Of all the best liveaboard trips around the world, a dive cruise along the Similan Islands in Thailand is one of the most affordable options. Most ships take you to the best scuba diving spots in the Andaman sea in less than a week at very budget-friendly prices.
Most of the Similan Island liveaboard cruises depart from Khao Lak or the larger city Phuket, which lies about 62 miles further south. From there, the guide will take you to the Similan Islands which are numbered 1 – 9 for easy identification, with the more famous dive spots being Elephant Head, Christmas Point and East of Eden.
Longer Thailand liveaboard cruises also take you to the Surin Islands where the popular Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon and Koh Tachai are – good dive spots for beginners and snorkeling. In comparison to the Surin Islands, the Similan Island hot spots are more appropriate for the more advanced scuba divers because there are stronger currents and deeper locations.
10 Best Similan Liveaboard Trips
The west coast and southern tip are especially exciting for divers because of the varied landscape with large boulders, different kinds of coral and swim-throughs. The diving conditions of the Similan Islands are good with 80 – 100 feet visibility and warm water temperatures.
The best time to go diving in Thailand’s most popular scuba diving destination is November through April, with peak season running from December to April when it is the dry season. The marine national park is closed from May until October so it is not possible to visit this area outside of high season.
Though the coral reefs are mostly deep water staghorn, a hard coral type, the marine wildlife of the Similan Islands consists of over 500 species. From March to May you might spot the giant Manta Rays but there are also several species of sharks and turtles along with an endless list of colorful fish so this is brilliant for a liveaboard Thailand experience.
Ready to experience it for yourself? Here are 10 of the best liveaboards sailing through the Similan Islands and Surin Islands.
1. Most Unique Liveaboard: The Junk
The Junk is the nickname given to June Hong Chian Lee, an antique trading vessel that sailed between Myanmar and Malaysia. It also has a past life as a Hollywood movie prop! Perfect for a liveaboard similian style.
Just before the turn of the century, the current owners completely renovated the ship and transformed it into a beautiful Similan Islands liveaboard that is perfect for scuba diving in Thailand. There are 6 air-conditioned en-suite cabins of varying sizes so it is suitable for any kind of group.
Onboard you find a cozy interior with references to its Hong Kongese junk boat style. Dining is family-style but the food is far from simple as the Chef loves to surprise you with many different cuisines.
- Liveaboard with historic charm
- Variety of cabin types
- Breakfast served twice a day
- No onboard Wi-Fi
- Smaller ship with tighter quarters
2. Most Modern Dive Ship: Deep Andaman Queen
If you prefer a liveaboard that looks more like a yacht then the Deep Andaman Queen is the best modern Similans liveaboard that you can find in Thailand. It is a larger ship with ultra-modern cabins that look like they have been designed by Ikea with light-colored wood, lots of white and pops of bright blue and lime.
This is a great Similan liveaboard diving trip as it is specifically designed for scuba diving, there is a large dive deck with space to gear up on two separate levels, separate platforms for entry and exit, warm water showers and freshwater rinsing basins for cleaning all your equipment after each dive. The crew also carefully picks the dive locations to avoid large crowds.
- Free onboard Wi-Fi
- Very modern spacious cabins
- Exceptional dive deck and facilities
- Pictures are artist impressions
- Limited indoor lounge space
3. Most Splurge-Worthy: Diva Andaman
For a luxury Similan Islands live aboard experience on a classic sailing ship, you cannot go wrong with the Diva Andaman. Besides diving, you get to spoil yourself with Thai massages and delicious wines straight from the onboard wine cellar, protecting the bottles from the tropical weather.
The luxuries are not reserved to your onboard time since the crew takes care of all your gear cleaning, as soon as you are back on board. The dive guides only take smaller groups of up to 4 people and there 2 dive tenders available for better reach of the best dive spots.
Another great feature is that the gear rental is already included in the dive package so it comes at no extra cost.
- Free equipment rental
- Crew handles de-kitting and gear maintenance
- Onboard wine cellar
- No sea view from cabins
- No Wi-Fi
4. Best Budget Choice: Dolphin Queen
If hostels are backpacker style accommodations, then the Dolphin Queen is its seafaring equivalent with 4-bed dorms and 2-bed dorms, but also economy size double bed cabins. The cabins could be more spacious but there is plenty of storage room and the bright color really livens up the area, so it is on our list of liveaboard Similan cruises.
The eight cabins are spread over three decks, some with a lovely window giving you a view of the sea. The top deck is a sun deck with lounge chairs and there is also plenty of space for soaking up the sun on the main deck.
If meeting new people is one of your reasons for traveling than the Dolphin Queen is a great place for meeting fellow dive enthusiasts. It is also a snorkel-friendly cruise so you can bring along your non-diver friends, too.
- Affordable cruise
- Social experience
- Small cabins
- Cabins are not en-suite
- Limited indoor public space
5. Best for Large Groups: Sawasdee Fasai
This luxury yacht is great for larger groups because it has a whopping 15 rooms with different setups and suiting different budgets. There are en-suite deluxe cabins with a Seaview window but, there are also budget cabins on the lower decks 4 with en-suite bathrooms and 4 with shared bathrooms.
The shared lounge areas are very big with the option between both sundecks and a shaded area, including an alfresco bar. The indoor space is homey and comfortable with large sofas to come together with the other divers on this liveaboard Similan cruise.
The crew caps the diving packages to 26 divers so that the dive facilities are not overcrowded. This Similan live aboard is also more suitable for the experienced divers because there are no dive courses available during the trip.
- Lots of indoor and outdoor lounge areas
- Wide variety of cabins for every budget
- Dive tenders available
- Not all cabins have an en-suite bathroom
- No Wi-Fi available
6. Best for Mixed Groups: Oktavia Liveaboard
Open to both divers and non-divers, this is a liveaboard Simalin cruise that anyone will enjoy. Though there is space for more people, the crew caps the bookings to a maximum of 20 divers so that the dive facilities don’t feel crowded.
This is yet another Thai liveaboard that offers facilities for different budgets. The deluxe double en-suite cabins have their TV entertainment station while the cabins with bunk beds have shared bathrooms and air-conditioning.
The upper deck is where you will find most of the shared lounges with a sundeck, buffet-style dining area, and shaded outdoor space. The Oktavia Liveaboard offers a variety of itineraries, some as short as 2 nights and longer trips of 5 nights so you can find the best one for your available time.
- Different itineraries available
- Cabins for different budgets
- Deluxe cabins have television
- Budget cabins have shared bathrooms
- No onboard Wi-Fi
- Cabins are very basic
7. Best for Dive Courses: Bavaria Liveaboard
Booking a Similan liveaboard diving cruise is a great idea for getting your scuba diving license because it gives you the time to focus and there is more choice in the type of diving locations for you to practice your skills. The Bavaria Liveaboard is ideal for beginner divers that want to log extra dive hours and gain new skills because they limit the dive groups to just 4 – 6 people.
The dive platform is spacious so you have ample room for getting your gear together, even with other divers around. The crew is knowledgeable and friendly, there to make sure that you have all your needs met.
In between dives you get to relax on the large sun deck or lounge with the fellow guests in the spacious shaded area with lots of seats and tables. After a long day of diving, treat yourself to a Thai massage or sit down in front of the indoor entertainment center.
- Good dive courses available
- Side mount diving available
- Onboard Wi-Fi available
- 2 lower deck standard cabins have shared bathrooms
- Cabins are basic
8. Most Popular Company: Manta Queen 8
8.4 Very Good
The Manta Queen is a large fleet of Similan Island liveaboards and their number alone proves how popular this company is. Because they are one of the larger Thailand liveaboard companies, they can offer great value for money with the Manta Queen 8 being a good example.
Onboard the Manta Queen 8 you get free internet, up to 4 dives per day including 1-night dive, a crew that speaks many languages and well-designed comfortable cabins. All the cabins have their own individually controlled air-conditioning, en-suite double cabins, en-suite twin cabins and bunk bed cabins with a shared bathroom.
The dive groups are capped at a maximum of 5 divers per dive guide so you don’t feel crowded in the water. This is also better for safety reasons.
- Free onboard Wi-Fi
- Great cabin design
- Night dive included
- No camera station
- Small cabins
9. Cabins with Private Balconies: DiveRACE Class E
Luxury does not have to break the bank, as proven by this liveaboard yacht, the DiveRACE Class E. Though the design is simple, you are provided with all the creature comforts such as a 3-D television room, massage room, spacious charging stations for editing your underwater photos and lounge areas.
The cabins are equally simple but comfortable with Asian style low beds, lots of storage space, en-suite bathrooms and individually controlled air-conditioning. There are also deluxe cabins available with private balconies so you can enjoy the ocean breeze and sea view with your partner on this liveaboard Similan vacation.
- Cabins with private balconies available
- Spacious charging station
- Onboard massage room
- Low beds might need getting used to
- No onboard Wi-Fi
10. Available for Charter: Similan Explorer
If you prefer traveling with a smaller group of only people that you know, booking a charter for the Similan Islands is surely an unforgettable experience. The Similar Explorer is great for families with kids since it has double cabins, 2-bed bunk beds and quad cabins with bunk beds.
The itinerary comprises of, diving, snorkeling and visiting some of the pristine beaches but these can be adjusted when making your booking. The dive platform is spacious so you can get your gear together comfortably.
The Similan Explorer also offers shared itineraries for solo Similan Islands live aboard trips.
- Available for charter
- Variety of cabins
- Vegetarian meals available upon request
- Large dive platform
- No onboard Wi-Fi
- Dated cabins