Surin Islands diving
Mu Ko Surin Marine National Park
The Surin Islands are just 7 kilometres inside Thailand’s territorial waters, south of Myanmar in the Andaman sea and north of the Similan Islands. This is a different place to Surin beach in Phuket.
While the Similan islands are more renowned as a diving destination the Surin Islands also has some awesome dive sites. Richelieu Rock, the best dive site in Thailand, is considered part of the Surin Islands marine park. Very few dive boats dive the Surin Islands proper, when they advertise that they visit the Surin islands they are actually referring to Richelieu Rock.
There are two main islands in the Surin Islands marine park, Surin Nua (North) and Surin Dtai (South). There are also three smaller islands, Koh Pachumba, Koh Chi and Koh Torinla. Plus two exposed rock outcroppings called Hin Gong and Hin Rap.
The Surin Islands have also become known for the once nomadic sea gypsy tribe, known as Moken or Chao Ley, that have made a home there. Otherwise the islands are uninhabited. There is a national park campsite and 2d 1n camping and snorkeling excursions are a cheap way to visit the islands.
Surin Islands diving
The Surin Islands diving season is November to May. February to April is the best time to spot large pelagic species like whalesharks and mantas. The national park is closed from mid May to mid October
Because fewer boats make the trip to Surin it is sometimes thought that Surin islands diving is inferior to Similan Islands diving, but that is not the case.
Divers that do make it this far north are also pleasantly surprised by the excellent macro critters, such as harlequin ghost pipefish, robust ghost pipefish and seahorses. There are species at the Surin Islands that are rare elsewhere in Thailand, such as Napoleon Wrasse, Bumphead parrotfish, Tomato Anemone fish and Yellow Mask Angelfish. Plus the Andaman jawfish which you won’t find anywhere else and can sometimes be seen protecting hundreds of eggs in it’s mouth.
Dynamite fishing was a problem in the past but the park is now protected. Shallow reefs that also suffered severe bleaching in the early 2000’s have also recovered very well and the Surin Islands is now considered better for snorkelers than the Similan Islands.
Koh Torinla is one of the most popular dive sites at the Surin Islands. On the east coast of Torinla island a hard coral reef runs parallel to the shore and makes an easy relaxing dive from one end to the other. Visibility is usually excellent and currents weak. Marine life is prolific, highlights are the long nosed batfish, grey reef sharks and eagle rays.
The Surin Islands also has spectacular beaches and bays. In the islands jungle interior there are several trails that you can walk through on the look out for crab eating macaques, squirrels, deer and flying foxes. Bird watchers can see Hornbills, Nicobar pigeons, Kingfishers, white bellied sea eagles and kites.