For a lot of divers the Similan Islands in Thailand are one of the worlds top 10 dive sites. The crystal clear waters, variety of dive sites and abundance of marine life make it the perfect place to gear up and jump in.

I think it goes without saying that I was stoked to be heading out there on not 1 but 3 live aboard dive trips this month to check out the Khao Lak Scuba Adventures Manta Queen fleet and see what all the fuss was about…


The Boats

One of the biggest things with picking any dive live aboard is choosing which boat to go on and with the Similan Islands quickly growing as a destination there’s a heap of vessels bidding for your hard earned dollar.

I jumped aboard Manta Queen 1, 3 and 6 for my trips – all very different boats but all offering the chance to check out some of the diving jewels of the area, so here’s a quick overview;


Manta Queen 1 – takes around 24 customers per trip and is a mid sized vessel with plenty of room to eat, chill and dive. The saloon area is fully air con with TV and movies, there’s a spacious upstairs sun deck for some post diving tan topping and the room range from 4 bed share to deluxe double. 4day, 4 night option.


Manta Queen 3 – this is the flagship vessel of KSA, comfortably holding up to 35 customers. The saloon area is HUGE, as is the dinning area and upstairs sun deck (which comes complete with hammocks!). A open plan dive deck with fresh water showers, nitrox and rinse tanks means this is the creme de la creme of Similan live a boards. Air con rooms range from 4 bed share to deluxe family room. 4 day, 4 night option.


Manta Queen 6 – this is the newest KSA boat and it caters for shorter stays. Although it’s small in size the 12 customer max means it’s super cosy and has a lot of character. The whole front bow is a padded sun lounger and it has more of a feel of a private yacht charter than a dive boat! Twin cabins only. 2 or 3 night option.

The Diving

If your booking a dive trip it’s obvious that the diving is a MAJOR part of your decision making process! And on the Manta Queen trips you certainly get a good amount of diving crammed in – the 4 day options stack up an impressive 14 dives – including a night dive and a wreck dive and include all the highlights of the national marine park.

similan islands dive boat

A Friendly Turtle

World famous sites like Richelieu Rock, Elephant Head Rock, The Dome, Koh Bon West, West of Eden and 3 Trees are all on the dive schedule trip length and weather permitting!

Every divers tastes are catered for and you’ll find yourself surrounded by everything from travelly and barracuda to octopus, tuna and turtles. If you’re really lucky you’ll be joined by manta rays and even whale sharks – so it’s a case of looking into the blue and having a bit of luck on your side!

Macro lovers are spoilt for choice too – nudi branches, shrimps, sea moths and even frog fish are in abundance – so make sure that camera is charged and you have a hefty memory card to use.

The sites themselves are as diverse as the marine life that live there so you’ll find yourself amongst giant granite boulders and swim throughs, vast coral gardens, open pinnacles and amongst the gloomy depths of shipwrecks throughout your trip – you’ll never be short of pre dive stoke!


The Value For Money

If you’re backpacking money is a big decision maker in any trip situation and I’m not going to lie – the Similans will put a pretty solid dent in your budget!

similan islands thailand

Not A Bad View!

The 4 day, 4 night option starts at £420 and the 3 night at £360.

Still if you put that into perspective you’re getting a bed, 3 solid meals a day, snacks and unlimited water, coffee fruit and tea alongside up to 14 dives – now that aint bad value! To give it some context 2 dives on a day trip boat in Phi Phi Island will set you back around £40 for a half day with lunch.

£100 per day in the Similans gets you 4 dives, 3 meals and a bed for the night…plus you get to be in the Similans!

You can’t really argue with that logic can you?!

If you’re new to diving you can also bolt on a dive course to your trip (everything from open water to dive master) or simply fun dive the whole time. I would highly recommend doing at least your deep adventure dive if you’re open water only though as it means you can get the most out of the dive sites.

It’s best to pre book (especially in peak season) but if you have time to play with then on the odd occasion you can nab a good last minute deal.



diving the similan islands

Mr Cuttlefish!

The Similan Islands themselves are just a beautiful place to wake up and an even more beautiful place to dive.

Package that with some awesome dive staff, a range of beautiful boats and time and cash options to most budgets and you have a solid combination for a highlight of your time in Thailand.

It’s not necessarily something for every backpackers to do list – but if you like diving and want to see somewhere slightly off the usual backpacking route in Asia it’s something to seriously consider and it’s certainly something that I’d recommend.

Also I’ve manage to wangle some exclusive discounts for Backpacker Banter readers too – so if you’re looking to head that way drop me an email and save yourself some dollar!


Have any of you guys hit up the Similan Islands – what did you think of the diving there?


**PLEASE NOTE; I received my dive trips free of charge through my partnership with Khao Lak Scuba Adventures, but rest assured all opinions are honest and my own – and I had an freaking awesome time!**

epic gap year experience

REVIEW; Similan Dive Live Aboard With Khao Lak Scuba Adventures
If you're looking to take in some of Thailands best dive spots and not break the bank KSA comes highly recommended
Boat Comfort
  • Spacious, comfortable boats
  • Variety of dive sites
  • Heaps of inclusions
  • Dive computers not included
  • Nitrox is extra
  • Not huge variety for veggies
4.6Overall Score

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9 Responses

  1. rosann

    you may not be able to advise on this but i guess it’s worth asking!

    we will be in Phuket end of January and want to SNORKEL in the Similans, but just a Day Trip there. There are so many companies to choose from who can get us there. Do you have any recommendations? Small group, English speaking guide, etc would be great!

    Thanks much! and happy trails… Rosann

    • Chris

      Hey Rosann,

      Hmmm I’m not sure about day trip boats from Phuket, but if you head up Khao Lak way KSA do day trip boats out there including a snorkelling tour

  2. Julie

    hey there! i’m looking to do this liveaboard coming up in February. Any discounts you might be able to offer through your partnership with them? I’m also a travel blogger and willing to cover my experience if that helps as well. Let me know, thanks!!

    • Chris

      Hey Julie – nice to e-meet you and loving your site…I’ve just pinged you an email about your dive trip and working together!

  3. Kristen

    Hey Chris! My fiance and I just booked tickets to Phuket in late April for our honeymoon. We are getting scuba certified in October and were trying to decide if we should do a liveaboard to the Similian islands or if we should do day trips around Phi Phi. Any insight would be great!

    • Chris

      Hey Kristen – what a great idea for a honeymoon! To be honest I absolutely love diving on the Similan Islands – there’s so many amazing dive sites and the live aboard is a great experience. Depending on how much time you have to play with you could always do the boat trip and then head over to Phi Phi for some island time after! Let me know as I can offer some reader discounts!

  4. Archana Vallabhaneni


    I am flying into Phuket tomorrow and am looking into jumping on a Liveaboard asap once I get there. I am on a pretty tight backpacker budget and would love to avail any discounts that your partnership might offer please. So far, I am seeing prices at around $720 for 5 day/5 night trips. Also, I have pretty varied reviews of diving in Similan and surrounding Islands. Is 5 days worth it there or should I make it shorter?

    Thank you and looking forward

  5. Martine Rheault

    Hi Chris!
    I am heading to khao lak and want to discover the similans. Any discount would be great! Thanks.


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