Snorkeling on Koh Lipe
What Are the Best Places for Snorkeling in Thailand? Snorkeling on Koh Lipe Should be a Contender
Koh Lipe has long been a favourite destination of mine ever since I first visited 6 years ago. Since then I have been back several times and despite getting a little rougher around the edges thanks to the usual haphazard Thai development it continues to keep it charm and above all else snorkeling on Koh Lipe is perhaps among the best place in Thailand to see spectacular reefs and sea life without the need to take a boat.
Koh Lipe has 2 main beaches, Pattaya beach and Sunrise beach, as well as the much smaller sunset beach. Ferries typically take guests to Pattaya beach but due to the water depth the ferries moor some way off the main beach and longtails take people inshore for around 50THB. Whilst Pattaya beach is nice with a long stretch of white sand with many nice resorts and bungalows behind the treeline, sunrise beach is by far the nicer beach and with less boat traffic is the quieter beach. Since my first visit the type of accommodation has changed significantly, where there was once thatched bungalows for 200-200THB right on the beach, these have made way for more luxurious resorts costing 2,000THB+ and although it is possible to find relatively cheap accommodation the days of backpacker style huts have almost disappeared.
Whilst the interior of Koh Lipe is getting more and more crowded the reef has, as of yet been damaged too much by the increase in development. The reefs are colourful and healthy and there is a wide variety of life living on the reef. The only thing that has remained consistently bad is the sound of the longtail engines which are constantly plying the waters taking customers on snorkeling trips to other islands in the marine park. The best place for snorkeling in Koh Lipe is Koh Usen, which is a tiny island off sunset beach. The water depth from Sunset beach to Koh Usen is only between 1-2 metres so it is easily reachable and from here the reef stretches between Koh Usen and Koh Kra where it drops off into deeper water. This drop off is where you will see the more interesting fish such as lionfish, stonefish, scorpionfish and plenty of morays. If you’re lucky you will see the odd ray hiding under the reef and there are plenty of porcupine fish, box fish and other standard reef fish in abundance.
Whilst there is plenty of the reef to keep snorkeling fans happy for hours, the other islands in the marine park are particularly special. There are plenty of operations that offer daily snorkeling trips to the islands of Koh Rawai, Koh Adang, Jabang, Koh Tong and more for affordable prices. Groups tend to be small and the longtails don’t all congregate around one spot so its not like other places in Thailand like Koh Chang where you are constantly getting smacked in the face by a fin, although Jabang with its stunning soft pink and purple corals can be quite crowded. The snorkeling trips include stops off at pretty beaches for lunch and a bit of sightseeing so they’re well worth it and even having done them several times I don’t get bored of it!
If you’re not into scuba diving then I would highly recommend snorkeling on Koh Lipe as the best place in Thailand to experience the stunning underwater world and I have no doubt I will continue to visit for years to come.