After getting our open water and advanced certifications last year, we fell absolutely in love with scuba diving. The underwater world opened up an entire new universe for us to explore and we had so much ground to cover.
We had dozens of new items on our travel bucket list and the top dive sites in the world were the first on the list – including the Similan and Surin Islands in Thailand.
I’ve been obsessed with the Similans since snorkeling in the neighboring Surin National Park a couple of years ago on my round-the-world trip. The water in the Andaman Sea is my favorite – blues and greens so vivid they’re the ultimate eye candy for an underwater lover like me.
When we returned to Thailand this year I knew that I could not leave the country for a second time without visiting these elusive islands. Just imagine the wonders we would discover within the boulder formations at Elephant Rock and the spectacle of sea life we would experience in Richelieu Rock!
Since these dive sites are best accessible with liveaboards, we booked into a four day, four night trip that included fourteen dives. Talk about a lot of diving! We literally ate, went diving, ate, went diving, ate, went diving, ate, slept, and did it all again the next day.
Our action packed itinerary included dives in all the best spots: the Similans, Koh Tachai, Surin Islands, and the famous – Richelieu Rock.
In fact, we did three whole dives at Richelieu. This was one of the main reasons why we booked this specific trip. We wanted to have a chance to dive a variety of sites but also spend extra time in one of the world’s premier dive sites.
Despite the fact that the vibrant coral on Richelieu is best viewed in daylight, my favorite dive here was at sunset. As the sun went down and night fell, the ocean came alive! Everywhere I pointed my flashlight was buzzing with action. It was a class 5 tornado of silver swirls as the feeding frenzy surrounded us in the darkness.
The visibility in the Andaman Sea is extraordinary averaging at 15-20 meters on our dives. It was a sensory overload as we were overwhelmed with an ocean of activity. When we weren’t mesmerized by the beautiful coral, we were busy searching for the fish on our diving bucket list.
It was exciting to see our favorites like the delicately skirted cuttle fish and the cleverly camouflaged scorpion fish. The sweet lip schools were a treat to enjoy and always pretty to photograph. The lion fish were elegant and the baby puffer fish were the cutest.
Finding nemo is always an exciting highlight of any underwater trip. Our dive instructor went nuts over the colorfully minuscule nudibranches and the coral banded cleaner shrimp. I was ecstatic over the sole I managed to spot, a dancing octopus, and the schools of juvenile batfish. I was shocked swimming head on with two massive Humphead Wrasse and then the ultimate item on my Similans checklist: the leopard shark.
We even had the chance to swim with a friendly turtle that stops by to hang out every time the liveaboard boat visits her home. Every single creature is a joy to see and every moment I spend underwater is absolute bliss for me.
With so much beauty to see at the Similan and Surin dive sites, I think I need to go back on a second trip just to take it all in. There was so much to see and so little time – but that’s always the way. It was definitely one of the most memorable experiences of our entire fourteen month trip! For those traveling to Thailand and staying at a Phuket hotel ask about the boat tours to the Similan Islands. It’s a must see when in this colorful country!