Similan islands liveaboard

Thailand liveaboard trips to the Similan islands and Richelieu rock generally last 4-6 days and leave either from Phuket island on the west coast of Thailand or Thaplamu one and half hours north of Phuket. Travelling overnight they arrive in the Similan islands on the following morning to begin your first days diving. Continuing north over the course of the trip to Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and finally the amazing Richelieu rock. These liveaboards encompass the best diving that Thailand has to offer on the best boats Thailand has to offer.

Arguably the best diving in Thailand is done by liveaboard cruises leaving from or around Phuket island or Thaplamu north of Phuket. The beautiful Similan islands are series of 9 tropical islands in the middle of the Andaman sea. Stunning soft corals are the trademark of this area and the Andaman sea and in abundance in the Similans and coupled with the stunning bolders that create some of the sites it's an area full of surprises. Koh Bon further north is famous for it's high sitings of manta rays and Koh Tachai and Richelieu are 2 stunning open water pinnacles that attract all the pelagics in the area inlcuding, sometimes, whalesharks.

Thailand liveaboard trips leave either from Phuket island or Thaplamu north of Phuket. Similan islands trips are normally 4 night trips visiting the Similans, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu rock. Hin Daeng liveaboard trips in the south take place over the weekend for a 3 night 8 dive safari visiting Hin Daeng, Hin Muang, Koh Ha and the island of Koh Phi Phi including a land visit to Koh Phi Phi.

The Similan islands

The Similan islands are famous as the premier dive spot for diving in Thailand and rightly so. Lying approximately 35 miles off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman sea these 9 beautiful islands host the best diving in Thailand. Known for their white sand beaches, crystal blue waters and warm tropical nights the Similans are the jewels in the Andaman sea. The name Similan islands comes from the Malay word for nine, sembilan, from the olden days of the sea gypsies that would travel up from Malaysia to fish and still to this day leave their legacy in the names of the islands and the language of some of the older fishermen. The Similan Islands are home to a huge variety of marine life and offer incredible opportunities to encounter some of the larger inhabitants of the oceans such as manta rays and with a bit of luck a whale shark. Often referred to as some of the best diving in the world the stunning soft corals displays and amazing macro life secure the Similan islands place as one of the top destinations in the world.

Similan islands liveaboards leave from Phuket on Thailand's west coast or from Taplamu one and a half hours north of Phuket and directly East of the Similans. Each liveaboard has it's own itinerary and route but effectively covers the same sites as each other.

Similan islands dive sites and photos

Boulder City (Island Three - Koh Payan)

Boulder City lies some 200 meter south of Koh Payan. The dive site is completely submerged with two mooring buoys to mark the location, one at the north end and one at the south. Descending down the north line takes you to 20 meters and the south line to 30 meters. This is a dive in the 20 to 30 meter mark making it not a long dive but the underwater scenery here is spectacular with large granite boulders some bigger than a house, with swim-throughs and the chance of swimming with large pelagics. Eagle and manta rays cruise around the large boulders while large fan tail rays rest in the sandy bottom. This is also where I have been lucky enough on two separate occasions last season to witness the mating of leopard sharks. With a family of large humphead parrot fish and napoleon wrasse living in the area the beautiful soft corals and large gorgonian sea fans make this an eye opening dive site with the occasional whale shark cruising past.

Koh Miang # 4 Honeymoon Bay

Honeymoon Bay is a beautiful bay on the back side of island 4 with its quiet beach and tranquil bay it’s the perfect place for a snorkel or our sunset dives on the gentle slopping reef down to 24 meters. In the shallows around the coral heads you will find octopus, crabs and mantis shrimps on the hunt for food.

With the occasional hawksbill sea turtle and white tip reef shark patrolling the reef will keep you busy on your dive.

Koh Payu # 7 Deep Six

Deep six lies on the northern tip of island 7 and has a buoy line running down to 18 meters there as the name implies you can descend down to over 60 meters. Here the dramatic underwater boulders have formed some excellent swim throughs, tunnels and canyons that make this an exciting dive. But down in the soft coral garden the largest gorgonian sea fans in the Similans survive untouched. With the occasional manta ray gliding passed in the blue will make for an enjoyable dive.

Elephant Head, Hin Pousar

Deep six lies on the northern tip of island 7 and has a buoy line running down to 18 meters there as the name implies you can descend down to over 60 meters. Here the dramatic underwater boulders have formed some excellent swim throughs, tunnels and canyons that make this an exciting dive. But down in the soft coral garden the largest gorgonian sea fans in the Similans survive untouched. With the occasional manta ray gliding passed in the blue will make for an enjoyable dive.

Koh Bangu #9 North Point

North point lies on the west side of the island with a dramatic underwater scenery of large boulders with canyons and swim throughs. As you descend down the line passed the tall fin bat fish and head through the tunnels, keep your eyes open for a pair of Napoleon wrasse. In between the large canyons grow large gorgonian sea fans with excellent soft corals hiding harlequin ghost pipe fish but a look out into the blue can be rewarding with frequent visits from the graceful manta ray passing over head.

Koh Bon - The Pinnacle

Koh Bon island lies 12 nautical miles south of Koh Tachai island and the dive site is located around 150 meters north west of the island and has no bouy line so location is by GPS. When the captain signals its time to jump into the blue and descend down to the pinnacles. The top is around 18 meters and continues to run down to over 50 meters to the sand bottom were the docile leopard shark sleeps while white tip reef sharks patrol the reef in search of a meal.

These amazing pinnacles are covered with colourful soft coral trees, large gorgonian sea fans and barrel sponges running down the walls. With 5 species of clown fish in the magnificent anemones and their shrimp and porcelain crab hosts its difficult to keep your eyes of the pinnacles but a look out in to the blue can be rewarding with manta rays gliding around and the occasional whale shark. But don’t forget to keep a check on your air supply as its time to head back to the surface and leave these beautiful creatures behind.

Koh Tachai Island - The Dome

Koh Tachai lies 22 nautical miles south of Surin, the dive site is located around 200 meters south of the island and is marked with a bouy line which descends down to 16 meters to reach the top of the plateau. From here you decide which way to go ? North or South. North takes you over the plateau to the beautiful coral garden at around 22meters to 26meters with some of the best soft corals and sea fans in the area, which will keep underwater photographers busy. South takes you down over the large boulders to between 36meters and 40meters to reach the sandy bottom looking for the docile leopard shark and large stingrays. Up above schooling great barracudas with tunas and trevallys darting down to catch the baitfish hanging around the reef. With a multitude of small creatures to look at try not to forget a look into the blue to see the manta rays gliding past and the occasional whale shark make Koh Tachai a spectacular dive site.

Richelieu Rock

Richelieu lies 7.5 nautical miles east of the Surin islands national marine park. Here this large rock pinnacle just breaks the surface at low tide and descends down to around 33 meters to the sandy bottom. The northern side has an excellent wall with lots of cracks and holes for you to look inside. The wall is covered with coral and zig zag oysters where you can find over ten species of moray eels like the commonly spotted white eyed, giant, yellow edged, and bartail morays or the shy dragon, leopard, honeycomb and zebra morays.

The wall is all so home to many species of shrimps from the cleaners, anemone, saron, squat and the colorful harlequin shrimps. The west side contains mostly soft corals and sea fans with ghost pipefish and tigertail sea horses hiding in between the branches. But its here where we all so encounter large schools of silver jacks and bluefin trevallys with chevron and great barracudas too.

Its also home to the gentle giant the whale shark anywhere from 2 meter babys to 8 meter subadults. The walls seem to move with so much life or look closely at the camouflaged scorpion, stone and lionfishes that blend in to the rock. A truly spectacular dive site no matter what the visibility.

Koh Bida Nok and Koh Bida Nai Islands - Koh Phi Phi

These two uninhabited islands lie south of Phi Phi and are a Mecca for leopard sharks. These harmless and docile creatures are usually sleeping around the sand and coral banks of the islands usually no deeper than 20 meters. With Bida Nok as the larger of the two it offers great hard and soft corals with turtles and sea snakes passing bye. The deeper of the two with depths to 30 meters on the west side wall teeming with life from lionfish to baby morays poking there heads from the cracks and well camouflaged octopuses blending in to the rocks will keep your eyes busy on this dive site.

Bida Nai island smaller and slightly shallower offers the chance to see the sleeping leopard shark anywhere from 1 to 10 sharks resting on the bottom in between the staghorn corals. Here the soft corals are abound with their beautiful colors but look closely at the sea fans to find the Tiger-tail sea horse. With two swim-throughs covered in small baitfish and shrimps, lots of colorful reef fish and schools of barracuda and trevallys darting over the reef, and not forgetting the many nudibranches along the way make this a wonderful dive site.