This marine national park is the Thai island group closest to Burmese waters. The Surins are uninhabited but for a few park rangers and the Singh (or Lion) Tribe of Chao Lay (Sea Gypsies), who have a settlement on Koh Surin Tai. These nomadic sea people continue in this modern age a very primitive way of life.
For cruising yachts these islands represent a much calmer environment than the Similans, as considerably less commercial diving boats frequent the anchorages.
Visiting vessels are subject to the same charges and regulations as in the Similans.
The Surins consist of two main islands with off-lying islets and rocks. Pretty coral and clear waters are of Similan standards, though the fish life is not as abundant.
The shallow channel between the two principal islands (about 2 metres at high tide) has one of the most remarkable panoplies of coral reef to be found anywhwere.
The National Park HQ is on Koh Surin Nua and has basic accommodations at a modest price; contact for reservations at the visitors' centre (+66 0 7649 1378); information about weather conditions and current numbers of visitors can sometimes be obtained from the park office on the island by calling +66 0 7641 9028-9. Phone service to these isolated islands is, however, problematic.
Opposite the National Parks office is a wooden effigy carved to look like a Red Indian, suggesting to the uninitiated that these islands are a sacred place for the Chao Lay.
On the south of Koh Surin Tai, between the two rocks, is a tidal anomaly, which can create a dangerous standing wave with the ground swell from the west and a wind from the northeast.
The light on Koh Chi is reliable. Remember: only a few miles north is the Burmese border, and permission is required in advance before entering these waters.
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