Getting to Surin Islands
Like to Visit the Surin Islands?
These remote islands are home to a small group of National Park Rangers who live there to protect the reefs and islands, a Sea Gypsy village – just a few people to run the government cafeteria and the tents and bungalows. Getting to the islands is best arranged through either a travel agent in the region or a diving/snorkeling company. There are plenty, but please make sure they are certified by the TAT, insured and actually have knowledge of the Surin Islands. Please don’t try to save a few Baht when your safety and the well-being of the Surin Islands National Park are at stake.
Getting To the Surin Islands While there are a great many companies in Phuket that advertise direct travel, it is very rare. Almost all companies transfer people the 200 km (yes we said 200) via minibus to Kuraburi pier, then onwards. Kuraburi is a fishing town located on the Andaman Sea. It is not developed for toursim. We encourage contacting Khao Lak companies for all your travel needs – they are cheaper and more knowledgeable about local conditions
Kuraburi Port is the main gateway to the Surin, as it is the closest point of land AND a busy fishing pier. The Surin Islands are approx. 40km away. If you travel by speedboat, the journey is between 50 and 70 minutes. Larger boats and liveaboards take 3-5 hours to get there, so most of them depart at night. The cost varies wildly from 1000 baht for a space on the deck of a fishing boat to 5500 baht for guided diving trips. A simple ride on speedboat is about 2500 baht. There are several options for this. There is also a boat owned and operated by the national park that takes 4 hours and costs 1500 baht. It leaves each day at 09.00. Kuraburi is on one o the two main north/south roads in Thailand. Getting there is a bit of work – but can be done. It is much easier is to make your way to Khao Lak and get a taxi. If you have arranged a tour through a local company, they will offer transfer free of charge. To save time and money – simply stay in Kuraburi or Khao Lak before and after your visit!
There are daily bus services from Bangkok to Ranong (about 120 km north of Kuraburi – approximately 750 total kilometres), air-conditioned bus fee is 460 Baht, and VIP air-conditioned bus fee is 896 Baht. These leave from Bangkok at approx.19.00 each day. The VIP takes 12 hours, and the Regular bus takes 14-15 hours. DO NOT purchase a ticket from the travel agents in the tourist areas. They sell tickets to Surat Thani and then put you on a local bus which adds several hours to the journey and lots of inconvenience. Please Purchase your tickets from the Government Bus Station – Southern Terminal.
From Phuket: Please very clear about where you are going. Most buses heading north do not pass through Kuraburi. You will most likely be enjoying the local experience on one of the buses. These buses will stop at several places along the way. Make sure you inform the driver of where you are stopping. There is no real bus station in Kuraburi and there are virtually no signs in english. Just make your way to the Bus station at Phuket Town.
The nearest major airport to the Surin Islands is Phuket International Airport. It is about 160km south of the pier. There are buses, and a confusing system of Taxis. We recommend using Khao Lak Taxi Service. Reliable, safe and secure. They are also quite affordable. It is possible to get to Kuraburi via bus from the the airport. It is very time consuming. Make your way to the main road (about 5km East). This can be done by taxi or a new public bus. The bus stop is on the opposite side of the road, heading North. It is about 600 Meters South of the crossroads. Every bus will stop there. Please ask the driver if they are heading to Kuraburi. The total trip should take about 7 hours. Phuket Airport is serviced by several international airlines and a great many regional airlines. More airport details here. Here are just a few Airlines:
Bangkok Airways (regional)
Nokair (within Thailand)
Tiger Air (from Singapore)
Fireflyz (from Penang)
From anywhere in the region you may also order a taxi to pick you up or drop you off. With groups of 3-5 people, this is the wisest choice for time, convenience and economics. If you are in a hurry, this is also the best choice as buses (and people) tend to work on “Thai time”. Please check out Khao Lak Taxi Service for a price list of places served and prices for those services.
Speedboats, sailing vessels diving liveaboards and even luxury yachts can be chartered or individually booked from several dive companies in Khao Lak (and the local pier – Thap Lamu).
Getting around the Surin Islands On the Surin Islands there are trails and very beautiful viewpoints. Bring your shoes! The beaches are not connected and it is sometimes quite difficult to climb over the boulders. The best way to get around is either through a scheduled tour or through the local longtail drivers. They are available for 1/2 day or full day hire. You can then truly explore the Surin islands. If you are short on time (and patience), we recommend using the services of a local dive shop or snorkeling company. A company has recently started offering an overnight tours, with the option to stay on the islands, while visiting various dive sites and snorkeling areas each day.