Similan Islands are a group of 11 islands, 9 of them are found next to each other and are located about 50 Km. from the resort town of Khao Lak.
The islands’ name, Similan, means the number 9 in the Malaysian dialect (Yawi). In 1982 Similan Islands were announced by the Thai government as a national nature reserve. Later on 2 additional islands were added to the first group of 9 islands of the nature reserve – the island Bon and the island Tachai (about which you can read another article – click here for the article about Tachai island).
Similan islands are due to be included in UNESCO’s international heritage sites.
In this article I will write about the group of 9 islands, which are the islands referred to when speaking about Similan Islands. The other two islands, Bon Island and especially the enchanting Tachai island are far from the group of 9 islands and Tachai island is closer to another group of islands – Ko Surin, which have their own exquisite charm.
All 9 islands have names but it is easier to refer to them by their numbers. For example, island number 8 is Similan island and island number 4 which is connected to island number 5, is called Miang island. Island number 3 (Ko Payan,) is the Royal family’s estate.
Note that not all 9 islands can be visited. Some of the islands have been closed to visitors in an effort to protect the coral reef and the surrounding nature which have greatly deteriorated in recent years.
The largest and widest beach is found on island number 1 (Ko Hu Yong), which is a protected island as the sea turtles come there to lay their eggs.
Island number 8, Ko Similan, is the biggest one and offers overnight stay in rented tents. On this island you may see Donald Duck bay, which got its name from a huge rock in the shape of the head of famous duck found there. (it’s easier to see it from the sea than from this angle).
Island number 4 (Ko Miang), is considered to be most popular and here you can even find confortable bungalows, not only tents. On this island there are 2 bays – the smaller one is named Honeymoon Bay and the bigger one is Princess Bay. These 2 bays and the bay on island number 8 offer wonderful beaches with soft white sand and clear turquoise blue waters which makes you feel as if you are in paradise.
Scuba diving and snorkeling: daily cruises to Similan islands including a tour of islands number 4 and 8 and two stops of 30-40 minutes each at 2 snorkeling sites.
I visited twice at Surin Islands and once at Tachai island and I must say that snorkeling there was better. I’m under the impression that due to their raising popularity and big crowds visiting there, Similan islands coral reef has greatly deteriorated in recent years.
Maybe when snorkeling in other sites or Scuba diving the situation is better, but personally I was a bit disappointed of the snorkeling in comparison to what I have experienced in the past, but the beautiful bays and view certainly compensate for it.
Visiting season and how to get there: Similan Islands open for visits approximately from the end of October to the end of April – beginning of May. Their opening dates change yearly according to the weather.
The best and easiest way to get to Similan Islands is from Thap Lamu Pier which is located a 10 minute drive south of Khao Lak. A speed boat from this pier to Similan Islands takes about 60-70 minutes. As I wrote, it is possible to stay overnight in some of the islands, (tents, bunglows).
Another way to get to Similan Islands is by bigger boats which offer a few days snorkeling and scuba diving cruises including sleeping arrangements.
Note: Similan Islands can be included in “TipTop Travel” : Thailand Private Family Adventure tours “south Thailand tours” as well as in “TipTop Travel” – Thailand Private Family Adventure Tours :”Coast to Coast tour”.
** “TipTop Travel” customers are entitled to receive a significant discount on the snorkeling cruise.
Thailand-Expert : Thailand Travel Guide
“TipTop Travel” : Thailand Private Family Adventure Tours