Snorkeling in Koh Lanta - the Best in Thailand

by Guest

Lying off the coast of Krabi in the south of Thailand, snorkeling in Koh Lanta, along with diving has for decades drawn plenty of tourists from around the world. The archipelago is made up of several of islands and the Mu Koh Lanta National Park. It’s also home to the nomadic sea people called the Chao Leh and can be reached by ferries.

Unlike some of the Thai islands, many of Koh Lanta’s dive and snorkeling sites and very close. On day trips, this maximizes time in the water. The best time to snorkel and dive in Koh Lanta is between November and April when the water visibility is at its best and the weather warm and pleasant. It is possible to go at other times of the year, but it’s worth remembering that it is rainy season and many of the operators have closed for the season. Most snorkel and dive tours leave around 7 a.m. in the morning and return in the late afternoon before it’s dark. It is also possible to stay in a live aboard for up to a week. Living at sea means you can get to the dive sites quickly, but it is really only for serious divers. If you haven’t got your PADI, fear not. Most of the dive companies on Koh Lanta offer courses which offer international dive certificates. You’ll need three to four days to complete the course before you can take open water dive tours.

Snorkelers shouldn’t be disappointed. Many of the scuba diving tours also take snorkelers and with the coral being so close to the surface in some spots, it’s easy to see the wildlife. You can also read about other things to do in Koh Lanta .

Snorkeling in Koh Haa

One of the most popular dive and snorkel areas is Koh Haa which has more than 10 excellent dive sites, many of which can be visited in a day. The visibility here is extremely good (up to 30 metres) and it’s excellent for underwater photography due to the close encounters with the marine life. The site is suitable for divers and snorkelers of all experience levels as the waters are calm and shallow. Famous dive sites here include The Chimney, The Cathedral and The Lagoon as well as several caverns, walls and drop-offs to discover. The calm waters, sandy bay and shallow reef teeming with fish make The Lagoon perfect for beginners. Wildlife you are likely to see on Koh Haa includes rays, parrotfish, angelfish, pufferfish, turtles as more. After you have finished diving or snorkeling, the beaches of Koh Haa are beautiful and an easy place to while away a few hours.

Snorkeling in Koh Rok

Koh Rok is part of the Mu Koh Lanta National Park and made up of two smallish islands. It’s hard not to be cliché, but the islands really are picturesque with sandy white beaches and a backdrop of palms and jungle. It’s not uncommon to see huge monitor lizards scampering along the beach, but don’t worry, they are harmless. The island can be visited as part of a day trip as is well worth the effort for snorkelers. Much of the coral here has not be bleached (yet) so it’s a colorful underwater experience. It’s great for inexperience snorkelers as the coral is just a few metes under the surface so much can be seen from the surface without having to dive down. Just because it’s so accessible, don’t think the wildlife isn’t there. Snorkelers are treated to parrotfish, turtles, anemones, angelfish, clown fish and sometimes even sharks. Like the Similan Islands, there is currently no permanent accommodation on the island. There are some beach bungalows (which are rather expensive by Thai standards) or it’s possible to stay in tents, though this can get quite hot and sand flies are a problem.

Koh Lanta is one of the most popular places in Thailand

Koh Lanta is one of the most popular places in Thailand

Snorkeling in the four islands

Without a doubt, the most popular snorkeling tour is out to the four islands of Koh Mook, Koh Chuek, Koh Kradan and Koh Ngai. Offering some of the best snorkeling and beaches in Koh Lanta, tours to the area get booked up well in advance. The itinerary typically starts in the morning and the first stop is Koh Cheok. Here the boats gather around one of the limestone karsts and snorkelers jump into the calm and fish can be seen swimming around the coves and rocks. The next stop is the island of Koh Mook which is popular for the Emerald Cave. The boat will stop outside the entrance of a half-submerged cave from which guests swim down through with a torch to a hidden beach. There isn’t much to see in the way of wildlife, but the beach and surrounding cave system is beautiful. The island of Koh Kradan is next. Here, most tours offer the guests food and there is plenty of time to enjoy the beach and snorkel in the nearby shallow coral reef. Wildlife that you are likely to see includes clown fish, turtles and sometimes even nurse sharks. The last stop is Koh Ma where lots more marine life can be seen around the limestone rocks and formations before returning to Koh Lanta to conclude the tour. The trip can even be done on one of the traditional long-tailed boats which makes for a unique experience. A full day four islands tour including lunch, equipment, and guides costs around US $40. 

Snorkeling in Phi Phi Islands

Though this is not part of Koh Lanta, the Phi Phi Islands can easily be reached from here. The snorkeling and the scuba diving is superb, but it’s also the filming location for the adaptation of Alex Garland’s book ‘The Beach’. If you have the time, it’s well worth discovering what Koh Phi Phi has to offer after you have exhausted Koh Lanta’s snorkeling and diving opportunities.

When you are snorkeling, there are a few things to remember to ensure a smooth trip. A steamed up mask or tight fins can ruin the experience completely. The first thing to do is check the equipment of the tour operator before you book. Most will have well-maintained fins, masks and snorkels but it is always worth a quick look. Better still, bring your own. When you are deciding on your rental mask, place over your face and adjust so that it is both airtight, but not painful. Fogging up can really ruin the experience, so use a little washing up liquid and cloth to smear the inside. Don’t use your fingers as you will get oil over it and it will still steam up. When choosing your fins, pick ones that are neither too tight or too loose. Remember that your feet will swell a little in the water, so it’s better to err towards loose. While it may feel odd to have flippers on for the first time, trust us when we say they make all the difference. The extra power the they offer means the difference between getting up close to wildlife quickly and not. You will get used to them as the day goes on.

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