Similan Snorkeling vs Similan Diving

Happy snorkelers give the thumbs up

Similan Snorkeling vs Similan Diving

We are going to discus the pros and cons of Similan snorkeling vs Similan diving.

Of course the Similan Islands are a great place for both activities. So this is just for fun and to present a few facts about what both divers and snorkelers can expect at the Similan Islands. I have had a lot of experience working in  the Similans as both a Similan dive guide and Similan snorkeling guide.

Similan Snorkeling

Similan snorkeling is a beautiful way to get up close to marine life without having to do a dive course. Dive courses are quite expensive. They also require a few valuable days of your holiday for training. Snorkeling does not require any training, it’s a sport and even non swimmers can enjoy when using floatation devices.

Snorkeling is a non intrusive way to view the underwater world. When scuba diving, the noise from the bubbles of expelled air can disturb fish life, interrupting their natural behaviour. When snorkeling on the surface it is possible to view the life for a long as you desire. Sometimes at the Similan Islands a turtle may come up for a closer look at you.

Snorkeler descends with a GoPro at Richelieu Rock Proficient snorkeling skills

Proficient snorkelers can also descend a few metres for a closer look at the many barracuda, moray eels, parrot fish, puffer fish, clown fish and octopus that inhabit the reefs around the Similan Islands. At Koh Bon it is also possible to snorkel with Manta Rays which commonly swim near the surface. Andaman Snorkel Discovery also try to show you some places where you can  see juvenile sharks when snorkeling.

Unlike diving, there are no time constraints with snorkeling. Air is supplied directly through your snorkel so you never need to watch you air supply. Diving also puts limits on the amount of time you can spend underwater due to breathing compressed gas underwater. If you are enjoying your time snorkeling, keep on doing it!

Similan Snorkeling Conditions

The nine islands that make up the Similan Islands National Park are surrounded by sloping corals reefs, some only a couple of metres in depth. A lot of the marine life found around the Similan Islands, especially juvenile fish, like the safety and protection offered by these extensive reefs.

The vivid coloured powdered blue surgeon fish The vivid coloured powdered blue surgeon fish

These shallow coral reefs also make for perfect snorkeling conditions. Even if it is your first time. The waters around the Similan Islands let you experience the world’s real natural aquarium. The colours seen through the clarity of the water is incredible. When Similan diving a lot of the spectacular colours are lost as you descend into deep water.

Check out our three day Similan snorkel safari. The trips are designed to show you the best Thailand snorkeling spots and the only safari that includes the Surin Islands. We also aim to always keep you away from the crowds, the popular Similan Islands can get busy at times.

Similan Diving

Similan Diving in the Similan Islands, where visibility can often be 30m, is an amazing experience. Unlike snorkeling it is possible to explore a much greater depth range around the islands. Different fish inhabit different depths so you get the chance to see a more diverse range of life.

There are numerous dive sites in the Similans so therefore a lot to explore. The Similan Islands are well known for their diversity of dive sites. As well as the sloping reefs popular for Similan snorkeling, there are also underwater rocky pinnacles, wrecks and many caves and swim throughs formed by the granite rocks. The fauna is very  rich on these sites, personally I love all the dive sites in the Similan Islands for many different reasons.

A blacktip reef shark cruises in the shallows

There is a lot of diversity underwater at the Similans. As well as the usual suspects, barracuda, parrot fish, angel fish, butterfly fish, octopus and turtles, always keep your eyes open for larger pelagic fish such as trevaly, the odd reef shark or leopard shark as well as the majestic manta ray.

There is also a lot of small, or ‘macro’, fish life in the Similan Islands. You would not get many chances to see these small and interesting creatures while snorkeling near the surface. Similan diving gives you the chance to get close and study many of the interesting things without the worry of having to ascend to the surface for your next lung full of air.

Similan Snorkeling or Similan Diving

I am a professional PADI Dive Master and have been diving and snorkeling in the Similan Islands and Burma’s Mergui Archipelago for over 13 years. It is not actually possible to declare which way is the best to explore the Similan Islands as both Similan snorkeling and Similan diving offer many different ways to discover the wonders of the underwater world.  There are many pros and a few cons when considering diving, but this is the same when considering snorkeling.

I just hope whichever way you chose, it is the most suitable for you so you feel comfortable and safe in the water around the Similan Islands. Then you can get on with the job at hand: to be part of another world for a while.