Archive for the ‘Similan Islands’ Category

Similan Islands – What are they?

Posted on August 20th, 2011 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Similan Islands – What are they?

The Similan Marine Park is located 70km west of Thailand Phang-Nga province. This group of islands is considered to be one of the top dive destinations in the world, mainly due to the clear water that surrounds the islands.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Similan Islands

Similan was derived from the Malay work for nine “Sembilan” as the little archipelago is made up of nine islands. The islands do have local individual names, but are usually referred to by their respective numbers from North to South.

The Similan’s were designated as a National Park of Thailand in 1982 and cover an area of 128km2, which includes Koh Bon and the two rocky outcrops of Shark Fin Reef and Hin Pusa.

In 1998 an extra 12km2 of area was added when Koh Tachai was added to the park, which is now a total area of 140km2, of which only 15km2 is land.

Most of the islands are uninhabited with the exception of Islands 4, 8 and koh Tachai, which have national park offices located on them.

With the nine islands you get a wide variety of experiences, activities and stunning views, there are white sand beaches and massive boulder formations.

Underwater there are amazing coral gardens and diverse marine life ideal for all divers.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Similan Liveaboards

The topography differs between the eastern and western sides of the islands. The east side consists of sandy bottoms with wide and colourful soft and hard coral fields that slope down to 40m in some areas. They have gentle current and make for easy diving.

The west side is characterized by large, stacked granite boulder formations which create tunnels and archways with impressive scenery. Currents here can be unpredictable which can make the diving more challenging for beginner divers. But this side is exposed to the open sea and provides good opportunities to spot big pelagic life.

Island 1               Koh Hu-Yong

The second largest island lies 8km south of island 4, it has the largest white sand beach of the Similan National Park which is located on the north side of the island. The beach is a protected area and has a Turtle hatchery, you need special permission from the forestry department to enter this island.

Island 2 and 3     Koh Pa-Yang and Koh Pa-Yan

These two islands are also protected, their topography is granite boulders with mountains and cliffs, no beaches. At resent all the first 3 islands are closed to diving in an effort to preserve the underwater environment. The most southern dive sites are the rocky outcrop of Shark Fin Reef and the submerged site of Boulder City.

Island 4               Koh Miang

The island has a marine park office, camping, small bungalows and a fresh water supply. There are 2 beaches, Haad-Yai or Princess beach on the north and Haad-Lek or Honeymoon beach to the East. There is a trail that runs between the two through the forest. Also on the island is a view point where once you reach the top has a spectacular view of the south islands of the Similans, the trek to get there is a little energetic though.

Islands 4 and 5   Koh Ha and Koh Hok

These two islands are located to the East of Island 4 and are the smallest in the group. The landscape underwater is spectacular with both fringing reef and boulder formations.

Island 7               Koh Pa-Yu

The island has a combination of granite formations and sand beaches. The East side of the island is now closed to diving, but the north and west sides offer rocky pinnacles as dive sites which are covered in soft corals. Again these sites are open to the ocean so currents can be encountered along with the bigger pelagic life.

Hin Pusa

Is located between islands 7 and 8 and is a group of boulders known as “Elephant Head Rock” as the shape resembles the head of an elephant. The site is recommended for experienced divers due to the depth and current.

Island 8               Koh Similan

Is the highest and largest of the islands and has a marine park office and camping in the North of the island at Donald Duck Bay. It is also where the famous Sail Rock is located which is a symbol of Similan. The view from the Rock shows the North part of the Similans. There is no diving on the west or East side of the island, leaving only the North area available.

Island 9               Koh Ba-Ngu

The island has no beach, but is a favorite with divers due to the scenery underwater, it has a mix of coral reef and rocky outcrops.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Koh Bon Similan Islands

Koh Bon

The island is North east of Similans, with no sand beaches it is a limestone island with an unusual “hole” which traverses the island on the west side caused by sea erosion. The most popular dive is the ridge where a cleaning station for Manta Rays can be found.

Koh Tachai

This is most Northern part of the Similan Marine Park.  The island has a beautiful white powder beach where the park office is located. With many dive sites including a plateau to the south it is a popular dive destination.

Richelieu Rock

Although not part of the Similan marine park this is often dived on the same liveaboard trips. It is actually part of the Surin Marine Park and is located between the mainland and Surin islands. It is a submerged pinnacle know for it colourful soft coral and rich diversity of life, which can include the smallest creatures such as ghost pipe fish and sea horses to the largest of whale sharks and Manta rays.

Similans Liveaboard MV Scuba Cat – Carl’s story

Posted on August 15th, 2011 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Similans Liveaboard MV Scuba Cat – Carl’s story

We first had the opportunity to try out the Scuba Cat fleet when we went out on a Day Cruise on Scuba Fun to Racha Noi back in 2005.  My Wife, Amy and myself, Carl McKay were on a larger family vacation and we were all aboard, some certifying, some diving in what was our first visit to Phuket. We feel in love with Phuket, the water, the people.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Diving Daytrips

"Scuba Fun"

We have been back almost every year since.

……..Second trip to Scuba Cat

Our family had encouraged us, to move up to the next level of diving:  A live-a-board.  A what-a-who?  Hadn’t done that before and after an explanation of the location at the Similan Islands, the boat and what we could see, we went for it.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand MV Scuba Cat

"MV Scuba Cat"

The first trip was three diving days.  We arrived from Scuba Sport, the transfer boat, to the remote Scuba Cat Boat.  We didn’t know what to expect.  Surprise was our first expression.  Out in the middle of this clear blue water, we find some islands, a few boats and this mobile diving “experience” – I think you have to look at Scuba Cat, not only as a dive boat, but a place that you quickly connect with new faces that work on board and other guests who are there for the same reason.  It’s like going to a convention and finally everyone has a story to share, because you simply showed up and attended.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand MV Scuba cat

"Ready to Dive"

I think what made the experience so nice was how easy the diving became.  Setup in the back of what I think is one of the best ever designed platforms, wide open where easily four people can enter at the same time safely.  The crews at the back are able to help and quickly learn everyone’s needs and are always looking out for you.  They wash your gear off after every dive and clean up for the night too.  Easily you can do five dives in a day!

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand MV Scuba Cat"


The Dive Masters, are comforting, knowledgeable and don’t stray from the manual; safety was always first.  The orientations prior to every dive spot on.

My Wife was in a peculiar position.  Unlike me, I was up for every dive.  She is safety conscious and honestly does a great check every time.  No shortcuts.  I was a Husband who wanted to have her on every dive.  What I needed to learn was that by doing that put her in a rushed mode and her comfort zone was being tampered with.  I just love doing stuff with her.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand MV Scuba Cat

"Amy, Andy and Kate"

This is where Sarah came in and became Amy’s most trusted Dive Buddy and now a dear friend.  At that time, Sarah was on board as a Divemaster, now she’s the Queen of the fleet.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand MV Scuba Cat


As mentioned earlier, Amy is safety conscious.  She likes to drop down when she is ready.  Diving shouldn’t be stressful as it is a vacation and why bother if you are worried.

I would go off with the rest of the family, Amy, still not too many dives in, was guided by Sarah. The perfect combination; Sarah’s experience and understand built confidence in Amy’s skills.  In a nutshell, they would usually jump in last and take their time.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand MV Scuba Cat

"The Family"

Amy has since moved towards Advanced.  In addition, while most folks don’t care for night diving, within the first two days Sarah and Amy were down at night!  It blew me away.

Something that weighed heavily in building that trust was when Sarah approached us both to discuss an issue with Amy.  She was moving towards Advanced certification with the additional dives she as doing and taking tests on board Scuba Cat.  Sarah said that she didn’t want to move Amy towards Advanced, but offered an Adventure certification.  Simple put, given Amy’s regularity with diving and her comfort, she didn’t want to put Amy in a situation with another Dive Company somewhere out there and their expectations be a burden to her and put her at risk.  It allowed her to learn, move forward with skills and build confidence, but not rushed.

There are a lot of outfits that push you to move quickly through the certification because it makes revenue, I’ve seen some real bad skills and people call them selves Advanced.  Example:  No touchie, just lookie…  Yes, “Advanced” folks touching! NO!

I know that strays from the intent of this entry, but I am trying to show the consciousness of the now owner and integrity over selling another certification.

Diving is a great sport, opens travel to a whole other world, but like in any other sport you need to know your comfort level.  The addition of water isn’t to be scared of, it needs to be respected on every dive.  Experience isn’t the only factor, relearning and doing every check is important too.

Back to the “Cat” – Every Divemaster has been great, the food, amazing and the deck crew always smiling.  By the way, a reminder, if someone is taking extra care of you, it’s good to remember them when they are saying bye to you.  These folks work hard and are another fail safe in an experience on any boat.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Similans No 8

"Island 8"

We have been out to the Similan Islands five times now.  Every moment leading up to the transfer boat and the first glimpse of Scuba cat are Exciting.  Meeting new people, bumping into old friends, and sharing new stories.  The tough part is leaving.  A magical experience;  There may be other boats, but Scuba Cat was one of the first.  We just wish it were closer to get to…  I always say “Bye for now” then I know I will be coming back to visit and see great people soon too.


Similans Liveaboards

Posted on August 14th, 2011 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Similans Liveaboards

Similan National Park

The Similan Islands National Park is world famous for white sandy beaches, clear blue waters, beautiful sunsets and amazing huge boulder formations. Here you will find some of the most amazing natural scenery Thailand had to offer.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Similans Island 8

"Donald Duck Bay"

They are easily the best dive sites Thailand has to offer and very rank high in must visit list of Dive Sites in the world.

MV Scuba Cat Live aboard cruises around these Islands for 6 months of the year allowing divers of any level and snorkelers to take in this amazing beauty in one of the most relaxed atmospheres of all liveaboards in the Similans. She has a unique liveaboard schedule allowing a stay from 2 days 1 night, with a maximum of 20 customers staying on board. We are proud to have so many customers who come back to us year after year – I am sure you will agree after a trip on board.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand MV Scuba Cat Liveaboard

"The Cat"

Rob Fraser-Thomson is one of our many repeat customers’ with Scuba Cat Diving.

“I started diving in Thailand in 1999 whilst doing my IDC with a company based in Kata. It wasn’t for another 2 years that I returned to Phuket after working in Italy. I had heard good things about a company called “Scuba Cat Diving”, during the IDC from other students and other divers, so decided to book my trip with them.

The MV Scuba Cat is based in Simians during the high season, a spectacular group of islands north west of Phuket. Unlike other liveaboards, the boat is permanently based in the islands, customers are carried to the liveaboard via minibus and speedboat, the Similans are a long way from the mainland so this saves much time. You can be diving within 30 minutes of arriving on the boat, after the boat and dive briefing off course.

I have heard people mention that the transfer takes a long time but most the other dive companies take longer to sail from the mainland, the Similans are far out to sea and a world-class dive site.

During the low season the MV SCUBA CAT is based at Racha Yai, a group off islands south of Phuket, it is usually quieter at this time of the year but the diving is just as good. If you have a good eye, this area is rich in the smaller species you don’t spot in the Similans.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Racha Yai

"The View during low season"

Captain Min and his crew are always a bonus being very helpful to new divers on the boat and the old ones! The dive guides are very competent and professional, the only problem I have ever had was with triggerfish.

I still try to do 2 trips a year on the MV Scuba Cat, both to the Similans and Racha Yai. Although I have been on MV Scuba Fun day trips and MV Scuba Adventure, I prefer the MV Scuba Cat with its large dive deck and open plan design.

10 trips and 500 dives later, having seen many other companies and their boats, Scuba Cat is the only company who I would book with and I have no intention of changing.”

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Liveaboard Diving


5 days and counting……………………See you again next week