One of the most beautiful areas in Thailand for snorkelling is Phang Nga. The beaches are gorgeous, exceptional views, sandy white beaches, sensational limestone rock formations and lovely tropical islands to enjoy. The island of Mu Koh Similan has become famous throughout the world.
Snorkelling in Phang Nga
Snorkelling around Khao Lak is popular because it is suitable and safe for both adults and children. You will not need much equipment. Khao Lak is 25km long, extending from Baan Nam Khem to the north to Khao Lak in the south. You can find excellent snorkelling areas on both ends. You will see beautiful marine life around the rocky sections of the water.
Chong Khad Bay
Chong Khad Bay or Ao Chong Khad is located between the south and north of Surin Island. The 200-metre wide channel is found between the South and North Surin Islands. You are only metres away from the headquarters of the national park. You can walk to the water from the tent grounds in only five minutes. Due to the depth of three meters, you need to be aware of rising or low tides.
When the tides are changing, the current is extremely strong. You can determine the current’s speed and strength by observing the speed of objects in the water such as leaves. The Chong Kad Channel was once filled with soft corals, small Poom corals, purple sea flowers, large clownfish schools and colourful sponges.
The coral in the shallower waters attracted smaller fish including butterfly fish, jorake fish and pla jim fun. The fish and coral remaining are scarce due to the tsunami. You should not touch the fish or coral.
Mai Ngam Bay
Mai Ngam Bay or Ao Mai Ngam is located on the coast to the northwest of North Surin Island. You can find the majority of coral by going out two hundred metres from the beach. You can wade directly to the coral during the new or full moon low tides. When the tide is high, you will have to swim. Other than during the monsoon season, the waters remain calm. The hiking route leading to Ao Mai Ngam is two thousand metres in length.
You will spend sixty to ninety minutes along the jungle paths. If you prefer, you can take a small boat instead. In shallower waters, larger boats are not permissible. After a brief boat ride, you can reach your destination by walking two hundred metres.
Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay or Ao Phang Nga is in the Takua Thung District. The area encompasses a 250,000 rai in Amphoe Ko Yao, Amphoe Takua Thung and Amphoe Mueang Phang Nga. The majority of the area consists of different shapes of limestone mountain islands or seawater. The best time for snorkelling is December through April. From May until October, there are strong winds and heavy rain.
You can arrive by starting at the headquarters of the Ao Phang-nga National Park or take a bus in Phang-nga town. Day trips are available from tour operators in Phuket and Phang-nga.
Suthep Bay or Ao Suthep is located in the Kuraburi district. This area of the gulf is wide, so stormy waves are common. If you suffer from seasickness, this is not the right destination for your needs. You will not see as many colourful fish, but the range of coral is more extensive including Kuang and Kon coral. The densest coral is eight to 15 meters. Some of the coral’s height exceeds one metre. If you explore the shallow area, you will see gigantic sea fan coral.
Bang Niang Beach
Bang Niang Beach is located between Nathong Beach and Khuk Khak Beach at the center of Khao Lak. You will have your choice of numerous routes. The area is much like Khuk Khak Beach, but the curvature is beautiful. The sand is golden with no coral, stones or rocks. In the morning, you can find a few seashells on the shores left by the high tide.
You can swim throughout the day including high or low tide. The waves move fine sediments, so the water is not especially clear. During low tide, the beach is wide. During the peak of high tide, the beach is just five to ten yards in width. If you visit at sunset, the backdrop offered by the rocky outcrops of the Bang Niang River is exquisite.
This area is encompassed by a stretch of the rock or sandy Khaolak National Park beaches on the coast. This area is over 50 km in length.
Khao Lak Beach
Khao Lak Beach is located in the Thai Mueang district. If you are interested in a quiet and peaceful resort area or simply love nature, Khai Lak Beach is an ideal option. This beach is a popular attraction only 32 km from Amphoe Takua Pa. The sandy beach is wide with different sized rocks. This is a beautiful spot for watching the sunset, snorkelling or going for a swim.
There are numerous resorts and hotels in the area offering shady coconut groves and pine trees right on the beach. The natural surroundings are intact. This draws both visitors and locals. Right across from the park entrance is the Chaopho Khao Lak Shrine. You will find Khao Lak Beach on Phetkasem Road in Tambon Bang Muang.
Pakarang beach is being developed. You can find several resorts by travelling just ten minutes from the highway. There are delicious beach restaurants and a lot of massage places including the Boatyard restaurant and the Sarojin Resort. White Sand Beach or the lovely Aow Thong offers three sensational restaurants. This area is one of the most popular day visits to Khao Lak.
The beach was named after the dead coral the rainy season washes onto the shores. You will be close to Coral Cape or Laem Pakarang. One of the most frequently taken excursions is the shipwreck.
Sunset Beach located to the south of Ban La-On or Khao Lak town. This is a beautiful, wide beach with low tides. This beach is photographed more than any other. You will only have access to Sunset Beach through the local resorts. During high season, the water is clear.
Ao Chak or Ao Jaak is located to the east and north of Surin Island. This diving site is one of the greatest distances from the Surin Archipelago. You will need to travel four hundred metres from shore to reach the coral-lines. The outside offers Staghorn and Kon coral with Poom and Staghorn coral on the inside.
Ao Pakkhad is located to the south of Ao Tao. The coral is parallel to the shore. Pakkhad coral is the most abundant. The tiny coral covers the bay. At the edge of the bay, you can see a mixture of Kon and Khao Kuang coral along with butterfly fish. This area has more butterfly fish varieties than anywhere in Thailand. You will also find a minimum of four Sinsamuter fish species.
You may be lucky and see one of the sharks on patrol. A leopard shark has been seen lying on the sand at the coral’s edge several times. There are also several sea fans at the deepest edge of the coral. Your best option for viewing the soft coral is swimming at the Esa shore with the coral and your right shoulder parallel for roughly one hundred meters.
There are magnificent Kon corals in this area. The soft corals clinging to the Kon corals are spectacular. You can reach the little shallow bay of Ao Pakkhad by taking a twenty-minute boat ride from Ao Tao.
Ao Sai En
Ao Sai En is located to the east of Surin Island Nuea. The boat people here are referred to as Mogen or Chao Le people. They live a folk and simple type of life. Their belief is in the wood carvings of Indian icons. These are believed to be sacred carvings. In April, there is always a full moon day. The people here spend three days paying their respects to their revered spirits.
Ao Tao is located to the south of Surin Island. There is a downward slope at the crest with a width of approximately fifty to two hundred metres and about twenty metres in depth. This is comprised of a spectacular mass of coral. You will find different types and sizes of coral here including Soft and Kon coral. Venture to the lower depths to discover Sea fan.
The bay was named after the Thai word for turtle due to the Hawksbill sea turtles in the area. Ao Tao has become famous for sightings of both whale sharks and Manta rays.
Bangsak Beach is located to the north of Pakweeb Beach. The beach is on Phetchakasem Road in Tambon Bang Muang. In Thai, this translates to the Takua Pa route. The beach is just 100 metres from the highway. Hat Bank Sak is a length of sandy white beaches. There is a lovely line of shady pine trees parallel to the beach. In addition to snorkelling, this is an excellent location for watching the sunset or swimming.
There are also food shops and hotels available. Bang Sak Beach offers a Polynesian setting and is a little bit isolated. The southerly views are excellent.
Khuk Khak Beach
Khuk Khak Beach is to the north of Bang Niang. There are several cozy resorts available. Once you leave Khak Khuk village, you will see signs leading to the beach. You can choose from the small roads and paths available. Once you reach Khuk Khak Beach, you will see gear and nets being prepared by the local fishermen to use during the night.
Pakweeb Beach is located to the north of Khao Lak Beach. The area around Cape Pakarang is considered the Jewel in the Crown of Khao Lak by the locals. Pak Weeb Beach, White Sand Beach, the Sarojin, the Le Meridien and the Boatyard are all set around the cove. You can find some nice beach restaurants nearby. This is dependent on the season. There are also some nice hotels around Pak Weeb Beach.
If you head a little to the south of the beach, you will find Coral Cape or Laem Pakarang. This beach is private, sheltered and beautiful. Take the main highway inland to visit the Pakweeb, Bor Hin or Sai Rai Rung waterfalls. You can enjoy snorkelling, water sports and swimming throughout the year due to the relaxing and gentle swell. The Baan Pakweeb Monastery is located right off of the main road.
Thai Mueang Beach
Thai Mueang Beach is located in the Thai Mueang district. The sandy white beaches of Thai Mueang run parallel to the highway for in excess of 13 km. The sea is crystal clear and ideal for snorkelling or swimming. If you visit from November through February, you can see the sea turtles arrive. This is when they lay their eggs. During the evenings when the moon is waxing, the spawning sea turtles are active on the beach.
The eggs hatch every year in March. The Sea Turtle Releasing Festival is held every year to celebrate the release of the baby sea turtles into the sea. You can reach the headquarters of the park from Phang-nga by following Thai Mueang Road. You then make a left hand turn when you reach the Talat Thai Mueang Intersection.
Snorkelling in Phuket
There are numerous beaches in Phuket perfect for snorkelling. You will not be able to enjoy the sea life from all of the beaches. Many of the beaches offer some delightfully rocky areas. You will enjoy the beautiful marine life found in Phuket. The majority of the best beaches for snorkelling are both hidden and remote.
Ao Sane Beach
This is a small beach encompassing three little coves. Rock formations divide the coves. This makes the area ideal for snorkelling. You can rent the gear you will need from a dive centre for just 150 Baht per day. There is also a nice little restaurant.
Ya Nui Beach
Although Ya Nui Beach is tiny, it is absolutely charming. The beach is located to the far south of Phuket Island in a cove between Promthep Cape and the Windmill Viewpoint. If you are leaving from Nai Harn Beach, make certain you watch the curves while you are driving. There are numerous cars parked near the hollow on the road. If not for these cars, you would most likely miss Ya Nui Beach.
Laem Singh Beach
This beach is only partially opened for visitors. The beach is located between Surin Beach and Kamala Beach. In the past, this was one of the highest-rated beaches. Due to the recent closure of the access, Laem Singh Beach is almost completely deserted. The locals will be happy to tell you how to reach this lovely and secluded beach.
This beach is located on Phuket’s west coast. The beach is not well known because it is so far away from the central areas. The marine life on the southern end of the beach is worth a visit.
Although Freedom Beach is difficult to reach, it is worth the effort. Your best option is going to the southern end of Patong to catch a longtail boat. Other than for the high season, the beach is closed. You will need to be in good shape to travel the slope leading to Freedom Beach. During the high season, there are some nice bars and restaurants available.
This small, hidden beach is located in front of the Merlin Beach Marriott Phuket Resort. This is the only beach you will find offering a natural reef. If you stay at the hotel, there is a snorkelling reef program available. Otherwise, there is a little road just to the left of the Marriott leading to the beach. In addition to snorkelling, you will enjoy the sea turtles on the beach.
Banana Beach is not well known in Phuket because the beach is hidden. You will need to make an effort to reach the beach. Your reward is the crystal clear waters ideal for snorkelling. Banana beach is just 800 metres in length. Banana Beach is close to Phuket Airport.
Laem Ka Beach
This beach is close to Rawai and to the far south of Phuket. The beautiful beach is hidden from sight. If you did not know it was there, you would never find it. This is a delightful beach due to the calm waters and numerous rock formations.
Kata Noi Beach
The north end of Kata Noi Beach provides enough shelter for a wide variety of marine life. This is a sensational beach you can reach easily.
Paradise Beach is not the ideal destination during peak season due to the crowds. During the rest of the year, this double beach is lovely with a lot of rocks for exploration.