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The Similan Islands are nine small islands has been a national marine park for decades, and so the land is undeveloped and the clear waters are literally teeming with tropical fish.
The diving here is exceptional—very likely the best in the region—thanks to giant granite boulders that line the shores and the underwater topography, down to about 35 meters. The beaches too are beautiful, with white sand, tropical rainforest and large granite outcroppings.
A speedboat from Phang-Nga takes about 90 minutes to get to the islands, but a slower boat from Phuket could take a full day.
The islands are at their best December to March. Day trips for snorkelers are available, but divers should consider staying several days. Dive shops in Phuket and Phang-Nga can arrange tours.
The cheapest way to reach the islands may be a National Park Service boat. Charters are also available, though they cost more. In terms of accommodations, bungalows and tents are available on the fourth island, Koh Miang, where the park service headquarters is based. There’s also a restaurant.
Anyone staying overnight is recommended to bring bug spray and a flashlight.