Surin Islands scuba diving
Surin Islands scuba diving
Scuba diving in the Surin Islands is an exhilarating experience, with large pelagic shark species and plenty of turtles, coupled together with strong currents. Diving in the Surin Islands, your chances are good to see whale sharks and manta rays throughout the entire season.
Surin Island scuba diving is generally an inaccessible activity to day boats, and not often visited. The islands (2 main islands, and 3 smaller neighbouring islands) are absolutely clean and pristine. The very famous Richelieu Rock lies just 15 km to the east of the Surin Islands, and remains within the boundaries of Mu Koh Surin Marine National Park. The Marine Park was established in 1981 and has served to protect the integrity of the environment, banning destructive activities such as dynamite fishing. Hard coral species count is higher here than almost anywhere else in Thailand as a result.
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Marine life in the Surin Islands
Scuba diving in the Surin Islands, you will be greeted by an overwhelming density of fish. These islands provide some of the only sanctuary for life in what otherwise is a deep and featureless sea. Abundant life is supported by the large amount of freely available nutrients, carried by currents from exceedingly deep waters.
This ensures many larger species are widespread, including Napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrotfish, oceanic whitetip and blacktip reef sharks and grouper. While scuba diving in the Surin Islands, you will also have the chance to see eagle rays, and most dives are uplifted by the stunning colours of fusiliers who sometimes follow scuba divers on safety stops.
Best dive sites in the Surin Islands
Southeast Point is located on the south eastern point of Koh Surin. The seascape consists of two parallel ridge-mounds of granite boulders. This interesting site is often battered by strong currents, attracting whitetip and sometimes grey reef sharks. The boulders provide many cracks and crevices for delicate species, including the ornate ghost pipefish, and the Andaman rabbitfish, to find shelter. Huge shoals of sweetlips congregate above the most prominent boulders while it's also possible to see titan triggerfish patrolling in between.
Situated on the east coast of Koh Torinla is a fairly shallow site, engulfed by large coral plateaus of staghorn and stony corals. At low tide, these break the surface, and play host to all sorts of wonderful species including batfish, eagle rays, jawfish, and even the small yet ferocious mantis shrimp. Sandy patches provide a resting spot for the occasional nurse shark, while rocky ridges attract shoals of barracuda.
Best time to dive in the Surin Islands
The scuba diving season is officially from October until May (usually from the 15th to the 15th). Seas are at their calmest, and skies at their clearest during these months. Outside of these months, the weather is somewhat less predictable and the seas considerably rougher.
The best time to embark upon your scuba diving tour of the Similan Islands is from December until April, and whale shark and manta ray sightings are most prevalent during February. As sea temperatures rise to a high of 88 Fahrenheit (31C), plankton begins to bloom, feeding on the nutrients carried from deep waters by strong currents. This in turn attracts the whale sharks, and also predatory sharks and barracuda. At its coolest, water temperatures hover around 81 Fahrenheit (27C) at the beginning of the scuba diving season. Visibility is usually around 100 feet (30 m) although it will drop slightly during February on account of the plankton blooms.
As the scuba diving season opens, between November and January, there are occasionally very strong currents. This is when you are most likely to see the biggest pelagic species, including huge schools of trevallies and barracudas.
Experience level for diving the Surin Islands
The Surin Islands offer sites suitable for all levels of scuba divers. Some sites are prone to strong currents, and those sites demand the experience of a more advanced diver, although there are many other sites that are fairly well sheltered and can be enjoyed by everyone.
How do I get to the Surin Islands
Phuket or Khao Lak is the starting port for most liveaboard cruises. Both ports are relatively easy to reach with many direct international flights now available to Phuket International Airport. Some long-haul flights will require a connection, typically via Bangkok. Depending on your initial departure location, it is also possible to connect via Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney, Moscow or United Arab Emirates.
Once you have landed in Phuket, reaching your liveaboard in Khao Lak follows a further 100 km drive to the north. Many Thailand liveaboards will be able to provide direct transportation from the airport. It is also possible to rent a car, or catch a bus as well. The journey is usually less than 2 hours, and follows a beautiful coastal road along Highway 402, which merges into Highway 4. For those who choose to drive, most signs are posted in both Thai and English.