Thailand’s Similan Islands are open again for the 2023-2024 Similan liveaboard season. Here’s a trip report from one of the first liveaboards to head back out.
Barracuda off Richelieu Rock © firstname.lastname@example.org
Thailand’s Similan Islands reopened on 16 October 2023 after their usual annual five month closure. I was on the Blue Dolphin liveaboard again, one of the first dive boats to head back out to the Similans and they did not disappoint.
West of Eden corals © email@example.com
While we had some rainy weather and strong currents during the first couple of days which didn’t bode well for the rest of the trip, by the time we got to Richelieu Rock the conditions were absolutely perfect.
Emperorfish running over the corals, Richelieu Rock © firstname.lastname@example.org
The second dive at Richelieu was one of the best dives I’ve ever had on the Rock in nearly 20 years of diving it. Everything aligned – the sun was out, the water was a bedazzled blue and the sheer frenetic amount of life on the Rock and out into the blue did not stop for the entire dive. Forget being like an aquarium – it was like being caught in an underwater stampede.
Richelieu Rock Corals and Glassfish © email@example.com
A huge school of barracuda kept emerging from the depths and sweeping in over us to the rock, swinging back out in formation to disappear into the blue only to come back again and again.
Richelieu Rock yellow snapper circling the rock © firstname.lastname@example.org
A massive cyclone of jacks engulfed me and were too close to get a photo – not a problem that usually happens with fish. My dive guide Casey wondered where I’d gone for a moment.
Richelieu Rock reef scene © email@example.com
A hundred strong group of emperor fish thundered in across the sand down at 30 metres and then ran, reverse-lemming style, up the side of the rock over the corals.
Recommended Similan Liveaboards October 2023 to May 2024
On the rock itself, the ever present glass fish were present in their thousands, shimmering and shining across the famous bright reds and purples of Richelieu’s soft corals.
Yellow snapper head on, Richelieu Rock © firstname.lastname@example.org
Inside the horseshoe shape of Richelieu, the resident school of yellow snapper seemed to have multiplied since last season, hundreds of them moving together.
Richelieu Rock bommie and glassfish © email@example.com
It was one of those dives you just don’t want to end – just pure sensory overload, and Richelieu at its very best. You half expected a whale shark to turn up on the safety stop just to finish things off.
Elephant Head Rock shallows © firstname.lastname@example.org
Besides the joy of the Rock, there were several other pleasant surprises during the trip. West of Eden’s corals are looking very healthy, as were Three Trees, although we didn’t get to stay long to see them as there was a ripper of a current pushing us through.
Koh Tachai Batfish © email@example.com
Koh Tachai was also quite sparky and had a sizeable octopus who was happy to pose for photographers for a while. The batfish cleaning station was also a highlight, and like the octopus, they seemed relatively unbothered by divers passing by.
Octopus at Koh Tachai © firstname.lastname@example.org
Blue Dolphin have switched up their itinerary a bit this year – while it largely follows the same classics as last year – see my previous trip reports for more details – there were two different sites in the mix on this trip.
Richelieu Rock bommie © email@example.com
First was Snapper Alley in the Similans, which was a lovely reef for the sunset dive at the end of the first day. There was a huge shoal of sardines dancing over the reef which was pretty magical in the last light of the day. Looking forward to exploring this site more on subsequent trips.
Aow Pakkad Corals and Angelfish © firstname.lastname@example.org
Aow Pakkad was a new site to me in the Surin Islands, which we dived before heading to Richelieu Rock. It’s an alternative site to my beloved Ao Suthep and is fairly similar – another gorgeous hard coral garden in a sheltered bay that doesn’t get much deeper than 10 metres. As a way to begin the day it is hard to beat.
Aow Pakkad Corals and Divers © email@example.com
We did several dives at Koh Bon, including a dive out to the south east ridge at the southern end of the island which I don’t remember diving before and which had some interesting rock formations and coral bommies. It also had the benefit of less divers around.
Three Trees Corals © firstname.lastname@example.org
In all, it was another great trip out to the Similans with some surprises and new sites to explore. The beginning of the season can be a bit unpredictable weather wise but we were lucky with that too.
Christmas Point shallows © email@example.com
The Similan Islands 2023 – 2024 season runs from 16 October 2023 to 15 May 2024. You can check availability of Similan liveaboards during the season on Liveaboard.com and, if you have flexibility with your travel schedule, check for last minute liveaboard deals. Boats are already getting quite full as people return to Thailand to catch up on trips they had to postpone during the Covid pandemic, so it’s wise to plan ahead.
Koh Tachai fans © firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks as ever to Boots and all the crew on MV Blue Dolphin.
Koh Bon starfish seascape © email@example.com
Similan Liveaboards Overview
- Luxury Similan Island Liveaboards
- Mid Range Similan Island Liveaboards
- Budget Similan Island Liveaboards
- Last Minute Liveaboard Deals
- Diving The Similan Islands 2023: A Quick Guide
- Similan Islands Liveaboard Trip Report April 2023
- Similan Islands Liveaboard Trip Report February 2023
- Similan Islands Liveaboard Trip Report December 2022
- Diving Thailand Guide - Thailand’s best dive sites, Where to see manta rays and whale sharks, Similan trip reports and more