A sample Similan Islands liveaboard itinerary
We are often asked what duration of Similan Islands liveaboard we recommend.
The standard length of trip is 4 nights on board. Longer and shorter trips are available but a 4 night trip covers most of the best dive sites. These include diving at the Similan Islands plus Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock.
The Similans consists of 9 islands in a chain with island 1 to the south and island 9 to the north. The bottom 3 islands are closed to tourists so diving is concentrated around the top 6 islands.
Further north are two seperate islands of Koh Bon and Koh Tachai which are included in the Mu Ko Similan Marine National Park.
Further north still is Richelieu Rock which is a pinnacle located within the Surin Islands marine national park.
There is a fee for entering a national park which must be paid on each entry. Currently it’s 500 baht per person for the Similan NP and 500 baht per person for the Surin NP.
There is also a daily diving fee of 200 baht per diver per day.
So total marine park fees on a 4 day 4 night Similan/Richelieu Rock liveaboard are 1,800 baht per diver and 1,000 baht per non diver.
Each liveaboard has it’s own itinerary, and the itineraries have to be flexible depending on the weather, the tides, the experience level of the divers, the location of other dive boats, and recent marine life sightings. Cruise directors make dive site decisions on a day by day basis. There are enough dive sites to choose from to allow a lot of flexibility.
Typical Similan Islands liveaboard itinerary
A typical 4 day 4 night trip will depart from Khao Lak (Thap Lamu pier) in the evening and cruise west to the Similan Islands, arriving late at night and mooring up for a good night’s sleep.
The first day diving will be at the Similan Islands, usually at 4 different dive sites. The Similans has two distinct types of dive site. Sloping coral reefs and gigantic granite boulder dive sites. It’s quite unique to get such different styles of diving so close together.
The boat will then move north for overnight mooring at Koh Bon. This puts you on the spot for an early morning dive at Koh Bon on diving day 2. That’s before the day trippers arrive and it’s the most common time to see the manta rays that hang out at Koh Bon. This is the beauty of a liveaboard, you do the best dive sites at the best time of day.
After two morning dives at Koh Bon the boat then moves north again to Koh Tachai for the rest of the day and for overnight mooring.
On diving day 3 you will either do the first dive at Koh Tachai and then move to Richelieu Rock. Or slip moorings early to be at Richelieu Rock for the first dive. The rest of the day is spent at Richelieu Rock which is widely regarded as Thailand’s best dive site. Overnight mooring for the final night will be Koh Tachai.
On the final day of diving there are two morning dives. The last dive is finished at about midday. Then the boat cruises back to Thap lamu pier.
Is it a 4 day or a 5 day trip?
There is often some confusion because different boats refer to their itineraries differently.
Some say 5 days 4 nights because they include the first evening as day 1.
Others say 4 days 4 nights and refer to the first evening as day 0 and the following day as diving day 1.
More accurate may be to say 4 nights 4 days since the trips start in the evening.
Here is the same itinerary written two different ways:
5 days 4 nights
Day 1: 1700 hrs. Board and cruise to the Similan Islands
Day 2: 4 dives at the Similan Islands then cruise to Koh Bon for overnight mooring.
Day 3: 4 dives at Koh Bon and Koh Tachai. Overnight at Koh Tachai.
Day 4: 4 dives Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock. Overnight at Koh Tachai.
Day 5: 2 dives then return to Khao Lak
4 nights 4 days
Night 1: 1700 hrs. Board and cruise to the Similan Islands
Day 1: 4 dives at the Similan Islands then cruise to Koh Bon for overnight mooring.
Day 2: 4 dives at Koh Bon and Koh Tachai. Overnight at Koh Tachai.
Day 3: 4 dives Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock. Overnight at Koh Tachai.
Day 4: 2 dives then return to Khao Lak
Transfers for Similan Islands liveaboards
Most boats (but not all) depart from and return to Khao Lak. For liveaboards that depart in the evening, pick ups are arranged from hotels in Khao Lak, and Phuket which is about 90 minutes drive from Khao Lak.
In most cases a shared minivan service is provided free of charge. Some boats charge a small extra fee for transfers. Some of the cheapest boats do not provide transfers, you will be advised at what time you need to be at the dive centre, or at the pier for embarkation.
As each liveaboard has it’s own policy and different timings it’s important to check with us in advance.
Some hotels with a Khao Lak address are actually a long way from Khao Lak proper. Some hotels with a Phuket address are actually on other islands! Transfers cannot be arranged from these out of the way locations.
Pick ups are not provided from private addresses or AirBnB’s. Thai street addresses are notoriously difficult to find.
If you arrive at Phuket airport we can arrange pick up directly from the airport, again just check the timings with us. We can also arrange pick up from Rassada pier if you are coming from Phi Phi, Krabi or Lanta.
Flying after diving
It’s amazing how many divers forget what they were taught in their open water course so this is just a reminder. You should leave 24 hours between flying and diving in any plane.
Most liveaboards include two dives in the morning of the last day. So unless you want to skip those dives you should plan your flight after midday on the following day.
The shortest Similan Islands liveaboard itinerary that we offer is 2 days 1 night. We also have 3 day 2 night trips. These itineraries are completely different, often departing in the morning.
We also have Similan liveaboards departing from Phuket, Kuraburi and Ranong.