-shore reef which comes up to within 8m (26ft) of the surface and drops off to over 35m (114ft). More tunnels, hollows and chimneys provide a site that never fails to impress even the most experienced diver. Two large sea cod and a huge resident moray eel add to the many interests of this site. Seldom is the visibility less than 25m (82ft) and usually much more.

These are only a few of the many dive sites available in the Similan archipelago. Each island provides its own special sites and there is something to be found to interest both the novice diver and the much travelled diver.

Similar conditions can be found at Surin islands and Tarutao Marine National Park (see entry under Satun) though no regular trips to these island groupings are yet available.

Tours to the Similans generally last five days , though some are much longer in order to explore other nearby islands including the Surin group, some 30km (19mi) to the north. For accommodation , divers have the choice of tents, dormitory bungalows and on-board berths. During the trip all meals are provided and at least nine individual dives are organised.

:: How to get there:

Similan Island is the island farthest from the coast, so it is the most affected by the sea winds. During monsoon season, April - September or Song Kran Day - Loi Kra Tong Day, is not the suitable time for touring the Similan Islands. The best season to visit this Island is January - March every year.

1. Rental of ships for group tours
Groups can rent the ship at Phuket Port, both Aou Chalong and Fishing Boat Parking Port, and at the other ports. The cost of the boat rental depends on the size of the ship, the number of passengers, etc.

The lists of Boat Companies, which rent boats, are:

Kwan Jai Wa Rin Company
Kwan Jai Wa Rin Company
This company rents the Princess boat, with attractive decor, furniture, stereo, videos, CD's, fresh water machine, ice making machine, etc.

There are many types of boats for rent here, of varying sizes. Tel. 381-973, 01 - 9564760

Aloha Tour
Tel. 381-215
Boomerrang Travel And Tour Tel. 381-690
Cruis Center
Tel. 381-793
Fast Boat
Tel. 220-999
Medsai Tour
Tel. 216-811
Phuket Tourist Center
Tel. 214-763
Sriladda Service
Tel. 391-153, 391-410
The Travel Company
Tel. 340-292
Yauch Charter
Tel. 216-556, 216-423

Take all of boat at Tub La Mu Port, Phang Nga Province. Tub La Mu Port is the nearest port to Similan Islands (75 km.) and cheaper. The rent cost is started from 8,000 Bath per boat per day, 10 people for small boat to over 10,000 Bath per boat, more 10 people. There are life preserver and long boat with a long-shafted for all boats. Besides, the tourist can take all of boat and pay individually. Provide food service and guide tour.

The Interesting boats of Tub La Mu Port are:

Malai Wattana Boat , carried about 30 people, 10,000 bath per day. Tel.01-7270172
Andaman Sea Tour Boat , carried about 30 people. Tel. (076) 421-623
Jonathan Boat , carried about 30 people. Tel.(076) 422-247
The boat of Similan Islands , Tel. (076) 411-914 The cost is up to the number of passenger.

2. Public Boat
Now, there is only one company, Song Serm Company, Travel from the left of Had Pa Tong (face to the sea) every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 8.00am. The cost is 700 Bath per one trip per person. Round Trip is 1,400 Bath. It's spend time about 3.5 hours. The ship will park at Ko Pad in order to allow the tourist buy the round trip ticket, touring the wonderful view. For the tourists who want to stay at night and travel to Ko Si can rent the long boat with a long-shafted with the price 300 Bath per trip for 5-6 people. For the travelling go back from Ko Si, the tourist can rent the long boat with a long-shafted too, but they must on time 3 p.m. of the ship returning to Phuket province.

3. Entertaining Boat

There are two companies:

Cetran Travel Company, Cetran Princess Boat Tel. 240-2572-82
Siam Cruis Company, Andaman Princess Boat Tel. 255-8950-7, 255-5940-5

4. Diving at similan islands
There are many companies service in Bangkok.

Manutkobthai Company

The cost is not expensive, air condition bus 24 seats, staying in the tent on the Island. Tel. 259-7553, 261-6738, 663-4125

Dive Master Company
Diving Tour Convenient Service, Round Trip, Travel by plane and sleep on the boat. Tel. 512-4889, 513-7989