The Similan Islands National Park refers to a chain of 11 islands located around 70 kilometers off the west coast of Southern Thailand. The waters that surround these islands are generally regarded as the best areas for snorkeling and diving in the country.
Fringed with white coral-sand beaches, and with bamboo, jackfruit, and gum trees forming much of their dense innards, the Similan Islands are home to mangrove monitor lizards, nicobar pigeons, and crab-eating monkeys. One of the most striking features of the islands are the huge boulders scattered across the shores of several of them, with the same type of boulders beneath the water turning the islands’ underwater world into something of an adventure playground for snorkelers and divers.
The best way to enjoy all that the Similan Islands have to offer is to take a full-day tour from Phuket or Krabi. These usually include lunch, snorkeling alongside rays, sharks, and various fish and coral species, plus free time to explore the islands and relax on their beaches. Certified divers looking to explore the islands can choose from a full-day or two-day trip to a dive site of their choice, with meals and round-trip transportation included.
The Similan Islands are officially open to the public from mid October until mid-May, but dates may vary each year, so it’s best to check when planning your visit.
Did You Know? ‘Similan’ derives from the Malay word, ‘sembilan’, meaning ‘nine’, which was the original number of islands in the national park. In 1998, the park was expanded to include Ko Bon and Ko Tachai. While each island is named, they’re still more commonly referred to by their numbers.