Mu Koh Surin National Park on Phuket

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Mu Ko Surin National Park
Mu Ko Surin National Park
For many years Mu Ko Surin was an unspoiled group of islands, acting as a refuge for fishing boats during storms and hosting small communities of sea gypsies. In this situation the islands provoked little interest and for a long time were recorded as a National Forest Reserve by the Royal Forest Department. But on 30th December 1971 the National Committee on Wild Animal Reservation and Protection suggested that the islands should become a wildlife sanctuary. This was thwarted when it was realised that the islands occurred within the exploratory area leased to Weeks Petroleum Ltd. An alternative plan then proposed to develop the islands as a Vietnamese refugee camp. This idea was rejected as it was realised that the translocation and support of so many people in such a fragile environment, would soon result in damage to the islands pristine land and marine habitats. The Royal Forest Department appreciated the islands unique nature and their tourist and research potential. Thus the Royal Forest Department opposed the development of the islands and instead proposed the establishment of a national park to protect the area. Mu Ko Surin was eventually gazetted as the 29th National park of Thailand on 9th July 1981.

Mu Ko Surin National Park is situated in the Andaman sea approximately 60 km from the Coast of Phang-Nga Province in the southern peninsula region. The park covers an area of approximately 135 km2. Of the protected area 102 km2 or 76% is sea. The park comprises 5 main islands; Ko Surin Nua, Ko Surin Tai, Ko Ree (or Ko Satok), Ko Glang (or Ko Pachumba) and Ko Khai (or Ko Torinla). Ko Surin Nua and Ko Surin Tai are large islands and are situated on a north-south axis. A few kilometers to the north of the park is the Myanmar border and about 100 kilometers to the south is Mu Ko Similan National Park.
Topography:
Surin Islands comprise of five main islands, including 2 large islands consisting of the northern Surin island and southern Surin island which located very adjacent like the twin island. They are separated by the 200 meters width shallow sea. In the low tide period, you can walk across to the other island or so-called "cutted channel bay". The other three islands are the rock islands with some dwarf trees. Plants that found here are the rainforest plants. They are one source of the big and best fertile shallow coral reef of Thailand.
Climate:
Could be classified into 2 seasons consisting of hot seasons starting from mid of February - May, while the raining season starting from mid of May till October which has a highest level of rainfall. The yearly average rainfall is more than 3,000 millimeters and the average of related humidity is 83 percent. In rainy season, the park will be closed during 16 May - 14 November every year for visitors safety.
Flora and Fauna:
Vegetations, able to classify the society of plants as follows:
- Primary rainforest covers most area of the national park, both of slope and ridge of mountain. The important plants found here are Diospyros malabarica Kostel., etc.
- Beach forest could be found in beach areas where you can find many kinds of plant such as Barringtonia, Cerbera odollam, etc.
- Mangrove forest is located in the mud area and the brackish water of Mae Yai bay. This is not the fertile forest but you can find some kinds of plants such as Rhizophora apiculata, Rhizophora mucronata, Xylocarpus granatum, etc., while some dwarf forest or grove plants comprise of Cycas pectinata Griff., Dillenia obovata (Bl.) Hoogl., Erythroxylum cuneatum Kurz, etc.
Wild Animals:
 Birds, from survey found totally 91 types of birds including local birds about 57 types and the others are the migrating birds from elsewhere, such as Little Heron, Common Sandpiper, Little Tern, etc.
Mammal animals
could be found here totally 22 types including 12 types of bat such as Island Flying fox, Black-Bearded Tomb Bat, Pig-Tailed Macaque, Common Wild Pig, etc.
Reptiles
have been found 6 types such as Indian or Bengal Monitor, Water Monitor, Skink, Reticulated Python, etc.
Coral
, such as Needle coral, etc.
Fishes
, such as Damselfish, Wrasse, Butterfly-fish and Midas blenny; Ecsenius midas etc.

Sea Turtles, Sea turtles are a very ancient family of animals and their ancestors date back to when Dinosaurs roamed the earth. Although the Dinosaurs are now extinct, the sea turtles are still surviving although their future existence is in doubt. Many species are endangered with several species near extinction. Their principle threat is the loss of their nesting beaches to development stimulated by increasing tourist pressure. This has reduced the number of turtles worldwide to such an extent that positive action must be taken to secure their existence in the future. The principle action is the preservation of their nesting beaches, and the protection of the eggs from theft once laid. Sea turtle still nests on the Surin islands, with two species coming ashore to lay their eggs, Hawksbill, and Green turtles. In the early 1990’s we also had a few nest of the rare Olive Ridley turtle. Mu Ko Surin is the best place in Thailand for anyone who want to swim with sea turtles. Most visitors have a few chances to get close to them, mostly hawksbill turtle.
Attractions:
Mu Ko Surin principle attraction is the fact that it is an unspoiled tropical paradise far from the mainland, with healthy forested islands surrounded by clean water supporting a profusion of coral reef species. The coral reefs are the best, most diverse coral reefs accessible to snorkelers. The coral reefs at Ko Surin do not require the use of scuba equipment to observe them. Being the primary snorkeling spot on Thailand, Mu Ko Surin attracts a lot of tourists each year, many also arrive on pleasure cruises and on some days the number of visitors can be excessive. The islands also attract great research interest, and many scientists visit the islands each year for a variety of reasons ranging from coral reef surveys to bird observation.
Culture and Traditional:
 - Sea gypsies The Sea Gypsies or Moken are a nomadic sea people who live in the Mergui archipelago. Their ancestors came from Indonesia. The name Moken is from their own language, which is universal to all sea gypsy groups. The Moken live a very primitive existence and as such have a great respect for nature and the environment. They rely upon their environment for food, clothing and for the materials for boat construction. They live by spear fishing and collecting shellfish. Being nomadic they spend a lot of their time travelling, but they avoid travelling during the monsoon season from May to November. During this time they moor their boats in a sheltered location to form a temporary village of several families. These villages then break up when they start travelling again in December until April. The Moken do not have a written language, but are good at other languages including Thai and Yawi Malaysian. Every year during April an important ceremony occurs on Surin and Sea Gypsies from far away come to attend. They often come from Myanmar and the islands of peninsula Thailand and Malaysia. The festival is called Loi Reua and involves ancestor worship and the asking the spirits to care for and protect the Sea Gypsies.
Activities - Cultural Sight Seeing Top.
The Beautiful of Nature:
- Ao Tao (Tao Bay) Near coral line of Tao Bay located on the eastern part of South Surin Island is a living place of a lot of sea turtles. This beautiful coral is far from headquarters about 2 kilometers.
Activities - Snorkeling Diving Top

- Ao Pak Chak (Pak Chak Bay)
Pak Chak Bay located on the southern part of the South Surin Island has a perfect colorful coral line. It's far from headquarters about 5 kilometers.
Activities - Snorkeling Diving - Scuba Diving Top

- Ko Pachumba (Pachumba Island)
Pachumba Island or Mang Kon Island has Mang Kon Beach located on the eastern part of Island. It has not coral and sea fan. It's far from headquarters about 5 kilometers.
Activities - don't visit Top

Ao Mai Ngam (Mai Ngam Bay)
Mai Ngam Bay located on the western part of the North Surin Island far from headquarters about 2 kilometers. You can get there by walking through the trail of Mai Ngam Natural Studies or taking a long tailed boat. There is a fresh water and beach suitable for swimming and coral sightseeing.
Activities - Snorkeling  Diving - Activities on Beach - Camping - Bird Watching - Nature trail study - Canoeing-Kayaking Top

- Ko Torinla (Torinla Island)
Torinla Island or Khai Island is located on the southern part of the South Surin Island. On the eastern part of this island has a long, perfect and very beautiful coral line which very suitable for snorkeling. This island is far from headquarters about 6 kilometers. Ao Chak (Chak Bay)
Activities - Snorkeling Diving - Scuba Diving Top

- Ao Chak (Chak Bay)
Chak Bay located on the northern part of North Surin Island has a perfect and beautiful coral line. It's far from headquarters about 10 kilometers.
Activities - Snorkeling Diving Top

- Ao Suthep (Suthep Bay)
Suthep Bay llocated on South Surin island is a good place for those who want to do night diving. When low tide, coral reef may expose to the air. It's not far from headquarters.
Activities - Activities on Beach - Snorkeling Diving

Facilities:  
Accommodation: Bungalows are also available, located at Chong Khat Bay of the North Surin Island.
Camping site/Tent: Campground is available for visitors. located at Mai Ngam Bay of the North Surin Island.
Food services: Restaurant, first-aid room and souvenir shop are located at Chong Khat Bay of the North Surin Island. Docking , Boat Tie-up , Wharf - Tour Service Boat.
  From Khuraburi Port to the Mu Ko Surin National Park costs us about 1,000 Baht/trip/person (round-trip)
  Coral sightseeing in the area of islands costs by long -tail boat about 120 Baht/person/day
Visitor center: Visitor Center is available, located at Chong Khat Bay of the North Surin Island.
Others: One path of land natural studies at Ao Mai Ngam.
  Two paths of snorkeling at Ao Suthep and Ao Tao about 200 meters long. At the Ko Surin Tai, tourist would touch the beautiful and exotic undersea animals and plants.
Closing periods:
Raining season starting from mid of May - October with North - Western wind which has a highest level of rainfall. In rainy season, the park will be closed during 16 May - 14 November every year for visitors safety.
Getting there:
- By Car
Drives on the road no. 4 (Phetkasem Rd.) from Bangkok to Amphoe Khuraburi which is about 720 kilometers long then turns to Khuraburi Port at milestone no. 721, about 6 kilometers prior to Amphoe Khuraburi. From this intersection about two kilometers, you would see the entrance sign board of Mu Ko Surin National Park on the right-hand side, then make a turn to the tourist service center which located in the area of national park office.

- By Bus
Starts from the New Southern Bus Terminal at 7.00 pm which would arrive at Khuraburi about 5.00 am. Bus fare is 480 Baht/person. From the Bus Terminal, in Amphoe Khuruburi about 10 kilometer, you can take a motorcycle or rental car to the Khuraburi Port area, the location of Mu Ko Surin National Park Office. Motorcycle fare is about 50 Baht/person while a rental car cost you about 200 Baht/person.

- By Plane
Takes a plane to Ranong Airport or Phuket Airport, then takes a car to Amphoe Khuraburi of Phang Nga province.

- By Boat
At Khuraburi - Mu Ko Surin Port, you can take a private tour boat which controlled by the national park and serves tourists everyday. The cost for round trip is 1,200-1,500 baht per person. This tour boat departs from Kuraburi Port at 09.00 am. everyday and arrive at the National Park Headquarters unit on Northern Mu Ko Surin at 13.00 pm. From the port to this islands is about 60 kilometers which takes about 3 hours of journey. The return boat from Mu Ko Surin to Khuraburi Port departs at 10.00 am. everyday. However, this service would be closed at May 16 every year because entering of raining season.
Contact & Source:
Mu Ko Surin National Park
Ko Phra Thong Sub-district, Amphur Khuraburi Phangnga Thailand 82150
Tel. 0 7649 1378, 0 7649 1582 Fax. 0 7649 1583 E-mail surin_np@yahoo.co.th