Similan Liveaboard - Best Diving Experience in Thailand

by Guest

Similan Liveaboards – A List of the Best

The Similan is a tiny archipelago located north of Phuket in the Andaman Sea. Most of the islands are uninhabited, and on the largest (which is still small), there are no permanent structures, just tents for sleeping and a wooden hut where meals are served. It’s a mecca for scuba divers and snorkelers who come to the island to explore the colourful underwater world of marine life and coral. It’s often tipped by scuba diving publications as well as the BBC and National Geographic as one of the top 10 diving spots in the world.

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Whaleshark in the Similans in Thailand.

There is much to see under the surface of the water. Divers have the opportunity to snorkel with huge manta rays, sharks, eels, green turtles, clown fish, crabs and much more. The coral is particularly colourful here, and has not yet been bleached. It’s even possible to see huge whale sharks at certain times of year. It’s not just the marine life here that’s attractive. The ocean is super clear offering visibility up to 30 metres. The warm waters make it appealing and comfortable for divers without having to wear a wetsuit. The season runs between the high season of October and May. Outside this time the monsoon weather makes the sea rough and unsuitable for either scuba diving or snorkelling.

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Divers enjoying the world under the ocean in Similan Islands. Photo by Ryan Lackey

There are too many dive sites to list here, but there are some notable spots. Elephant Rock, as the name suggests, is an elephant shaped rock under the water where plenty of marine life and colourful coral resides. The rock formations of Christmas Point are simply spectacular. The pinnacles form a great habitat for wildlife like rays and small sharks. The Andaman Reef is blanketed in plenty of coral and its here that much of the marine life can be seen including barracuda, eels, and colourful clown fish. Similarly, Fantasy reef is equally impressive, and huge rays are also seen floating along the ocean floor. Lastly, Richelieu Rock is one of the most impressive dives sites in the Similan Islands, and is teeming with soft coral and the occasionally whale shark.

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Clown Fish hiding in Anemone. Photo by Prilfish

If you really want to explore the many dive sites, the best way is onboard one of the many Similan liveaboards. The boats offer divers the opportunity to travel around to different locations and provide accommodation, equipment, and meals. If you are learning, some offer PADI certified open water courses allowing you to learn in more of the most spectacular places in the world. There are many boats available which vary in quality and price. Most offer 4 night cruises which the prices are based on, but some offering long and shorter cruises. Here’s a rundown of some of the best on offer.

M/V Hallelujah

The M/V Hallelujah offers a Similan liveaboard cruise for up to 25 scuba divers. It’s one of the more comfortable in the area and has a variety of twin, double and deluxe cabins, as well as a super deluxe cabin on the upper deck. All the cabins are air conditioned and have private bathrooms. Other facilities include a common room, a terrace with sunbeds, and al fresco dining with delicious meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The guides are well trained and take divers out in small groups to sites like Koh Bon and Elephant Rock to see rays, eels, and colourful coral. All the equipment is good quality and well maintained and the service on board the boat is excellent. A four day liveaboard dive cruise starts around US $250 a day.

M/V Thailand Aggressor

Another popular option for liveaboards in the Similan Islands. This 35 metre long yacht offers liveaboard cruises throughout the high season between November and April. It takes divers so some of the best spots to see sharks, rays, colourful fish and all the coral reefs. Back on board there are 8 crew that attentively look after a maximum of 16 guests. You won’t be slumming it in one of the 8 luxury cabins that are complete with private bathrooms, air conditioning and all the facilities you would expect. On the upper deck, there is a hot tub and sun loungers to relax on after a day of diving. The staff create some excellent meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as snacks available all day. Snorkelers are welcome to join with their diver partners. Prices start from US $350 a day.

M/V Pawara

The M/V Pawara is a great budget option with some fantastic online reviews. It is purpose built for liveaboard cruises in Thailand which they offer between October and May. During the four day adventures, the guests are taken to all the Similan’s best dive sites including Elephant Rock, Richelieu Rock and Christmas Point. They offer one of the best opportunities to swim with whale sharks, the harmless giants of the sea. The boat also offers free nitrox to divers. On board the 35 metre yacht, there are 12 cabins, with a mixture of shared and private bathrooms, air conditioning and toiletries. Other facilities include common room and sun deck. The crew cook up some delicious Thai cuisine as well as having drinks and snacks available throughout the day. Prices start from US $150 per day.

The Junk

For something a bit more atmospheric, try The Junk, a beautiful old Chinese style boat that has been cruising the waters around South East Asia for decades. The 33 metre sailing boat has a fantastic crew and guides who take small groups out on diving adventures in many of the top sites in the Similan Islands. When you return from spotting sharks, rays, and turtles, can you enjoy the beauty of the junk boat sails and you cruise overlooking the sunset. There is a comfortable common room and an outdoor decking where you can socialize, have briefings, and eat. The food on board is excellent and there is always plenty of Thai and international cuisine available. It’s very good value starting around US $150 per day including equipment hire.

M/V Manta Queen II

For the cheapest of the lot, but still good quality, consider booking on to the M/V Manta Queen II. The 25 metre motor yacht takes divers out to some excellent spots including the Andaman Reed in search of close encounters with the most interesting marine life in the area. Guests area accompanied by up to 5 well trained dive masters. She carries up to 20 guests who are looked after by an attentive crew. All the cabins are fairy spacious (for a boat), have double, twin, or quad beds (making it great for families) and are air conditioned. Inside, there is a common room and on top is a sun deck complete with loungers to relax after a day of underwater discover. Snorkelers are welcome. The cook creates some fantastic Thai and international fare as well as offering snacks and drinks all day to guests. A great option that costs just US $100 per day.

Cover image by Tanaka Juuyoh

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