We’ve had some of the best snorkeling days while hopping around the Thai Islands. Brett and I have found our new favorite water sport! Two of our most memorable snorkeling days were at Koh Rok Island (near Koh Lanta & Phi Phi Islands) in the Andaman Sea and at the Nangyuan Islands (near Ko Tao) in the Gulf of Thailand.
Ko Rok Island
On the first snorkeling trip, we took a speedboat to Koh Rok Island. The 45 minute boatride was quite choppy, causing sea sickness for some. However, as we approach Koh Rok, the beautiful pristine crystal blue waters and and powdery white sand beaches that awaited us were well worth the trip. The island is virtually deserted except for those making the trip out for the day. The surrounding lagoons and waters hold some of the best snorkeling in the area.
Our boat drove to our first snorkeling spot of the day away from the shore, where waters were very dark and rough. As first timers we were a bit frightened, but dove off the boat with our snorkeling gear. It definitely was quite difficult at first, especially with the raging waters surrounding us. We both swallowed a ton of sea water, and kept coming up for air. After a bit of time, we got the hang of it, and it was probably one of the most amazing experiences we’ve ever had. The boat then took us to another spot that had much calmer seas. This is where we both feel in love with snorkeling and experiencing the undersea world. It’s so facsinating that there is a whole unknown world down below in the sea with tons of variety of fish, fauna, coral, and other living organisms. Some of the highlights were anglefish, butterflyfish, damselfish and these glow in the dark florescent green, blue and purple fish that light up the water.
After a yummy Thai lunch of rice, stir-fry vegetable, chicken wings and fruit, we had a few hours of leisure to swim, snorkel and just relax and take in the beautiful scenery. After leaving the island, we did one more snorkeling stop, which ended up being our favorite spot of the day. We saw starfish, crazy schools of colored fish and minnows swimming everywhere.
The Nangyuan Islands
The other most memorable trip was to the Nangyuan Islands off of Ko Tao Island on the South Eastern side in the Gulf of Thailand. Nangyuan is made up of three tiny little islands all interconnected by an amazing white sandy beach off the shores of the most crystal clear water you’ll ever see. The islands are deserted expect for one restaurant/bar and a few bungalows on the mountain side. It’s the most magical serene place to spend the day snorkeling, swimming or just relaxing in the sun away from busy Ko Tao.
Getting there is super easy. From Sairee Beach on Ko Tao, you can catch a Taxi longtail boat. It’s a 10 to 15 minute boat ride to the Nangyuan Islands for 200 baht roundtrip per person ($6.50). When you get dropped off on the little pier, you just tell the drive what time to pick you up. We suggest going in the morning, spending the entire day and getting picked up at 4pm (island closes at 5pm). You must pay an entrance fee on the pier of 100 baht ($3) to get onto the island. Keep walking to the left along the pier, past the restaurant and bar and what awaits you on the other side is nothing but paradise as your feet hit the sparkling sand and glistening water. Just sit down at one of the sets of chairs with an umbrella and take in the surrounding scenery of one of the most beautiful places in Thailand.
The waters that surround you are home to the most amazing coral reefs and fish life in all of Thailand, which explains why it’s a scuba diving mecca for people from all over the world. You don’t have to go too far from the shore to see tons of different schools of brightly colored fish and fauna that you’d only see on a postcard or a screensaver. We have never seen so many wonderful things under the sea. We can totally understand how some can become addicted to snorkeling or scuba diving. As once you are below experiencing all that the sea has to offer, you want to spend hours down there exploring and exploring until you can’t breathe anymore.
Snorkeling around the Thai Islands has been so fascinating and definitely one of the highlights of our travel so far. We can’t wait to experience more when we travel to places like Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Hopefully we’ll have an underwater cameera by then to share all the wonderful sights!