THE SIMILAN ISLANDS ARE HOME TO THE WIDEST VARIETY OF DIVE SITES & THE BEST DIVING IN THAILAND.
Thailand has plenty of great diving destinations, however, Similan diving is arguably the best and most varied. The best way to see it is from a Similan diving liveaboard.
Similan diving is considered the best diving Thailand has to offer.
A Similan diving liveaboard offers you a much more relaxed diving atmosphere; you will have more dives per day and the diving is conducted at a more leisurely pace. So, why cram a couple of dives into a hectic diving day trip when you can sit back, relax and have more dives per day?
Similan Diving Overview
- Perfect diving conditions for all levels of divers
- Suitable for beginners and inexperienced divers
- The widest variety of all Thailand dive sites
- Abundant variety of fish life, colourful corals and large sea fans
- Limits on the diving season give the Similan Islands recovery periods
- Diving with turtles, manta rays and whale sharks
Similan Diving Conditions
Due to the long distance from the coast, the Similan Islands are well placed for perfect diving conditions. The surrounding water is unaffected by run off from the land. Open ocean currents are rich in nutrients, feeding the marine life. The visibility is generally very good, between 20-30m.
Similan diving is suitable for all levels of divers. With the wide variety of Similan dive sites it is possible to choose dives based on your experience levels. East facing dive sites tend to be easy dives. West facing dive sites are more suitable for intermediate divers. There are also exposed large boulder dive sites for more experienced divers.
Currents tend to be stronger during full and dark moon. Around this time some Similan dive sites can be fairly challenging.
Similan Diving for Beginners
When it comes to learning to dive, Koh Tao is certainly the cheapest place in Thailand. It is relatively expensive to learn to dive in the Similan Islands, but Similan diving is the best.
There are many dive sites in the Similan Islands that offer a safe and controlled environment for student divers.
The best option for leaning to dive in the Similan Islands is whilst on a Similan diving liveaboard. A four day Similan liveaboard offers a lot more dives to perfect your diving skills. The liveaboard is also a great classroom. You are immersed in the world of diving. The Andaman Sea only a few metres away if you need any extra practise.
Similan Diving Offers a Wide Range of Thailand’s Best Dive Sites
The Similan Islands have a lot of dive sites and in fact, most dive sites can be covered on a single Similan liveaboard trip. There is also a wide variety of type of dive site. The Similan Islands has sloping coral reefs, rocky dive sites, submerged rocky pinnacles and sites with unique features.
There are several sloping coral reefs on the east side of many of the Similan Islands. These sites are great for beginners and for check dives at the beginning of Similan diving liveaboards. Rocky dive sites are the main feature along the west of the Similan Islands. These present interesting and impressive topography to the dive sites. Many feature swim-throughs which are a lot of fun to dive.
There are some more challenging sites too. Elephant Head Rock and Christmas Point are both submerged rocky sites. The topography here is breathtaking. Diving around, under and between huge granite boulders can be an exhilarating experience.
There are yet more dive sites further north on a Similan diving safari. A typical Similan liveaboard includes Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock. Koh Tachai is a similar granite boulder dive site, but it’s much better than you would find in the nine Similan Islands. Koh Bon and Richelieu Rock add more variety still. Both dive sites consist of limestone rock so you will see different types of corals and little critters that prefer this habitat.
Fish Life Encountered whilst Similan Diving
The Similan Islands are located in the Andaman Sea. The Andaman Sea is just a small part of the larger Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean plays host to a massive variety of sea life. So much so that popular fish ID books will dedicate a whole volume simply to this part of the world.
Most common Indian Ocean species can be encountered whilst Similan diving. The Islands host many species of moray eels, lion and scorpion fish. There is also a multitude of different types of groupers, snapper, fusiliers, damselfish, butterflyfish, angelfish, pufferfish and triggerfish, as well as some larger fish like barracuda and trevallies.
There are also many different species of corals, both soft and hard corals. These add a profusion of colour to many of the dive sites. The Similan Islands also host some very large and impressive sea fans as well as barrel sponges. Its not just about the fish life at the Similan dive sites. There are a few more creatures to see diving around the Similan Islands, see Similan diving highlights below.
The Similan Diving Season
The Similan diving season runs from November through to the end of April. The actual dates vary from season to season. For the upcoming 2014-2015 Similan diving season the official open date of the National Park is 15 October. There are no scheduled trips to the Similan Islands before that date. Treat operators offering trips to the Similans outside the official dates with extreme caution.
The Similan diving season is only for six months each year. Opening times follow Thailand’s Monsoon weather system. The six months per year when the islands are closed give the nature a chance to recover from all the visitors during the high season. This is very beneficial to the fragile ecosystems at the Similan Islands. Some cynics, however, see the six month closure as the opening of the commercial fishing season. This is not strictly the case, illegal loneliners operate in the Similan Islands year round despite the National Park status.
Similan Diving Highlights
As well as plenty of stunning dive sites, amazing top side scenery and an abundance of wildlife, Similan diving has a few more highlights to offer.
The Royal Thai Navy run turtle sanctuaries on Similan Island One and also on the mainland at Tap Lamu. Commercial fishing has decimated turtle populations in the Andaman Sea. However, due to the efforts of the navy, there is a resurgence in turtle populations around the Similan Islands. Turtles prove to be very popular with divers and snorkelers alike.
At certain times of year migrating Manta rays stop off at Koh Bon, one of the islands visited on a Similan diving safari. It is a little unpredictable to say why and when they will be there but if you are lucky, a dive with a manta ray is an unforgettable part of your Similan liveaboard. When the time is right it is also possible to encounter Manta rays at Koh tachai and even sometimes in the Similan Islands.
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The Similan Islands is one of the most scenic archipelagos in South East Asia. It is also home to some of the most interesting dive sites and some beautiful marine life.
There are many different types of Similan liveaboard, from 2 day 2 night to 7 day 7 night, and from budget to high-end luxury boats. Similan Dive and Sail can help find the right trip for you.