The Similan Islands are part of Thailand’s Mu Ko Similan National Park, and offer some of the best diving in the world. The park covers an impressive 140 square kilometers and 11 islands make up the totality of the Similan Islands. Many consider it to be the best area to dive in Thailand as its relatively unexplored compared to the water around Koh Tao and close to Phuket.
One of the only ways to explore the Similan Islands is through a diving liveaboard trip. Most trips run between two to seven days long, and include all meals. While the route that the liveaboard takes is dependent on each operator, the dive site conditions, and the weather, you can expect to see colorful coral and plenty of unique fish at nearly every site.
Average water temperature: 26°C to 30°C (78°F to 86°F). Best time to dive in the Similan Islands: The region is part of a national park and open from October to May. Outside of these months, the marine park is closed to divers and liveaboard excursions because of monsoon season. Dive ability: Beginner to advanced. Some Similan Island liveaboard trips offer scuba certification courses. What you can expect to see on a Similan Islands, Thailand liveaboard trip: Diving in the Similan Islands will give you a chance to witness many types of marine life. Some favorite miniature creatures include seahorses, pipefish, frogfish, garden eels, and mantis shrimp. Around the reefs, you’ll see fish endemic to the Andaman Sea like octopus, batfish, anemone fish, eels, trigger fish, and much more. Some islands in the Similan Island chain are closed for turtle nesting sites so expect to see plenty of turtles during your journey. If you love larger ocean animals, divers often see whalesharks, many types of rays, reef sharks, manta rays, barracuda, Napoleon wrasse, and much more.
At a glance: The 10 Best Similan Islands Liveaboards
The sturdy MV DiveRACE Class E is a steel-hull yacht that was built in 2015 and 35 meters long. It primarily runs dive trips around the Similan Islands as well as the Mergui Archipelago. It caters to advanced divers as well as beginner divers and is rebreather friendly.
There are two cabin types onboard. The six twin or double bed cabins have a private balcony, ensuite bathroom, and air conditioning. There are also four cabins that sleep four people.
Onboard the MV DiveRACE Class E, you can get a massage in the private massage room, lounge in on the deck, or watch a movie on the 60-inch TV that’s capable of playing 3D movies.
Meals are served at your seat and typically include Thai, Asian, and Western style dishes. MY DiveRACE Class E strives to have at least one BBQ meal throughout your liveaboard trip. Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are available throughout the day and alcoholic is available for purchase.
The Thailand Aggressor is a luxury liveaboard yacht that ventures around the Andaman Sea and Similan Islands. It was built in 1977, renovated in 2013, is 35 meters long with two platforms, and can accommodate up to 18 guests. Dive courses are offered to beginner divers or those looking to advance their skills.
Each of the 9 cabins has an ensuite bathroom with shower, storage space, air conditioning, window, cabinet, wardrobe, hair dryer, flat-screen TV with access to movies, and more. Fresh towels are provided throughout the trip.
When you’re not diving, you’ll love spending time onboard getting a massage, drinking at the bar, lounging in the sun, relaxing in the Jacuzzi, or embarking on a shore excursion.
Breakfast and lunch is served buffet-style while dinner is served at your seat. The meals tend to include Thai, American, and Asian cuisine with BBQs also happening throughout the voyage.
Don’t let the name deceive you – The Junk is anything but! This stunning wooden liveaboard has three impressive sails and was once a merchant vessel that traded goods from Burma to Myanmar. It was built in 1962 and spans 33 meters long.
Its six cabins can host up to 18 divers in a variety of sleeping arrangements are available. Each room comes with air conditioning and an ensuite bathroom with hot water shower.
The main salon is air conditioned and is complete with a DVD library. You can even watch Swiss Family Robinson and James Bond The Man with the Golden Gun – two films with a celebrity appearance of The Junk!
The food served aboard The Junk is one of its main highlights. The chefs take pride in serving many types of cuisines and even serve breakfast twice.
Based in Phuket, Thailand, MV Giamani was built in 1998, is 24-meters long, and offers boutique dive trips around the Similan Islands.
MV Giamani has just five rooms, making it one of the most spacious liveaboards in the Similan Islands. Each cabin comes with air conditioning, a mini-fridge, and ensuite bathroom. The master cabin has an additional sofa bed and is set on the upper deck of MV Giamani.
You can spend your surface interval in the main salon watching TV or listening to music, read a book from the library, or sip a cold drink from the bar. Or, lounge on sun deck.
All meals are included with your trip as are snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is available for extra.
MV Bavaria is a stunning, 28-meter long, triple-deck liveaboard that was built in 2016 and can accommodate up to 24 guests in its 12 rooms. It offers trips around the Similan Islands, Koh Bon, and Richelieu Rock.
There are multiple cabin types. Every room comes with air conditioning and are cleaned each day. Rooms with a private ensuite bathroom are available on board as well.
On deck, you can enjoy heading straight into the water from the dive platform, lounge on the shaded deck, watch movies inside the main salon, and more.
All meals are included on the MV Bavaria with water, tea, juices, coffee, and snacks available in between chow time.
At a spacious 35 meters long and with stories, the MV Hallelujah is one of the largest liveaboards exploring the Similan Islands and Andaman Sea. This liveaboard was built in 2013 and can host up to 25 divers per trip.
MV Hallelujah has 13 cabins with air conditioning, a 220V power outlet, an ensuite private, and views of the sea.
Outside of the rooms, divers can lounge on the sun deck or watch movies in the air-conditioned salon. There are also desks where you can plug in any electronics and review dive pictures taken throughout the day.
All meals are served buffet-style and will feature fragrant, local Thai dishes as well as International fare. Snacks and non-alcoholic drinks are available throughout the day. Beer and wine are also available for an added cost.
MV Deep Andaman Queen is a modern liveaboard that frequents the Similan Islands as well as the Mergui Archipelago. It was built in 2008, is 28 meters long, and can accommodate up to 21 divers.
Each of the nine rooms have air conditioning and come in multiple room types ranging from standard, deluxe, and master. Fresh towels and housekeeping is provided daily.
Between dives, cool off with a drink and movie in the saloon. There is also a shaded lounge area on deck with lounge chairs. The liveaboard was created with divers in mind. There are two platforms to kit up on with freshwater showers and rinse tanks.
Three meals are served per day buffet-style and typically includes Thai, Southeast Asian, and Western cuisine.
The MV Dolphin Queen is a budget liveaboard that ventures on four-night trips around the Similan Islands, Koh Bon, and Richelieu Rock. It was built in 1999 and renovated in 2008.
Its eight cabins can host up to 24 divers with double and twin bed options that can sleep two or four guests. All cabins are air conditioned, window, privacy curtain, power outlet, and bathrooms are shared between them.
The MV Dolphin Queen tends to boast a lively and social atmosphere with guests where you can lounge on the sun deck or play cards on the dining tables.
Meals are served buffet-style three times per day and typically consist of European or Thai dishes. Unlimited snacks and drinks are also available to guests throughout the trip.
The MV Manta Queen is a liveaboard that spans 35 meters long and runs four-day long trips around the Similan Islands Koh Tachai, Koh Bon, and Richelieu Rock.
Onboard, the 11 rooms can accommodate up to 31 guests. There are six different room types that range from twin beds, twin bunk beds, double beds, and family or group rooms. Some rooms have air conditioning and ensuite bathrooms. Between dives, enjoy relaxing in the salon or lounging on the sun deck.
If you love Thai food, you’ll enjoy tasting local dishes cooked with love by Thai chefs three times per day. Drinks and snacks are also available upon request.
The Similan Explorer is the best budget liveaboard in the Similan Islands that typically ventures on two to three-day trips to some of the region’s best dive spots. The Similan Explorer was built in 2001 and can accommodate up to 18 guests. It is 25 meters long and has an upper platform.
There are eight cabins onboard – four bunkbed style cabins and two quad cabins. Each bed has a curtain and all cabins have air conditioning, shared bathrooms, and windows.
Between dives, you can watch movies in the main lounge or read up on the local marine life thanks to the Similan Explorer’s collection of fish identification books.
All meals are included, and you’ll get a chance to try local Thai fare onboard your journey. There are fruits and non-alcoholic beverages available throughout the day as well.
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