Named after the Malay word for nine - Sembilan - the Similans are a collection of nine rugged islands that are known by both their names and numbers.
First designated as a National Park in 1982, the protected area was expanded in 1998 to include the neighboring islands of Koh Bon and Koh Tachai - famous for manta ray encounters and other marine life.
Further north towards Myanmar lies the world-famous Richelieu Rock and the Mu Ko Surin Island Marine Park, another protected area that has become a magnet for divers who travel to the park in search of the biggest fish in the sea - the whale shark.
A TAILORED EXPERIENCE
The above water scenery will provide stunningly beautiful white sandy beaches with small forested areas. Dive some of the following sites; Boulder City, Sharkfin Reef, Anita's Reef, and Three Trees. Under the surface, you may see Leopard (zebra) shark, blue-spotted stingrays, clown triggerfish, and boulder formations that are wonderful to dive into.
Elephant Head Rock, visible from the surface, is the biggest pinnacle in the Similans and has some fantastic swim-throughs. Whitetip reef sharks, batfish, trevally, and barracuda can often be seen on the perimeter of the boulders.
Koh Bon is a dive site where manta rays may be seen. You are likely to see Napoleon wrasse, sweetlips, octo- pus,bluefintrevally,giantmorayeels, Great barracudas, fire dart goby, popcorn shrimp, spiny lobster, and nudibranchs of many types. The dive sites vary from wall diving to gently sloping reefs and from submerging boulders to coral gardens.
Koh Tachai Island is located at the northern pmost tip of the Similan Na- tional Park. It is one of the latest ad- ditions to the National park area to- gether with the island of Koh Bon. The island measures 12 square kilome- ters and is located on 54 km from the Baan Nam Khem Pier. On Koh Tachai you will find beautiful white beach- es and azure crystal clear waters all around it.
The Andaman Sea around it is very suitable for SCUBA diving and snorkeling. The mighty Whale sharks and Manta rays are often spotted here feeding in the rich waters. This extravagant marine life lead to the nomination of the National Geograph- ic Society as one of the top 10 diving destinations in the world. The Island is open for tourism from November to April.
This limestone pinnacle was named by Jacques Cousteau after General Richelieu, who was an important Danish officer in the Thai Navy. There is gorgeous purple dendronphthya soft corals covering most of the pinnacle and other areas covered in magnificent sea anemones as well. Bare- ly breaking the surface at low tide, this horseshoe-shaped outcropping, slopes steeply to a sandy bottom at 18 to 35 meters (60-120 Ft).
This site offers great diversity for such a small and isolated spot. It also offers excellent multi-level diving and because it is a high-profile reef, there are always sheltered areas to hide from current The marine life is prolific and includes amongst, many other things; Pharaoh cuttlefish, large octopi, all 5 varieties of anemonefish of the Andaman Sea, variety of moray eels, ornate ghost pipefish, smashing mantis shrimps, harlequin shrimps, tiger tail seahorses, Spanish mackerel. frogfish, many schooling snappers, and occasional sightings of manta rays and whale sharks.
Topside scenery of Koh Surin with ev- ergreen forests, mangroves and small beaches. surpasses even that of the picturesque Similan Islands. Under water the reefs of Surin have the greatest hard coral diversity in Thai- land. You are likely to see Napoleon wrasse, yellow-masked angelfish, bumphead parrotfish, tomato anem- onefish and barramundi. as well as lots of turtles that still come ashore in this area to lay their eggs. Because of the remoteness not many liveaboard boats visit these islands and you will be able to enjoy the dive sites without sharing it with tourist hordes.
There is a choice of easily diveable wrecks between The Similan Islands and Khao Lak. The Boonsung and the Premchai are old tin miners that were sunk 25 or so years ago and are a treat for underwater photographers as well as lovers of life of all kinds! Only in 18m of water they are covered in nudibranchs and shrimps as well as large numbers of the unusual honey- comb moray.
There are also huge numbers of schooling fish as well as rays and leopard sharks that can occasionally be seen. Sea Chart 1 is a slightly more challenging dive and lies between 40 and 25 meters. Sunk during a storm in 2009 with a full load of teak, she is relatively new but already hosts an abundance of schooling fish.
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