Can not find too much information on this, so please bear with me.
We are snorkelers and would like to spend few days on the Surin islands independently.
The questions I have :
1/ how to arrange the transport (and where from)
2/ how to arrange the accommodation at the national park? If camping- do we need to reserve or can we just show up?
3/ How many days do you recommend to stay?
4/ What are the best snorkeling sites there and how do we get there from the accommodation?
appreciate any help,
1. You don't say where you'll be coming from. The ferries to the Surins leave from Khuraburi at 9am. If you're coming from Bangkok the only way to get to Khuraburi in time to catch them is to take an overnight bus. Try and arrive by 7am so you have time to buy the boat ticket and grab some breakfast before the transfer to the ferry pier (which is a bit out of town).
2. You have to sign up at the National Park office at the pier and say which camp you'll be staying in. Usually there's no need to book ahead for tents but it gets very busy at certain times of year eg Songkran, Chinese New Year and around Xmas/New Year... particularly Songkran when thousands of Thais go there. Other Thai public holidays are also quite busy, especially any long weekends.
3. I'd recommend at least two days but the park fee allows you to stay for up to a week. The ferry tickets are open returns so you don't need to decide how long you're staying in advance.
4. The park organizes cheap morning and afternoon snorkelling trips. There are 4 different ones so you need a minimum of two days to do them all. You can also charter a boat privately if you want (1000B for a half day last season).
Just back from Surin islands, here's how I organized it, hope it can help someone:
we decided to at the Surin island bungalows, the cost is 2000TB per night, but you get comfortable bed, own shower, balcony and lockable room vs. tent where there tents are 20 cm apart from each other, approx 25 in a row, hard ground even when using the sleeping mat and no privacy
The transportation was with Khuraburi Greenview resort, which was reserved by our resort owner, who is Dutch, the resort is called Amsterdam resort, quiet little place near the beach in Khao Lak .
He reserved the transportation and the bungalows for us (during the week, weekends are busy with Thai people) the cost of the transportation was TB 1900,
We paid for the accommodation once we arrived to the island at the national park's office.
National park runs long boats to the snorkeling sites at 9am and 2 pm, the cost per person is 80 TB. cost of the snorkeling gear rent is 80 tb per day
The cost of meal at the parks' canteen is betwen 50-120 B per meal, the cost of beer is extra. There is drinking water at large barrel at the HQ.
Park has a Nature trail on their map, we tried it and it crosses several broken down bridges, which we climbed anyway, visits nice and quiet beach in front of the Royal navy's barracks and continues to a beach on the other side of the North Surin island.
I would do the trip the same way I did it again as it gave me more freedom choosing my meals, vs pre arranged meals by the Greenview's package deal (which according to the people who have do it this way, was OK but often cold, and the same every night). and once pieced together it was cheaper than purchasing the package.
I would not book either the transfer (which was from Khao Lak all the way to Surin and back) or package with Greenview directly as they just tried to sell everythieng for higher price. Example- I was told by a couple who purchased their 3 day/2 night package from Greenviw that they paid 5400 Tb per person, after I returned from Surins, I had few minutes so I asked at the office of the Greenview resort at the Kuraburi pier for the cost of the same package (3 days and 2 nights) and was told it is 6200TB, when I pointed out the price difference, they told me OK you can have it for 5400TB.
They are reliable tour operator and are trying to make as much money as the people are willing to pay.
therefore it's nice to know the options, like for me to go though local resort who knows the price range and will get better price, in my case if I wanted to Amsterdam resort would have organized the same 3d/2n package through Greenview for 5600TB (the 200extra TB is fee for organizing it, which is perfectly fine if one is on tight schedule, wants exact dates and does not feel comfortable to prepay the same package directly to Greenview. Amsterdam resort reserved our trip and we paid for it once we arrived to Khao Lak)