Northwest of Phuket and west of Khao Lak in the Andaman Sea, the snorkeling off the Similan Islands is popular for its colorful reefs and abundant tropical fish. Similan Islands National Park snorkeling is known for Hawksbill turtles, green sea turtles, jacks, angelfish, barracuda, moray eels, octopus and manta rays.
The nine Similan Islands are located 50km west of Khao Lak and 120km northwest of Phuket, and are within the Mu Koh Similan National Marine Park. There is no airport or docks, but there are a few bungalows and tents. If you plan to stay overnight, the best island is Mieng Island where there are tents, bungalows and according the the Similan Islands National Park map, there is also a hotel.
To reach the Similan Islands snorkeling from Phuket Town, take a shuttle bus to Khao Lak. In Khao Lak, head down to the Thap Lamu Port (aka Taplamu pier). The Similan Islands National Park operates a tour boat departing around 9am daily from November 15th thru May 16th (call to verify), and takes about 4 hours. There are other TAT certified boats -- speedboats take about 1.5 hours.
To reach Phuket Island by air, fly into Phuket International Airport (HKT) which is located north of Phuket Town on the north end of Phuket Island. From the airport to your hotel, you’ll most likely use a regular taxi car. There is also an Airport Bus to the Phuket City bus terminal #1 and does stop at the Pearl Village Hotel complex. The public bus called Song Taew also runs to the main beaches, and for instance, can be picked up from the local bus terminal in Phuket Town in front of the Central Market on Ranong Road. They run about every 30 minutes. For public transport between beaches, you’ll need to use the Tuk-tuks (communal pickup trucks), which have the exclusive rights for inter-beach transport. The rates charged by Tuk-tuk drivers will seem quite high. While it may sound like a good idea to rent a car, it is generally considered to be quite dangerous to drive yourself around with all the steep winding poorly maintained roads.
Overall, Similan Islands is the 2nd most popular snorkel dive spot of all 13 snorkeling dives in Thailand.