The Surin Islands (Thai: หมู่เกาะสุรินทร์, Thai pronunciation: [mùː kɔ̀ʔ sùrin]) is an archipelago of five islands in the Andaman Sea, 60 km from the Thai mainland. Administratively, the islands are part of Tambon Ko Phra Thong, Amphoe Khura Buri, in Phang Nga Province, Thailand.
Mu Ko Surin National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติหมู่เกาะสุรินทร์) encompasses the islands and their surrounding waters. The park covers an area of approximately 141.25 km2. It contains the Surin Islands and the surrounding waters. Of the protected area, 108 km2 or 80 percent is ocean. The park was gazetted as the 29th national park of Thailand on 9 July 1981. The park is closed during rainy season, 1 May-31 October, every year.
The five islands are Ko Surin Nuea, Ko Surin Tai, Ko Ri, Ko Kai, and Ko Klang, with Ko Surin Nuea and Ko Surin Tai being the two main islands of the group. The Thai-Burmese oceanic border is a few kilometers north of the park. Christie Island, Burma's southernmost point, lies 18 km to the north of Ko Surin Nuea and about 100 km to the south is Mu Ko Similan National Park.
Richelieu Rock, a rock in the middle of the sea, about 10 km southwest of the Ko Surin, is commonly referred to one as one of the ten best dive spots in the world. Named after Andreas du Plessis de Richelieu, the first (and only foreign) commander-in-chief of the Thai Navy, the remote rock is home to some of the largest marine life species in Thailand. Other popular dive sites include Hin Kong, Ko Torinla, and Ko Chi.
A hot season runs from mid-February to May. The rainy season is from mid-May to October, the rainiest month. The yearly average rainfall is more than 3,000 millimetres with average humidity is 83 percent. The park is closed during rainy season, 1 May-31 October, every year.
The best time for diving is around December to April with dry conditions, minimum wind and an average water temperature at around 29 °C. February to April is the more ideal time to spot large pelagic species like manta rayView details in lightbox and whale sharksView details in lightbox. Due to marine conservation initiatives diving is not allowed in certain areas of the national park.
The Surin Islands host two small communities of the small ethnic Moken minority, known as "chao lay" or "sea gypsies". The Moken population of the Surin Island averages around 150 persons. Moken are actually three distinct tribes living along the Andaman Coast of Burma and Thailand – the Moken of the Mergui archipelago, the Moklen of Phang Nga province, and the Urak Lawoi living from Phuket southward to Satun. With Austronesian roots, their language, culture and lifestyle are unique, and they have a history of peaceful coexistence with mainland neighbors.The Moken, proper, have a long history of living in the Mergui archipelago between Burma and the islands of Thailand’s North Andaman coast. As sea nomads, the Moken used to spend most of their lives on traditional houseboats known as Kabang, moving from bay to bay depending on the wind and weather. During the monsoon rains, families would come together and build temporary villages on protected beaches.
The Moken do not have a written language and their history is passed down verbally through folklore from generation to generation. Family connections are strong and dependable. Furthermore, the Moken language knows no words for individual possession which is reflected in a culture of sharing and giving.
The Moken are animists and have great understanding and respect for their environment and natural resources. In past times, the Moken people were subsistence hunter-gathers, trading shells, sea cucumbers, and fish for rice and other necessities. They use over 80 plant species for food, 28 for medicinal purposes, and 105 for shelter, handicrafts and other purposes.
Primary rain forest covers most area of the park. Beach forest can be found in beach areas where Barringtonia and Cerbera odollam abound. Mangrove forest can be found in the mud and brackish water of Mae Yai Bay.
Surveys have found:
- Ninety-one types of birds including 57 local species. Others are migrating species.
- Twenty-two mammal species including 12 types of bats.
- Marine mammals such as Bryde's whales live around.
- Six species of reptiles such as Indian or Bengal monitors, water monitors, skinks, and reticulated pythons.
- Sea turtles still nest on the Surin islands, with two species coming ashore to lay their eggs, critically endangered hawksbill and green turtles. In the early-1990s some rare Olive Ridley turtles were spotted.
Snorkeling and Diving
40min offshore the Thailand west coast, the Surin Islands Marine National Park holds some of the most breathtaking underwater treasures of the Andaman Sea. Snorkeling day trips are available to this isolated archipelago surrounded by turquoise, warm waters. You can swim with turtles and admire the pristine reefs fringing the coast.Due to its remote location, the Surin Islands National Park has remained free of the pressures of tourist development from the mainland.
Since the creation of the park in the 80's, the Surin Islands have been protected from overfishing and mass tourism promoting a rich marine diversity and an excellent reef conditions. The tsunami has had limited impacts on the ecosystem, healthy reefs have recovered and most of the sites exhibit few hundred years old coral colonies.There are Pelagic species in the Surin IslandsThese idealistic conditions make the Surin a haven of peace large schools of reef fish andfor ocean giants such as whale sharks and manta rays or napoleon which can be observed flying majestically in the blue. Koh Surin is also frequented by sea turtles which are often spotted and come to lay down their eggs on the white sandy beaches framing the islands. There are many interesting snorkeling and diving spots around the Surin Islands. The eastern coast exhibits the best corals within the archipelago. Protected from the main winds and currents, dotted with shallow and sheltered bays, it is the perfect location to explore safely the beauty of Surin.
Where to stay
There are few bungalows, lodges and two campsites at Koh Surin Nuea. Tents and bungalows can only be rent from Mu Ko Surin National Park Office, agencies does arrange the rentals. The park office is located at Lang Thung 60km north of Khao Lok at mainland.
Bungalow are 2,000 B and up, tent for 2 person costs 400 B/night and using own tent costs 80 B/night. Tent equipments such as matt, sleeping bags are also available for rent from 50B each. Bunglows are from 2000B and up. For any inquiry and booking, please contact directly with Koh Surin National Park Office at  Tel:+66(0)76-491378, +66(0)76-419028
Read more at: http://www.phuket.com/island/surin.htm?cid=ch:OTH:001
How to get there
Getting to the Surin Islands Rough seas make travel to the Surins difficult during the southwest monsoon months of May-October, and sometimes impossible. Khura Buri Pier, some 125 kilometres north of Phang Nga Town, is the nearest launching point to the Surins, where ferryboats regularly make the 4-hour trip from November-April. Boats may also be arranged from Amphoe Kapoe Pier in Ranong Province, with trips taking about 7 hours. Note: Like all national parks in Thailand, there's an entry fee of 200 baht for foreign visitors. The most hassle-free and often cost-effective way to reach the Surins is by arranging a tour that departs from Phuket. Most dive and game fishing operators in Phuket can arrange liveaboards, or you can book a trip by speedboat here. Day tours feature visits to several different snorkeling locations plus lunch at the national park headquarters. The speedboats used take only an hour to reach the islands.
Read more at: http://www.phuket.com/island/surin.htm?cid=ch:OTH:001
- "Mu Ko Surin National Park". Department of National Parks (DNP). Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
- "Mu Koh Surin National Park". Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Retrieved 23 May 2016.
- "ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL SETTINGS OF THE SURIN ISLANDS". Environment and development in coastal regions and in small islands. UNESCO. Archived from the original on 23 April 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mu Ko Surin National Park.|
- Surin Islands travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Phang Nga Tourist Association
- Presentation of Surin and Similan in French