Thailand’s premier scuba-diving destination reopens Thursday following its coronavirus-lengthened shutdown.
The Oct. 15 reopening of Mu Koh Similan National Park is nothing new: It is the same date the park opens every year. But the Similans closed early two months this year – March 15 – due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Thailand. This season’s schedule anticipates a normal May 15 closure.
The Phangnga Province islands close each year to give its delicate marine ecosystem time to recover from heavy high-season tourism and because of summer storms that make boat travel dangerous.
Park officials said that, this year, tourists will have to take extra precautions to remain socially distanced.
The Similans are one of the best-known island groups in the Andaman Sea, largely because of the wonders that await beneath the clear-blue waters surrounding them. Located 84 kilometers northwest of Phuket, the archipelago is the country’s pre-eminent diving areas and one of the best in the world.
The Similan Islands Park also has been the most overcrowded Thai national park with as many as 6,000 tourists and divers a day visiting the islands during high season.
One local tour agent who took a preview tour of the island this week said it planned to focus on educating Thai tourists about conservation and eco-tourism. Its operations will begin Oct. 15.