This group of nine remote islands located 95 km north-west of Phuket was designated as a national park in 1982. T he Similan Islands are some the worlds most beautiful and unspoiled islands and together with the splendour of the rich, varied marine life, and stunning coral reefs they offer a world class underwater paradise for scuba divers. Below the surface the Similans offer a wide variety of underwater scenery and marine life. You can draw a line roughly down the middle of each island in the chain separating them into two parts, with each offering totally different diving environments. On the western side of the islands, huge granite boulders are stacked on top of one another creating magnificent archways, and plunging drop-offs. Most of these granite boulders are so completely covered in colourful soft corals that the rock is no longer visible.
Accommodation on the Similian Islands is restricted to tents and some very basiv national park accommodation. It is best to stay in either Khao Lak or Phuket and take trips to the islands.
Diving on the eastern side of the islands can give you the impression of diving in another part of the world. Here hard coral gardens gradually slope down to approximately 30-40 meters where sand takes over as the water depth increases. Massive schools of colourful tropical fish are attracted to the nutrient rich water that swirls around these islands. Sightings of large fish are rather rare in these waters but you may occasionally encounter leopard sharks and even whale sharks here.
There are more than 20 documented dive sites in the Similan Islands, many of which have developed their own international reputation. Christmas Point, on Island #9, Ko Bangru: is famous for a series of dramatic archways for divers to swim through while they swim with the schools Blue Fin Trevally, and Jack Tuna. Fantasy Reef, on Island #8, Ko Similan: is a popular site to exploring the massive underwater rock formations, and for a likely encounter with some of the many species of rays that live there. Elephant Head, on Island #8, Koh Similan: is probably the most famous dive in the group, the site is named after an unusually shaped group of rocks that jut out of the water just to the south-west of Koh Similan.
The Similan Islands are consistently ranked as one of the top ten dive sites in the world, and there is good reason to believe they will remain that way for future generations. The Thai Government can be justly proud of their efforts to preserve and protect this group of pristine islands. In one effort the Fishing Dept placed mooring buoys in the most popular anchorage's allowing visiting boats to tie up rather then dropping an anchor and risk damaging the fragile reef. It is easy to applaud all efforts to preserve the wild, unspoiled beaches, magnificent coral reefs, and the turquoise blue water of this special area.
The easiest way to get to the Similian Islands from Bangkok is to fly to Phuket and then take a boat which can make the journey from in 3 to 4 hours. Boats from Phanga are also available from Thap Lamu Pier which takes about 3 hours. Your journey can be booked with any travel agent in Thailand and they will undertake all the connections for you.