Before you start browsing the best snorkeling spots in Thailand, I want to remind you that I am not a professional diver. All the information below is the summary opinion of both experienced comrades and simply reviews of amateur tourists. I took my personal experience as a traveler, added there search results for information on Tripadvisor, Vinsky's forum and narrowly targeted diving Internet sources with snorkeling forums. If you suddenly notice a mistake or you have a desire to supplement what has been written, then I will only be grateful for your contribution to the common piggy bank of wisdom. And so as not to get up twice - here's a good one post about the weather in Thailand.
The content of the article
- one About snorkeling in Thailand
- 2 TOP 10 snorkeling spots in Thailand
- 2.1 Similan Islands, Phang Nga Province
- 2.2 Phi Phi Islands, Krabi Province
- 2.3 Koh Kradan, Trang Province
- 2.4 Koh Rok, Trang province
- 2.5 Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan, Surat Thani Province
- 2.6 Koh Chang and its satellites: Kham, Rank, Wai and Kood
- 2.7 Krabi: Riley, Poda, Hong
- 2.8 Koh Surin, Phang Nga Province
- 2.9 Phuket Island and Koh Racha
- 2.10 Ko Lipe, Satun Province
- 3 Places map
About snorkeling in Thailand
I'll start with the most important thing: Thailand is a better place to start than continue your snorkeling journey. For this, the kingdom has a lot of resorts with excellent infrastructure and two main reservoirs, which differ in the beauty and richness of the underwater world..
According to the majority (and in my opinion, including), the most interesting in terms of snorkeling is the Andaman Sea - that is, the Indian Ocean, washing the western shores of the mainland. Slightly simpler and poorer is the Gulf of Thailand, the South China Sea (Pacific Ocean). For swimmers who have seen the beauty of the Red Sea before, snorkeling in the Philippines and Japan, snorkeling in Thailand will seem dull and boring..
TOP 10 snorkeling spots in Thailand
Similan Islands, Phang Nga Province
How to get there
Similans are located in the Andaman Sea. It is cheaper and easier to come to the Similan Islands by purchasing an excursion for a period of one to three days. By the way, in due time I did so. You can get to Similan on your own. By stuffing cones, you can get to the Tap Lamu pier, hire a boatman (you need to negotiate with him the day before sailing), swim to Similan, pay a fee, rent a bungalow, but then what? You need to get to the snorkeling sites somehow by sea, and between the snorks there is something to eat and drink. So Similan is an excursion, and not less than two days.
There are nine islands in total, and each has its own number: Hu Yong (1), Pa Young (2), Pa Yang (3), Miang (4), Ha (5), Payu? (6), Hin-Pu? Sar (7), Similan (8) and Ba Ngu (9). And two islands without numbers: Tachai and Bon. There are bungalows, tents and two cafes on island 8, and there are other tents on the 4th. Alternatively, you can pay a little more and spend the night in specially equipped cabins on the ship. There are no hotels or resorts available on the booking systems on Similan itself, but three types of accommodation can be booked through the reserve's website: a tent, a bungalow with a fan, and a bungalow with an aircon. The closest excellent rated hotels to Thap Lamu Pier are: Tuaprod Home and Sawasdee Home Stay Resort & Pool.
The islands are open to tourists from late March to mid-April, and from May they are closed to restore nature. You can go ashore only on islands 4 and 8. You cannot swim in the sea with swimming shoes. In the season, the visibility is excellent. Sharks come across, but very rarely, mainly seahorses, turtles, lobsters, pygmy dancing shrimps, rays, moray eels, anemone meadows and fish soup with a wide range of ingredients. Swimming at night is interesting - if you touch the water with your hands, you can stir up the plankton to shine. But it is also dangerous - at night a predatory fish comes to the shore and swimming can be fraught with danger. The best places for snorkeling are known only to locals and teams on excursion boats, and this is another plus in favor of a group tour.
Phi Phi Islands, Krabi Province
How to get there
The Phi Phi Islands are located in the Andaman Sea and are equidistant (20-30 km) from the closest resorts in Thailand: Phuket, Krabi Town and Koh Lanta. At any street travel agency, you can order a transfer to Phi Phi, and it will cost you the real cost of tickets, plus a 50-100 baht commission for the agent's troubles. I voice only a light independent version, so as not to waste your and my time on scribbling all the nuances of the transfer from each location. You will find a lot of useful things here in this article. If you go to Pi-Pi for a short time, do not speak English, and in general in Thailand for the first time, then take a tour for a couple of days. Compared to a standalone trip, an organized trip is cheaper..
The Phi Phi Islands are an archipelago of the Krabi province. It includes the islands: Pi-Pi Don (inhabited and main), Pi-Pi Lei (exotic for excursions, where Maya Bay from the film «Beach» with DiCaprio), Ko Jung (aka Mosquito Island), Ko Mai Pai (aka Bambu Island), Bida Nok and Bida Nai. Of all the above, only Pi-Pi Don has infrastructure. From exchange offices to luxury hotels, shops, cafes, travel agencies, diving centers and beach resorts. There is only a small campground on Phi Phi Lei and a few bungalows for those who come to May Bay overnight. Of the well-ranked hotels in Pi-Phi Don, I recommend Holiday Inn near which there is a good snorkel from the coast, and - Paradise Resort for the same reason. In general, for quality snorkeling, you need to sail to small islands..
The season with the most favorable conditions for snorkeling is from February to May. Going to Pi-Pi, budget for renting a boat or buying excursions to snorkeling sites.
On Phi Phi Don from the shore, you can only watch fish soup along the edges of the beach, opposite the above hotels, as well as in the area of Monkey Beach, Rantee Bay and Lo Mo Di Bay. Basically around Pee Pee there are only dead corals and dull landscapes in clear water, and to see something interesting, you need to swim further, for example, to Sharks Point opposite Long Beach. But keep in mind - just behind the beach buoys that stretch along the coast, you will find yourself in incredibly active and dangerous boat traffic, which is fraught with a broken spine..
On Phi Phi Lei, there are almost ideal conditions for snorkeling in Thailand, if not for the INCREDIBLE number of tourists, which in some places makes snorkeling impossible. It is better to go further, to the middle of the bay, but there is already more depth, and you will have to dive deeper. The debris at the bottom is upsetting, the high opportunity to see sharks pleases. According to reports from snorkelers, sharks roam during the day in the right half of May Bay right near the coast, at a shallow depth. If you walk through the island from Maya Bay, then after a crevice in the rock with ropes - an excellent site for snorkeling.
Many tourists come to Bamba, because of them and because of the waves, the water is turbid and you can't really see anything. If you are sailing in a rented boat, then explain to the boatman that you did not come here to swim, then he will stop at good sites near the coast. Mosquito Island pleases with a live reef, good transparency of the sea with fish soup, but very monotonous and therefore boring. On Bida Nok and Bida Nai, it is not so much the snorkeling itself that is good, but the beautiful views that open under the water. There are few animals.
Koh Kradan, Trang Province
How to get there
Kradan Island is located in the Andaman Sea south of Koh Lanta and belongs to the Trang province. The nearest resort to it is Lanta Island, which is 22 km in a straight line (about forty minutes by boat). From the mainland, Kradan can be reached by ferry from Hat Yao pier, overcoming 12 km by sea. From the pier to Trang Airport is about 50 km. A lazy option to get to the island is to buy any excursion that includes a visit to Kradan. There are also islands of Ngai and Muk nearby, but of these three, Kradan is the best in every way. In high season, the Andaman ferry is launched from Phuket to Langkawi, with which you can get to Kradan from any point on the route of this ferry.
Kradan is a very expensive island by Thai standards. Everything here is imported and with a cruel mark-up. There are no ATMs, no pharmacies, no grocery stores, which means you need to bring more cash with you. There are several cafes and restaurants, kayak rentals, a couple of dozen resorts and that's it. There is nothing to do here for more than three or five days, it's very boring. The island is quiet, secluded, entertainment and parties are not provided here. From hotels people recommend The Reef Resort (opposite it has its own reef) The Sevenseas Resort and Kradan Beach Resort (the reef is literally 50m away).
Hotels near Koh Kradan>
Best time to visit: December to April.
The main value of Kradan is snorkeling from the shore. Already 50 meters from the beach, a coral reef begins, slightly damaged by the 2004 tsunami, but in general it is so beautiful underwater that underwater weddings are held here. Most of the island belongs to the Chao Mai National Park, so going beyond the permitted boundaries may result in the payment of a fee (200 baht) to the first ranger. But this rarely happens and shouldn't stop you from getting to the isolated beaches on the western part of the island, although some are easier to sail by kayak. Moray eels, lionfish, sea anemones, clown fish are found, but no one seems to have come across sharks.
Koh Rok, Trang province
How to get there
The Rock Islands (Koh Rok Noi and Koh Rok Yai) are located in the Andaman Sea, about an hour's drive from Koh Lanta. You can get there either on your own by ferries or as part of an excursion. Ferries run from the major resorts of Phuket and Krabi, as well as from the islands closest to Ko Rok: Ko Ngai, Ko Muk and Ko Kradan. It will not work to come to Ko Rok on rented equipment - such ferries do not go here, the islands are uninhabited and are part of a national park (entrance fee is 200 baht). If you are going to take an excursion, then I highly recommend not to sell too cheap, and not be limited to one day, especially if you go not from Koh Lanta, but from somewhere far away.
On Ko Rok Noi there is nothing but beaches, and on Ko Rok Yai there is a representative office of the Mu Ko Lanta National Park and a tent city (400-500 baht per tent) with showers and toilets. For those who stayed here for one or two nights there is a small restaurant. Everything is roughly similar to the infrastructure of the reserve on Similan: in a simple way, without any special frills and is not designed for long-term living. The closest hotels to the Rock Islands are located in neighboring Kradan, Ngay and Muk - see which ones by clicking on the green button below.
Best time to visit: January and February. Snorkeling on the Rock Islands is considered one of the most exciting in Thailand, comparable in level with the beauty of the Red Sea. Apparently because this is still the outskirts of tourism and the visitors did not have time to trample and ruin everything. Although experienced people already see an unpleasant difference between Ko Rok ten years ago and now. Snorkel right from the shore, no need to swim to distant sites, you will find a coral reef 50-100 m from the shore. Overnight stay is good because after 4 pm all tourists are taken away. Acroporas, anemones and gorgonians grow right along the coast. From living creatures: various groupers, parrot fish, moray eels, scorpions, lion fish, morish idols, triggerfish - a lot of everything beautiful and interesting. A large fish rarely swims here, but still people sometimes see both turtles and sharks.
Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan, Surat Thani Province
How to get there
Both islands are located 500 meters from each other and, according to most, their surroundings are the best places for snorkeling in Thailand, in the Gulf of Thailand. If you are coming from Bangkok, then you can get to Tao from the mainland by ferry from Chumphon (70 km). If from Phuket and Krabi, then you should go to the pier in Donsak (88 km). Or from the islands of Koh Samui (55 km) and Phangan (46 km). There is a full-fledged road network on Koh Tao and transport ferries come here, so you can get and ride here on rented equipment. Usually people get to Nang Yuan island from Tao on a hired boat or as part of an excursion.
Ko Tao (although it's correct to say Ko Tau) is an ordinary small island with a developed infrastructure. There is a large selection of hotels and resorts, most of the beaches are normally accessible, although there are still wild corners. Shops, ATMs, travel services and consumer services, everything is present here. The most interesting hotels in plan «went out and went to the sea to snorkel» are the bays of Tanod Bay (Montalay Beach Resort) and Mango Bay (Mango Bay Boutique Resort). Ko Nang Yuyan (although it is correct to say Nanyuan) are three monoliths connected by sand bars. The only building on the island is a hotel Nangyuan Island Dive Resort and wooden bridges around the island for trekking.
Best time to visit: mid February - mid April. For snorkelling from the coast On Koh Tao there are only two more or less decent places, which I wrote about above. Good snorkeling starts at a distance from Tao, for example there are sharks in Shark Bay (but all the corals have died there). And a good snorkel near Nang Yuan Island, but there is a trick - you cannot use fins. And it is better to walk not barefoot, but in special shoes, because at the bottom it is easy to step on a cucumber. A steep snorkel - all in the sea, and the places are known either by local boatmen, with whom it is easy to negotiate, or by local diving agencies that carry snorkelers too. The optimal algorithm in case of a lack of time: check in near the Mae Haad pier, buy an excursion to Nang Yuan for the whole day right away and agree with the boatmen about good places the next.
Koh Chang and its satellites: Kham, Rank, Wai and Kood
How to get there
It's not a problem to get to Koh Chang itself, I already have a detailed article about, how to get from Bangkok to Koh Chang. If you live in any other resort in Thailand, the first travel agency on the street will sell you a comprehensive transfer to the island. But all the islands that are interesting in terms of snorkeling are located at a distance from Koh Chang, and you can get here either by hired boat or boat, or as part of an excursion, which is usually taken to the most popular places. Distances between the islands do not exceed 5-10 km between themselves, so you can visit all of them in a day trip.
There are many satellite islets south of Koh Chang, but not all of them are interesting as snorkeling sites. According to the reviews of people in Runet and from personal experience, I would say that the best snorkeling in this part of Thailand you will find on the islands: Ko Kham, Ko Rang, Ko Wai and Ko Kood. And if with the tourist-developed Ko Chang everything is clear in terms of infrastructure, then there are nuances on the small islands..
On Koh Kood, there are also hospitals, banks and a tourist segment of services, but it is less settled and some may find it boring here. Koh Mak is a large island and has a good selection of hotels. Ko Kham is considered a private island with an additional 200 baht per person admission fee, and has a snack stall, fresh water shower and public toilet. Koh Rang is part of Mu Ko Chang National Park and there is only a pier with the headquarters of the rangers. There are bungalows on Koh Wai with light from 6 pm to 1 am. Koh Wai is a tiny island with four bungalow resorts and one pier.
Best time to visit: end of November - end of February.
Koh Chang: Offshore snorkeling is available in the Klong Prao and Kai Bay Beach areas. On Klong Prao, the underwater world is poorer, and one and a half kilometers from the beach there is an islet of Suwan, where you can get by kayak and snorkel. Cai Bay has kayak rentals and a cove with reefs. The underwater world is here - just warm up in front of distant islands.
Ko Kham is much more interesting than all the big Ko Mak in the neighborhood. On Koh Mak there is no snork from the shore, on Koh Kham it is better to snorkel in the afternoon, when a crowd of tourists is taken away from there, which scares away all living things under water. It will be possible to see both marine life and corals (mostly dead), and there are also many sea urchins..
Koh Kood is considered more attractive than Rang and Wai, and it is better to go into the water with a kayak near the hotel Koh Kood Island Resort (north-east of the island). The water here is very clear, shallow and usually there is no roughness. There are sea cucumbers, coral fish soup (though mostly trifles) and live corals. If you snorkel around Koh Kuda, you can see stingrays, colored shells, barracuda.
Koh Rang is called a coral classic. For snorkelers and divers in these places, an additional fee is set: 200 and 400 baht, respectively. Stingrays, corals, fish soup, and the fish are particularly bold. Despite the bribe, a ton of tourists float here, so be prepared to hustle.
Koh Wai - good snorkeling right from the shore. Picturesque rocky shores and a snorkeling site just 10 meters from the shore. Better to enter near the hotel Koh Wai Pakarang Resort
Krabi: Riley, Poda, Hong
How to get there
How to get to Krabi I have already described in detail earlier. In general terms: Krabi has its own airport and this speeds up the trip from any part of Thailand. From Bangkok, the plane flies no more than an hour, from Phuket you can also get there by ground transport. The only thing that is inaccessible in Krabi province is the railway that runs along the other side of the mainland. It should be noted that the Krabi province is both the mainland and a scattering of islands, which can be reached only by sea, which means that you have to rent a boat / cutter or buy an excursion tour.
The resort part of Krabi, where there are several poor snorkeling sites, has a well-developed tourist infrastructure and a full range of services and facilities for both recreation and longstea. Choose Ao Nang, closer to Centara Beach. By itself Hotel Centara - a little expensive, so it's easier to settle on Ao Nang, on the left side of it. You can see about the best hotels here - Best hotels in Ao Nang.
Riley Peninsula separated from the outside world by rocks and there is not much room to organize good infrastructure. There is a large selection of accommodations, several attractions, shops, pharmacies and bars / restaurants. Prices are higher than in the resort part of Krabi, but you can stay here for a couple of days. There is only one resort on Poda Island (6 km south of Ao Nang) - Poda Island Resort, and here the rules of the reserve apply (paid entrance). Hong Island (6 km west of Klong Muang), also known as Ko Lao Bile, belongs to the national park. Snorkeling is not very comfortable because of the shallow water, and on the island itself there is a cafe and a toilet.
Best time to visit: January and February.
Fact: There is no good snorkeling in Krabi, on the mainland of the resort. You can do practice swims on the left edge of Centara Beach, closer to Riley, but ideally, hire a longtail and cut it in the direction of the reef cans, and the boaters themselves know the places. There are living creatures, and reef sharks and corals. There is no snorkeling along the coast - empty, muddy, full of garbage. Riley Peninsula has relatively good snorkeling at Phra Nang Beach. In the morning, while the motorboats have not yet flown, you can swim along the rocks along the edges of the beach, as well as get to Ko Rang Nok at 900 m opposite Pra Nang. And the best snorkeling in Krabi can be found on the islands of the province.
Ko Hong is a very beautiful reef. There are fewer people here than on Poda Island, and to save time on the way - hire a boat, snorkel longer. And one more plus of boats in front of boats - you get to the site faster than the main crowd of tourists. At low tide, you can see a lot of fish and corals. Poda Island: during the season there is very good visibility, and if you snorkel in the morning, you will see large parrots, barracudas and large Sneppers that have not yet been scared away. Opposite the beach, a rock sticks out of the water, along the left wall of which you will find an interesting drop-off where sea snakes, large lionfish and fish soup meet.
Koh Surin, Phang Nga Province
How to get there
The Surin Islands are an archipelago of five islands of different sizes, which are located 60 km (about an hour and a half by boat) from the mainland, and seem to belong to the Similan Islands group. However, according to external features, Surin does not at all look like Similans, although there are similarities in terms of the underwater world. You can get to this next national park only by sea, for example, through travel agencies in the nearest Krabi, Phuket or Khao Lak. Independent trips are associated with a number of uninteresting hassles that are best left to travel agencies.
Infrastructure on Surin, as on any protected island, is to a minimum. Rangers' office building, several air-conditioned cabins with weak wifi and no hot water, a tent camp with tents for rent, basic amenities. A lot of people come here, but not in the same way as in neighboring Similans. In general, it is boring here, but very beautiful. It makes no sense to stop by for more than a couple of days with an overnight stay, capture the time of day without an influx of tourists, snorkel and wander around the island. Meals are organized by the organizer of the trip, meals are three times a day, there are no shops.
Best time to visit: November to April. Fins are a must - there are currents The sea around Surin is shallow and by all accounts there are no colorful, vibrant corals, although the coral abundance around the island is unquestionable. Sharks, octopuses, large fish, turtles, parrots, moray eels - there is something to see and for two days you will definitely have something to do. It makes no sense to go to Surin especially for snorkeling, although it is clearly more interesting here than in the coastal waters of the mainland of Thailand. And one more thing: there are monkeys on the island, so do not throw things on the shore and always close the houses and tents..
Phuket Island and Koh Racha
How to get there
How to get to Phuket, I think, there is no need to describe. Direct flights from the Russian Federation to help you and a lot of descriptions on the Runet, for example, this post - How to get from Bangkok to Phuket. Regarding the satellite islands where you should go for snorkeling, I have a small list: Ko Racha Yai and Ko Racha Noi. The Racha Islands are located 20 km south of Phuket and you can get there only by sea with an excursion or on your own from the beaches of Chalong and Rawai.
The infrastructure of Phuket is the infrastructure of a big city, everything is there. If you look at the beaches where snorkeling from the shore is possible, then these are: Kata, Naiharn and Ao Sein. And let me not rewrite what is already detailed in the links. On the Racha Islands there is a small village in the center of Racha Yai and several hotels of different levels of comfort, for example The racha or Ban Raya Resort & Spa. The roads on the island are mostly unpaved, there are restaurants and cafes, services for tourists, but there are no ATMs - you need to take more cash with you.
Best time to visit Phuket: January, February and March.
Kata Beach: there are not enough corals, rubbish comes across, but there are living creatures under water at a depth of up to three meters. The best time of the day is morning. There are lionfish, parrots, scorpions, shrimps, cuttlefish, small squids, sea snakes. Naiharn Beach is more interesting on the right edge, where there are large-scale coral thickets and animals: lionfish, barracuda, parrots, snapper and even stingrays. Ao Sein has clear water and there is something to see from the living creatures. The people recommend not to swim close to rocks and stones because of balanus - sharp and dangerous. Large fish and sharks are rare, and even then, if you snorkel in the morning, and you will not behave especially actively.
Koh Racha: The best snorkeling spots are in La Bay, Ban Raya and Siam Bay. What distinguishes snorkeling on Ko Racha from Phuket is that it is available everywhere, in any part of the island. The coral reef is impressive, but opinions differ about the living creatures. However, if you behave calmly enough and do not make unnecessary movements, then you will get more than successful snorkeling. Pay attention to the drops in the depths near the capes - strong currents sometimes happen there..
Ko Lipe, Satun Province
How to get there
Ko Lipe belongs to the Tarutao Reserve and is located on the southern maritime border of Thailand and Malaysia, or more precisely, 30 km from the island of Langkawi (Malaysia). You can get to Koh Lipe from Pakbara village in Satun, from Koh Lanta (Krabi), from Hat Yao pier (Trang) or from Phuket (Rassada pier). The distances are decent, so it won't be fast and always choose speedboats, even if they are more expensive. From Phuket to Ko Lipe is almost 180 km, and from Ko Lanta - 111 km by sea.
The once tropical paradise has now turned into a business island, with a developed infrastructure and even its own immigration office. That is, for tourists there is everything here and everything is located compactly on an island measuring 700x1600 meters. There is a huge selection of hotels on all major beaches, but I would recommend these two at Sunrise Beach: Mali Resort Sunrise beach and Wapi Resort, for Sunrise is great for snorkeling from the shore.
Snorkeling on Ko Lipe fits the definition perfectly «came out of the bungalow and started snorkeling», the main thing is to get into a calm season without rains - from November to April. An excellent coral reef, some kind of living creature along the coast, however, I would recommend contacting travel agencies that take day trips to neighboring islands - and there are a dozen of them here. And here the splendor of the Andaman Sea is already opening up as in the pictures.
Best snorkeling spots in Thailand
Ao Sane Beach:
Nai Harn Beach:
Rassada Pier - Ferry to Phi Phi:
Ao Nang Beach:
Had Yao Pier (Trang):
Centara Grand Beach Resort:
Gulf of Thailand:
Pier Thap Lamu:
Hu Yong Island:
Pa Young Island:
Pa Yan Island:
Khin Pusar Island:
Ba Ngu Island:
Sawasdee Home Stay Resort & Pool:
Phi Phi Don Island:
Phi Phi Lei Island:
Koh Jung Island (Mosquito Island):
Ko Mai Pai (Bambu Island):
Bida Nok Island:
Bida Nai Island:
Tent camp and bungalows:
Snorkeling site Rantee Bay:
Snorkeling site of Lo Moo Di:
Snorkeling site Monkey Beach:
Shark Point snorkeling site:
Long Beach Snorkeling Site:
Snorkeling site at Lam Tong Beach:
The Reef Resort:
The Sevenseas Resort:
Kradan Beach Resort:
Rock Yai Island:
Rock Noi Island:
Tau Island (Tao):
Nang Yuan Island:
Pier in Donsak:
Tanod Bay snorkeling site:
Mango Bay snorkeling site:
Mango Bay Boutique Resort:
Nangyuan Island Dive Resort:
Mae Had pier on Koh Tao:
Klong Prao snorkeling site:
Kai Bay snorkeling site:
Koh Kood Island Resort:
Isle of Wai:
Pai Plong Beach (Centara Beach):
Klong Muang Beach:
Island Lao Bile (Hong):
Poda Island Resort:
Snorkeling site at the Centara beach:
Snorkeling site at Phra Nang Beach:
Rang Nok snorkeling site:
Bungalow and tent city:
Racha Noi and Racha Yai islands:
Ban Raya Resort & Spa:
Ban Raya snorkeling site:
Siam Bay snorkeling site:
La Bay snorkeling site:
Pak Bara village pier:
Mali Resort Sunrise beach:
Sunset Beach Snorkeling Site:
P.S. It will be necessary to write more about this mask, a very convenient thing, I liked it much more than the usual one.