The Similans are a group of nine small islands, with National Park status ( Mu Ko Similan National Marine Park ) under the care of the Royal Forestry Department, in the Andaman Sea some 40 km west of Khao Lak. They are renowned the world over for their natural beauty
and incredible underwater sightseeing vistas at depths from two to thirty five meters.
Besides being blessed with some of the most picturesque white powdery sandy beaches one could ever imagine, with lush scenic flora inland, extremely huge
smooth granite boulders have been seemingly carelessly scattered around in the course of evolution to create a truly stunning scene. These same smooth formations cacsade and plunge into the azure clear warm waters to form seamounts, rock reefs
and dive-throughs, and the Islands' reputation as a world-class dive site is well deserved.
Please view our sections on Similan dive site overview, and Similan dive site details for diving information
and reference our map section for the Similan islands map and dive site locations.
Inland the islands are essentially relatively low lying formations with some thick forest, sheltering the Nicobar pigeon, the hairy-legged mountain land crab, crab-eating monkeys, dusky langurs, bats, lizards and squirrels.
The word 'Similan' is derived from the Malay word sembilan meaning nine. Each island has both a name and a number. The Thais sometimes
refer to them as Ko Kao (or Nine Islands). Counting in order from the north, they are: Ko Ba-Ngu (No. 9), Ko Similan (No. 8), Ko Payu (No. 7), Ko Miang Sam (No. 6), Ko Miang Song (No. 5), Ko Miang (No. 4), Ko Payan (No. 3), Ko Payang (No. 2) and Ko Hu Yong (No. 1). In addition there is a small rock outcrop between number 7 and number 8, known as Hin Pousar or Elephant Head Rock.
To highlight a few aspects :-
Ko Similan is the largest island and is horseshoe shaped, partly encircling a small bay in the west. It has wonderful underwater scenery and relatively shallow water depth. Ko Similan is good for hiking, and exhibits the largest granite outcrop in the Similan archipelago; this distinctive formation offers sweeping views from the top.
Ko Miang is the second largest island and the location of the Park HQ. It has beautiful beaches and colourful coral reefs. Princess Chulabhorn, the youngest daughter of HM King Bhumipol Adulyadej and HM Queen Sirikit, has a Palace on Ko Miang.
Ko Hu Yong is well known for its long stretch of white sandy beach, where sea turtles lay their eggs.
Ko Ba-Ngu is sometimes referred to as Skull Island due it's skull-like appearance from a certain vantage point. It is renowned for its breathtaking underwater beauty on a multi-tired seabed.
There are at least twenty credited dive sites associated with the Similan chain.
The Similan Islands exhibit the greatest variety and sheer numbers of reef fish in Thailand and exhibit at least 200 species of hard coral. They provide a great deal of diversity for the diver. In particular there is a general marked underwater contrast between the western and eastern sides of the islands. The currents to the West have kept the
huge, soft coral clad, granite boulders exposed, and free of sand, resulting in dramatic formations, peaks, canyons and overhangs to depths of 30m. These are quite exhilarating dives, and, for some, a guide is recommended to navigate the fan clad passages. On the Eastern coasts the boulders have
been mainly buried as the fine sandy beaches slope down to reveal hard coral gardens.
The usual departure point for the Islands is from Thap Lamu pier, which is 10 km from Khao Lak. Proceed south on route 4 and take a right turn into the A4147 road, opposite Wat Lak Kan.
Journey time to the Islands is about three hours. An alternative point is from the pier near Khura Buri (north of Khao Lak), which is also the main departure pier for the Surin Islands. One-day excursion and longer tours are available. However the daily boats are somewhat irregular, and the best way to visit the Similans is on a liveaboard boat.
The liveaboards vary in style and comfort quite dramatically according to your budget. The higher end of the scale include private air-conditioned cabins, modern communications, video & CD sound systems,
professional photography services and so forth.
The best time to visit is from December through to April.
Facilities and Accomodation are rather limited. The only accomodation available is in the form of simple Thai style bungalow guesthouses on Ko Miang (island No. 4), where the National Park headquarters are based. Camping is permitted. Advance booking is advised.
Even though Ko Miang has a supply of fresh water, it is wise to come prepared with both food and water if you intend to stay the night. For information and reservations, contact the Similan National Park Offices at Moo 1, Thap Lamu, Tambon Lam Kaen, Thai Muang district, Phang-Nga
(Tel: (076) 411913-4). Alternatively contact the National Park Division, Forestry Department - Tel: 076 595045.
In addition please visit the Thailand Tourism official website
In summary the Similans are renowned for their magnificant coral growths and rock formations, their wild unspoiled beaches, their crystalline blue water, their prolific (smaller) fish life, and for the lazy idyllic days spent on a live-aboard boat.
Don't forget to view our Similan sections for a dive overview and for dive site details for diving information.
Also please reference our map section.