Mu Ko Surin National Park
This park is situated at Mu 5, Tambon Ko Phra Thong.
Ko Surin was made into a National Park area on 9 July, 1981.
The best time to visit Mu Ko Surin National Park is from December to March.
These consist of Ko Surin Nua and Ko Surin Tai which have more than 10 bays.
Mar Khai (Mae Yai Bay) is renowned for its serenity.
Ao Luk (Deep Bay) is famous for its deep dark green waters with beautiful coral reef in the shallows.
The best time to go sightseeing in the Andaman Sea is from the beginning of November to around the end of April.
Mu Ko Surin is the meeting place of two ecosystems:
The Tropical Rain Forest on the islands themselves
And the largest, most beautiful and most abundant shallow water coral reef in Thailand.
Ko Surin Nuea (North Surin Island)
This island is surrounded by coral reefs in several bays, some more than 300 m. wide. The reef edge contains numerous corals before sloping to a depth of 20-30 m.; for example, Ao Chong Khat, Ao Mai Ngam, Ao Sai En, and Ao Chak.
The coral reefs here suffer little in the way of strong current or wave action and provide a suitable place to snorkel. The nature trail at Hat Mai Ngam links many diverse ecosystems ranging through Evergreen Forest, Beach Forest, and Mangrove Forest to an underwater forest, the large coral reef.
Ko Surin Tai (South Surin Island)
The coral reefs of the South Surin Island are only 100-200 m. wide, but they have more diversity than those of the North Surin Island. Some famous diving sites are Ao Phakkat, and Ko Torinla. Ao Tao is the best site to easily see sea turtles, and has the first underwater nature trail established in Thailand to learn about the marine ecosystem.
Ko Torinla (Ko Khai)
Famous as the most beautiful shallow coral reef in Thailand, it hosts a vast Staghorn Coral reef, the habitat of several marine animals ranging from match-stick length goby up to 4- metre-wide Manta Rays.
Ao Chong Khat
This bay is located between the North and South Surin Islands, and its narrowest point is about 200 m wide.
It can be swam across during low tide. The water is shallow (1-3 m.), and it is a suitable place for playing, and learning to snorkel (snorkeling and diving equipment rental fee is 100 baht/day/set). The shallow water coral reef here has scattered 1-meter-high massive corals and also some submassive corals.
Marine animals found include Sea anemones, over 550 anemonefish, Giant Clams, and small fish such as pipefish, and small parrotfish.
However, one should be careful when the tide is rising or falling, and also beware of long-tailed boats since this is the route to other bays around the islands.
Ao Mai Ngam
A safe snorkeling and diving site and the nearest. Can be reached by walking along the 2 km. Nature trail starting at the Substation.
The coral reef ranges from 200-800 m. offshore.
In the shallower areas, there are many corals, particularly Foliose, found scattered in large beautiful groups.
Deeper, there are massive corals mixed with Staghorn Corals to a depth of 12 – 15 m. Massive corals are habitats of many strange colored fish like parrotfish, wrasse, butterfly fish, and anemone fish. You should snorkel during the high tide period to prevent damage to these corals.
Ao Mae Yai
In the past, it was home to one of the largest Staghorn Coral reefs of Thailand. Today, the area is a rehabilitation site with no permission to dive other than in the cape area at the southern tip of the bay site 20 m. below the surface
A rather remote site due to its distance from the Substation (45 min. by boat), and one of the best snorkeling and diving sites of the islands. The coral reef lies at 200-400 m. from the shore, where Staghorn Corals and several other species can be found. The reef gradually drops to a depth of 12-15 m. where a few soft corals and sea fans are found.
A highlight of the area is that Hawksbill Turtles are often found, as well as Green Turtles and several species of fish such as butterflyfish and puffer. The reef here is 100-200 m. wide before sloping to a depth of 20 m. In shallow areas are again found various corals including Staghorn Corals. There is also an underwater nature trail se out here, which is a snorkeling and diving treat not to be missed.
The area has a rich diversity of corals, especially foliose corals. Angelfish are often found and there are no less than 7 species. In deeper areas are found some small soft corals and sea fans. The coral reef is about 300 m. long and 100 m. wide, before sloping to a depth of about 18 m. A popular snorkeling and diving site.
Ko Torinla (Ko Khai)
In summer, this area is not only the best snorkeling and diving site of Mu Ko Surin but also the best in Thailand. It is located about 1 km. From South Surin Island.
The coral reef is found on the northern side of the island and is about 500 m. long and 100 m. wide before sloping to a depth of 15-20 m. In the shallower areas, one of the largest and densest areas of branching corals are found.
The submerged rocks between Ko Torinla and Ko Surin are an interesting scuba diving site. There are several species of soft corals and sea fans, no less than 242 species of coral reef fish, as well as larger species like Manta Rays.
Topography of a Coral Reef
Most coral reefs alrle fringing reefs, and it can be easily observed that these reefs are located along shoreline connected to a beach. The reef is divided into 3 areas, which are Reef Flat, Reef Edge, and Reef Slope.
The First Underwater Nature Trail of Thailand
This trail was created to promote knowledge and experience in environmental education on coral reefs, by snorkeling and diving from stop to stop requiring no more than average snorkeling and diving skills.
It takes not more than 30 min. to cover the trail, which consists of 10 stops.
There are large numbered signs tied underwater and by reading the information provided for each stop in the underwater manual, a whole new world will open up to you.
If you are interested in doing the trail, please contact the park rangers to borrow the underwater manual and also rent a boat to reach the start point (about 15 min.).
Here are the ten stops:
There are nine False Clown Anemonefish living here with the sea anemones. Each has a different behavior. The mother fish usually comes out to protect her family.
Large Tabulate Corals
The coral reef ecosystem is a rich but limited habitat. Bottom dwelling species have their own means for survival in the struggle of life.
Huge Giant Clam
There are only 3 species of giant clams left in Thailand. This particular giant clam is one of the largest ones reported in Thailand.
Fire Corals (Millepora tenella)
Fire corals are actually jellyfish and they have a potent poison.
Fire Corals (Millepora platyphylla)
Fire Corals can be found everywhere around Surin Islands.
Massive Corals and Fish Bites
Parrotfish mainly eat corals. Their parrot-like beaks work very well to scrape corals. Here, you can see the results.
This stop tells the story of se veral species and forms of corals such as massive corals, branching corals, and submassive corals.
They are not like other corals. Discounting their soft bodies, there are many other factors that make them different. Take a closer look.
Natural Dead Corals
Net Fragment Caught on Corals
Corals can be destroyed by human beings in several ways either intentionally or not. Net fragments cut or torn from a boat stuck on corals cause many problems.
Hat Mai Ngam Nature Trail
This trail being about 2 km. Long, is suitable for an hour of walking.
On the trail, you will pass three kinds of forest:
Moist Evergreen Forest
Some rare species of bird can be found with careful observation. Some such as the Large Green Pigeon, the Pied Imperial Pigeon, but most particularly the Nicobar Pigeon, are found only on distant offshore islands in the Andaman Sea like Mu Ko Surin and Mu Ko Similan.
These are the stops and points of interest along the way:
Ao Chong Khat
Diving point with several species of fish.
A fig tree. Its ripe fruits are the food of several animals, including Mouse Deer, Flying Foxes, several types of bird and some larvae.
A submerged shoreline. From this point, you can see Ko Pachumba or Ko Mangkon where there are many Spiny Lobsters.
The largest Alexandrian Laurel (Calophyllum inophyllum) in Thailand.
Found on the shore above high tide level. On the sandy beach, Sea Almond (Terminalia catappa), Barringtonia racemosa, and Scaevola taccada, and sometimes Pandanus sp. Are found.
The freshwater pond is a habitat of plants like Elephant’s Ear (Colocasia esulenta) and Fishtail Palms (Caryota urens), and small animals like shrimp and fish.
Rattan Palm (Calamus sp.)
A palm that Morgan Sea Gypsies use to sew Pandanus leaves together to make boat sails and thatches.
A spawning ground and habitat for many animals.
Mangrove helps prevent sediments from the land flowing into the sea.
Vegetation in Mangrove Forest is adapted for survival in salt water; for example, White Mangrove (Ceriops tagal) and Sonneratia caseolaris have a salt excreting gland on the leaf surface, Rhizophorasl have succulent leaves for water storage and aerial roots to enable them to breathe above the suffocating mud.
Source of food for wildlife like birds, squirrels, and monkeys, especially in the dry season.
A species of palm found at the swamp edge or in deeper Swamp Forest. The fruit is a source of food for several animals.
How to Get There
Traveling to Mu Ko Surin can be initiated from several different points:
Kuraburi Pier is the nearest point to Mo Ko Surin.
Kuraburi is some 125 Kilometres north of Phang-nga Town, 180 Km North of Phuket and only 75 Km north of Khao Lak. this is very accessible form Khao Lak as part of a day trip
Speedboats take about 50 minutes. Large, slow boats take around 3 hours.
Amphoe Kapoe Pier is in Ranong Province. The trip takes 7 hours. Visitors may contact Chansom Tara Hotel which has boats leaving Chan Damri Beach for trips to Mo Ko Surin. Not recommended – as these boats are usually fishing boats