If you are anything like us then you are an average diver. One that tries to dive several times a year, have your advance certification, have logged around 30 dives and would do more if your location allowed for it. We choose to visit Thailand specifically for the opportunity to experience diving in Asia. Our vacations tend to have a balance of ocean time and exploring on land as well. What this often equates to avoiding liveaboards. So when we researched our options the Similan islands kept coming to the top of the list as a must-do place. Since the Similan Island are 84km northwest from Phuket it will take half a day to get there and 2 quick dives before heading back. So is a day trip worth it or there other options?The goal of this article is to outline the 2 days of diving we experienced and help you decide is it worth the price and effort to dive the Similan Islands.
What makes the Similan Islands special?
The Similan Islands are formed of 11 islands and are located in the Mu Koh Similan National Park. This means it is a protected National Park and the Thai government restricts access to several of the islands and beaches to protect the fragile ecosystem. The reason it is so renowned is the opportunity to see large wildlife such as Mantas and Whale Sharks.
When to dive the Similan Islands?
The park is only open from November to April. And it is said to the best time to dive this area is around December to April with an increased chance of Manta and Whale Shark sightings after February.
How to get there?
We were located in Phuket and utilized Phuket Diving Tours. We were picked up at 6 am from our hotel and arrived at Taplamu Pier by 845 for our departure by speedboat to the liveaboard onsite. You arrive by 10:10 and immediately go into safety briefing and are diving by 10:30am. The second dive is around 1pm and you are back on the speedboat by 3pm. You are back at the pier by 430pm and will arrive back in Phuket around 730pm. It’s a long day for those 2 dives! Another option would be to take a tip out of Khao Lak which would be a shorter route.
The cost was 5,600 Baht per diver. Total cost including our rentals and dive guide came out to 13,600 Baht which is approx. $446. This included our transportation, entrance fee to the national park, lunch and 2 dives.
You cannot be a beginning diver and need to have logged at least 12 dives and have dove in the last 6 months. If you don’t meet one of these requirements then we recommend you reach out to the dive company before proceeding to book.
What other day trip options are there?
We also did the Super Sunday package that Sea Bees Diving offers. It includes 4 dives, 3-day dives and 1 night one! 2 dives at Phi Phi Islands, 1 dive on the return and another night dive. This is suitable for all divers and costs 5800 Baht. The total cost is 12 800 Baht which is approx.. $420 for 2 divers.
What’s the schedule?
You are picked up from your Phuket hotel at 7:30 am and arrive back at your hotel in the evening.
How did the diving compare to the Similan Islands?
We felt the diving was very comparable and in actuality saw a significant more sea life on the Super Sunday dives. We swam through a school of 100s if not 1000s of fish. We witnessed a volleyball plus-sized jellyfish and saw 1000s more on our return trip on the boat. We experienced 4 dives versus only 2 and the boat journey was much shorter. We saw fewer fishing groups at the Similan Islands but did see several sea turtles and an octopus hidden in a cove area. Geographically, on our Similan dive, there were large boulders we swam around and it was deeper dive.If we only had 1 day of diving and limited funds I would choose Super Sunday. It might not be the popular opinion but you get 4 dive sites for a similar price, less of a boat ride and on a full-size boat vs half the day in a bus and speedboat. It was an unbelievable experience in all the dives but the Similan’s were not dramatically different.
At the end of the day, you have to determine if you are more interested in seeing macro sea life or more of the smaller sea life.
If you have done either dives post below your take!