Scuba Diving in the Surin Islands

Surin Islands Scuba Diving

Leopard Shark. Credit Brian Gatwicke on flickr

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The Mo Ko Surin Marine Park is home to some of the best diving in Thailand and the remoteness of the location mean that it is often much quieter than other dive areas. Richelieu Rock is rightly regarded as one of the top dive sites in the world and is one of the best places to see a whale shark.

The area can only be visited as part as a liveaboard due to the length of the trip from Khao Lak and Phuket and is often combined with a visit to the Similian Islands.

Diving is available for divers of all abilities with most sites having depths from 10 to 30 metres and moderate currents. Some sites, including Richelieu Rock, are much more challenging and more suitable for more experienced divers. Visibility is not as good as some areas due to the plankton, although this is what attracts the whale sharks and manta rays, but is still generally good to very good.

The area is also very popular for snorkeling as many of the reefs are very close to the surface.

The best time to dive in the Surin Islands is October to April, the best time for whale sharks in February to April. The national park is closed from 16th May to 15th November.

Suring Islands Location Credit
Surin Islands. Credit

Richelieu Rock

Whale Shark. Credit TANAKA Juuyoh on flickr

It seems only right to start with one of the best dive sites in the world and the reason many people visit the area.

Located 18km to the southeast of the Surin Islands, this horseshoe shaped pinnacle starts just under the surface all the way down to 50 metres sitting in open, deep water benefiting from currents bringing food through the area for the immense range of marine life that makes it home there or is a regular or occasional visitor.

Due to the depths and currents the area is best suited to more experienced divers although if conditions are favourable less experienced divers are able to dive at shallower depths.

Most liveaboard cruises will schedule multiple dives here as the diversity of the area and the sheer amount of life here make it more than worthwhile and is a haven for underwater photographers.

Eagle and mantra ray are regular visitors alongside the huge schools of barracuda and trevallies. Whale shark are common visitors but don’t expect a guaranteed visit by these giants of the sea.

The walls of the pinnacle are covered in soft and hard corals, sea fans and anenomes and are home to many much smaller creatures including frogfish, ghost pipefish, seahorses and harlequin shrimp hiding in cracks and crevices as well as the coral.

Koh Chi

Ribbon Eel. Credit francois Libert on flickr

Located to the north of Koh Surin Island and features a gentle slope, granite boulders and exceptional coral. The current can be very strong, making the site suitable for a drift diver but only for experienced divers.

The site is an excellent location to see ribbon eel, giant trevallies, dogtooth tuna, whitetip reef shark, barracuda and pipefish.

Hin Kong

Denise’s Pygmy Seahorse. Credit Rickard Zerpe Quine on flickr

Located to the south of Koh Surin Island this small rock formation has little current and depths between 10 to 30 metres. It is suitable to all levels of divers.

An excellent site to find seahorses, pipefish, leopard shark, barracuda, fusilier, stonefish and sometimes manta ray.

Koh Torinla East

Bumphead Parrotish. Credit Rickard Zerpe on flickr

Located to the east of Koh Torinla, south of Koh Surin Island and features some of the best hard coral in Thailand with lots of staghorn coral, whip coral and gorgonion seafans.

The reef has now mostly recovered from damage caused during the 2004 tsunami and is a haven for marine life including whitetip reef shark, grey reef shark, hawksbill turtles, barracuda, trevally, bumphead parrotfish and leopard shark.

The site also makes a great location for macro diving and snorkelling and is suitable for most divers.

Koh Torinla West

Whitetip Reef Shark. Credit Bernard Dupont on flickr

More suited to experienced divers than the site to the east of Koh Torinla, KT West is an excellent wall dive with wonderful. The site has a gentle current but depths down to 40 metres.

Marine life is similar to Koh Torinla East.

Koh Bon

Manta Ray. Credit Dean Croshere on flickr

Koh Bon lies between the Similian and Surin Islands and is regarded as the best place in Thailand to see Manta Rays. Suitable only for more experienced divers, the site ranges from 10 to 40 metres deep and experiences medium to strong currents.

The site has a sandy bottom as well as staghorn and brain coral alongside soft coral drifts.

Alongside the manta rays, who head here to be cleaned by the butterflyfish, best seen in April and May, the site also attracts moray eel, leopard sharks, whitetip reef shark

Koh Tachai

Rainbow Runner. Credit Rickard Zerpe on flickr

Located 20 km north of Koh Bon the dive site is also known as Twin Peaks due to the two pinnacles that make up the site. Depths range from 12 to 30 metres and currents can be strong meaning that this is a site for experienced divers.

The site sees a number of boulders surrounding the base of the pinnacles sitting on a sandy bottom. The area has a lot of seafans and coral gardens near the boulders as well hard coral on top of the pinnacles.

The site is popular with schooling fish. You will quite often see manta rays, batfish, leopard shark, turtles, barracuda, lionfish, pipefish and every now and then a whale shark.

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