Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Similan Islands - Divers Paradise


Ko Similan is by far the most beautiful group of dive sites that we have in Thailand and one of the best areas for diving in the entire world. Many people comment that the most fantastic thing about the Similans is that we have two radically different types of environments all rolled together into one destination. Nowhere else in the world will a diver find such diverse topography in such a small area.

The Similan Islands, located about one hundred kilometers northwest of Phuket, are composed of nine granite islands covered in tropical jungle, washed by a clear blue tropical ocean and blessed with some of the world's finest beaches. Similan comes from Malay fisherman who named it "The Nine Islands" (Sembilan is "nine" in Malay) and now the islands are identified by a name–in Thai–and a number; for example, Ko Huyong (Island #1), located at the southern end of the chain or Ko Miang (Island #4) located in the middle. The islands have achieved national park status and thus are fully protected under Thai law. The National Park Authority maintains their presence on two of the islands: Ko Similan (Island #8) the largest, and Ko Miang (Island #4). Recently, the islands have come to the special attention of the Thai Royal Family which further protects them from possible abuse. Currently there is limited accommodation available on the island, but hopefully soon this will be stopped as the island doesn't have the resources to support land-based tourism. There are no resorts on any of the islands and hopefully it will stay this way.

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1 comment:

pawlaew said...

Diving Spots

There are several diving spots that suit both snorkelling and scuba diving. The famous scuba diving spots including rock formations that lie to the west of Ko Tachai where whale sharks can be seen, Ko Bon, Christmas Point rock formation, Fantasy rock formation, and Ao Kwang En (to the east of Ko Paet), etc.

Snorkelling spots are scattered around these nine islands. The interesting points are by the sailing boat rock, Ao Kwang En, and behind Miang Island.

How to Get There

Thap Lamu Pier, located 70 kilometres north of Phang-nga at Amphoe Thai Mueang, is the nearest point to Similan. A boat trip takes around 3 hours. There is no regular boat service for travellers to the island. Boats leaving from Thap Lamu are suitable for group tours and the boat rentals range from 8,000-10,000 baht, depending on various factors. It is sometimes possible for individuals to hitch a ride or pay a reasonable fraction of the rental cost on a boat chartered by a group. This method is by no means certain and should be an obtion only for the adventurous who have time to spare. Visitors may contact the park office at Thap Lamu (Tel: 0 7659 5045) for further information.

A boat trip from Patong Beach, Phuket takes around four hours. Visitors can contact Seatran Travel Tel: 0 76219391-2. Diving companies in Phuket also organise a three-day trip. Prices range from 9,000 to 25,000 baht, depending on the level of luxury, and include food, and accommodations.