Asian adventure 2011: Similan Islands

by | Jan 18, 2012 | International Travel, Travel

We’d read that Thailand’s Similan Islands had some great snorkeling that shouldn’t be missed, so we emailed the hotel concierge for some advice. Our hotel recommended Andaman Leisure Phuket (ALP), and after researching a number of other possibilities, we booked them through our hotel with a price that included pick-up and return from the hotel. We were transferred in a normal car – just the two of us – but everyone else showed up in a bus, so I’m guessing that was because our hotel was a little further out.

The Similan islands are approximately 40 miles off the coast north of Phuket island. Many companies leave from a pier about 45 minutes drive north of the airport, but ALP leaves from a beach just north of the airport. It took about 1.5 bumpy hours via speedboat to get to the first island. Leandra gets a bit seasick so her eyes were firmly glued to the horizon throughout.

In the Similans, people are allowed on islands #8 and #4, and our first stop was island #8. The beach was mobbed with people and the snorkeling is fairly poor right off the beach so we took a quick hike to the top of 8’s famous sailing rock. The views were beautiful…

coral and clear blue water at #8
crystal-clear water in the Andeman Sea

relaxing on #8 at the top of Sail Rock
Leandra’s feet enjoying the view

After about 45 minutes we headed to our first snorkeling stop at the south end of #9. We had our own equipment and were among the first into the water. Water clarity was pretty good, and the fish life was abundant, but the coral was underwhelming at best. We swam across the lagoon and ocean life was definitely better away from the boats, but still not quite as good as we had hoped.

(to be indentified)

schooling fish

a puffer fish!

We were the last back to the boat where they had a quick rinse of freshwater and sliced pineapple for us. About 15 minutes later we arrived at a second dive site. This site was sandier, a bit deeper with better water clarity, it had an aquarium feeling due to the numerous smaller fish.

leandra swimming away

Only a few other folks on the boat joined us on this dive and there were fewer boats in this lagoon, so it had a more peaceful sense to it.

After another 20 minute ride we made our fourth and final stop on island #4, where we had a late lunch and then had an hour relaxation time. #4 features a beautiful sandy beach and some noisy bats.

beach on #4

We are glad we got to see the Similan Islands, but we wouldn’t rush to do another daytrip since we’re not keen on tour groups and the ride to-and-from is tiring. Perhaps we were unlucky in the sites we visited but the snorkeling was merely good and not significantly different in quality to the Caribbean, and certainly not as good as Curacao. The scuba diving might be much better, especially from the live-aboard boats that probably hit less touristed areas. That would something to investigate for the future…

Our Itinerary

2024 Trips

San Diego, CA (Jan)
Sarasota, FL (Feb)
Madrid, Spain (Mar)
Valencia, Spain (Mar+Apr)
Palma, Mallorca (Apr)
Croatia (May)
Faroe Islands (Aug)
London, UK (Sept)
Bari, Italy (Sept)
Rome, Italy (Oct)
Frankfurt, Germany (Oct)

2022 Trips

Florida (Feb)
NC Mountains (Apr)
Washington DC (Apr)
Valencia, Spain (May)
Hilton Head, SC (May)
Pacific NW (Jun)
Long Island (Jul)
Florida (Sept)
Chicago (Sept)
Poland (Sept)
NC Mountains (Nov)
Euro Xmas Markets (Dec)