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Surin islands - a view from the top and a local inhabitant coastal perspective

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Mu Ko Surin National Marine Park is a superb marine park which protects five jungle cropped granite islands and their fringing coral reefs. It is famous for it's gorgeous, diverse and prolific shallow-water corals, and is popular with live-aboard diving tours. Please view our section on Surin dive sites for detailed diving information, and reference our map section on Surin islands map and dive site locations.

It is an island paradise with numerous beautiful coves and bays, and dense jungle, and covers an area of 135 sq. kms of which 75 percent covers the sea area, and stretches to within 15km of the maritime border with neighbouring Myanmar (Burma). 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.

a colourful sampling of soft corals
The full Surin archipelago, as opposed to the marine park, covers 350 sq km and also includes Ko Tachai and Ko Bon, to the south, and Richelieu Rock, an isolated limestone pinnacle 18km to the east; these are essentially superb dive sites for the intermediate and experienced diver.
a tranquil water inlet

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.

Ko Surin Tai is home to a small village of Sea Gypsies of the Morgan tribe, who have managed to preserve their primitive way of life; they hold a three day ancestral worship ceremony on the full moon night of the 3rd lunar month.

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 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.

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

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 to name just a few.

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.
peace and quiet on a beach
thatched stilted bungalows, on the water's edge
In addition to the superb marine attractions, the evergreen forests on Ko Surin are considered true rainforests and are popular for hiking and trekking. The north island supports the most nature trails. Animals such as flying foxes, flying lemur, monitor lizards, reticulated pythons, pig-tailed macaques, and the lesser mouse deer are to be found.

Bird species in the forest include the rare Nicobar pigeon. The Peregrine Falcon, Brahminy Kite, white-bellied Sea Eagle and Chinese Goshawk are examples of the 80 bird species recorded in the National Park.

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. March is the hottest month with temperatures reaching a maximum of 34 C. September is usually the wettest month, and November the coolest (24 C). In fact the Park currently closes from mid-May to mid-November due to the rough seas caused by the southwest monsoon.

To reach the Surin Islands, boats can be chartered from beachside operators or via the resort hotels in Khao Lak. Organised tours are also available including for example a combo four day/four night Similan and Surin trip. Several of the major piers, such as Takua Pa and Thap Lamu sub district piers, along the Andaman coast will also offer chartered boats. The serious diver will opt for a liveaboard heading for the world-class dive sites at Ko Bon, Ko Tachai and Richelieu Rock.

Ko Surin National Park maintains a peninsular mainland office at the fishing village of Ban Hin Lat (close to the mouth of the Nang Yon canal area, also known as Thun Nang Dam Canal), 6km north of Khura Buri and 110km south of Ranong on Route 4. It is sometimes merely generalised to Khura Buri pier. There is a dirt road heading to the fishing pier off route 4 at Ban Hin Lat school. Boats can be chartered at Ban Hin Lat from the park officers who act as brokers and interpreters. A cheap way is to latch onto one of the tour group boats departing from here; the park officers will try to book you seats; the busiest time is from February to April. The journey time by boat is 4 hours for the 60km distance.

For enquiries including accomodation, contact:-
  Royal Forestry Department - Tel +66 2 5612918-21       Mu Ko Surin National Park HQ in Amphoe Khura Buri - Tel +66 76 491378

Detailed diving information for the Surin Islands, Ko Bon, Ko Tachai and Richelieu Rock is available in to our Diving section

Ko Tachai

Ko Tachai, 35 km south of Mu Ko Surin, is considered to be one of the finest dive sites in Thailand. It is renowned for larger sea creatures such as the Manta Ray (the largest ray in the world weighing upto one and a half tons), leopard sharks, nurse sharks, giant barracuda and hawksbill turtles. Whale sharks also make an appearance.
There is also a truly stunning Robinson Crusoe type beach.

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