The Surin Islands national park
The Surin Islands are much less visited than the Similan Islands, they see far fewer day trippers each day and very few liveaboard dive boats dive the Surin Islands proper. Most boats show Surin on their schedule but what they really mean is Richelieu Rock, which is a small pinnacle within the national park.
The lack of visitors is one reason why we especially recommend the Surin Islands national marine park to snorkelers looking to escape the crowds. The shallow reefs of the Surin islands are easier for snorkeling than the Similan Islands and the reefs have recovered very well from the El Nino bleaching of a few years ago, they are now in excellent shape.
Divers still have more choice of dive sites at the Similan Islands but the fish life is excellent at Surin, especially the macro stuff.
Popular dive sites include Koh Torinla which is full of bat fish, Hip Rap (turtles) and Surin Dtai which is full of the usual colourful reef fish like sweetlips, parrotfish, snapper, fusilier, anemone fish and so on.
Turtles are very common at the Surin islands and black tip reef sharks are also often seen, especially in the shallow water near the shore.
The Surin Islands has stunning beaches and is also home to a small community of Moken sea gypsies, an indigenous tribe of nomads struggling to maintain their freedom and traditional ways.
There is a camp site at the Surin Islands which can be booked as part of a snorkeling overnight tour but there is no dive centre or facility for filling cylinders on the islands.
The Surin Islands tourist season for diving and snorkeling is from November to April.
The Surin Islands snorkeling
Day trip to the Surin Islands by speed boat
The Surin Islands is national park is made up of five islands located 90 kilometres north west of Khao Lak. The islands are all uninhabited except for a small sea gypsy community and a few park rangers.
The Surin Islands is popular with Thai tourists, less so with overseas tourists. The shallow reefs are more accessible than many of the Similan reefs and there are more turtles to see. The Surin Islands beaches are absolutely stunning.
Surin Islands snorkeling tours also include a visit to the Moken sea gypsy village where the Moken people attempt to maintain a traditional way of life.
Surin Islands snorkeling day trip price: 3,900 baht per adult, 2,000 baht per child 4-11 years old)
From Khao Lak: 3,900 baht per adult / 2,500 baht per child (4-12 years)
Add 400 baht per person for Phuket transfers.
Included: National park fees, mask, snorkel, fins, life jacket, guide, lunch, drinking water, round trip hotel transfers from Khao Lak main beach hotels (transfer fees may be charged for other areas).
*Speedboat day trips are not suitable for infants, pregnant women or the elderly over 70 years.
07.30 hrs: Pick up from your Khao Lak hotel and transfer to the speedboat pier at Ban Nam Kem (30 minutes north of Khao Lak)
At the pier check in, meet your guide, get fitted for mask and fins, grab a coffee and snack.
8.30 hrs: Speedboat to the Surin Islands. The journey time is about 90 minutes.
10.00-11.00 hrs: First snorkeling session.
11-11.40 hrs: Visit the Moken village.
11.40-12.30 hrs: Second snorkeling session.
12.30-14.30 hrs. Lunch at the national park cafe on the north Surin island and time to relax on the beach.
14.30-15.15 hrs. Third snorkeling session.
15.15-16.45 hrs: Depart the Surin Islands and return to the mainland.
16.45 hrs: Land transfer from Ban Nam Kem back to your hotel. Guests staying in Khao Lak will be back at their hotel at about 17.45 hrs. Arrive back at Phuket hotels around 19.00 hrs.
*itineraries are subject to change
Surin Islands snorkeling liveaboard
There is a cheap and cheerful liveaboard called the Reggae Queen that runs 3 day 3 night trips to the Surin Islands plus Koh Bon and Koh Tachai.
It’s for snorkelers only and includes some beach excursions on the islands.
Reggae Queen departs from Khao Lak on Wednesdays and Sundays in season from November to April.
Surin Islands diving liveaboard
The Similan Explorer is the only dive boat that we know of currently spending any time in the Surin Islands.
It runs 5 day 5 night trips that also include the Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock.
One day of the trip is spent at Surin and guests can also visit the Moken.