Why I chose to visit the Similan Islands
One of my longest day trips ever, but also what an experience! This warrants a post on its own as it is a highlight and it would not fit in my travel guide.
In Phuket, as mentioned in my travel guide, you get offered many different day trips by the tour operators. These include island hopping, elephant trekking, rafting, kayaking and many more.
I chose the Similan Islands as I had heard that the snorkelling spots and marine life were excellent here. One funny thing is that, when you book this day trip, the tour operator will give you a few different kinds of boats. You have the Chinese boat (mainland China), Thai boat and the European Boat. Since we spoke mainly English, we opted for the European Boat. However, as you would see below, we got sorted into the wrong one instead :p
It was really unfortunate that I did not have an action camera at this time to document the trip, or take underwater shots. However, fret not, the island hopping is not only about the wonderful snorkelling spots they have, the itinerary is pretty unique by itself.
You have to wake at 5.30-5.45 am. The minivan will come to pick you up by 6am. After picking you up, the minivan will go to various other hotels to pick up other passengers for the same day trip. Just be prepared for this. The Similan Islands take 3 hours one way to get there. But I guess thats the price you pay for beauty 🙂
After boarding your bus, you will spend 1.5 hours on the bus going to the jetty. After that, you take a boat ride which is another 1.5 hours to the Islands, where you snorkel with masks and fins that are provided free of charge. There are a total of 3 snorkelling spots and an island that you visit.
We were on board with a group of tourists from mainland China. I think they must have grouped us wrongly because we were Asian 😛 It was quite noisy in the boat but if you prefer less noise, do tell the boat sorter (If that’s what they’re called) to put you on the correct boat that you asked for when you first booked the day trip.
On this island, you can relax on the pristine main beach (shown below), which many people do, or do a short trek up to the viewpoint. It is quite a steep climb, but there will be fixtures that the locals put for you to get a grip on. Just be careful, make your way slowly and steadily and you’ll be fine!
Tip: Make sure to get to the viewpoint! It really is quite excellent and makes for a good photo overlooking the beach / bay area!
Tip: It is quite a slippery walk up towards the viewpoint, AND there will be locals managing the traffic. Thus, do expect a queue. But no worries, the queue moves reasonably fast and you’ll be up on the viewpoint in no time!
You eat lunch on the boat, and end the trip at 2-2.30pm, with which you embark on the ardous journey back to your hotel, which is another 3 hours.
Overall, I would only recommend this trip to people who have covered both Phi Phi Islands and Coral Island, and are looking for a more unique experience of island hopping. This is because of one factor: this trip takes very long. Though are the sites and marine life are rewarding, it does not warrant 6 hours of travel. The other two sites, Phi Phi and Coral are much more convenient to get to and they are amazing destinations by themselves.
I would also recommend not doing a day trip here but instead making this a proper destination, and staying here for a few nights. I heard that the diving here is amazing, unfortunately we were short on time and decided that a day trip was sufficient to give us a feel of the islands.
Do have fun in the Similan Islands!