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MANATHAI Khao Lak

Island Hopping and Diving the Similan Islands

Island Hopping and Diving the Similan Islands

Similan Islands are located just 67 km west of Khao Lak. Koh Similan is one of the most well-known island groups in the Andaman Sea, largely because of the incredible beauty that lies beneath the azure blue waters that surround it. Counted among the 10 most interesting dive areas in the world, this little archipelago has also become a favourite destination for yachts and tour boats.

“Similan” is derived from the Malay “sembilan” which means “nine”. Each of the Similan Islands has a number as well as a name. These are, running from south to north: Hu Yong (No. 1), Payang (No. 2), Payan (No. 3), Miang (No. 4, No. 5 and, in some opinion, No. 6), Payu (No. 7), Similan (No. 8) and Koh Ba Ngu (No. 9).

The Similans aren’t as dramatically scenic as the limestone islands of Krabi or Phang Nga Bay, which many people have come to associate with the Andaman Sea. Instead, you’ll find low-lying formations covered with thick forest. The islands are home to monkeys, langurs, squirrels, bats, lizards and a vast variety of birds.

The most interesting sights, however, are to be found beneath the waves. Some of the most spectacular coral growths in the world can be found here – and the same boulders that scatter the shores have turned the waters around the Similans into an adventure playground for divers.

In fact, in terms of both marine life and bottom topography, there’s more variety here than you’ll find in most other dive destinations around the world. The Similan Islands have almost everything: big rocks, coral walls, caves, huge sea fans and barrel sponges, swim-throughs and plenty of shallows for snorkelling as well.

There is no regular boat service for visitors to the island. Daytrips from Khao Lak are possible, with travel time of 45 minutes to 3 hours depending on the boat used. A popular way to go, especially for divers and game fishers, is by joining a live-a-board boat trip from the mainland, which usually runs for 3-4 days. There are many such companies operating, with varying levels of luxury and facilities.