Mu Ko Similan National Park Thailand
Similan Islands – An Undeniable Synergy
Scuba Diving Phuket – The Similan Islands spread out like an open necklace in the Indian Ocean on the eastern side of the Andaman Sea.
The name Similan comes from the Malay word for nine (sembilan) – the archipelago is made up of nine islands. Even though the main islands have proper names, they’re often referred to instead as a number, starting at the southernmost island, Island 1.
The Similans were designated as the 43rd national park of Thailand in 1982. The islands are uninhabited, with the exception of two, where national park offices are located.
The topography of the Similans differs greatly between the eastern and western sides.
What is it that makes Similan islands so attractive? 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 find low-lying formations covered with thick forest.
Ironwood and gum trees are among the larger trees, while jackfruit, rattan and bamboo form part of the denser undergrowth. The islands are home to crab-eating monkeys, dusky langurs, squirrels, bats, lizards and a good variety of birds (though the monkeys are shy and rarely seen by the casual observer).
But the most striking feature of these islands, at first glance, are the huge boulders that litter the western and southern shores on several of the islands. Another highlight, as the visitor soon discovers, are the white coral-sand beaches, splendidly picturesque and often deserted.
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.
Similan Islands Climate and Seasons
Summer begins in mid February and ends in May. Rainy season starts from mid of May till end of October with North – Western wind. Average annual temperature is 27°C (81°F) with average of approximately 83% humidity all year round. Average annual rainfall is measured at 3,560 millimeters with evaporation rate of 1,708 millimeters per year.
In rainy season, the national park will be closed during Mid May to End October every year for visitors safety. Sometimes the wind and waves can be strong and high at the beginning and the end of traveling season. Please check weather and forecasts before arrival.
Similan Islands Topography
At various times in the past – with sea levels fluctuating by as much as 150m with the advance and retreat of the polar ice-caps – these islands have been under water, battered by storms, covered with marine growths, visited by creatures long extinct.
Think of that when you clamber up the trail to Sailing Boat Rock, on Island No. 8, for example. As you squeeze through the crevices and archways, imagine them covered with colorful corals, sponges and algae. Where today you find birds and butterflies and squirrels, at one time dense schools, bright streams of fish instead commuted this way and that, with bigger fish and marine dinosaurs cruising through on the hunt.
A variety of forces have given shape to these islands. To begin with, the Similan Islands were intrusions, upwelling of hot magma that found their way through weak spots in the Earth’s crust 100-150 million years ago, working their way through thick layers of sedimentary rock already laid down at least 100 million years earlier still. Then, unimaginably powerful movements in the crust cracked the granite substratum into blocks, preparing the way for experiments in sculptural form by wind and wave.
Today, piles of curious stones, some of them as big as houses, lie as though collected and later abandoned in careless heaps by some ancient race of beach combing giants. Even Sailing Boat Rock (a.k.a Ao Kuerk Bay), the distinctive formation teetering high above the cove on Koh Similan (Island No.8), has been shaped in this way.
And boulders just like these spill in jumbled piles down beneath the surface of the sea to 40m and beyond, where submarine peaks, canyons, caves and passageways provide scuba divers with some of the most interesting submarine prospects in the world. On the west side of the islands, currents have kept the formations clear of sand; on the coral-covered sandy slopes of the east side, the boulders have been largely buried.
How to get to Similan Islands
There is no regular boat service for visitors to the Similan islands, and during the low season months of May-October boats are not allowed to visit Similans due the weather conditions. Thap Lamu Pier, in the Thai Muang district of Phang Nga province, is the nearest launching point to the Similans, with boat trips taking about 3 hours, but the main base to organize a trip is Phuket Island.
More adventurous travellers may try to hitch a ride with some of the local boats heading out there – just be sure to allow lots of time since there’s no guarantee that there will be a ride back on any given day. Note that a park entry fee of 200 per day baht is charged.
Day trips from Phuket are also possible, with travel time of 2 to 4 hours depending on the boat used. A popular way to go, especially for divers, is by joining a liveaboard diving trip from Phuket, which usually run for 3-4 days.
Contact Information of Similan Islands National Park:
Telephones: 0 7645 3272, 07642 1365 , Office 0 7659 5045
Accommodation in Similan Islands
Similan Islands are inhabited, however, during the season of November to May, you can be able to stay overnight on some islands. But there is limited accommodations – they are situated on Islands of Huyong, Payoung, Payan and Similan. There is a camping facilities at Ko Meang (Meang Island) with tents size for 2-3 person.
However, a maximum of 340 visitors is allowed to stay overnight on the islands. Because of the limited places available, we recommend you to reserve at least 3 months in advance by contacting The Marine National Park Division at + 66 (0) 2562 0760
Similan Islands Electricity
The voltage used in Thailand is 220V. Standard adapters are available in most travel shops and convenience stores. Do not forget to bring a voltage converter if necessary. Blackouts and power surges sometimes occurs, so please be careful. Please note that electricity in the Similan National Park is available only from 6am until 10pm, which are the hours of operation of the park’s generators.