Beacon Reef (or Beacon Beach, as it is known by many) is located all along the eastern coast of the southern half of Island 8 at the Similan Islands. It is also referred to as Atlantis Wreck, because of the sunken diving liveaboard boat which lies on the reef. The dive site is long and quite easy to dive, and has a wonderful diving wreck for those who want to explore. It is deep enough to be the first dive of the day, and being on the eastern side gets good sunlight in the mornings. In addition, it is popular for sunset and night dives.
- Atlantis X wreck dive
- Lots of space and fish
- Maximum depth 30 metres
- Not too difficult
Whichever of the three common names your dive group leader or boat captain calls this dive site, it is well worth a visit. There is a bit of everything and it's suitable for everyone. It's even okay for snorkelling. In addition, currents are rarely strong here, and being the longest reef in the whole Similan Island chain, it is possible to do a drift dive in a medium to strong current and still stay underwater for an hour. Unlike many other Similan diving sites, this reef is more coral than granite rocks. The sandy and coral seabed gradually slopes down away from the beach. It starts just a few metres from the surface and drops gently at first, then steeply down to more than 30 metres. Staghorn corals and Gorgonian Sea Fans dominate the seascape, with several other types of hard corals, interspersed with soft corals and sand.
The most noticeable feature at Beacon Reef is a large liveaboard boat on the bottom of the sea. She was called Atlantis X, and in 2002 the captain tried some innovative tactics when he realized she was taking on too much water to stay afloat much longer. He aimed the bow (front) of the boat at the beach and tried to make it as far as he could. Sadly for the boat and the reef, he collided with corals and the boat sank. She went down, and then slid backwards, so underwater she is facing up the reef, towards the beach of Island 8. This was awful news for the captain, his crew, the passengers, the dive centre, and the inhabitants of that part of the reef, but good news for wreck diving in The Similan Islands. With her shallowest part (the bow) at a depth of 16 meters and her stern down at 30 metres, she is an interesting and relatively intact wreck. 11 years later, she has started to take on some life as a true artificial reef, but there is still a long way to go before enough micro-organisms and coral polyps call her home. However, there are plenty of medium-size reef fish swimming around.
As far as marine life goes at Beacon Reef, there are plenty of fish and invertebrates, and even some reptiles to see. Both Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and Hawksbill Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) frequent the Similans diving sites, and sea snakes such as the Banded Sea Krait (Laticauda colubrina) are commonly seen, too. Beacon Reef is no exception, so keep your eyes open along the reef and up towards the surface. Invertebrates range from tiny nudibranchs, shrimps and crabs to large cuttlefish and possibly an octopus or two for the eagle-eyed. In holes around the reef and even the wreck it is not uncommon to spot various species of Moray Eels (Gymnothorax). Around the reef and the wreck, divers will definitely see Batfish (Platax orbicularis), Trumpetfish (Aulostamus maculatus), and Lionfish (Pterois) swimming confidently in open water. Clown Triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum) and the more common Titan Triggerfish (Balistoides viridescens) always look busy, and divers should be careful not to get too close if they look like they're nesting. The list of fish here at Beacon Reef is almost endless, as it is such a large area with a healthy and diverse range of life.
Those who want to dive at Beacon Reef will need to choose between a speedboat day trip and a liveaboard cruise. The former are less comfortable, but divers will sleep in their Khao Lak or Phuket hotel that night. Liveaboards offer convenience and relaxed diving tours. Whichever you are interested in, contact us today to find out which package fits your budget, itinerary and any special requirements. Being independent, and able to book divers on any and every boat that goes out to the Similan Islands, gives us advantages. Deposits can easily be transferred to a different dive centre if a customer's circumstances change after booking.