Islands & Dive Sites

We visit a variety of islands in the Similan and Surin National Marine Parks.

General information about the islands and dive sites we visit

similan islands and dive sites


Description of islands and dive sites

The Similan Islands are a group of 9 uninhabited islands approximately 70km west of Khao Lak. In 1982 they became a National Marine Park. Each island is covered with tropical rainforest, lush jungle and large granite boulders. In addition, the Similan Islands are famous for stunning white-sand beaches. Sand which is so fine it’s like powder between your toes!

Each island is fringed by extensive hard and soft coral reefs, with underwater granite boulders. In other words, plenty of options for both divers and snorkellers! The Similan Islands have over 20 dive sites and many snorkelling places.

What can we see?

The National Park headquarters is on island #4, Koh Miang. Here you can take a short walk through the rainforest and enjoy the wildlife. See if you can find the very unusual Nicobar pigeon, the fruit bats in the treetops or monitor lizards. On island #8 you can hike up to the famous Sail Rock viewpoint at Ao Guerk (aka Donald Duck Bay). Which is a great place to enjoy beautiful views over the bay and watch the amazing tropical sunsets.

The reefs of the Similan Islands are home to a huge number of tropical fish of all sizes, shapes and colours. Snorkelling or diving you can see angelfish, butterflyfish, lionfish, snappers, clownfish, trevallies and tuna. In addition, we frequently see turtles, rays and reef sharks. Visibility averages 20-30m and the sea temperature is 27-29C.

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Description of islands and dive sites

Head north from the Similans, and we get to the limestone island of Koh Bon. It was made part of the Similan Islands National Marine Park in 1998. Although there is no beach, this island is definitely worth a visit and offers great diving and snorkeling.

A very distinctive hole cuts straight through the island above the water. We can dive and snorkel at several different spots, mostly on the island’s west side. Underwater there is a vertical wall and sloping hard coral reefs. The wall and rocks are home to many beautiful soft corals in pale yellow, blue, orange, and pink. In addition, there is also a deeper submerged pinnacle located just off the island.

What can we see?

Magical giant manta rays are sometimes spotted feeding and playing at Koh Bon. And even the occasional whale shark! More regularly we see octopus, giant moray eels, lionfish, scorpionfish, napoleon wrasse, barracuda, and many different colorful tropical reef fish. Sometimes a hunting pack of emperors and trevallies sweep over the reef, chasing the glassfish. Keep an eye out for the highly unusual Maldives sponge snail!

Koh Bon is one of the top dive sites in this region and should definitely be on your list.

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koh bon islands and dive sites
koh tachai islands and dive sites


Description of islands and dive sites

Moving further north we get to the island of Koh Tachai, also added to the Similan Islands National Park in 1998. It is an isolated island with a beautiful beach and lush jungle. Koh Tachai’s most well-known dive site is a submerged flat-topped pinnacle, just off the island. But there are also rocky bays and a wall dive on the west and a gently sloping coral reef on the south.

What can we see?

Marine life includes batfish, giant trevalies, clown triggerfish, cute boxfish, and other tropical reef fish like angelfish and butterflyfish. Sometimes we find a banded sea snake, nudibranchs, octopus, or a tornado of barracuda. Tachai also has spectacular sea fans and some of the most colorful coral gardens in the area. But don’t forget to keep looking in the blue as there is a good chance to see something bigger!

Koh Tachai is a favorite among our dive staff and we go there on all our liveaboard trips.

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Description of islands and dive sites

The Surin Islands are located near the border with Burma/Myanmar. They became a National Marine Park in 1981. These secluded islands are home to a village of Chao Leh (Moken people), the traditional sea gypsies of the Andaman Sea. There are 5 islands in total.

The two main islands offer good jungle walks and beautiful white-sand beaches. In addition, there is a great variety of diving and snorkeling sites to choose from. Shallow water coral gardens offer superb snorkeling. Whilst the deeper sloping hard coral reefs and submerged rocky pinnacles provide excellent diving. Visibility might be a little less than at the Similans but the quality of the coral and plenty of fish life more than makes up for this.

What can we see?

We often see batfish, angelfish, boxfish, Jenkins whip rays, nudibranchs, lobsters, crabs, and shrimp. Occasionally humphead parrotfish visit the Surin Islands which is a really special sight. Keep an eye out for turtles and reef sharks, especially whilst diving or snorkeling at the shallow reefs.

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surin islands and dive sites
richelieux rock islands and dive sites


Description of islands and dive sites

South-east of the Surins, is the world-famous Richelieu Rock. As the only rock formation in this area, Richelieu is a natural magnet for all marine life. From smaller fish seeking protection amongst the coral. To larger pelagic fish from the deeper sea coming in to hunt for food around the rock. As a result, the diving is spectacular!

There is no island here! Richelieu Rock is a horseshoe-shaped limestone pinnacle that is almost completely under the water. The maximum depth is about 35m whilst at low tide just 1m of the rock sticks above the surface.

What can we see?

The rock itself is beautiful and is covered in purple soft corals and hundreds of anemones. Several different types of clownfish inhabit the anemones, including the Tomato Anemonefish. Crabs, shrimp, and moray eels hide in the cracks and crevices. Huge clouds of glassfish cover parts of the rock and behind them, we find boxfish, blennies, hawkfish, and tobies. Large schools of barracuda, jackfish, batfish, emperors, snapper, and many others can be seen regularly. We always look out for seahorses or ghost pipefish. And if that wasn’t enough, just occasionally we may see a manta ray or a whale shark!

Richelieu Rock is a truly outstanding dive site. It is probably the best dive site in Thailand. Do not miss it! All of our liveaboard trips include Richelieu. In addition, there are day trip options available.

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