Monday, January 25, 2010

SIMILANS ISLANDS TRIP REPORTS

MVs Ko Tachai (Similans) Trip ReportVisited March 2011

Sweet beach (all images - Mark Vetare)

Koh Tachai is the northernmost island in the Similan chain with its nearest neighbor north being Mu Koh Surin. Koh Tachai is a lovely island with a long white beach, beautiful waters, rocky outcrops and a small mountain viewpoint that even the laziest tourist can tackle.

Ko Tachai on Google Earth - although part of the Similans National Park it is a long way north of the main islands (1 to 9) - 47km from the northen-most island #9, 60km from the Surins NP Headquarters at island #4, 27 km from Ko Bon and 70km from the Similans mainland departure port at Thap Lamu south of Khao Lak. The Surins are a lot closer than Similans 1 to 9 - 37km.Many backpackers have not heard of the island despite its beauty. This is presumably due to the fact that there are no bungalows or banana pancakes. It is though, very popular for the Thai and foreign day-trippers on package.

The water on Tachai is beautiful to the eye and visibility in the water is what one might expect from the region.

It is certainly one of the prettiest islands I have visited. Without the campground and tourists, it would be pretty close to paradise adding some coco palms on the beach.

There is some interesting wildlife as well:
Chicken Crabs and the largest hermit crabs I have ever seen. NP staff warn of snakes so do take care.



The coral/fish are in the same condition most of Thailand at the 5-15m level these days and despite all the raves about this being manta/whale shark territory there is far too much traffic around the island to attract the big stuff.
You have to go to Koh Bon for a chance there. We often swam out to where the boats moor - sometimes we were lazy from hiking and SeaStar was kind enough to take us by boat. It is a fun swim out to the bouys and arguably better in its own way than the place where the boats toss you in. As you swim toward the point (N) you will see larger fish - but no hope for pelagics. The southern point is good for a morning snorkel just to mix it up. It's shallow and barely acceptable but not really for avid snorkelers; dive boats drop here - why I do not know.

Sarisa checks the scene.


My Thai girlfriend and myself were allowed to stake our own tent - we stayed for a total of ten days knowing this won't last being the part of the Similans (note this is cheating a bit, Mark only had a shot of his tent at the Surins so I pinched it - tezza)
She arranged it all over the phone and it wasn't easy getting the boat operator nailed down on price and agreement to take our gear over. If we were just traveling about and fronted up in Thap Lamu at 6am it would have worked a treat - but we were adamant on putting our tent down, saving a minimum of B350 a night and being the first to do so.

As stated prior, there are no bungalows and we received word months ago staking your own tent is no longer possible (unless perhaps you camp with a dive group). Therefore if you want to stay on Tachai, you will need to rent an NP tent at a 350-550B per night.

The reason you want to camp and stay a few days is to enjoy the place for some hours without the throng of day-trippers. You can get great shots in the early morning and a few at sunset. Forewarned: the camp ground itself is a work in progress and despite loads of free space, you are shunted to an side area that is not very nice. Oh well, it's just for sleeping.

It is very easy to escape the day-trippers. Walk to the south of the island, there is lots of shade there you can put your hammock up for the balance of the afternoon.
At this time we are some of a handful of people outside dive groups to have camped this island and according to the head ranger have the record for longest stay (10 days). I also have the cumulative longest stay as of this year on Koh Rork as well (for an independent camper)

If you do not want to bring a stove, and ALL your own food - best option is to buy lunches (quite a good lunch) with your boat operator (B150-200), bring bread for breakfast and cans of whatever for dinner. Drink your coffee cold. Some supermarkets sell alcohol based heating tablets, you can make a stove out of rocks and cook coffee and noodles. Plan to not buy ANY meals in the canteen, the prices are absolutely obscene. DO NOT BE LAZY ABOUT THIS - YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

"best option is to buy lunches (quite a good lunch) with your boat operator (B150-200)" - Sea Star does lunch.

We expected prices to be same as the other marine parks - but the manager of the canteen charges double which is simply scandalous. That is B150 for something that you'd pay B30 for in the street. We came prepared as always with snacks and food but since we could not confirm a restaurant on the island - we came to cook. Cook we did, all ten days. We took the sum total of two meals in the canteen - and that was due to to the fact my girlfriend wanted to eat some special salty fish, so I was forced into a meal as well.

The trip out is not cheap at B3,500 pax, although we paid B3,000. Contact Tae at SeaStar tours on FB (Sea Star Happy Journey, Sea Star by Tae). She can also arrange return return tickets to BKK for you (or elsewhere) and was kind enough to drive us up to the road. Sea Star gave us all sorts of freebies - I won't say what so you don't expect it. We were the first, my girlfriend is Thai and they are just lovely people. So we lucked out there. Medseye also runs a trip and there are a few others. Just go with Sea Star - great boat, good staff. We've done the homework for you already.

Sea Star boat

It will be a pricey three days including the boat and lunches, but if you can afford it and are looking to do something others have not - Ta Chai may be your ticket. It is very easy to get on/off the island and can be tagged on to any trip in the general vicinity.

I would recommend you have a look, it is a very pretty island - but bear in mind this is camping only and it is not a cheap trip. Please tell Tae that Mark and Toom say hello and passed you on.

Many photos of this island as well as much, much more.

Provided to Tezza (DB), OW Ref #12932 All rights reserved MV

MV sent these perfect end of the day shots for perfect end of report shots.

TEZZA UPDATE - MV just emailed this to me:
Date: Sun, 29 May 2011
I can unfortunately confirm no camping is allowed and this may include dive groups as well. For a few years dive groups were allowed to come ashore and stake tents. When I was there I saw a few groups, the only large one being Poseidon.
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COCODRILO'S PHOTO TRIP REPORT ON THE SIMILANS ISLANDS - visited late Dec 09.


This is the viewpoint above the back-beach at National Park HQ, Island #4. The nearest boat is Poseidon's overnight snorkelling trip craft. Good snorkelling in the area of the boats in background.


Closer view of Poseidon's boat. Back platform for easy entry/exit to water. Nice shower hoses just above. Big shaded area for eating, relaxing. Sunbathing deck (and space for sleeping under the stars for those who wish) above front cabin and smaller sunning space behind shaded area.


The Poseidon trip was amazing, the staff very knowledgeable, attentive and kind, and the (Thai) food on board was simply excellent!


Chris shot this one of me on a snap expedition.


Chris also got this Manta.


And this moray.


Fish in a feeding frenzy.


Veined coral.


Colourful clam.


Anemones.

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Thanks Coco. Coco has a bunch more nice pix here.


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In November 2014 I did a day trip out of Phuket to the Similans. I put a report on the DAY TRIP page HERE



If you want to fire in a trip report on the Similans or any other location please send text and/or captions plus any pix to lajolla22@hotmail.com. Hopefully we can keep info up to date without me having to return to dozens of islands every second year. There are so many other places I want to visit.


Back to the main Similans and Snorkelling page.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you nice article.
    your next trip…Phuket is the best choice for you!!
    I love here Surin Beach Hotel This hotel is very nice clean and the people are friendly. VERY nice hotel with helpful staff.
    And I really love white sand, crystal clear waters at Surin Beach too.
    Thank again.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Similan Islands, located about 50 Kilometers west of Khao Lak, Thailand and are composed of nine granite islands washed by a clear blue tropical ocean and blessed with some of the world’s finest beaches.check at: khaolakexplorer.com

    ReplyDelete