Exploring the Similan Islands from Khaolak
A stay at Khaolak Merlin Resort is the ideal holiday for a family or couple that loves being immersed in a natural tropical environment. The resort provides easy access to all the sightseeing adventures available in and around Khaolak.
It’s the perfect place to stay to enjoy elephant bathing, jungle trekking, and exploring the jungle waterfalls of Khaolak. But the resort is also near the gateway of a very special group of islands that lie just off the coast of Thailand.
The Similan Islands can generally be reached only by boats departing from Thap Lamu Pier in the Khaolak region north of Phuket.
Thailand’s strict control over the islands is because of the need to conserve the rich marine life in the island’s surrounding waters. The islands are considered by many to be one of the best diving and snorkelling sites in the world, and as such, the government has had to limit the number of visitors to allow the island’s marine life and land wildlife to live and breed in peace. Therefore, the government imposes a limit of 3,325 visitors a day to the islands, and they are only open during the high season months, from 15th October to 15th May each year. Fortunately, these high-season months also usually promise the best weather for diving and snorkelling; the warm and mostly clear days with little wind produce calm seas and excellent visibility.
Rare and Vibrant Ecosystem
The islands offer a colourful and vibrant ecosystem with crystal-clear waters, pristine white-sand beaches, and hard and soft coral reefs. They’re also home to both reef-dwelling and pelagic marine life making the islands a mecca for divers and snorkellers. The reason for this wide variety of marine life is because of the island’s rare geographical configuration.
Most of the islands in Thailand are close to the mainland in relatively shallow water that extends around the islands. Deep water is only found many kilometres away off the coast. The Similan Islands offer both shallows that provide a haven for coral growth close to the islands and deeper water that completely surrounds the islands. This provides a rare mixture of both reef-dwellers and ocean-going, pelagic marine life.
The islands are a great place to see the most significant number of fish and marine life species in Southeast Asia, with four different species of shark, including the elusive and spectacular whale shark. They also provide a chance to see giant manta rays, blue-spotted ribbon tail rays, and spotted eagle rays. Great barracudas, three species of sea turtles, and three species of moray eels also live around the islands, in addition to countless varieties of ocean-going and reef-dwelling fish.
Some of the larger pelagic species only appear at certain times of the year. Manta rays and whale sharks generally visit the islands around February to April.
The islands also offer a treat for dedicated birdwatchers. Over 120 species of birds have been counted, including rare Nicobar pigeons, parasitic jaegers, and roseate terns.
Booking Your Similan Islands Adventure
Because of the need to keep close tabs on the number of visitors, there is generally no access to the islands direct from Phuket. The only exceptions are for live-aboard dive boats that offer multi-day dive trips to the islands and are registered with the government. This means that tourists who want to visit the islands for the day must depart on one of the tour boats from Thap Lamu Pier in Khaolak.
Thap Lamu Pier is just a 10-minute drive from Khaolak Merlin Resort, making it one of the closest resorts to the pier. Our staff can easily book a trip out to the islands for guests. The boat ride to the islands only takes about 90-minutes, and as they are open from 8 AM to 4 PM, you’ll be back in plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely dinner at the resort.
Stay at Khaolak Merlin Resort and explore the rare and natural beauty of the Similan Islands.