Similan Archipelago is known as the best place for diving in Thailand. I haven’t been visiting Similans before, but I have been diving in Thailand several times during last 10 years. Actually I don’t usually rank Thai diving destinations very high (compared to those I have seen in Indonesia), but I really loved some spots we visited here.
We ended up to choose a last minute booking and chose a budget friendly opinion, Khao Lak Explorers Manta Queen 1. Living on a boat was very new thing for me, even though I had almost 200 dives. I loved to stay on boat, and four dives a day didn’t feel too exhausting. It’s still a lot of diving: it’s best to monitor the diving computer very carefully and be sure not to book flights for the next day (my no fly time was way over 30 hours). This cliche about liveaboards was exactly true: our days only consisted of diving, eating and sleeping.
Please note, that this post is only my own review and it hasn’t been done in collaboration with any dive operator.
Exploring the Similan Islands
We travelled to Similans five to six hours in the evening and woke up from the Similan Marine National Park on the next day. Our boat was quite noisy and bed hard, so I wasn’t really full of energy at morning.
Our divesites for the first day were West of Eden, Deep Six and Christmas Point. My first impressions of Similans were mixed. Compared to dives I have done in other parts of Thailand (Koh Tao, Koh Chang/Koh Mak area, Krabi and Phi Phi Islands), Similan Islands were full of life and had larger variety of fish and coral species. Anyway, these dives can’t be compared to those I have done in Indonesia or those I’ve done in Pacific Islands. We also encountered quite greenish water with varying visibility which was not typical outside rainy season in mid-December. With bright blue waters this place would be amazing! Fourth dive would have been a night dive, but I decided to skip it.
Sailing to north – The second day in Similans
We noticed that dive sites went better when sailing to north! We visited North Point, West Ridge (Koh Bon), North Ridge (Koh Bon) and The Dome (Koh Tachai). The Dome had really blue waters and wondeful seascapes with schooling fish and colourful coral. We also managed to find a lovely turtle and a sting ray (probably a porcupine ray or whiptail ray), which I haven’t seen before.
Richeliau Rock is the best dive site in Thailand
We had a bit unluck! The weather was very rough and we had to continue further from Richeliau Rock after the first dive. Early morning dive here was a bit dark because of early entry to water and overcast weather, but amazing with all that teeming sea life. I have never seen that much of sea life or so vivid and bright colours outside Indonesia. The underwater scenery was dominated by large schools of fish: long nose trevallys, coral- and peacock groupers, oriental sweetlips, cuttle fishes, several kinds of angelfishes (also emperors, which are my favourites), batfishes, unicorn fishes and millions of small glassfish!
After visiting couple of other dive sites (Tortilla Pinnacle and Au-Pa-Kat), we came back to Richeliau Rock and I was happiest ever. This afternoon dive was amazing again and surface conditions easier than in the morning.
Wreck day and heading back to Khao Lak
We did the fourth days’ dives were on our way back to Khao Lak. I have to say, that I was a bit disappointed to dive sites we did on that day: Phra Tong wreck, Boonsun wreck and an artifical reef and underwater playground named T-13. Only Boonsun wreck was quite interesting, because the wreck really was full of sealife! Here I also photographed a beautiful honeycomb mooray eel.
All in all, my first liveaboard experience was exciting and I immediately started to dream about a new liveaboard trip.