Snorkeling the Similan & Surin Islands, Phang Nga province

Around the turn of the millennium, I had the chance to snorkel off Koh Maiton, a small island near Phuket. Since then, I’ve been looking to replicate the experience which still holds as the benchmark to exceed in Thai waters. I even gave SCUBA diving a go, but soon realized that I would rather float around carefree on the ocean surface looking down at the sun-dappled colorful reef fish rather than dive into the depth for the chance to encounter big sea creatures, however majestic they may be.

Over the years, coral bleaching and over-development have seen my chances for another decent snorkeling trip grow dimmer. That is, until we came across a combined Similan & Surin Islands liveaboard trip, catering exclusively to snorkelers a.k.a. “non-divers”.

The two archipelagos, both located off the western coast of Phang Nga province in the south of Thailand, are open accessible for half a year, usually between November to April. The three-night trip comprised of stops at a handful of snorkeling spots interspersed with a few hours spent lazing on beaches. Sharks and turtles were sighted on our particular trip, and countless tropical fish in dizzying array of colors.

I can’t say for SCUBA divers, but I think I might just have renewed my faith in snorkeling in Thai waters.

Travelers should note, however, that it takes approximately five hours to get to either destination from the mainland in a converted fishing boat, even longer during rough(er) seas. Speedboats would take less than half that time, albeit with less comfortable of a ride, so do take that into consideration.

Here are some images from the trip (unfortunately seen through my cheap waterproof camera!) For more great images, check out this link here on TourChoice


Koh Tachai, one of the islands in the Similan Archipelago, renowned for their soft white sand, often compared to Coffee-Mate non-dairy creamer. Baby sharks can be seen amongst the seaside mangrove forests.


Most day-trippers leave Koh Tachai around 3 p.m. afterwhich liveaboard guests get to enjoy the beach and cerulean waters in near absolute privacy.

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Mai Ngam beach on Surin Island — the beach is a short stroll across the island.

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Seashore mangroves on Surin Island, teeming with marine creatures.

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One thought on “Snorkeling the Similan & Surin Islands, Phang Nga province

  1. Khao Lak Explorer

    Great Article about the Similan islands national park here. will be back for sure for more of your stories. Will share!


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