Surin Islands Liveaboard Diving

Location: Thailand Thailand

The Surin Islands is a mini archipelago close to the border with Myanmar (Burma). The five islands are not nearly as popular as The Similan Islands, which are a little further south, but they are very worthwhile visiting for a number of reasons. Diving Surin Islands is great for all levels of diver. There are some excellent diving sites, including Richelieu Rock and the gently-sloping shallow reefs in protected bays make for some of the best snorkelling in Thailand. In addition, for activities out of the crystal-clear sea, there are local villages to visit and some very special wildlife species, including mammals and birds.

Surin Islands
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Underwater Activities at The Surin Islands

The sea around the Surin Islands in southern Thailand is crystal clear and turquoise in colour. Due to the distance from any civilisation, there is almost no pollution in the environment, and therefore the corals are healthy which enables reef life to flourish. There are lots of resident species which spend their whole lives here, as well as some pelagic species which visit to hunt, breed or be cleaned. This truly is an underwater oasis, and it can be enjoyed by new & experienced scuba divers as well as those who just like to snorkel.

Scuba Diving at The Surin Islands

Liveaboard scuba diving surin islandsRichelieu Rock is technically & geographically within the Mu Ko Surin National Marine Park, it is a submerged pinnacle with no beach and very little to see within 5 metres of the surface. This text is about the Surin Islands, which have beaches, flora, fauna and human settlements. There are several diving sites around The Surin Islands, with Ko Torinla being the most popular. Not many boats come just here to dive because day trip & liveaboard diving boats need to come past the better dive sites to reach the Surin Islands. Therefore, almost every diving boat here is combining diving at Surin with other dive sites, most notably Richelieu Rock. In general, the dive sites are nice, but not spectacular. They are also relatively easy to dive, due to the protected bays.

Snorkelling at The Surin Islands

Unlike some areas of the Similans, most reefs around The Surin Islands are in very shallow water and are protected from winds, waves and even currents. The mangroves are perfect nurseries for many fish species, including small sharks. This means that snorkelling here is very popular. The remote location ensures that pollution is kept to a minimum and the reefs are not overcrowded because visiting the area is at least a whole-day trip and sometimes longer. In general, snorkelling trips to the Surin Islands don’t offer scuba diving. However, most diving trips welcome non-diving guests who pay a lower rate and can enjoy some wonderful snorkelling. The problem is that the itineraries focus on diving, meaning that snorkellers need to fit in with that, which can be frustrating.

Land-Based Activities at the Surin Islands

The Surin Islands aren’t just for spending time in the water. There are other activities to enjoy there, which include visiting local communities and looking for birds, mammals and reptiles. Everyone who enters the park must pay an entry fee, and scuba divers have to pay an extra fee per day. Those who come to snorkel or stay on the land do not need to pay the diving fee.

Visiting local villages at The Surin Islands

There are two local villages which are home to about 150 Moken people in total on the islands. Some scuba diving liveaboard trips often visit these villages to break up the time they spend at sea. Although the local people are quite used to foreigners and their gadgets, they are still very much islanders. Their way of life is very traditional, and for generations, they have lived off of the land and sea. Not all of the effects from tourism are beneficial, but there are certain rules and procedures that visitors must adhere to so that the island way of life can continue unspoilt.

Special Birds, Mammals, & Reptiles Live on The Surin Islands

Coming to the Surin Islands is not just about what creatures you can see in the crystal clear sea. There are plenty of interesting mammals, birds and reptiles which live here and almost nowhere else. Also, several species of migratory birds come and go during the year. In particular, the Nicobar Pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica) & the Sunda Flying Lemur (Galeopterus variegatus) are popular attractions for birdwatchers and mammal enthusiasts.

Is There Accommodation on The Surin Islands?

There are some government-run tents and bungalows on the northern of the two main Surin Islands. Booking to stay there needs to be done through specific local travel agents who work with the national park authorities. The bungalows are very simple, and the rates are reasonable.

The Surin Islands Summarised

This wonderful group of 5 mostly-uninhabited islands just inside Thailand very near to the Burmese border is home to a community of local people and several species that live almost nowhere else. However, most people come to see what they can find underwater in the clear & warm sea. Snorkellers tend to come on day trips from Ranong or the northern parts of Phang Nga Province. Scuba divers who visit The Surin Islands are usually doing so as part of a scuba diving liveaboard trip that could be four days in length or more.

Conditions at Surin Islands

5 - 20+ metres
16.4 - 65.6+ ft
25 - 29 °C
77 - 84.2 °F
5 - 20 metres
16.4 - 65.6 ft
Mostly calm

When to dive at Surin Islands

Best Times: November to April

Although the Surin National Marine Park opens on October 15th and closes on May 15th, the best months are from November to April, and the peak period is December to March. This is because the Indian Ocean monsoon causes unpredictable seas that can result in high waves. 

Type of dive site

Coral reef

The half a dozen dive sites around the Surin Islands are all coral reefs. They are not very deep, with few areas exceeding 25 metres. They are generally sloping reefs, surrounded by soft sand. Most are sheltered from The Andaman Sea. Currents are rarely strong at the Surin Islands' dive sites.

Where is Surin Islands?

The Surin Islands are the northernmost Thai islands out in the Andaman Sea and are approximately 10 km. from the border with Myanmar (Burma). Koh Phyam and Koh Chang (Andaman) are further north, but very close to the mainland. On a clear day, it's easy to see the southernmost Burmese islands of the Mergui Archipelago.

How to get to Surin Islands

Liveaboard Boat

Located 60km from the mainland, it's only practical to travel to the Surin Islands as part of a liveaboard diving cruise, that includes Richelieu Rock. Some day trip boats travel to the islands, but these are normally only for snorkelling.

Who can dive at Surin Islands

All levels.

Anyone can dive at Thailand's Surin Islands because the dive sites are easy (mild or no currents), and quite shallow. There is healthy marine life right up to the surface. From time to time the local authorities may prohibit learning to dive within the national marine parks.

What marine life can you see at Surin Islands?

There is a wide range of marine life at The Surin Islands. Large pelagic species don't usually visit because Richelieu Rock is better for them and nearby. However, there are plenty of resident fish, reptiles and invertebrates that make the coral reefs and sandy seabed into their homes.

You can also see
Click marine life images/links for more details!

Summary of Surin Islands

Thailand's Surin Islands are a wonderful opportunity for some excellent diving. Because most visitors come to snorkel (not dive) it's rarely crowded under the surface here. Also, because Richelieu Rock is so close most divers in the vicinity want to spend as much time as possible there. This leaves The Surin Islands rarely busy and the marine life and corals benefit from fewer divers in the water. Depths rarely exceed 25 metres and the conditions are nearly always calm at and under the surface. Corals are in great condition, and this attracts lots of marine life, which is diverse and abundant. 

Liveaboard Dive Boats That Visit Surin Islands

Free Scuba Diver!
T-shirt & wrist band
+ Drybag or Beach towel
all liveaboard guests

Latest Reviews Average Rating 8.7/10 Based on 23 Diver Reviews for Liveaboards - Surin Islands

MV Lapat MV Lapat
Review score: 8/10
Dived: 06 Mar 2020
Had a great few days on the MV Lapat. The crew and instructors really looked after us with some great dive sites, and we were well looked after with p...
MV Lapat MV Lapat
Xavier Tinel
Review score: 10/10
Dived: 24 Jan 2020
Un mot:Merveilleux Une image :il y’en a trop Bref Allez y!!!!...
MV Lapat MV Lapat
Review score: 10/10
Dived: 16 Jan 2020
We had a great experience with an excellent dive master, new and high quality equipment, amazing food on board and a nice boat. Highly recommend....
MV Lapat MV Lapat
Review score: 9/10
Dived: 03 Jan 2020
Loved every minute of it...
Blue Dolphin Blue Dolphin
Review score: 10/10
Dived: 08 Dec 2019
Communication was extremely easy. All pre-dive forms and information was completed online, including type/size of rental gear needed if any. There w...
MV Bunmee 3 MV Bunmee 3
Juan Aguilar
Review score: 10/10
Dived: 24 Nov 2019
We had a great experience at this liveaboard. Bang (Dive Master and guide) and his crew were amazing on every way possible; food, attention, kindness,...
MV Lapat MV Lapat
Lessard Luc
Review score: 3/10
Dived: 22 Nov 2019
We did a very long drive from Canada to reach the Similan islands and our expectations were high. With us you also emphasized the importance of havin...
MV Bavaria MV Bavaria
Review score: 7/10
Dived: 19 Oct 2019
Had a great dive trip on the Bavaria. From setting the trip up with Jamie to the dive boat and the dive crew and of course the diving itself. Jamie wa...
MV Lapat MV Lapat
Review score: 9/10
Dived: 23 Apr 2019
Nice stay in MV Lapat. Great crew, always giving the best. The gear ea sin good conditions, the guides madre a great job and the food was very nice...
MV Lapat MV Lapat
Jil & Thierry
Review score: 9/10
Dived: 22 Apr 2019
We had a great time on the MV Lapat! The crew was very friendly, the food was yummy and the boat was great! Our diveguides Dennis and Tik did everythi...
MV Lapat MV Lapat
Review score: 10/10
Dived: 13 Feb 2019
Nice experience, from first contact to look what trip to make, until under water! Great team & great site!!...
MV Lapat MV Lapat
Chay & Fran
Review score: 9/10
Dived: 05 Feb 2019
the trip on the MV Lapat was great. everything was well organised. the crew on board was very helpful. they prepared everything for you - the equipeme...
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