Snorkeling the Similan Islands

One of the tours we were most looking forward to during our Thailand trip was the one to the Similan Islands.  The Similan islands are a group of 9 islands located about 30 miles northwest off the coast of Phuket, and are known for their clear waters and world ranked snorkeling and SCUBA diving.  We got up extra early and were picked up for a two and a half hour drive to the pier at 6:30am.  From Koh Lak, we had an hour and 10 minute speedboat ride to our first stop, the main Similan Island. 

  
   
We had an hour to spend on this island, so we hiked up to Sail Rock to take in the full view.  The island itself is very lush and green, and the bay had crystal clear turquoise waters.  We were very hot and ready for a swim, so we walked back down and got in the water.  The beach was pretty rocky but there was a little snorkeling to be done by the shore.  Nothing spectacular but it was a good start.   

 

 
We got back to the boat and went to our next island.  Once we stopped, our guide said we could just put on our flippers and jump off the side of the boat.  Stacy, Joe, Julio and I were ready and sitting on the edge quickly, and just as we were about to jump in, our guide stopped us because he had apparently left two people back on the dirt island!!  We were sitting on the edge of the boat in full gear, just staring at him awkwardly like, “so we’re not jumping now?”  Luckily, he said we could get in while they went back to grab the last two people, so we got an extra 10-15 minutes of snorkeling at that location!

  
That spot was known for large parrotfish and boy did we find them.   There were large underwater rocks near the shore that made deep trenches between them where the parrotfish would hang out and eat.  We saw dozens of them, some almost 3 feet in length!  The variety of colors was amazing and we were very happy with that location.  We saw several different types of fish at our third stop as well, including several schools of fish.  The clarity of the water was great, and there were lots of shallow areas as well as deeper ones that we could explore.

  We stopped on another island for lunch (sorry for not knowing specific island names other that the first one, the crowds of Chinese people around the signs at every island made it impossible to get in and get a photo) and enjoyed a spicy Thai chicken dish with rice and noodles and some veggies.  Stacy, Joe, Julio and I walked down the beach a little to a more secluded spot under a tree and found a rope swing, which we definitely tried!  There was another area to snorkel once we got in the water around the corner from our beach, so Julio and I took to the shallows again to see some more underwater life.      

We stopped at one more island for snorkeling after lunch, and our guide told us this was a popular spot to see sea turtles.  Joe and I followed him once we got in the water, hoping to spot a turtle, but sadly, no such luck.  We circled around one more time but sea turtles just weren’t in the cards for us this trip.  We climbed back onto the boat and started our long journey back to our hotel in Phuket.  

  
  
The tour we booked for the Similan Islands was through phuketdivetours.com, and was called the Similan Snorkel Tour.  It was $81 for the entire day, including hotel transfers, lunch, snorkel gear, and stops at 5 of the Similan Islands.  Definitely a good value trip especially for the distance you need to travel to get to the islands.  Worth every penny!!

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