Similan island diving

by Guest

The Similan Islands National Park is an archipelago lying some 100 kilometres off the western coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. It is by far the best diving area in the country, and continually rated as one of the top 10 in the world. Under the water's’ surface, there are swathes of colourful reef and exotic fish species to discovery. The main inhabited island (which is still tiny), there are no permanent structures and visitors need to stay in tents. It is possible to do day diving trips from the island, but this is more suitable for snorkelers. Scuba divers are better staying on one of the liveaboard boats, of which there are many catering to different tastes and budgets. They are comfortable and take you daily to the many Similan Island dive sites. The best time to dive in the Similan Islands is between November and April when the skies are clear and the waters calm with good visibility. Many of the liveaboards close down the rest of the year as the dive sites are simply not suitable.

Elephant Rock

Elephant Rock is a spectacular dive site, mostly made up of a huge underwater rock, which as the name suggests, is shaped like an elephant. Reaching down to depths of more than 40 metres, the site has shelters by the rocks and is home to sharks, turtles, reef and colourful schools of fish. It’s one site that will almost certainly be included on your liveaboard cruise, but check before booking because you don’t want to miss this one.

elephant rock similans

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Christmas Point

Christmas Point is another impressive dive site in the Similan Islands, made up from rocks covered in soft colourful corals. With the help of your liveaboard guide, divers can reach depths of up to 35 metres where there is a sandy seabed. At these depths, there are reef and whitetip sharks that slowly glide in search of prey. Look out for clown fish, parrot fish, and large groupers hiding in the stones and coral. It’s a fantastic site that shouldn’t be missed.

East of Eden

The current at the East of Eden site helps scuba divers drift past the corals and marine life. You’ll certainly need some open water dive experience before visiting the site, but it’s not a challenging dive site. There are simply too many species to list, but some of the highlights including frogfish, barracuda, grouper, leopard sharks, Napoleon wrasses, parrotfish, white tipped sharks, trevallies, green turtles and beautiful manta rays. Best visited between November and April when the sea is calmer.

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Shark Fin Reef

Another popular site, Shark Fin Reef has been named as such for good reason. In the early morning white and black tipped sharks and leopard sharks can be seen gliding along the seabed at up to 40 metres in depth. There is no need to fear about these majestic creatures, they are harmless. Other creatures you are likely to see including large stingrays, parrotfish, and surgeonfish. The site is located around 3 kilometres from Koh Payan, and the Boulder City dive site is not far away.

similan islands

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Boulder City

This deep site is characterized by large boulders and a strong current. It is this strong current that brings in much of the larger species including whale sharks at certain times of the year. There is a depth of up to 40 metres and some good visibility, even at the bottom. Scuba divers are treated to sites of many marine creatures including groupers, triggerfish, parrotfish, snappers, sweetlips, Napoleon wrasses, turtles, lionfish, eels, batfish, and sea urchins with cling to the boulders. You should only dive with when you have plenty of open water dive experience, particularly with strong currents.

Beacon Reef

Beacon Reef is particularly interesting due to the 2002 ship wreck of Rare Ung-Chon. Fortunately, there were no injuries during the sinking, and the ship which sites on the seabed at 30 metres has now become home to plenty of marine species. The site which drops down from 5 metres to up to 40 metres is covered in healthy corals. As well as the diverse coral species, divers can watch schools of snappers, goatfish, butterflyfish, angelfish, eels, and bluefins as well as the odd turtle. It’s a fascinating dive site and one you will surely not want to miss.

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Anita’s Reef

This dive site is excellent for beginners (though you will still need some open water dive experience). The beautiful reef varies in depth between 5 metres and 30 metres. The boulders on the seabed are surrounded by colourful soft corals. Divers are likely to see clown fish, pipefish, groupers, nudibranchs, turtles, and blue fins. It’s almost always visited on the liveaboard cruises. The lack of current and the excellent visibility make it one of the best dive sites for wildlife photography in the Similan Islands.

Breakfast Bend

The unusually named Breakfast Bend located east of the islands is another great dive site. The reef drops off down to 25 metres which can be visited when accompanied by the dive master. Work your way down the gently sloping coral to the bottom, spotting groupers, bannerfish, batfish, turtles leopard sharks, white tipped reef sharks, octopuses, ghost pipefish, bluefin, triggerfish, and large stingrays. Liveaboard cruises often have night dives here, a fascinating way to see the marine life, particularly the sharks.

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similan islands breakfast bend

Fantasea Reef

We recommend taking several dives at Fantasea Reef, one is simply not enough to take in the sheer volume of species here. After the 2004 tsunami, the site was shut off from divers to allow it to regenerate, but has since been reopened, as is as spectacular as ever. Visibility at Fantasea Reef is particularly good, meaning divers can get a good look at the coral gardens and sea fans. The site has depths of up to 40 metres from which schools of grouper, triggerfish, surgeonfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish, snappers, hackers, lionfish, scorpionfish, eels, morays, and turtles can be seen. It’s an excellent place to hone your underwater photography skills.

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