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Overview

World-renowned among diving enthusiasts for incredible underwater sightseeing at depths ranging from six to 100 feet, the Similan Islands have huge and smooth granite rock formations that plunge into the sea and form seamounts, rock reefs and dive-throughs. As elsewhere in the Andaman Sea, the best diving months are December to May when the weather is good and the sea at its clearest. The Thais sometimes refer to the Similan Islands as Ko Kao, or Nine Islands, because there are nine of them – each has a number as well as a name. In fact, the name "Similan" comes from the Malay word "sembilan," meaning nine. Counting in order from the north, ...

World-renowned among diving enthusiasts for incredible underwater sightseeing at depths ranging from six to 100 feet, the Similan Islands have huge and smooth granite rock formations that plunge into the sea and form seamounts, rock reefs and dive-throughs. As elsewhere in the Andaman Sea, the best diving months are December to May when the weather is good and the sea at its clearest. The Thais sometimes refer to the Similan Islands as Ko Kao, or Nine Islands, because there are nine of them – each has a number as well as a name. In fact, the name "Similan" comes from the Malay word "sembilan," meaning nine. Counting in order from the north, they are Ko Bon, Ko Ba-Ngu, Ko Similan, Ko Payu, Ko Miang (which is actually two islands close together), Ko Payan, Ko Payang and Ko Hu Yong. They are relatively small islands and uninhabited except for park officials and the occasional tourist group. Ko Miang, the second largest island after Ko Similan, is where you'll find a visitors center, the park headquarters and accommodations. Venturing inland from the beach, you should catch glimpses of the Nicobar pigeon or the hairy-legged mountain land crab. If you're not into aqualungs, the beaches on this island are good for snorkeling, as is the channel between Ko Miang and Ko Payu. Ko Similan is also good for hiking and snorkeling. In a small bay on Similan's western side you may be able to see spiny lobsters resting in rock crevices, along with sea fans and plume worms. The largest granite outcrop in the Similan Islands is also found on Ko Similan; scramble to the top to enjoy a sweeping view of the sea.

Joe Cummings
About the Expert

Joe Cummings has contributed to more than 35 guidebooks, maps, atlases, phrasebooks and photographic works, including his bestselling Lonely Planet Thailand and Buddhist Stupas of Asia: The Shape of Perfection.

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Joe Cummings for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    December to May