Most Similan diving liveaboard boats and their dive centres are based in either Khao Lak or Phuket. This is because these locations are near to the Similans and popular with diving tourists. However, there are some other locations which are home to boats that sail to The Similan Islands, The Surin Islands, Koh Haa and even to Myanmar (Burma).
Phuket is where most Thailand diving tourists visit, and Khao Lak is where most Similan liveaboard diving boats are based, but these are not the only two locations for dive centres and the piers where boats depart from and return to. To the north of Khao Lak is a Thai seaside town known as Ranong, and there are several other areas to the east of Phuket, including Ao Nang and Koh Lanta. The reasons for being based in these other areas depend on particular circumstances, but while in some cases it’s less convenient for the diving guests, it can sometimes be better for them.
Ranong is a Thai province north of Phang Nga that has a long land border with Myanmar (Burma) and has more than 100km. of coastline onto the Andaman Sea. The ‘capital city’ of Ranong Province is a small town also called Ranong (or Muang as the locals refer to it). Ranong is the northernmost town on Thailand’s west coast and is located very near to Myanmar’s border town, Kawthoung. Ranong has a pier and this can be used for departures to The Surin Islands, some local tourist islands such as Koh Payam, and of course for diving trips going into Burma. To get to Ranong from Phuket or Khao Lak involves several hours by road. From Bangkok, Ranong can be reached by overnight bus or a Nok Air flight. Therefore, it is more remote than Phuket and Khao Lak, but diving customers may already be in the area, in which case it is an ideal place to start a Similan Islands diving safari. However, please note that our Ranong-based diving boats usually offer more diving trips in Burma than in Thailand. Some of their trips do a day’s diving in Thailand before going to Burma, and the rest are just in Burma or just in Thailand. Ranong is a small town that is located far from other Thai towns and cities. Many goods and services come from neighbouring Burma, where there is thriving trade and some border activities, such as casino hotels.
Ao Nang, Krabi & Koh Lanta are all located to the east of Phuket, and tucked away in a bay that also includes the famous Koh Phi Phi. While there are many dive centres in these places, not many have liveaboard diving boats. In the past, we had MV Flying Seahorse which was based on Koh Lanta, but that boat has stopped running diving trips. Due to the long distances needed to travel from these areas to The Similan Islands, it is not common or practical to run regular scheduled diving safaris to the Similans, but the situation is always changing, and each season brings up something different. If your holiday resort or hotel is in Koh Lanta, Krabi or Ao Nang and you plan to come diving at the Similans, we can always help with a land transfer to Khao Lak to board one of our many boats which are based there.