Surin Islands Marine National Park

National Park in Phang-Nga Province

The five gorgeous isles of the Surin Islands Marine National Park sit 60km offshore, 5km from the Thailand–Myanmar marine border. Healthy rainforest, pockets of white-sand beach in sheltered bays and rocky headlands that jut into the ocean characterise these granite-outcrop islands. Perfectly clear water makes for easy marine-life spotting, with underwater visibility of up to 30m outside monsoon. Divers will have a field day, but this is also one of the finest spots for snorkelling in all Thailand.

These shielded waters attract small numbers of chow lair (sea gypsies, also spelt chao leh), an ethnic group of Malay origin who live on Ko Surin Tai during the May-to-November monsoon. Here they're known as Moken, from local word oken (‘salt water’).

The spectacular flaxen sand, the purpling depths, the sparkling bays in never-ending shades of jade and turquoise, and the sheer granite peninsulas that tumble down in a permanent geological avalanche, forming arrow-like points and natural breakwaters, are what you'll remember.

Ko Surin Tai (south) and Ko Surin Neua (north) are the two largest islands. Park headquarters, an information office and all visitor facilities are at Ao Chong Khad on southwest Ko Surin Neua.

Khuraburi is the park's jumping-off point. The pier is 9km northwest of town. Andaman Discoveries and Tom & Am Tour in Khuraburi can arrange day trips and overnight stays.