Exploring the Similan Islands
Updated: Mar 1, 2019
The Similan Islands lie 70 kilometres off the coast of Khao Lak and it takes just over an hour by speedboat to reach them. The collection of eleven islands sit within the Mu Koh National Park which encompasses a beautiful 140 kilometre stretch of the Andaman Sea. The marine park was established in 1982 to help address the challenges of conservation and rehabilitation of the islands and support tourism in the area, which is a juggle given that sheer tourism numbers are the islands biggest conservation challenge! In an attempt to combat this the park is closed from May to October each year and some islands have been closed to tourists indefinitely to allow them time to recover. We were lucky enough that our week at The Sarojin coincided with the park opening week for 2017 and we were able to go out for a day trip with four other guests from the resort to explore these beautiful islands.
Our day began with a briefing by The Sarojin’s Adventure and Discovery Coordinator, Sam, whilst we tucked into our pre-boxed breakfast treats to get us going (and yep I got my own gluten-free one with freshly baked GF treats!)
We boarded The Lady Sarojin from the floating pontoon and walkway from the beach just out the front of the beach bar. The boat was extra spacious with just the six guests and three crew to look after us for the day. Our guide Au, deckhand Tu and Captain Hon got us settled on-board quickly and we were on our way with champagne in hand in no time!
The trip out was at full throttle so not much conversation going on but the scenery was beautiful, the water the most amazing turquoise and we spotted a pod of dolphins on the way out too. Our first stop was just off Koh Ba-ngu for our first snorkel. We shared the little bay with only one other boat, a liveaboard snorkelling and dive boat which there is quite a number across the park if you're looking for a diving holiday! My underwater pictures didn’t turn out too great on this trip but we saw lots of fish and a turtle at this spot!
We were welcomed back onto the boat by some delicious snacks to curb the post-snorkelling hunger while we headed to Koh Similan, the biggest islands of the eleven, to explore a bit on land. The island is incredibly lush which makes for some lovely hikes, houses an eco-resort and turtle sanctuary, and has some beautiful white sandy beaches to laze on.
There was quite a few people and other boats around this spot so when we were done exploring the island we all jumped back on the boat and headed to a quieter bay for another quick snorkel while the crew prepared an onboard feast of fresh seafood, salads and fruit for lunch (all gluten-free and my own little basket of GF bread to go with it). We had an amazing lunch grazing and chatting with our new friends from Germany and Gernsey and talking about our little respective corners of the world. We were so lucky to have had just the six of us on this trip and we had a ball with this mob!
After a nice long lazy lunch, with a bit of swimming here and there, we headed to the other side of Koh Similan to check out Donald Duck Bay with it’s iconic boulders. I didn’t quite get the Donald Duck resemblance but I did see a whale shark resemblance in the rocks in the bottom right!?
This spot was BUS-SY! There was boats everywhere wrangling for the best photo position for their passengers and some boats had tons of people on board. Our Captain kept us well away from the craziness and Au jumped in the water with us to guide us on a snorkel tour of the bay. It really was too busy here though, everyone was just running into each other and it wasn’t the best spot we’d been that day. The coral bleaching was really evident here too but we did see an octopus, some trigger fish, clown fish and an eel thanks to Au’s keen eyes!
When everyone had had their fill we settled in for the trip back to the resort which was much smoother so we all just chatted the whole way back. It was low tide by the time we got back to beach so getting off the boat onto the floating pontoon was a bit tricky but of course one of the stewardesses was there riding the waves on the pontoon to give us cold towels when we got off! Cute. Even cuter was the towel aquarium that our room cleaners had laid out for us on our bed to come back to!!
We loved this so much we called to make sure reception thanked them for us and sure enough from then on we had a different version of towel art at the end of each day – puppies, monkeys, crabs, you name it!
We had such a great time on this day trip and really connected with our fellow passengers who we celebrated with at the ‘Mediterranean to Michelin’ dinner the following night (read more about that here). Our only regret was not timing it right for a scuba-dive but it gives us another good reason to come back again.
Diving season at The Similans starts in November but if you can wait until January-May that’s plankton season which brings in the Whale Sharks and Manta Rays!
See if you can get yourself into a smaller group if possible, the maximum for the day trips is 12 and every day after ours was full so we were super lucky. Though even 12 is about 1/10th of the size of some of the other boats we came across!
To find out more about The Similans check out this link: https://similan-islands.com/
Wear sunscreen when snorkelling – All. The. Time.