Hi, my name is Teeraporn but people call me Noon or Nicole. I’m originally a city gal from Bangkok. About eight years ago though I fell in love with the sea, maybe because of the freedom of life and lovely nature surrounding it. At that time, I worked as a freelance translator and had the time to travel to Southern Thailand (Phuket and Phang Nga was my choice). I first came to the Similan and Surin Islands with a group of freediving friends.
After that I visited the Surin Islands whenever I got the chance. Then I set up my own freediving and snorkeling tour company in 2019 called Sea Stay Thailand (@seastaythailand). Normally, the islands are open from October to May – so I tend to visit during this period, going back on land once or twice a month (for up to five days). Freediving is my passion and I love doing it in the Surin Islands. Sometimes I just chill by the beach, go stand-up paddle boarding or watch the sunset after taking customers diving.
The Surin Islands is a destination where you can relax your heart and mind, and enjoy the most beautiful corals in Thailand. Beyond that, this archipelago is home to the Moken people who are an ancient sea-faring community who have roamed the Andaman Sea for centuries. Their village in Ao Bon Yai on Ko Surin Tai is considered to be the last sea gypsy tribe in Thailand. I work directly with the Moken people whenever I can through my tour company, and I feel a deep connection with them as well.
The archipelago is a marine park managed by the local Thai government and it’s an eco-friendly sanctuary. There are no hotels here, only campsites and bungalows by the beach. Visiting the islands is all about being with nature and the native people. When you go yourself, it’s important to respect the jungle ecosystem of the Surin Islands and the Moken community who call it home. Additionally, you will want to experience the best things that the islands have to offer which you can read about below!
Best Things To Do in the Surin Islands
1. Snorkel or Freedive at Ao Suthep
There are a couple of fantastic spots to go snorkeling and freediving in the Surin Islands but my favorite one would have to be Ao Suthep. Spectacular corals and fish, unlike any other dive site in Thailand, exist here. The colorful corals are thriving and expanding everywhere, and countless little fish swim around you in a playful manner. It’s like swimming in paradise! Occasionally we can spot eagle rays, pufferfish, clownfish and other unique species too.
2. Visit the Moken Village in Ao Bon Yai
Traditionally, the Moken lived on Kabang houseboats during the dry season and moved to temporary villages during the monsoon-filled rainy season. However, due to changing socio-economic conditions and the 2004 Tsunami they have now settled permanently in a village in Ao Bon Yai. The village boasts 70 households – including a health clinic and school – and is inhabited by 300 people. Visiting the village is a wonderful experience for those who are interested in learning about Thailand’s hidden cultures.
3. Camp or Stay in a Bungalow by the Beach
Most of the tours to the Surin Islands include accommodation in tents or bungalows. A sleeping mat, sleeping bag and pillow comes in each tent and makes for a comfortable stay by the beach. These tours also involve diving, snorkeling and beach-hopping. Booking the tents is cheaper than the bungalows, so you can choose an option that suits your budget. Waking up to the sound of the waves and birds chirping is priceless!
4. Explore the Best Beaches of the Surin Islands
The Surin Islands consist of five islands which together form the Mu Ko Surin National Park. Dotted throughout the islands are some paradisiacal beaches where you can sunbathe, swim and camp. Ko Surin Nuea, for example, is home to pristine white sand beaches and superb snorkeling opportunities, and Ao Mai Gnam and Chong Khat Bay are the most popular camping and bungalow sites. When you head to the sea, you will be able to enjoy 30 meters of underwater visibility – whether you swim or dive!
5. Go Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in the Mangrove Forest
Stand-up paddle boarding is a fun activity to do in the Surin Islands as there are so many calm bays to paddle through. The water is crystal-clear and you will be able to spot corals and an abundance of fish. But beyond the beaches, perhaps the most unique landscape/seascape to enjoy SUP is the section of mangrove forest located in Ao Mae Yai. The wild trees there emerge from the interior jungle and intersect with the water beautifully.
6. Watch the Sunset by the Sea at Ao Krating
Ao Krating is the most picturesque bay in the Surin Islands, with white sand and turquoise water that competes with any destination in Thailand (or the world for that matter). Snorkeling and swimming here are the most popular activities but if you have time for it, try to stay for the sunset as the setting is truly incredible. The colors will simply take your breath away!
7. Hike from Chong Khat Bay to Mai Ngam Bay
The 2-kilometer trail from Chong Khat Bay to the western side of the island to Mai Ngam Bay is a thrilling adventure suited to all fitness levels. From Mai Ngam Bay, you can relax on the beach or continue walking to other bays and beaches nearby. The walk normally only takes 30 minutes or so, and is best done early in the morning before the midday heat sets in.
Tips for Visiting the Surin Islands
Getting to the Surin Islands is easy. Just take a speedboat from Kuraburi Pier. This takes no more than 1.5 hours but depends on the sea conditions. Phone signal is available for those who use True and AIS, electricity from 18:00 pm to 8:00 am and you can charge your devices in the canteen area. Clean showers are located next to the tent areas, alongside a cafeteria that sells snacks and water. All in all, the Surin Islands is an amazing place to visit for beach and diving adventures. You will love this Thai paradise!