Similan Islands Thailand Diving Sites

Similan Scuba Diving Site – Shark Fin Reef

Diver & Turtle at Similan Scuba Diving Site Shark Fin Reef
Diver & Turtle at Similans Shark Fin Reef

Similan Scuba Diving Site – Shark Fin Reef is a long granite ridge extending south and east from Similan Island #3 (Koh Payan). This is as close as we get to the Turtle Sanctuary on Islands 1 & 2 (Koh Huyong & Koh Payang). Towards the center of the ridge the rock breaks the surface in a series of peaks looking like a shark – hence the name. In Thai this site is known as “Hin Phae” which means floating rock.

You will normally start the dive on the southern side of the ridge which is a steep slope drop into the sand at about 25 meters, beside the slope are a number of large boulders which provide hiding places for Moray Eels, Lion Fish and Scorpion Fish also the sandy patches between the boulders are a good place to find Khul’s Stingrays and Leopard Sharks (please do not get too close to these sharks as you will spook them and the rest of your group will miss out).

Normally, current permitting you will head north west along the ridge climbing to about 12 meters where there is a plateau with a number of rocks and coral bommies.

Both Napoleon Wrasse and Hump Head Parrot Fish can be seen here, also keep an eye out for a Banded Sea Krait or a Hawksbill Turtle. As you pass the last of the surfacing peaks the top of the rock is at about 12 meters, sit here for a few minutes watching the shoals of fish, marauding group of parrot fish ripping into the coral and fusiliers and snappers hiding from the current, look out also for Tuna coming in for a feed.Now you turn back but cross to the North side of the ridge stay at between 12 and 18 meters, here there are a number of Channels and swim through’s often full of fish hiding from current sand predators.

Similan Islands Thailand Diving Sites

West of Eden – Similan Islands Diving Site

Banner Fish and Spiky Coral at West of Eden, a Similan Islands Diving Site
Banner Fish at West of Eden

This Similan Islands Diving site is on the west side of Similan #7 (Koh Payu). It’s name has two possible sources,on the east side of this island is a dive site (currently closed by the National Park) called East of Eden (which was named as the beautiful coral reef was compared to the Garden of Eden and the line from Milton’s Paradise Lost which became the title of a Steinbeck novel stated that the garden was planted in the East of Eden), the dive site on the west named much later and so if the east coast site is East of Eden the west coast site must be West of Eden.

The other stories that it was originally named by the first divers here West of Sweden (guess where the divers came from), geographically this is incorrect – but funny, then over the years west of Sweden became west of Eden due in some part to the sister site on the east coast of the island. The southern part of the dive site is known by many as squeaky rock due to one of the large granite boulders that breaks the surface moving due to tidal motion and makes an eerie creaking noise.

The dive site itself is two contrasting areas. The southern area stretching from the mooring to the southern tip of the island is a hard coral garden at between 8 and 12 metres. This garden is teeming with reef fish, Bat Fish close to the mooring, group of brown Parrot Fish constantly feeding, Moorish Idols and Banner Fish patrolling the reef and Trumpet fish hunting.

Head north and west from the mooring and you reach some massive boulders, there is some beautiful soft corals and sea fans around the base of these rocks between 20 and 30 metres,on top of these boulders are coral gardens made up of hard, soft and leather corals. Between the boulder are a number of channels where you have a chance of seeing mantis shrimp, nudibranchs and shrimp. Follow the rocks out into the deep to find a whip coral garden at 29metres, here you often see Ribbon Eels and Frog Fish.

One thing to be aware of on this site is Thermoclines, though the average water temperature is 28-30°C thermoclines as cold as 14°C have been encountered. This is believed to be the reason why the shallow corals are healthier here than else where as they have kept the water temperature down in the summer months.

Similan Islands Thailand Diving Sites

Elephant Head – Similan Diving Safaris

Similan Diving safaris Diver at Elephant Head Rock
Diver at Elephant Head

Elephant Head is a must for all Similan Diving Safaris. The dive site name that makes you wonder exactly what gas blend the divers were breathing when they named this sites in the Similan Islands.

It was named for the part of the site which breaks the surface, a series of rocks, when viewed from the northern side, these rock resemble, it was said, the head of an elephant as it is swimming (not the entire elephant as many books web sites and even dive guides will tell you). The most western rock is said to be the top of the head, as if the eyes are just below the waterline, the eastern rock is said to be the trunk looping out and back into the water and the central rock is the tip of the trunk breaking the surface.

This dive site is very much a boulder rather than a coral or fish dive, though there are plenty of both they are outweighed by the sheer majesty of the granite boulder formations which create many swim throughs, channels and valleys. Much of the dive site is at around 26 metres before coming up to the top of some of the smaller rocks at 12 metres and then onto the slope of the main ‘head’ rock which has a long horizontal crevice at 7 metres full of fish. On the deepest swim through at about 29 metres there’s often a White Tip Reef Shark resting and sometimes Leopard sharks.

Similan Diving Safaris that visit Elephant Head Rock

Similan Islands Thailand Diving Sites

Donald Duck Bay – Similan Dive Site

Donald Duck Bay - Dive Similan with Colona Liveaboards Thailand
Donald Duck Bay

Dive Similan at Donal Duck Bay, located on the northern side of Similan Islands #8 is named after the highest boulder on the ridge making the east side of the bay which looks, from the right angle like a shoe. The English named is derived from a large boulder just below which when viewed from side on looks just like a cartoon duck’s head (though whether it’s Donald or Daffy is always a talking point).

This bay is a common site for night dives in the Similan Islands as it gives a safe anchorage for sleeping and gives access to the beach. Just behind the beach is a tent village for tourists as well as a restaurant and National Parks office. There is a hiking trail leading up to a viewpoint underneath the ‘shoe’ rock.

The dive site itself is fairly shallow (7 – 15 meters). The prime area of interest is the rocky ridge coming off the island forming a barrier on the north side of the bay. These rocks are home to Painted Spiny Lobster, Slipper Lobster, Sponge Cutter Crabs and Decorator Crabs as well as the more common Big Red Crab and various species of cleaner shrimp. It’s quite common to see a Giant Moray out hunting – they may even follow you to use your light. The sandy area can offer up surprises – hermit crabs, flounder and even Khul’s Stingrays.

Similan Islands Thailand Diving Sites

Koh Tachai Island

The Beach at Koh Tachai Island
The Beach of Tachai Island

Koh Tachai Pinnacle also known as Twin Peaks ( because there are in fact two pinnacles) this site is so good you could dive it twice as we often do. Its located south of Koh Tachai Island, which is part of the Similan Islands National Park.

As said above this site is two pinnacle, the main focus of the dive is the first, shallower pinnacle starting at about 12 meters, meeting the sand at about 20 metres and continuing down to about 25 metres. This is basically one huge rock with some smaller rocks on it and then it is ringed by a mix of small and large boulders. The majority of the coral is around the north end of the pinnacle and in a number of bommies on the center of the main rock. This site is absolutely covered in macro life, nudibranchs, Ghost Pipe Fish, Coral Crabs. Snails and shrimp, but keep your eyes peeled Giant Barracuda and Trevally are regular visitors as well as the occasional Manta Ray and Whale Shark.

The second pinnacle is much deeper with the top being at 18 meters, in the area you have probably you’re best chance of seeing Leopard Sharks, also octopus and turtles are often seen here.

Koh Tachai Reef

There are in fact three reefs on Koh Tachai, weather conditions permitting we will normally dive on the north eastern reef (starting from the north end of the beach to the Northern tip of the island), however if there are strong winds we will hide from them either on the south eastern reef (from the southern tip to the headland south of the beach) or the western reef (from the headland between the two small bays to the northern tip). However the conditions on the three dive sites are very similar. The reefs are made up of coral blocks and bommies scattered over gently sloping sand until you get close to the northern tip where there are enormous boulders similar to those which make up the pinnacle to the south, the maximum depth on these reefs is about 20 meters. If you are very lucky you will encounter Leopard Sharks or Black Tip Reef Sharks, certainly in the sandy patches there is a good chance of seeing blue spotted Kuhl’s Stingrays. The reef itself is populated by all types of reef fish, Damsels, Parrot Fish, Red Tooth Trigger Fish, Snappers and Wrasse just to name a few. In the shallow areas look in the sandy patches for Peacock Flounder and the juvenile Razor Wrasse.

A note of caution this dive site is often subjected to strong currents, so listen to your dive guides instructions and stay calm, there are plenty of places to hide from the current during the dive.

Similan Islands Thailand Diving Sites

Deep Six – Similan Diving Sites

Gorgonia - Diving Similan & Deep Six
Gorgonia at Deep Six

This Similan diving site is on the north tip of Similan Islands #7, again the name needs explaining. When the Islands were first given numbers islands five and six were considered one island so what is now island seven was island six, Hin Pusar (Elephant Head Rock) was at the time Koh Pusa and numbered as island seven, however a law was introduced in Thailand stating that and island had to have vegetation growing on it, this meant island seven was no longer an island. This caused a problem as Similan (in old Thai/Malay) means nine islands, so they had to find another island hence island five (the centre of which is submerged at high tide) was split into five and six and six was renumbered seven – however it was too late, the dive site had already been named.

The site itself is a pinnacle just a few metres off the northern tip of the island, a small part of the pinnacle breaks the surface, the base of the pinnacle on the northern end is at 30 metres sloping down from 12 metres at the south end. The central part of the dive site a huge boulder with other smaller but still very large boulders on top creating a number of swim throughs. More boulders around the central pinnacle create a series of channels which create homes for various corals (especially Green Tree Coral) and critters (Moray Eels, Lion Fish and Scorpion Fish). It is possible to see White-Tip reef Sharks, Travellies and Tuna coming into the rocks to hunt as they are a magnet to schooling fish.

The current will decide the route you take towards the end of the dive, heading south west you come into a sloping hard coral reef and then onto more boulders as you head onto West of Eden. Heading south east you have a terraced stag horn coral reef leading into a sandy bay. On the reefs you’ll find many small reef fish such as Neons and Chromies and there’s a good chance of finding Peacock Flounder in the sand.

Similan Islands Thailand Diving Sites

Anitas Reef – Similan Diving Sites

Gorgonia Fan at Anitas Reef, a Similan Diving Site
Gorgonia Fan

This Similan Diving Sites is a popular dive spot for Thailand liveaboard cruises. Located on the east side of Similan Island No. 5 & 6 (Koh Ha & Koh Hok), stretching to the southern tip of Island 5.

This reef consists of a gently sloping sandy ridge starting at about 5 metres going to about 30 metres out in the blue. This sandy slope is dotted with coral and rock patches all the way down the eastern side of the dive site, the coral is a mixture of hard and soft varieties with some large sea fans. These coral patches are home to many small reef fish such as Damsels, Anemone fish, Angel and Butterfly fish, these in turn attract large schoals of Gold Stripe Fussilier and Five Line Snapper. Large groups of Forsters Barracuda are often seen here as well as small Tunas and Trevallies. Also look out for Octopus hiding in holes in the coral.

Between the coral patches the bare sandy slope is alive with Garden Eels, also keep an eye out for Bent Stick Pipe Fish and the blue spotted Kuhl’s Stingray in the sand.

Towards the southern end of the dive site is a large coral mound rising from 20 metres up to 12 metres. This pinnacle is covered in life, clouds of fish and loads of macro critters such as Nudibranchs, Durban Dancing Shrimp, Banded Boxer Shrimp and Coral Crabs. Because of this the bommie has been named “Hin Muan Deaw” which translated is “whole roll rock” (as in roll of film – in the old days that’s what we used to take picture, perhaps is should be renamed 16 gigabyte rock!!).

To the south of Hin Muan Deaw the sandy reef finishes in a group of enormous boulders which are home to many types of Moray Eel and Napoleon Wrasse, there is often a turtle or two in this area.