Donald Duck Bay is easily the most-recognizable place in the Similan Islands. This small bay at the northern end of Similan Island #8 has a pristine beach and unique rock formation that is relatively easy to climb, even for children and the fit elderly. Many regular Similan cruise ships stop off here, as do liveaboard boats. It is the perfect place to moor up for the afternoon or night and walk around. Diving here is good, but not nearly as extreme as most of the other Similan diving locations. In fact, due to the shallow depth and protection from currents that the bay gives, it is one of the most popular spots for Similan night diving.
- Popular for 'beach breaks' for liveaboard cruise boats
- Easy diving in the bay
- Can become busy during peak season
- Ideal for non-divers
The topography of this dive site is relatively flat, but the bottom obviously becomes slightly deeper as it goes away from the beach. With a maximum depth of just 20 metres and gentle or no currents, divers' air should last a long time. This should enable them to relax and take it all in. Coral bommies are everywhere, and each one has its own little community of reef fish and invertebrates. Some dive instructors review diving skills on one of the numerous sandy patches. There is nothing dramatic or exciting to say about the shape of the dive site, but the water is generally quite clear compared to other Similan diving sites, and much clearer than those in other parts of Thailand.
During the day, the usual suspects of Similan reef fish can be seen here. Divers are unlikely to see anything very large or special, but with so much time and air at their disposal, they are advised to dive slowly across the reef, keeping their eyes open at all times. Octopuses are among the most popular invertebrates, but they are notoriously difficult to spot. Their cousins, Cuttlefish (Sepida) swim around boldly and are unable to squeeze into small gaps, so they have no choice, really. Extremely popular visitors and residents here are turtles. The Similan Islands are home to Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and Hawksbill Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata). Unfortunately, due to the popularity of these harmless marine reptiles and Donald Duck Bay as a tourist destination, many people decide to feed them. This is absolutely wrong, however hungry or happy the turtles may appear to be. Firstly, their digestive systems are not designed for anything other than their natural diet of jellyfish and soft corals. Secondly, they become accustomed to being fed by humans and could in the future approach boats or people which could harm or kill them.
With so many boats here, it is inevitable that scraps will find their way overboard (but let's hope no plastic) which can provide for nightly feasts for the thousands of nocturnal creatures here at the bottom of Donald Duck Bay. While most of them are invertebrates, Moray Eels (Gymnothorax) are numerous too. Although in the day they hide in holes and stick their heads out sucking water past their gills, at night they swim across the reef, hunting for food. Squid, cuttlefish and octopuses also take advantage of dark to find food. Nudibranchs, starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers with no bones or shells are all over the place, but not are very active or exciting. However, during the night, shellfish such as lobsters, crabs and shrimps become far more outgoing than they are in the daytime.
Above the surface, divers and non-divers alike can explore the forest area behind the beach and climb to the top of the rocks to get a good view of the islands around. The bay looks north out over towards Island #9 (Koh Bangu). There are several versions claiming to be why it is called Donald Duck Bay, but none of them have anything to do with diving. The amount of time you will get on land will depend on what type of boat and trip you came on. Speedboat trips come from Phuket and Khao Lak on a daily basis during the diving season, and there are always liveaboard tour boats in the area.