The Similan islands lie 90 minutes by speedboat off the coast of Phang-Nga, or eight or more hours by slow boat from Phuket. The area was declared a marine national park in 1982 and consequently remains largely undeveloped. Derived from the Malay term sembilan, meaning ‘nine’, Similan refers to the nine main islands in the group.
Similan Islands Snorkeling or Diving Day Trips
On surface the boulders, together with the lush rainforest and white sand beaches, provide a peaceful refuge. The islands attract an increasing number of visitors annually, particularly during the high season months between December to March, when the visibility of waters surrounding the islands is at its best. Day trips to the islands for diving and snorkelling are popular, however serious divers are recommended to come on liveaboard trips to take full advantage of all the islands’ have to offer in terms of diving opportunities. Dive companies operating from Phuket and Phang-Nga offer a number of tour itineraries with diving instruction for beginners.
Accommodation in Similan Islands
For budget travellers, the Similan Islands can be reached via national park service boat from the pier at Thap Lamu or by boat from anywhere along Hat Khao Lak. Boat charters can also be organised, costs depending on the quality and speed of the vessel and the number of persons to travel. Limited accommodation – in the form of tents and bungalows – is available on Koh Miang (Island 4), where the National Park headquarters are based. There’s also a small gift shop and restaurant, but it is advised to come prepared with a flashlight and bug spray if intending to overnight there.