Thailand could very well be called the Diving Capital of the World. Surrounded by magnificent coral reefs and marine life, the country’s beaches and coastal cities are teeming with deep sea diving schools and tour operators. We’ll admit it though: diving can be expensive, even in the Land of Smiles. Fear not, oh lovers of the ocean! We’ve done some pondering about the best snorkeling in Thailand, and we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Goggles on, let’s go!
1- Koh Nang Yuan, Koh Tao
We won’t waste time… this place has quite simply taken our breath away! Our eyes hurt to behold its beauty! And yours will too, when you arrive at Koh Nang Yuan, a destination comprising of three small islands, all connected to the motherland by a gleaming strip of white sand. The island is privately owned, so you can expect to pay a modest fee to enjoy its glorious waters, but the element of exclusivity offered will more than make up for it. Made up of both hard and soft coral, this coral reef is currently under protection. The waters are relatively shallow, so you can expect the most gorgeous underwater visions that the Gulf has to offer!
The waters around Koh Tao are home to some pretty special marine life, including the Anenome Fish, the Angel Fish, Barracuda, Bat Fish and Butterfly Fish, Puffer Fish, schools of glistening Scad, Sea Snakes, and Sharks. Yes, sharks. (You should be fine.)
2- Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi
You may recognize these enormous islands jutting from crystalline waters if you’ve watched Hollywood premier film, The Beach, which starred a (young and lanky) golden-bodied, tousled-haired Leonardo DiCaprio. Well, that’s not all these waters are known for, although we wouldn’t blame you for thinking so. If you think the towering rocks and greenery surrounding Maya Beach is stunning, take a dip into the water for the best snorkeling in Thailand! The bay is almost entirely made up of coral reefs, and offers exceptional snorkeling opportunities, with little effort.
3- Kata Beach, Phuket
While Patong Beach is Phuket’s renowned tourist destination, a trip to Kata Beach is worth the scenic drive through the island’s lush greenery and dramatic terrain. Only about a mile long, the white sandy beaches offer a stunning base from which to enjoy the shallow, life-rich waters of Phuket Island.
Most abundant in Phuket waters are schools of Tuna, but you could also expect to see the king of the sea, the Black Marlin, as well as Sailfish, Barracuda, the (delicious-to-cook) Dorado, pretty schools of Rainbow Runners, and the razor-toothed Wahoo.
4- Koh Ngam Yai, Chumphon
Hop on a boat and enjoy about an hour’s ride from Thung Wua Laeng Beach, and you’ll find yourself face to face with the dramatic islands of Koh Ngam Yai. Launching out of the water towards an expanse of sky, these rocky outcrops form part of greater Koh Ngam islands. Less favored by tourists due to the distance travelled, this is an incredible, secluded destination, offering some of the best snorkeling in Thailand, with shallow and brightly-coloured coral reefs just below the surface.
5- Koh Lanta, Krabi Beach
Although this picturesque island falls within the Krabi province, it’s a gorgeous three-hour ferry ride from Phuket. This puts it firmly out of the mainstream tourist radar, making it a sublime snorkeling excursion. Koh Lanta tours include a day of island-hopping and snorkeling with fish, and even exploring some of the caves found in the rocky outcrops along the way. This is a typically gorgeous Thai experience, complete with longboats and magnificent, blue waters.
Put Your Flippers On for the Best Snorkeling in Thailand
There is no shortage of coastline in Thailand and no shortage of calm waters. You can spend hours underwater, enjoying the refracted sunlight dancing off the ocean floor and its beds of coral reefs. An abundance of fish, darting and playing in the currents, can be seen in just about any of Thailand’s ocean. No need to reserve these delights for serious divers, not in the Snorkeling Capital of the World.