Snorkeling the Similan Islands

Similan Snorkeling - Hammock time

The Similan Islands are well known for its white sandy beaches, stunning corals and clear tropical waters. And, one extremely fun activity to do while you visit Thailand is snorkeling…whether you’re a novice or advanced snorkeler.

Why is Similan Snorkeling so good?

The Similan Islands are breathtaking with their both soft and hard corals, and amazing beaches. These are sure to provide you with riches you never thought possible. The corals start at the low tide mark and they gently slope away until around 10 meters when it turns to a steeper slop and it drops to a sandy bottom around 20 to 30 meters.  The coral mix is unconceivable with its lavish soft corals swaying back and forth in the current and enveloped by the Brain, Staghorn, Table and Whip Corals.

What you’ll see going in and out of these corals are an array of reef fish who call it home – giant groupers, tiny shrimps and Napolean Wrasse. Every part of the reefs holds life. If you get too enthralled in what you see, you could actually leave the islands sunburned, which is the most common injury for the location.

If you go Snorkeling on the Similans – Please look for safety training, marine life knowledge and of course languages when seeking out your tour company. This is most often a case of getting what you pay for. Our favorite company for Similan snorkeling daytrips

Marine Life Outside The Coral Reefs

Don’t forget that there’s more to marine life than just the coral reef. There is an array of bigger marine species that must eat, have children or who need to hide from even larger fish. When you snorkel the Similan Islands, you may see manta rays, turtles, snappers among many others. Bear in mind that manta rays don’t generally wander into the shallower waters.

Want To join A Snorkeling Tour Of The Similan Islands?

There are an array of choices if you want to snorkel the Similan Islands. Tour boats will leave from the Taplamu Pier.  Bear in mind that the only two islands you can go onshore is island four and island eight, which is why snorkeling is often done in these places. Sure, you can go off snorkeling for yourself if you plan to stay overnight at any of the camp sites. You can check out the beaches and shoreline when you want.


If you partake on a guided tour, you’ll be transported to two or three snorkeling sites; lunch may take place at Princess Bay, Honeymoon Bay and Donald Duck Bay. These places tend to be worthwhile for the timid or beginner snorkeler as well as children.

If you go by diving daytrip, most likely you will have a guide with you to help point out interesting fish or corals. You will also be at places that might not have a beach, so consider that when with children or inexperienced snorkelers!

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have


Guided Similan Snorkeling Day trips from Khao Lak

We found this to be best for those that would like enjoy the comforts of the mainland resorts, have small children or are pressed for time or just not wanting to commit to an overnight stay.

These are almost all conducted from speedboats. The speedboats get you to the Similan Islands Quickly and give you the most time on the islands during your day. Please choose who you go with very carefully. Depending on which company you choose you’ll find yourself with one “guide” who doesn’t enter the water and does not speak English, or you may find yourself on a nicely maintained boat with small groups (generally 6-8 people per guide).

Please look for safety training, marine life knowledge and of course languages when seeking out your tour company. This is most often a case of getting what you pay for. Our favorite company for Similan snorkeling daytrips


Overnight stays on the Similan Islands 

Staying in the Bungalows or Tents on Island #4, or the Tents on Island #8 allows lots of freedom to enjoy the Similans. There is a lot more to do than just Similan Snorkeling! There is limited transport between the various islands, so plan ahead.

These tours can be arranged from Khao Lak and Phuket. These tours often merely arrange the transportation and lodging. You will be supplying your own food and guides. The accommodation is limited (see here for more information)…

While there are several agents to choose from – we have found the service provided by Khao Lak Life to be of the highest quality and their assistance in booking, arranging and as siting on these trip sis top notch.


Overnight Similan Snorkel Tours on Boats

This is the best way (in our opinion) to see many of the more remote sites and really focus on the snorkeling. We did this tour in 2008 and had a great time! The staff were very knowledgeable and safe. There are now two companies offering these tours where you sleep on the boat and visit various sites around the region. One has been around for a lot longer, but you sleep in an open room, the newer Snorkel Tour company offers individual air-conditioned cabins.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have


There is a boat owned and operated by the Similan Islands Marine Park that departs most mornings at approx. 09.00. This costs around 1500 baht. Of course the schedule and price is subject to change. The park headquarters are about 1.5 kilometers before Taplamu pier on the south side. They can give you more detailed instructions about price and times. The boat is very slow and also carries supplies to the islands.

Our experience has been that the staff will almost always recommend you to take one of the trips offered by the local tour operators. Please be very cautious when picking you operator. Not only lifejackets, but how many people are on allowed on the boat, insurance and documentation of who you are in case anything happens.


When To visit the Similan Islands?

More on the weather can be found here. For Snorkeling on the Similans, the best time is from November to May. The very best weather and the best conditions are February to April. Visibility is usually 20-30 Meters and the water averages 28c these times of year. There are currents at a few sites, but generally speaking anywhere you can get to on these tours should be safe.

Staying on the Similan Islands

Please visit our Similan Islands accommodation pages for more information on how you can actually stay on the Similan Islands while snorkeling.

Getting around the Similan Islands

Once you are on the islands, transportation is limited. If you are on a tour this will all be taken care of for you. If you are traveling unsupervised there are still options for transit.

There are a few boats owned and operated by the Similan Island National Park that can provide tours/transport. There is a large flat-bottom style boat that moves between the islands There are also snorkeling tours operated by the islands, but as they are unguided, please be cautious about your times!

These are the prices and distance between the islands using the National Park supplied boats (as of 2009-2010 season). Please check if this is still operating.

1. Ko 4 to Ko 6 – distance 3 Km = 150 Baht/person

2. Ko 4 to Ko 8 – distance 11.5 Km = 200 Baht/person

3. Ko 4 to Ko 9 – distance 13.5 KM = 300 Baht/person

4. Around Ko 8 and Ko 9 = 300 Baht/person

There is also the option of chartering a longtail for the day. This should be done through a tour operator or through the Similan National Marine Park Headquarters near Taplamu pier.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have