The Surin Islands (Thai: หมู่เกาะสุรินทร์, Thai pronunciation: [mùː kɔ̀ʔ sùʔrin]) is an archipelago of five islands of the Andaman Sea, 55 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 is home to one of the most famous dive sites in the world, Richelieu Rock. In addition the islands feature pristine reefs, making it home to some of the best snorkeling in Thailand.
The Surin Islands have a broad selection of animal life - including Nicobar pigeons and mangrove monitor lizards.
Below the water can be found a very rich and pristine coral reef ecosystem. While small portions of the islands were affected by the 2004 tsunami, most reefs are still quite healthy.
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.
Richelieu Rock, a rock in the middle of the sea, about 18 km east of the islands, 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. Sightings of whale shark, manta ray and sharks are common.
Other popular dive sites include Hin Kong, Ko Torinla, and Ko Chi.
Mu Ko Surin National Park:
Mu Ko Surin National 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% is sea. The park was gazetted as the 29th national park of Thailand on July 9, 1981.
Access to Surin Islands Marine National Park is easiest from either Khao Lak, Khura Buri or Ko Phra Thong on mainland Phang Nga Province. Travel to the Surin Islands is only safe from November to May. The park is closed in the other months. The mainland office of the park is in Ngan Yong, just north of Khura Buri. Dive operators in Khao Lak offer liveaboard diving trips and day trips via speedboat. Ferry tickets to the islands can be bought in Kuraburi as well. All boat operators in Kuraburi provide free land transfer to the ferry pier, which is a 10-minute ride from the town centre.