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