Similans & Richelieu Rock

The famous Similans offers a fascinating variety of dive sites that will charm even the most experienced divers. From rocky pinnacles and fringe reefs, to the magnificent boulder dives with many shallow swim-throughs, as long as you visit Thailand, you simply cannot miss out the Similans. Reached mainly via liveaboards and charters, the Similans has so much to offer everyone, that you couldn’t possibly complete the experience within just a day or two – so if you are planning for the Similans, make sure you set aside at least 3 to 4 days if not more. “Similan” comes from the word “nine” in the local language as there are 9 islands that make up the Similans giving all an endless journey of pleasures.

On the east coasts of the Similans, you will find beautiful colorful coral reefs, deep rocky gorges, dizzying landscapes and a huge abundance of marine life. The diving is fairly relaxed, with weak currents and 30m visibility is the norm.

Clown Fish & CoralThe West coast sites of the Similan Islands are slightly more challenging due to their depths and variable currents. Here you find the most incredible submarine rock formations, with huge boulders, swimthroughs and giant fan corals. This unique mixture of diving makes a Similan diving cruise a beautiful and exhilarating voyage of discovery that always ends too soon.

All this has made Similan Islands dive sites like Elephant Head, East of Eden and Christmas Point rightfully famous. A world of giant underwater boulders, caves, narrow passages, some 500 species of hard and soft corals and an amazing variety of marine life including leopard sharks, guitar rays, whale sharks, manta rays and turtles is waiting to be explored. Photographers take note that the Similan Islands are also a paradise for muck diving – look out for such photogenic critters as ghost pipefish, sea moths, frogfish, ribbon eels and nudibranches. The dive sites at the Similans usually have names but are often referred to according to the island numbers they are at and there are just too many to describe. However, below are some of the best dive sites which any visitor to the Similans simply cannot miss out. Usually included as part of a Similans cruise is “Richelieu Rock”, which is not actually part of the Similans Island. Whatever your dive dream is, diving the Similans with promises you absolute pleasure.

Hin Pusar ("Elephant Head")

Image of Elephant Head Often rated the most spectacular dive site in the Similans, Elephant Head comprises giant granite boulders which form a complex maze of swimthroughs, channels and gorges reaching depths of over 40m. If you have a vivid imagination, you can see an elephant rock from the surface. Currents are quite strong, but take shelter behind the rocks and the dive is not difficult.

Boulder City and Shark Fin Reef

 Image of Boulder City and Shark Fin Reef
Both these sites are part of a rocky ridge that runs away from Similan Island No. 3. They are great for spotting large colorful fish, bumphead parrotfish, napoleon wrasse and leopard sharks. Beautiful fan coral gardens decorate the passages between the enormous granite boulders. Both sites cover a wide area, with depths from 5 to 35m, and are almost always fabulous dives with too much to see in one dive, so expect a few more dives here.

East of Eden

 Image of East of Eden
Probably the best reef with the most variety in the Similan Islands, East of Eden is touted as true 'aquarium' diving. This east coast site features a healthy hard coral reef mixed with soft corals. Watch out for the turtles on the shallow reef top. There is often a gentle current here, making it a great slow drift dive. The fact that most divers rate this site as their favourite, goes to promise that East of eden is truly an underwater paradise.

Beacon Point

 Image of Beacon Point
At the southern tip of Similan Island No. 8 is the wild and rocky Beacon Point which resembles a face (the Thai name is "Na Ling" which means "monkey face"). Descending here, you will find huge 20 to 35m deep boulders on a white sandy bottom. Heading north, you reach the reef that continues for several kilometers along the east of the island. Depending on your drop off point, a dive can be rocks or reef or a great mixture of both.