- Koh Similan Island (Koh Pad Island)
Koh Similan is the center of tourism and traveling of Mu Koh Similan Archipelago. Koh Similan Island is the largest island in the area. It has fine white-sand beaches, coral reef comprised of various colonies, and diving sites that cater to both shallow diving (snorkeling) and deep sea diving. On the northern side of the island, there is a boot-shaped rock followed by sail-shaped rock, which are the symbol of Mu Koh Similan Archipelago. Koh Pad Island is a tourist attraction that answers every tourism demand, from walking on the beach, diving to see the coral reef, trekking along the nature path, and visiting the beautiful attractions. There are 2 major beaches on Koh Pad Island, the one on the west side and the one on the east side. Both beaches are connected via a 2.5 kilometers trekking path through the jungle that will take you approximately 1.30 – 2 hours to a trip of nature studying. The Nation Park Protection Unit is located on Koh Pad Island, as well as the tourist service center, the camping ground, restaurants, and other facilities. Important tourist attractions of the island are, as follow.
- Ao KueakBay (Donal Duck Bay); which is located on the eastern area of Koh Pad Island, on the opposite site of Koh Kao Island. Donald Duck Bay is the largest bay of Koh Pad Island. The bay curves inward and looks like a horseshoe, with both sides stretch into the sea. On the right side of the bay, there is a large rocky mountain. On top of the mountain sits a weird looking sail-shaped rock, called Hin Rue Bai (The Sail Rock) that serves as a symbol of Mu Koh Similan Archipelago. The Donald Duck Bay has a white, fine sandy beach and clear water. The water is not too deep and it is good for swimming or snorkeling. In the area round the Sail Rock, there are many reefs and rocks where schools of fishes can be found, as well as several medium-sized coral reefs where new divers can train. Over the beach sit a large plain, though smaller than Koh Si’s area, where the Protection Unit of Mu Koh Similan Archipelago is located, as well as restaurants, rest rooms, tents for visitors. If you are visiting the island on a one-day trip, this is the place for you to rest and eat. Beside the beach for you to rest and swim, there is also a walk way that brings you over the Sail Rock, on a distance of around 150 meters, to a view point where you can see the entire area of the Donald Duck Bay, as well as getting the view of Koh Kao Island on the north and seeing the sunset. You may also like to visit the view point specialized for seeing the sunset, which is approximately 400 meters away from the service center, on another mountain on the north side of Koh Pad Island, where you can have the best view of the Sail Rock during the sunset in Mu Koh Similan Archipelago. Moreover, from the service center, you may take the natural walkway from the Donald Duck Bay to the Nguang Chang Bay. The trekking takes approximately 1.30 – 2 hours on a path of 2.5 kilometers long.
- Nguang Chang Bay; which is located on the western area of Koh Pad Island. Nguang Chang Bay is the only bay with beach on the eastern side of Koh Pad Island. The bay has a wide curve where the white sand beach stretches from one side to another, with a total length that is longer than the Donald Duck Bay’s beach. Many tourists choose to stay at the Donald Duck Bay and walk to visit the Nguang Chang Bay on a one-day trip, brining along their lunch to the picnic on the beach. In general, Nguang Chang Bay has a quiet and calm, and highly private, atmosphere. To visit the bay, visitors must travel on the natural walkway that starts from the Donald Duck Bay and ends at the Nguang Chang Bay, on a distance of 2.5 kilometers that takes approximately 1.30 – 2 hours to complete. On this path, visitors will be taken to the view point on the high ground, where they can see the southern side of Koh Pad Island, Hin Pusa Island, Koh Jed Island, Koh Hok Island, Koh Ha Island, Koh Si Island, and eventually Koh Nueang Island, clearly. This natural walkway is only suitable for those who stay the night on the island as it will take you 4-5 hours to go back and forth. Visitors should start early in the morning, packing their lunch with them, walk to stay and swim at Nguang Chang Bay, before returning in the after noon. Visitors who want to travel on this path should contact the National Park’s staffs for a guide.
- Koh Si Island (Koh Miang Island)
Besides Koh Pad Island, visiting Similan will never be completed without visiting Koh Si Island. Koh Si Island is the 2ndlargest island of Mu Koh Similan Archipelago and a virtual center of the archipelago, as it locates at the middle of the archipelago, with other islands surrounding itself as its satellites. The Office of Mu Koh Similan National Park is also located on this island. There are 2 important beaches on the island, namely, Nah Beach, which is located on the west side of the island; and Lek Beach, which is located on the east side. Nah Beach serves as the gateway to Koh Si Island and it has every facility visitors may require, including the lodging place, the camping ground, restaurants, rest rooms, an exhibition center, etc. Most tourists choose to stay the night on Koh Si Island as there is the long-tail boat service to take them to visit, swim, or dive at other islands. Besides servicing as the center of all the aforementioned facilities, there are 2 beaches where you can enjoy your day. Moreover, there are several beautiful view points, such as the Kha Luang View Point, which is a rocky cliff overlooking a Lek Beach on the east side of the island where you can admire the view of the Lek Beach, Koh Hok, and Koh Ha. This spot is also a good view point for seeing the sunrise in the morning. Koh Si Island is also a natural habitat of Hairy Leg Mountain Crab and Nicobar Pigeon, which can be abundantly found only on Koh Si Island, as well as Lyle’s flying fox, whose cry can be heard during the night. There are many interesting diving sites around Koh Si Island that are suitable for both snorkeling and diving.
- Nah Beach; this is the longest beach of Koh Si Island. Its attractive characteristics that charm those visitors of Koh Sir are the soft – fine sand and the clear water where you can see the sandy floor underneath. Nah Beach is recognized as one of the most beautiful beach of Thailand. The beach itself has a cool and pleasant forest. On the north side, there is a mountain that stretches into a rock cape where visitors may admire the view of the beach, as well as of Koh Jet Island and Koh Pad Island. On the south side of the beach, there are several large rocks that separate this beach from Nui Beach, a smaller beach of merely 200 meters in length. There is a path where you can walk from Nah Beach to Lek Beach at the back of Koh Si Island. The route is around 358 meters long and takes approximately 15 – 20 minutes to travel, where it leads you through a plentiful evergreen forest over a flat path.
- Lek Beach; this is a small beach, merely 200 meters in length. Lek Beach is quite popular among visitors as much as Nah Beach, as it has fine sand and shallow water that is most suitable for swimming. The beach is surrounded by a cool and pleasant forest and there are several small coral colonies in the shallow water. Especially on the northern rocky cape of the beach, where there are several rocky reefs and coral reefs, and lots of fish schools. Visitors who visit Lek Beach on the back of the island may also travel to Kha Luang View Point, on a distance of approximately 450 meters that takes around 30 minutes to travel.
- The Sunset View Point; from Nah Beach, there is a walkway that leads you pass the southern lodging houses up the hill, on a distance of approximately 400 meters that takes around 30 minutes, to the Sunset View Point of Koh Si Island. Even though this view point may not as grand as the sunset view point at Koh Pad Island, where you have the Sail Rock in the background, but it also presents quite a magnificent view of the large rocky reef as well. The most prominent characteristic of this view point is seeing the large sun slowly disappearing under the vast ocean, without anything else to obscure the view. The path leads to this Sunset View Point is also a short one, and it leads you over a low hill where a guide rope was laid down to aid your climb. After passing the hill the path is pleasant enough as it takes you along small ridges and Nui Beach, a small beach of merely 20 meters long, to the viewpoint.
Other diving sites of Mu Koh Similan Archipelago
Diving sites of Mu Koh Similan Archipelago can be categorized as the shallow diving site (snorkeling) and the deep sea diving site, as follow:
Snorkeling sites:there are plenty snorkeling sites around the islands but the most interesting sites are, including, Ao Hin Bay, The Sail Rock, Ao Gwang-ain Bay, Hin Dok Mai Rock and behind Koh Miang.
Deep sea diving sites:interesting sites are, including, Koh Bon Island, Christmas Rock, Fantasy Rock, Ao Gwang-ain Bay, Laem Prapakarn Cape, Pusa Rock, Hin Sarm Gon Rock, Hin Dok Mai Rock, Hua Koh Miang, Suan Pla Lai, Sunchalarm, and the Great Wall of China.
- Koh Sam Island; this island is also known as Koh Payan Island. In general, it is a rocky island with many cliffs and no beach; however, it presents many popular diving sites for the deep sea diver. The are many diving sites around the island that have been given with the names like ‘Sunchalarm’ (The Shark’s Ridge) or the Great Wall of China, that reflect the characteristics of this site. For example, the Great Wall of China is a diving site that has a massive underwater rocky wall, where you can find abundant schools of fishes that feed in the area, such as, the school of barracudas. There are also many beautiful sea fans in the area.
- Koh Ha Island; this is a smaller island but an interesting diving site with its unique beautiful characteristic, that is, the Moray Eels that can be found raising their heads up over their holes. As a result, the area is known as Suan Pla Lai (The Eel Garden). There are also many soft and hard corals in this area.
- Koh Hok Island; this island is also know as Koh Payu Island. It has rocky mountains and cliffs, and a beach and the coral reef along the eastern side, approximately 150 – 200 meters wide. The west side of the island has many tall cliffs, without any clear coral reef but several rocky reef and corals along the line. There are several large coral colonies at the depth of 20 meters. The northern side of the island has a small cape and the southern side is comprised of mostly a rocky reef.