Diving Similan Islands, Thailand

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The word Similan is actually derived from the Malay word for nine – Simbilan. Comprised of nine granite islands that run from north to the south in the Andaman Sea off the western coast of Thailand, the National Park also includes Koh Bon, a limestone island that lies 30 kms to the north. Diving Similan Islands is widely regarded as the finest in Thailand.

The water temperature around the Similan Islands varies between 27 and 29 degrees celcius. Depending on environmental factors the clarity (visibility) ranges from 10 – 30m. Much of the reason for the clear waters around the park is due to the fact that there are no large rivers in the area that would otherwise bring silt and sediment and thus disturb the clarity of the water.

On the eastern coastlines of the islands divers can enjoy sloping fringe reefs in protected bay areas, here tranquil coral gardens create a myriad of colors. Soft purple and red corals bring the reefs to life whilst dense schools of glass fish congregate above. Whilst on the western facing coasts the topography of the Similans has become famous the world over for its gigantic granite boulders that stack up against one and other. Encrusted gorgonian fans sway in the currents that bring nutrient rich waters and often larger fish than you might expect on the eastern facing coasts. To be able to enjoy such contrasting topographical features over such a realtively small area is why the Similan Islands has become so popular to dive travelers the world over.

Of the large pelagics that you might expect encounters with, leopard sharks are not uncommon. Usually lying in deeper waters on sandy ledges its best to approach from the front or side so that they can see you approach, do so cautiously and its quite likely it'll allow you to get within reasonable distance for a photo. Manta rays can sometimes seen gliding past on the deeper boulder sites and even the whale shark has been known to make an appearance. There's also an abundance of macro life to be found, look on the underhangs of coral bombies for ghost pipe fish. Frog fish, although masters of disguise, can also be found for those with keen eyes. Colorful ribbon eels usually prefer to be in deeper waters in sandy rubbly areas and make good photo subjects.

All in all diving Similan Islands make for a great holiday getaway, with a whole range of liveaboards and day trip options on offer it still an attracive destination for even the most seasoned diver.

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Ben Stokes has 1 articles online

After ten years of worldwide dive travel and professional employment we created a travel company that seeks to enter Asia's most remote and exciting locations for experiences above and below the surface Dive Safari Asia. For photos, video footage, destination guides and details of our tours visit Diving Asia.

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Diving Similan Islands, Thailand

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This article was published on 2009/01/11