All You Need to Know About the Similan Islands

Looking for some gorgeous islands just a short hop from Phuket? Take a trip to the Similan Islands, one of the most beautiful and best-known of the Andaman Sea island groups. The Similan Islands are great for snorkeling, diving, and much more. Here’s all you need to know about these white-sand islands surrounded by clear blue sea.

Image via dia_n / Flickr
Image via dia_n / Flickr

All About the Similan Islands

Take a trip just 84km from Phuket’s Patong Beach to reach this secluded group of islands in the middle of the crystal clear the Andaman Sea. The Similan Islands are a hit with dive companies and tour boats and you can also visit the group of islands independently. The word Similan means nine in the Malay language – each Similan Island has a number and also a name and they go from southernmost to northernmost: Hu Yong (1), Payang (2), Payan (3), Miang (4, 5 and sometimes 6), Payu (7), Koh Similan (8), and Koh Ba Ngu (9). The island of Hin Pousar, also known as the “Elephant Head Rock”, is sometimes called number 6.

Natural Attraction of the Similan Islands

This group of islands is perennially popular, and for good reason. While the islands are not as dramatic as the limestone rocks that make up the islands of Phang Nga Bay, they are still beautiful in their own distinct way. These islands are low-lying and covered with lush rainforest. The forest is home to a huge variety of wildlife from squirrels and monkeys to bats and tropical birds. One of the most distinctive features of the Similan Islands is the number of striking boulders that are positioned on the shores of many of these picturesque islands, lending a special quality to the landscape. But the real treasures of the Similan Islands can be found beneath the waves.

Boulders Above and Below the Water

The huge boulders of the Similan Islands are not just featured on the land; they also cascade down into the ocean up to a depth of 35 meters. Here they form some spectacular features for snorkelers and scuba divers to explore. The caves and canyons, peaks and troughs, will keep divers busy for days.

Image via mattmangum / Flickr
Image via mattmangum / Flickr

Underwater Similan Life

That’s not all you can expect to find when you dive or snorkel around the Similan Islands. The beauty and diversity of marine life is a sight to behold. The coral reef is a complex and mature environment that has been formed over thousands of years. There are over 200 species of hard coral in this area alone, and the waters around the Similan Islands boast the largest selection of reef fish in Thailand. The waters around the Similans have something for everyone – shallow waters for snorkeling, complex cave systems, deep coral reefs, and plenty of marine life in crystal clear water.

Sailing Around the Similans

The Similan Islands are not only popular with snorkelers and divers. The islands are increasingly visited by sailors on pleasure cruises and private yachts. The high season for yachts is the northeast monsoon season – between November and May – when visitors are attracted by the picturesque places to put down an anchor, the beautiful forests, and the abundance of marine life. You can book a sailing cruise from Phuket, or you can arrange a longer tour through one of the independent operators in Phuket. As well as overnighters, there are a number of day cruises you can take from Phuket.

How to Get to the Similan Islands

The route to the Similan Islands is not the simplest because there are no regular boats going there from Phuket. However, you can catch a lift on one of the local boats going towards the islands, or join a day tour from Phuket to the Similans. If you want to go diving then the best way is to join a multi-day cruise where you live aboard the boat and take part in a specified number of dives or snorkel trips which take place over three or four days. These trips can be booked from Phuket.

To book your Phuket trip, visit PhuketOn. Find more information on hotels, tours, attractions, restaurants and more at PhuketOn – the guide to Phuket and Bangkok.

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