The beauty of the Similan Islands is legendary. The islands are located on Southern Thailand’s West Coast in the Andaman Sea, in the province of Phang Nga. There are eleven islands found in the Similan archipelago. These are Koh Bangu, Koh Ha, Koh Huyong, Koh Payan, Koh Payu, Koh Tachai, Koh Bon, Koh Hin Pousar, Koh Meang, Koh Payang and Koh Similan. All of these islands can be found in the Mu Koh Similan National Park. The park is expansive, covering more than 140 square kilometres.
If you are interested in exploring the beauty of desolated and remote areas, diving in new and exciting places or observing a wide variety of wildlife, the Similan Islands are your ideal destination. As the biggest island, Koh Similan is the perfect place to begin. The waters surrounding the Similan Islands are shallow and crystal clear. This is where you will discover magnificent coral reefs and spectacular rock formations. Despite the exquisite marine life throughout Thailand and the region, you will not find anything to match the Similan Islands.
Travelling to the Similan Islands
You will not be able to fly directly to the Similan Islands, but you can fly right to Phuket. There are daily flights to this popular island from Bangkok International Airport every day. The average price for a ticket is $125. Once you have arrived on Phuket, you will need to take a boat from Patong or Chalong. Patong will place you closer to the Similan Islands. Depending on the island you are travelling to, you will be within a few hours of your destination.
You can reach Koh Similan is just two to three hours. If travelling to Koh Tachai, you need to allow approximately four hours. You can make the trip from Phuket to the Similan Islands at several different times each day. You can also arrange for a lovely day trip to the Similan Islands from Phuket. You have a choice between travelling by water or on the road. You have several different options. The quickest way is by speedboat or plane, although these are the most expensive routes.
The cheapest way to arrive at the islands from Bangkok is by taking a taxi boat at night. Two of the best places for your departure are Patong and Chalong. You will find more departures from the mainland near Ranong or Khao Lak from Thap Lamu. If you want to save money, your best options are taking a boat or a bus. The entire return journey will only cost you roughly $75. These options involve travelling for more than a day. Although this requires more time than flying, you will see many beautiful areas in Thailand.
The quickest way to travel to the Similan Islands is boarding the night bus from Bangkok to Khao Lak or Ranong. Once you have arrived, you can simply take a boat to the islands. The trip takes approximately 13 hours before you arrive on the islands. The trip to the Similan Islands from Khao Lak is about two hours. One of the most popular ways to reach the islands is by sailboat. These boats are referred to as live-aboard boats.
There are sail charter agencies offering departures to the Similan Islands several times each week. The schedules are dependent on the season, the weather and how many individuals are interested in taking the trip. If you choose this option, you will need to plan ahead or you risk missing the boat. You will have a lot of fun exploring the Andaman Sea. You can even enjoy some island hopping during your journey. The trip is a fantastic experience. The sail charters leave from numerous places on Phuket including Chalong, Thap Lamu, Ranong, Patong and Kaho Lak.
Many visitors and locals book a day trip to the Similan Islands from mainland Thailand. If you are departing from Phuket, you will need to get up extremely early and spend your entire day taking the trip. You will be spending approximately two to four hours on the boat.
The Similan Islands
The native tongue of the region is Yawi. The translation of Similan Islands is Nine Islands. The Similan Islands have an ecosystem both unique and fragile. The islands have been one of the most popular attractions in Thailand for many years. Unfortunately, the lovely nature reserve is so fragile, it is unable to sustain the massive number of tourists. For this reason, the islands are protected by the government of Thailand. During the monsoon season, the Similan Islands are closed for all visitors including tourists. The monsoon season begins in May, ending in October.
You will not be able to visit the islands during this time period because the park is closed every year. The exploration of the islands was completed in 1981. The Similan Islands started being protected in 1982 as a National Park of Thailand. Since this time, the government of Thailand has restricted access to many of the beaches and islands. This was done in an attempt to provide the wildlife of the Similan Islands with the necessary protection. The law also prohibits both commercial fishing and sport fishing in specific areas.
Not only does the law protect the wildlife, but it also ensures the islands remain unique and pristine treasures of Thailand. When you arrive at the islands, you will discover many different varieties of intriguing sea creatures, reptiles, singing birds and small critters that have migrated onto the land. The Andaman Sea surrounding the Similan Islands is one of the most well-kept secrets of the country. Due to the crystal blue of the waters, you can easily watch the marine life. The waters are filled with a variety of Nemo’s, sharks, trigger fish and barracudas.
The Creation of the Similan Islands
During fluctuations in the sea levels surrounding the Similan Islands. The advancement and retreat of polar ice caps have resulted in fluctuations as high as 150 metres. The Similan Islands have received visits from creatures that became extinct a long time ago, layered with marine growths, brutalised by storms and been completely underwater. This will become apparent when you climb the trail leading to Sailing Boat Rock.
While you are wiggling your way through all of the archways and crevices, picture them covered with algae, sponges and a variety of colourful corals. In the past, this commute was made by beautiful streams of fish, dense schools and marine dinosaurs and larger fish cruising through the waters in search of food. Today you will see cute little squirrels and gorgeous birds. The Similan Islands were shaped by many different forces. In the beginning, the islands were intrusions. These are hot up-wellings of magma.
Between 100 and 150 million years in the past, the magma came through the weaker spots in the crust of the Earth. The magma found a way through the layers of thick sedimentary rock originating 100 million years before. The movements taking place in the crust were incredibly powerful. This resulted in the granite substratum being cracked into blocks. The waves and wind then sculpted the blocks even more.
The Utopia of the Similan Islands
There are a lot of reasons the Similan Islands are so picturesque. Many people link the beauty of the Andaman Sea with the limestone islands of Phang Nga Bay or Krabi. The beauty of the Similan Islands comes from the low-lying formations shrouded in rich and thick forests. The denser undergrowth comes from bamboo, rattan and jackfruit. Gum and ironwood trees are the biggest trees you will see on the islands. Many animals have made their homes on the islands. You may see dusky langurs, bats, a large variety of colourful birds, squirrels and lizards.
Although there are also monkeys who eat crabs living on the Similan Islands, you may not see them. This is because they are so shy, they remain hidden from casual observers. The first thing you will notice are the enormous boulders, considered one of the most amazing sights on the islands. You will see them scattered among the southern and western shores of certain islands. Once you see the sandy, white coral beaches, you will be enthralled. These beaches are usually deserted and always splendid.
The most fascinating sights are located under the waves. Some of the most magnificent coral growths on the planet are located here. The waters are an exciting adventure for divers due to the presence of the same boulders drawing your gaze to the shores. You could spend years in these waters and it may still not be enough time to see everything Thailand has to offer.
The Wonders of the Similan Islands
Venture under the waves to discover a wide variety of marine creatures. This is how the sandy beaches and reefs were created. Take the time to climb Sailing Boat Rock. The view of the sandy white beach below is extraordinary. The creation of this beach is mostly due to the diligent nibbling and scraping of numerous organisms including the parrot fish. The average excretion of each parrot fish exceeds 16 kg of sand for every year of their lives. This is the result of nibbling away at hard corals. The amount of coral in this area is significant.
The coral growth is exceptional due to the ideal conditions. The waters are unbelievably clear with the lowest sea temperatures at approximately 28 degrees Celsius. In excess of 200 hard coral species have been identified throughout the entire region. You will not find as many reef fish anywhere else in Thailand as in the waters of the Similan Islands. The variety of both bottom topography and marine life exceeds the majority of dive destinations anywhere else in the world.
You can find nearly anything your heart desires on the Similan Islands such as large rocks, barrel sponges, swim-throughs, enormous sea fans, caves and a lot of shallows ideal for snorkelling. One of the islands to the north is Koh Bon. Many include this island among the Similans. This is where you will see incredible coral walls. The temperatures around the islands in the fringing waters range from 70 to 80 metres to 30 to 45 metres. You only need to venture down six or seven metres to see the coral gardens.
The Oasis of the Similan islands
During the course of many years, intriguing piles of stones have collected. Some of the piles are the size of a house. They look as though a race of giants searched the beaches and collected them only to carelessly abandon them on the shores. The most distinctive formation is Sailing Boat Rock. This is located far above the Koh Similan coast. You will see the same type of boulders scattered above and below the surface of the Andaman Sea. Once you reach 35 metres below the surface, you have reached paradise for scuba divers.
You will find canyons, passageways, submarine peaks and caves scuba divers travel from all over the world to see. On the island’s western side, the formations remain free of sand due to the currents. The boulders on the eastern side are almost completely buried among the sandy slopes and coral.
The Adventures of the Sea
The Similan Islands are known mostly for snorkelling and diving. The scenic moorings have become extremely popular among sailors. The number of yachts cruising the islands increases every year. The high season is between December and February, with November through May being monsoon season for the northeast. The yachts come for the forests, beaches, abundant marine life, gorgeous anchorages and crystal waters. You can book both sailing-diving cruises and bareboat sailing from Phuket. If your yacht does not have a compressor or scuba gear, you can hire anything necessary from dive boats.
Dive boats regularly depart from Phuket. The islands offer even more than diving and sailing. During high season, day boats are always arriving from Phang Nga and Phuket. These boats are filled with crowds of snorkelers, picnickers and sightseers. The attractions of Koh Similan National Park have increased because this is a stopover for distant sailing destinations and undersea adventures. This includes the Burma Banks, the Invisible Bank and the Andaman Islands.