Scuba Diving in the Similian Islands

Similian Islands Scuba Diving

Nudibrach. Credit Thomas DUPONT on flickr

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The Similian Islands offer some of the best scuba diving in the world with a number of top class diving sites with options suitable for all levels of experience and qualifications.

The area has some stunning coral reefs and accompanying reef dwellers and also offers incredible macro diving as well as the opportunity to spot some of the most sought after marine life including whale shark, manta ray and sharks.

Peak diving season is December to March when conditions are at their best. The Marine National Park is closed from May to October. Most dive sites have low to moderate currents, water temperatures are pleasant all year round and visibility is generally very good.

Similian Island Dive Sites. Credit

Sharkfin Reef

Longfin Bannerfish. Credit Thomas Quine on flickr

Found at the southern end of Similian Island No.3 Sharkfin Reef is a long submerged rocky ridge which breaks the surface at low tide to resemble a shark fin. Most of the site is less than 20 metres deep and can be dived by all experienced levels. There is a drop off to water as deep as 40 metres for more experienced divers.

The ridge is covered in gorgonian seafans and hard corals and attracts cube boxfish, clown triggerfish, half-moon triggerfish, Napoleon wrasse, stingray, leopard shark, surgeonfish, batfish, bannerfish and bumphead parrotfish.

Boulder City

Dogtooth Tuna. Credit Tchami on flickr

Located about 400 metres southeast of Sharkfin Reef on the east coast of Similian Island No.3 and is a series of submerged boulders.

Currents can be very strong here making the site best for more experienced divers. The currents do have the benefit of attracting whale shark and manta rays. Common sightings here include dogtooth tuna, barracuda, mackerel, trevallies, Napoleon wrasse, oriental sweetlip, parrotfish, grouper, triggerfish, filefish, snapper and turtles.

Dive depths are around 35 metres.

Anitas Reef

Blue-Spotted Kuhl’s Stingray. Credit Dave Taylor on flickr

Situated on the east coast of Similan Island No.5 this gentle sandy slope dive is suitable for divers of all experience levels with depths between 5 and 30 metres, gentle currents and excellent visibility.

There are large coral gardens which gives the area a spectacular backdrop to the incredible array of marine life which includes clownfish, oriental sweetlip, clown triggerfish, lionfish, garden eel, blue blanquillo, blue-spotted Kuhl’s stingray, sea cucumber, ghost pipefish and nudibranch.

Hideaway Bay

Hawksbill Turtle. Credit Rickard Zerpe on flickr

Also known as Barracuda Point and situated southwest of Anita’s Reef at Similian Island No.5. This shallow bay with very gentle currents, has superb coral formations and excellent marine life and is an excellent site for divers of all levels as well as for snorkellers.

Marine life includes reef shark, turtles, groupers, stonefish, scorpionfish, clown triggerfish, emperor amgelfish, stingray, oriental sweetlip and blue-lined snapper.

Elephant Head Rock

Moorish Idol. Credit Thomas Quine on flickr

Getting its name from the rock that protudes out of the water and is said to resemble a half-submerged elephant.

The site is home to huge granite boulders with incredible tunnels, swim-throughs and caverns. Currents can be very strong and treacherous meaning that this is a dive site for more experienced divers only. Depths range from 16 to 50 metres and visibility is generally excellent.

The site has plenty of whitetip and blacktip reef and leopard sharks, barracuda, stingray, moorish idols, banner butterflyfish, titan triggerfish, Andaman sweetlips, purple fire goby, wrasse, turtle, octopus, shrimp and nudibranch.

East of Eden

Parrotfish. Credit Thomas Quine on flickr

Located to the east of Koh Pa-Yu (similian Island No.7) is this dive site suitable for all divers with depths between 5 and 40 metres and excellent visibility. The area can get busy at times due to its popularity.

The coral here is incredible with enormous boomies, staghorn coral, blue corala nd fan corals.

Marine life includes frogfish as well as fusilier, barracuda, parrotfish, trevally, Napoleon wrasse, grouper and leopard shark.

West of Eden

Ribbon Eel. Credit Francois Libert on flickr

Also suitable for all levels of diver this site has become more popular as divers look for alternatives to the crowds at East of Eden and is situated to the west of Koh Pa-Yu (Similian Island No.7). Also known as West of Six.

Depths range from 12 to 35 metres and has some excellent shallow water coral as well as granite boulders with hard and soft coral, gorgonions, feather stars and giant sea fans.

An excellent site to see ribbon eel, ghost pipefish, grogfish, yellow goatfish, trevally, moray eels, octopus, barracuda and turtles.

Deep Six

Java Rabbitfish. Credit Rickard Zerpe on flickr

Deep 6 is situated just north of Similian No.7 and is one of the deeper sites in the area with huge granite boulders forming a v-shaped ridge that falls from 5 metres down to 40 metres.

Coupled with the depths, strong currents mean that this is a site for more experienced divers only. The shallower depths of the site were damaged during the 2004 tsunami, although the coral is starting to recover, but the deeper you go the more rewarding this site can be.

The site includes many beautiful soft and hard coral and sponges. Marine life includes dogttoth tuna, trevallies, fusiliers, rainbow runners, whitetip reef shark, leopard shark, blue-spotted stingray, spot boxfish, rabbitfish, surgeonfish, grouper, butterflyfish, gobies, blennies and nudibranch.

Turtle Rock

Emperor Angelfish. Credit Brian Gatwicke on flickr

Turtle Rock lies to the west of Similian Island No.8 and features coral and reef together with a sandy bottom at 25 metres. The average depth of the rocky area is 15 to 20 metres making it suitable for divers of all experience levels. Currents tend to be gentle and visibility very good.

The area has Kuhl’s stingray, sweetlips, moray eels, angelfish, garden eels, snapper, grouper, turtles, lobsters and nudibranch.

Beacon Point & Beacon Reef

Redtooth Triggerfish. Credit Rickard Zerpe on flickr

Located to the south and east of Island No.8 these two sites merge together that offers some wonderful opportunities for spotting marine life and is often used as a night dive.

The area is a good place to spot manta and eagle rays, blue-spotted stingray, as well as blacktip, whitetip and leopard sharks. Other reef life includes red-tooth triggerfish, bigeye, parrotfish, wrasse and surgeonfish

Three Trees

Meyer’s Butterflyfish. Credit Francois Libert on flickr

At the northeat corner of Similian Island No.9 , this site is suitable for all divers with depths between 5 and 20 metres.

The reef starts at just 6 metres with a gentle slope and has plenty of hard coral and staghorn coral.

The site is popular as a feeding ground for Hawksbill turtles, and is also popular with moray eel, raccoon butterflyfish, surgeonfish, squirrelfish, bigeye, soldierfish, oriental and harlequin sweetlips, Meyer’s butterflyfish, octopus, lobster and mantis shrimp. Leopard shark, stingrays and jaw fish can also be seen sometimes.

Christmas Point

Napoleon Wrasse. Credit Joerg Lutz on flickr

Suited to more experienced divers Christmas Point has depths from 8 to 40 metres deep, excellent visibility and can experience strong currents. Situated near Similian Island No.9.

With numerous granite boulders and swim-throughs the area attracts whitetip and blacktip reef shark, schools of barracuda, Napoleon wrasse, ribbon eel, orange-spotted pipefish, porcelain crabs and nudibranches.

North Point

Manta Ray. Credit Dean Croshere on flickr

Sometimes known as Rocky Point, North Point lies to the northeast of Similian Island No.9 which is suitable for divers of all levels with depths ranging from 10 to 35 metres, excellent visibility and generally moderate current.

The site is a mix of boulders and reef with a pinnacle, swim-throughs and holes to explore. The area has gigantic sea fans, staghorn and hard and soft corals.

The sand channel is home to eels, leopard shark and stingray, the boulder walls have ghost pipefish and pygmy seahorses hiding among them and the corals attract turtles, octopus and cuttlefish. The area also has jacks, fusiliers, surgeonfish, barracuda and manta rays if you are lucky.

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