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Clown Triggerfish and Manta Ray at Ko Bon

Surin islands
Ko Tachai & Ko Bon
Richelieu Rock

>>>> Note that the Surin Islands and Similan Islands normally close for the period 16th May to 15th October each year, but Ko Tachai will be closing indefintely from October 2016 due to fears that tourism is having a negative effect on the local ecology, especially the landscape, shoreline, beaches and coral reefs. It is hoped this will ease the negative effects of tourism on its once pristine beaches and surrounding coral reefs.
Two diving centres in the area will reportedly remain open however.<<<<

Some 50 km off the west coast of Phang-Nga province lies the Surin islands consisting of five jungle cropped granite islands and their fringing coral reefs, and offering excellent diving and snorkelling. They are famous for their gorgeous, diverse and prolific shallow-water corals, and are popular with live-aboard diving tours. They are an island paradise with numerous beautiful coves and bays, and dense jungle. The coral colonies surrounding the islands are the most well developed in Thailand, and are also considered some of the most beautiful. Some of the reefs surrounding the five islands slope relatively gently to the seabed, and are at shallow depths, thus providing excellent snorkelling. The full Surin archipelago, as opposed to the marine park, covers 350 sq km and also includes Richelieu Rock, Ko Tachai, and Ko Bon; these three additional sites provide fields of psychedelic multilevel coral reefs, plunging vertical walls and underwater pinnacles, and are all truly excellent diving locations.

By far the two largest islands are Ko Surin Nua (north island) and Ko Surin Tai (south island) and at one point these two islands lie just across a small bay from each other. Some of the best diving to be had is in the channel between these two islands. Ko Chi, Ko Pachumba and Ko Torinla are the other islands. There is also the small rock outpost of Hin Rap ( 2km north of Surin Nua) and a series of granite boulders projecting above the surface at Hin Kong ( 2km east of the southern half of Surin Tai).

The park showcases some 200 coral species, with a basic ecosystem framework of fire corals, brain corals, mushroom corals, staghorn corals, and multi-coloured soft corals and ruby-red gorgonian sea fans. The coral and environs provide habitat to over 800 species of fish such as puffer fish, lion fish, butterfly fish, angel fish, barracuda, sailfish, rock lobsters and other crustaceans, and Moray eels. Four species of turtle (the Leatherback, the Green, the Olive Ridley and the Hawksbill) are to be found (try Ao Tau on the south island). Stranger species such as the frog fish and ghost pipe fish have also been sighted around the waters of Ko Surin.

Off the Surin western shores are submerged pinnacles which are reminiscent of some of the boulder formations of the Similans, but the best developed reefs are off the eastern coasts.

The park office and visitor's centre are at Ao Mae Yai on the north island (south west side). Basic accomodation is available in the form of park longhouses, bungalows, and camping grounds. The Park operates long-tailed boats to the main snorkelling sites and rents out equipment.

The best months to visit the Surin Islands are from December to April, when the weather is dry and pleasant, and the seas are calm, and water visibility is good. In fact it is not usually adviseable to visit the Surin Archipelago during the SW monsoons (May - November) due to adverse sea and weather conditions.

The most economical way to reach the Surin Islands is from Ban Hin Lat, a small village pier which is 6 km north of Khura Buri, heading north from Khao Lak past Takua Pa on Route 4. Group tour boats depart from here. Journey time is 4 hours.
However access for the serious diver is almost exclusively via live-aboards. The serious diver will probably soon get bored with the Surin islands proper, after a few dives, and head for the really world-class diving gems of Ko Bon, Ko Tachai and Richelieu Rock.

Please also visit our map section on Surin islands map and dive site locations.

Surin islands dive sites

Ko Chi

Fringe reef off the western side. Depths from 10 - 22m. Average depth 18m. Visibilty 12 - 24m. A variety of hard corals carpet the sea floor. Turtles (hawksbill, oliver ridley, green, and occasional leatherback) are common. Also there is a chance of large pelagics, dog-faced tuna, barracuda.
The north end of the island has piles of granite boulders and caves hiding angelfish and reef sharks.

The Regal Angelfish

Hin Rap

North West side. Depths from 12 - 24m. Average depth 15m. Visibility 8 - 24m. Feautures scattered boulders, archways and small caverns.

Ko Surin Nua

Tranquil Bay near Park HQ off the south/southwestern tip of the island. Depths from 5 - 22m. Average depth 10m. Visibility 9- 18m. Usually a night dive, when the reef really comes alive.
Also try the west edge of the Southeast point of the island, again at dusk or at night. Good snorkeling.

Ko Pachumba

Submerged pinnacle. Average depth 18m upto maximum of 22m.

Hin Kong

Several granite outcrops with swimthroughs. Average depth of 10m upto a maximum of 20m.

Ko Surin Tai

Turtle Ridge is a long sloping reef on the east side of the southern half of the island. Depths from 5 - 20m. Average depth 8m. Visibility 9 - 18m. As the name suggests Hawksbill turtles are common here. Quite a wide range of fish including batfish, Andaman foxface, and yellowmask angelfish. Many species of hard coral. Currents usually minimal.
Also try Breaker Reef and Marshall reef. Along the southern coast of Ko Surin Tai. Depths 12 - 24m. Average depth 18m. Visibility 9 - 24m. Marine life includes colourful sea fans, moray eels, anemones, hard corals, lion fish, and whitetip & blacktip reef sharks. There is an extensive collection of ledges and boulders.

Ko Torinla

In the north east corner there is a sloping hard coral reef running parallel to shoreline. This is a good multi-level dive and a great snorkeling site.
Depths to 20m. Features an excellent variety of hard corals, fans, whip corals, bumphead parrotfish, fusiliers, batfish, and hawksbill turtles plus occasional stingrays, and leopard and whitetip reef sharks.
Ko Tachai

Ko Tachai, 35 km south of Mu Ko Surin, is considered to be one of the finest dive sites in Thailand. It has a series of submerged pinnacles and boulders, which form excellent swim throughs. It provides three multi level reefs, and depth is between 12m to 25m on average. In particular the excellent dive site known as Twin Peaks consists of two rocky pinnacles connected by an underwater reef running perpendicular to the southern end of the island. The waters are teeming with all kinds of tropical fish, blue yellow and turquoise soft and hard corals, barrel sponges, sea fans, and anemones. It is renowned for larger sea creatures such as the Manta Ray , leopard sharks, nurse sharks, giant barracuda and hawksbill turtles. Whale sharks make an appearance. Yellow tail barracudas are often seen amidst schooling fish such as bannerfish and fusiliers. There is also a truly stunning Robinson Crusoe type beach on the northern side; however note that the associated shallow reef bordering the area has been damaged by anchors over the years and is no longer a quality dive site.
Twin Peaks (Southern Ridge)

This is the best dive site and is on the southern tip of the island. There is an extensive submerged ridge, running perpendicular to the island. The ridge features a dome structure at it's southern end and a small pinnacle to the north.
Depths from 16 - 36m. Average depth 22m. Visibility 18 - 24m.

Jellyfish, Ko Tachai Leopard Shark, Ko Tachai Crown-of-Thorns Sea Star at Ko Tachai

Ko Bon

Further south still (25 km) lies the almost deserted Ko Bon which is only some 20km north of the most northerly Similan island (Ko Ba-Ngu or island # 9). It is usually regarded as being part of the overall outer Surin archipelago, whilst at the same time is often loosely grouped with the Similans, although it differs geologically from the latter. There are no beaches here but this is another truly excellent dive site and is again noted for large pelagic. There are frequent sightings of leopard sharks and stingrays in the deeper depths; it is also one of the better places to see mantas, especially towards the end of the season. Huge sponges are to be found at 35m. Ko Bon is also well known for it's 30m vertical (true) wall dive with a subsequent step down ridge to 40m, on the southwestern point of the island.
Night dives too are stunning at Ko Bon.
In addition, there is a blowhole in the island which provides spectacular sites on windy days with high swell, as water is pushed through the hole into a mist of air bubbles.

Main site on the west ridge

Situated on the westerly / south westerly side of the island, the site features the underwater extension of the west ridge, which drops quite sharply to 40m.
Depths from 12 - 40m. Average depth 22m. Visibility 18 - 25m.

Submerged pinnacle

This site is off the north-west of the island. The rock pinnacle extends from a depth of 16m down to 40m.

Richelieu Rock

Richelieu Rock

Probably the best of them all is the world renowned Richelieu Rock, which is 18km east of the Surin islands and is a small limestone outpost carpeted with thick pink and purple corals. The Rock is only visible at very low tides, thus posing potential navigational hazards to non-GPS navigated boats, or the uninitiated. It has a very wide diversity of both coastal and oceanic sea life, including nudibranches, sea stars, crustaceans of all kinds, grouper fish, lion fish, reef sharks, giant guitarfish, twelve species of moray eels including the rare golden moray, giant needlefish, copper sweepers, redbar anthias and badger clingfish. This site is listed as a top location for the gentle giant Whale Shark, and there is a very realistic chance of actually swimming with them, especially during the months February to April. The schools of whale sharks treat the Rock as their playground. Manta Rays, leopard sharks, sea-horses are also to be found.

The Plumed Lion Fish at Richelieu Rock
Richelieu Rock is a truly splendid and unique spot with an amazing variety and abundance of marine life.
This site ranks amongst the best in the world for whale shark sightings, especially from February to May.
There is one large pinnacle and a few smaller ones rising steeply from the sand base at 32m.
Depths from 0 - 32m. Average depth 15 - 25m. Visibilty 15 - 24m.
the gentle giant Whale Shark
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