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The Similan Islands is an archipelago of nine isles in the Andaman Sea.
They lie 70 kilometers to the west of the Thai Phang Nga Province and less than 100 km northwest of the ever-popular holiday magnet Phuket.
Superb diving and snorkeling in shallow waters, with the coral reefs being host to a myriad of spectacular sea life inhabitants.
There are also many land-based life forms that inhabit the islands – other than the sparse human population.
Inquisitive – but shy monkeys, bats and a range of darting – or sunbathing – lizards abound - all being watched from above with a good assortment of flying friends.
Koh Similan was awarded national park status in 1982 and remains undoubtedly one of the top three diving destinations in Thailand. In fact the National Geographic Society officially reviews the area among the top 10 in the world.
The word 'Similan' is translated into the number 9. This means that each island in the archipelago has a name and a corresponding number (see below). The numbered islands run from island Number One in the south to Number Nine in the north heading towards the Surin Islands.
Whilst the Similan Island Scuba Diving and Snorkeling are the main focus points for this site, the island group is an area of outstanding but different scenic natural beauty to be found in the Andaman.
Instead of the towering rock faces of Krabi, the Similan islands are graced with a lower terrain and topography.
Lazing on perfect beaches of pure white coral sands is a welcome break – as is the clambering atop giant granite boulders scattered throughout the Similan group. All this before you explore the shallow depths of clearest unspoiled waters.
The islands are generally known by their ‘Thai” names – as you would expect with the Similan Islands Thailand – with two of the numbered islands (5 and 6) simply named after the
Thai language pronunciation of the numerals. Island Five – is ‘Koh Haa’ and island number six is known as ‘Koh Hok’. (Island = Koh; 5 = Haa; 6 = Hok)
The Similan Island of Koh Hu Yong is perfect if you like beaches. It has the longer and wider beach than other islands in the marine park.
The island is a favorite site for turtles to lay their eggs. Consequently Koh Hu Yong prohibits tourists from venturing on to the island.
Koh Payang or locally referred to as Payang Island is number two out of the nine Similan Islands. The rocky mountain backdrop and steep cliffs are striking features of this area.
Island number three is a small rocky island and does not have any beaches.
Koh Miang Island is a large land mass with two distinct beaches separated by lush evergreen forest. This island is also the park headquarters and the second largest island of the group.
Ha Island is named as similan number five because 'haa' means 5 in Thai. Koh Haa is relatively small but uniquely interesting for divers because of the abundance of garden eels.
The small finger-like eels pop their heads out of the sand patches on the seafloor. The dive site is peppered with outcrops of soft and hard coral formations.
In the Thai language Koh means island and hok means six so unsurprisingly the sixth island is known as Koh Hok.
Although Koh Payu Island is beach-less it is a top favourite site for cuba diving and snorkeling trips. The stunning shoreline on the east of the island is picture-perfect for shallow swimming and fish spotting.
Divers will be in amazement at the variety and vibrancy of encrusted corals and gigantic sea fans. Large schooling fishes ambush the fringing reefs hard coral formations in the north and west of the tiny island.
Koh Similan is inhabited by Nicobar Pigeons and the presence of Monitor Lizards is commonly reported. It is the easiest to identify from the other 8 islands because it is the largest and one of the shallowest.
The sea averages eighteen meters of depth and the underwater terrain is broadly rock boulders. The proliferation of corals around Koh Similan is the main attraction for divers with perfect examples of brain and mushroom corals in abundance.
Koh Ba Ngu is recognized as island number nine in the Similan archipelago. It is the northernmost of the group and probably has the strangest looking features of all nine.
Some divers suggest there is a skull shape formed in the rocks when viewed from a certain vantage point. There are no such frightening sights underwater.
The dive sites around this isle are truly dramatic in color and landscape. The submerged valleys and gorges seem to be endless and bottomless with a multitude of fish activity to top off a superb dive location.
Breakfast Bend is probably the top Similan dive site because it is appropriate for all certification levels of diving. In fact it is also very popular for snorkeling tours. As its name implies, the best time to explore this site is early morning.
Breakfast Bend is located east of Similan #9 Koh Bangu.
This locale is not noted for large pelagic filter-feeders but the abundance of colorful coral gardens and marine life will leave you breathless.
The prevailing currents are not particularly strong and the dive depths are shallower than many of the other islands. This site is often used for night diving because of the shelter from any unusual hazards.
Average Depth: 18m Maximum Depth: 30m Underwater Visibility: 15 - 35m General Currents: Weak to Moderate Diving Season: October – May
Points Of Interest:
Banner Fish, Groupers, Garden Eels, Leopard Sharks, Sergeant Major Fish, Trevally, Damsel Fish, Tuna, cobia, Octopus, Reef Sharks, Turtles, Plate Coral, branching Staghorn Corals.