There is much for you to discover in Thailand

Surin Archipelago

This is a rich national maritime park on Thailand’s southern west coast. A quiet and beautiful spot in the Andaman Sea, it edges the Thai-Myanmar nautical border and is under the administration of Khuraburi District, Phang-Nga Province. Lying about 60 km offshore, it covers an area of 135 square kilometers, 76% of which is the sea. Because of the abundance of the untouched flora and fauna both on terrain and underwater, the islands were delegated as the nation’s 29th national marine park on July 9, 1981. This archipelago consists of five islands: Koh Ri, Koh Surin Neua, Koh Surin Tai, Koh Klang (Koh Pachumba) and Koh Kai (Koh Torinla). Koh Surin Neua and Tai are the largest.

Thailand Sea

Acclaimed as a divers’ paradise, these five islets are host to beautiful shallow coral reefs — a fringing reef type formed by the accumulation of limestone. It has an enormous solid coral foundation, the largest shallow coral reef in Thailand . The reefs are in three sections: the Reef Flat next to the shore, the Reef Edge where the reefs are the most abundant and the Reef Slope, so that both snorkeling and scuba diving are an easily accessed delight. Visibility is a spectacular 20 meters. And thanks to the great diversity of coral and the creatures that call it home, divers stand a good chance of seeing nine rare creatures: Whale Sharks (the world’s largest fish), Manta Rays, Silvertip Sharks, White-Spotted Guitarfish, Humphead Parrotfish, Cockatoo Fish, Seahorse, Ghost Pipefish and Triton Trumpet. Examples of these rare creatures are also on display alongside a load of others at the Exhibition Center at Surin Archipelago National Park Office. It’s worth checking this out on advance of diving, so you get a feel for what you see below the surface.

For those at the beginner level, take a little walk southward from the park office and try snorkelling at Ao Chong Kad, the strait between Koh Surin Neua and Tai, where the water is only 1-3 meters deep. However, the currents can fluctuate, so it’s worth checking before you dive. Here you can see huge schools of tiny Anemone Fish, Pipe Fishes, Parrot Fishes, shells, coral bushes and sponges. Thee more advanced divers can take a long tail boat to Ao Suthep, northwest of Koh Surin Tai, and Ao Jak, northeast of Koh Surin Neua. Reefs at these two bays are a bit further offshore and still untouched by mass diving because because it is only accessible by boat. Ao Suthep is famous for its pristine coral reef that extends as much far 1,200 meters while Ao Jak is attractive for a wide collection of curious but tame colorful fishes and beautiful corals. For advanced divers, Ao Tao and Ao Pak Kad are places to see the soft coral reefs, the rare Hawksbill Turtle, the Yellowmask Angelfish or even sharks.

sea in Thailand

The truly adventurous can opt for a night dive to see rare night sea hangers like Hingebeak Shrimp, Cleaner Shrimp and Dendronephthya, a kind of sea crab. Others include Moray, Pufferfish, Barracuda and Rock Lobster.

Other bays and islets of the archipelago are preserved areas where diving is not recommended or the coral reefs need to be restored or studied. They are Koh Ri, Koh Pachumba, Koh Kai (Koh Torinla), Hin Pae, Ao Mae Yai, Ao Sai En and Ao Sai Daeng.

Points of interest on these islands are not limited to sea creatures. There are also indigenous Sea Gypsies (the Morgan) who lead a simple way of life, making a living from fishing using centuries-old methods, and living in boats during the rainy season.

Staying on this group of islands requires at least two overnights. Accommodation is very basic with no air-conditioned rooms. There are eight bungalows for 6-8 persons with fans and private restrooms, a row of five rooms for three persons with shared restrooms and campsites. Accommodation must be reserved in advance. Coupons are used instead of the cash on these islands. Fees are 40 baht for adult tourists, 20 baht for children and 200 baht for foreigners. Food can be found at the park office canteen at reasonable prices. Breakfast costs 80 baht, lunch at 90 baht and dinner 180 baht.

The trip there takes four hours by boat from the pier at Khuraburi District. Just remember to respect the environment there as much as possible. Garbage bins on the islands are covered with nets thwart scavenging monkeys and all garbage generated offshore is removed and disposed of on the mainland.