Best Dive Site In The Similan Islands
The Similan and Surin Islands offer many great dive sites and we’re fortunate to have dived at a vast majority of them. The best dive site in the Similan Islands is obviously very subjective but below is our top five and why. The liveaboard route around the Similan Island National Park will also include a fair percentage of dives inside the Surin Islands National Park so we have to include them.
#5 – North Point
So called because it’s the furthest north of the Similan Island dive sites. The topography is quite spectacular, huge rocks create canyons and swim throughs both in the deep and shallow areas. If you immediately head for 30m, you’ll have a great chance of seeing whitetip reef sharks and sometimes giant guitarfish.
Along the canyon walls we can find ribbon eels, octopus, mantis shrimp and lots of reef fish. Always take the occasional glance up, giant trevallies, dogtooth tuna and great barracuda are regular passers by. If you’re really lucky then you may catch sight of a giant manta making its way to Koh Bon.
Unfortunately the once extensive staghorn fields that adorned the shallows have now gone. Turtles and banded sea snakes still feed over the broken coral so it’s a nice place to look around on your safety stop.
#4 – Elephant Head Rock
It’s always a bit of a mystery to us why some liveaboards don’t include Elephant Head Rock on the itinerary. The dive site can be challenging but the rewards are great. You have a great chance of seeing white tip reef sharks in the deep water and if whale sharks are in the area they’ll be sure to pay a visit. As well as other big animals such as great barracuda and giant trevally, there’s also great macro life.
The topography of the dive site is quite spectacular. The boulders that protrude above the water from where the dive site gets its name continue all the way down to 60m at some points. Really nice swim throughs with small schools of sweetlips are another great feature on this wonderful dive site.
#3 – Koh Bon
Those who’ve had magical experiences with manta rays at Koh Bon will maybe question why it’s only number three. Well that’s how good the top two are. The focal point of Koh Bon is the west of the island, a ridge of rock begins at the surface and plummets down to 30m+. On some days this is the only point of the dive site you’ll see because the manta rays love to get cleaned here.
Divers can sometimes come away from Koh Bon feeling a little underwhelmed. A main part of the dive briefing will be regarding interacting with manta rays so everybody will have high hopes of just such an encounter. However if the manta’s aren’t around then the main area of the dive site can be a bit bland.
This is where an experienced guide can save the day. Towards the north of the dive site is a really nice patch of coral that can also attract manta rays. On the way you maybe lucky enough to see blacktip reef sharks, leopard sharks, eagle rays or even bull sharks.
#2 – Richelieu Rock
Will almost certainly be number one for many divers, the sheer variety of marine life at Richelieu Rock is astonishing. Stunning soft corals cover the horseshoe shaped rock and the cracks and crevices are home to many special critters.
Many liveaboards complete multiple dives at Richelieu, a blessing for photographers. Both wide angle and macro photo opportunities are exceptional. Harlequin shrimp, seahorses, ghost pipefish, frogfish and many different species of nudibranch are all common sightings at Richelieu. For wide angle photographers the soft corals alone are incredibly beautiful, add to that the chance of a whale shark or manta ray, you can see why Richelieu Rock is widely regarded as the best dive site in Thailand by many.
#1 – Koh Tachai Pinnacle
Koh Tachai Pinnacle is the favourite dive site amongst our staff at Local Dive Thailand. Not just us, many but by no means all pro’s working the Similan Islands consider this the best dive site. It can be challenging, the strong currents that attract the marine life can sometimes make life difficult for inexperienced divers. However the once you’re on the pinnacle, there’s plenty of shelter behind the huge granite boulders.
Great coral, lots of marine life can be said of many of our dive sites but Koh Tachai stands out for its action. Thousands of fusiliers get pushed down onto the pinnacle by the current where giant, bluefin and golden trevallies are waiting to hunt. When they start to feed, other species such as marbled grouper, barracuda, dogtooth tuna and mangrove snapper all join the fray. A spectacular sight that sometimes requires zero movement just sit back and enjoy the show.
Koh Tachai is also one of the top spots for both whale sharks and manta rays, the other sites tend to attract one or the other but both are regular visitors here. Napoleon wrasse, turtles, blacktip reef sharks and occasionally leopard sharks add to the huge list of great sightings that are possible at Koh Tachai Pinnacle.
Well, that’s our list of best dive sites in the Similan Islands, some won’t agree but we all have different tastes. On most liveaboard trips, all of the above dive sites will be on the itinerary but not all. Please check with us when you’re arranging your adventure to see if you have a good chance of visiting most if not all of these fantastic dive sites.
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