I’m a water baby, a child of the ocean through and through.
And there’s nothing that brings my soul greater delight than spending hours frolicking around in waters so blue they take your breath away… Amid tropical palms and schools of bright and colourful fish.
Well, Thailand is an incredible tropical paradise where thousands flock to the South – to Phuket and Krabi for a super beach getaway.
If you’re in the mood for that and more, discover the real beauty of Thailand (in my opinion anyway). Adventure out to the hidden gems of little travelled to islands only 2 hours from Phuket and/or Krabi!
From exquisite reefs to a diverse marine life, each island is equally beautiful, with its own uniqueness about it. Ooooh… You are going to be so mindblown…
PS: Whether you’re travelling to Phuket (HKT) or Krabi (KBV), you can conveniently pick up your local SIM card (HKT/KBV), organise airport transfers (HKT/KBV), private city transfers (HKT/KBV), private car with driver (HKT/KBV), luggage services (HKT), and more all through Klook!
24 places in Thailand to find waterfalls, from Kanchanaburi and Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Khao Lak and more!
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1. So THIS is what a deserted island paradise feels like – Similan Islands
Ladies and gentlemen, you’re in a for a real treat!
(And if you’re an avid diver, you’ll find yourself swimming in a picturesque paradise!)
If you didn’t already know, the Similan Islands have been voted the #1 place to scuba dive in Thailand, and it’s dive sites are actually considered to be some of the best on the planet!
Trivia: Similan Islands were formed millions of years ago from hot magma that oozed through the earth’s crust. Approximately 5000 years old, the coral reefs here are the oldest in Thailand.
The Similan Islands used to consist of 9 islands and 2 islands have been added since, which brings them to the grand total of 11 islands! They are still unspoilt, and there are so many different parts to visit and dive in its crystal blue waters.
They’ve named and numbered the islands, and the Northern sites on Island 8 and 9 are rated to be the best for diving!
Island 1: Ko Huyong
Island 2: Ko Payang
Island 3: Ko Payan
Island 4: Ko Miang/Ko Meang (National Parks HQ is here.)
Island 5: Ko Ha
Island 6: Ko Payu
Island 7: Ko Hin Pousar
Island 8: Ko Similan
Island 9: Ko Ba-ngu/Bayu
Island 10: Ko Bon/Ko Talu
Island 11: Ko Tachai
They have an awesome diversity of marine life and you can expect to find frogfish, whales, mantas, seahorses and dolphins in these waters.
The beaches are mostly deserted with no one around – perfect for spending some time chilling away from crowds. And a striking feature around the beaches are the (truck-sized) boulders strewn about the landscape!
PS: The islands are protected, and only 3 out of the 11 islands have accommodation. Air-conditioned basic bungalows or tents in a campsite at Koh Miang, and tents in the campsites at Koh Similan and Koh Tachai. There’s also a restaurant at Koh Similan where you can stop at for food. Otherwise, do be prepared and bring snacks for the journey!
2. Swim with the whale sharks in ridiculously blue waters – Ko Surin Nuea (Surin Islands)
Obviously, these islands are all equally beautiful with their ridiculous blue/see-through waters and gorgeous coral life… BUT this one is ultra cool because it’s home to whale sharks and don’t you worry, they won’t harm you! (They are filter feeding sharks, which means that they eat plankton, not humans.)
Close to the Similan Islands and found in the Mu Koh Surin National Park, there are several bays around Surin Nuea to explore. The largest being Ao Mae Yai on the southwest with nice calm waters, and Ao Luek on the southeast side with its shallow corals and an abundance of beautiful marine life.
If you feel like exercising them muscles and doing a morning walk around, there’s a 2km pathway at Ao Mai Ngam, and it has great snorkelling and swimming spots too.
And if you’d like to get up close and personal with the gorgeous bay of pristine coral reefs, head to Ao Chak at the north of Surin Nuea!
Okay now about those sharks… They’re actually whale sharks found just off the coast and can reach up to 12 metres long! But don’t fear, they don’t pose a danger to humans and are actually quite funny looking things!
(Remember, an animal – unless it’s a predator by nature – will attack you only if you give it a reason to.)
Shark sighting diving tours can also be arranged here. Can you imagine seeing one of these incredible creatures?! And in fact, the sharks are pretty friendly to the local fishermen aka the “sea gypsies”.
PS: There are bungalows and tents available for rent if you’re interested in a night’s stay at the islands. There’s Restaurant Ao Mai Ngam Beach to eat at when you get hungry. Of course, do remember to bring snacks along just in case!
3. A favourite among divers that caters for all levels of experience – Koh Racha Yai, Koh Racha Noi
Just wait till you see these incredible beaches home to beautiful turquoise water!
The Racha Islands consists of twin sister islands right next to each other. The larger one, Koh Racha Yai hosts most of the accommodation, whilst Koh Racha Noi is the smaller one and is a bit rockier than the other, landscape-wise. If you’re looking for the side of the island that has less visitors, this would be the better choice of the two.
Many divers flock here because even during the rainy season, Racha Yai’s east coast is home to a bay that is still perfect for diving and still has visibility up to 30 metres!
There are lots of challenging dive sites around these waters, so if you’re advanced, this is ideal! But if you’re a first time diver, there are also plenty of spots for you, as well as for snorkelling!
FYI, Ao Tawan Tok is the most famous beach here made of snow white sand and has a u-shaped bay, but it gets a little too crowded towards the evening.
PS: As the Racha islands do have accommodation, you can be assured that there are several restaurants/eateries here for meal times!
PPS: Enjoy affordable luxury at its best – a snorkelling trip around the islands via a luxury Cataraman tour. Lunch, champagne, dessert and snacks provided! (USD $86.70 / approx. 2749 Baht)
4. Heard of a crab beach? Seems like a scene out of Pirates of the Caribbean – Koh Bon
Looking for interesting? Koh Bon is known for its lush vegetation as well as crab beaches! Crab beaches?! Literally hundreds of hermit crabs scuttling over the sands!
And did you know it’s just a 15 minutes ferry ride away from Phuket making it the closest island to this main city! But it’s not as popular as you would think – being so close and all…
For me this is the perfect day-trip island escape, secluded with sprinkles of tiny sand coves, and beautiful surroundings. What could be a better option for some private zen time? And at obly 1.2km long, it’s as if you get the whole island to yourself – almost!
The island is also known for Koh Bon Island Restaurant (usually open daily from 10am to 5pm, but if there’s bad weather it’ll be closed) , owned by a British lady named Dawn, serving a delightful mix of Thai/International food.
Try her Tom Yum Goong (spicy soup with prawns, 280 Baht) or fried/steamed fish with garlic pepper, tamarind sauce or curry powder (370 Baht). International favourites include; Prawn salad, Chicken & Fries and your usual favourite cocktails.
If you’re an avid animal lover like myself, go explore the island! There’s tons of birds such as the long-tail broad bird with it’s beautiful green feathers, flying fox (google it!), water lizards and an abundance of marine life!!
5. Beautifully breathtaking and totally unique – Koh Khai Nok
Hidden among dazzling waters, a teeny tiny little gem awaits you, found in Phang Nga Bay, and is still not visited by many! Koh Khai Nok (also known as ‘Egg Island’ is a bit of a treasure chest!
Almost looking like the Maldives with it’s flat, crystal waters that basically look like a swimming pool, plus the white sands.
(There are actually two other islands that make up the Khai Islands – Koh Khai Nok, Koh Khai Nai, and Koh Khai Nai – but my favourite is Koh Khai Nok.)
This island’s beach is insane, and the ocean and shoreline somehow look and feel as if they are completely one. I know that sounds weird but with the shore and sand almost being one here, all the little tropical fishies swim basically up onto the shore.
There’s also the beach bar/restaurant decorated in flying ribbons of colourful flags, umbrellas and deck-chairs. I mean, seriously, this is one of those postcard-perfect places and all I keep thinking of is just how beautiful those photos will be…
For a small island, this offers a lot with a little bazaar-like area in the middle with shops selling sarongs, handicrafts and more.
This is a day or half-day trip kind of thing, and your tour boat will usually take you around all three islands.
6. Life is more laid back on this slice of heaven – Koh Lanta
What was once a hippy backpackers haven is now home to some really gorgeous resorts, if that’s your thing. However, the island is still very untouched and not yet over-run by tourists and still has a real laidback-ness about it.
The weather here is simply beautiful all year round, and Koh Lanta islands are super secluded, so you can literally expect nothing else, except those awesome island vibes.
Pretty coral reefs and crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and a delicious green jungle. It’s no wonder that travellers who make their way here, come over expecting to get a few days of total relaxation and seclusion.
This is also a great option if you’re looking to choose an island, that’s pretty far from everyone as it really feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere! AND there’s variety on the island, from the stays to restaurants.
Spend the day exploring caves or take a kayak out for a spin at sea and give your arm muscles a real workout.
PS: Now you wanna hear the REALLY awesome part? You can join a weekly beach clean up run by an organisation called Trash Hero, and it runs every Sunday! How’s that for doing some good while on holiday! <3
7. It’s one of the best diving spots in the Andaman Sea! – Koh Haa (Five island)
What could be more perfect than spending the day in the sunshine, diving and snorkelling to your heart’s content, around small islands, cavelets, bays and wildlife filled waters? Sounds like my idea of heaven.
Known as one of the best diving spots in the Andaman Sea, expect to see octopus lurking among the rocks and crevices… And look out for Hawksbill Turtles, Marble Rays, Eagle Rays, Whale Sharks and Manta Rays too! You can also dive down to 25-30metres here.
Koh Haa is actually situated in Krabi, so it’s super duper accessible if you’re coming from Krabi, but it’s also easy enough to get to from Phuket, as well as Koh Lanta.
PS: The waters around here aren’t as luminescent blue (although still blue and beautiful) however the opportunity to dive in these waters with such a diverse ocean wildlife, is more than enough reason to get me there.
PPS: There’s also a central lagoon on the island where beginner divers can train – that’s pretty ideal!
8. For a day on the beach filled with epic activities – Koh Rang Yai
Convenient, filled with warm waters, beach volleyball and overall good vibrations, Koh Rang Yai is super near Phuket (it’s literally 5km away). Take a boat over or some even kayak here!
If you’re looking to spend some fun in the sun, in between beach activities and watersports, you’ll love this island.
There’s a bunch of outdoor activities from jet-skiing and kayaking to diving and snorkelling, and you can even hire a bike and go for a leisurely ride along the paths of the island.
Hungry already? There are restaurants and bars nestled around the island for you to choose from to fill your empty bellies. For some reason spending the day on the beach always leaves you mightily hungry!
On the west coast of the island you’ll also come across some beach bungalows made from thatch and bamboo that are available for rent if you feel like spending the night under the stars on your island.
And lastly, believe it or not, it’s also home to Pearl Farm, which many travellers actually book a tour to, directly from Phuket!
9. This small group of tropical islands are considered to be the most beautiful in the Krabi Province – Hong Islands
Step onto the tropical island paradise of your dreams made up of kayaking, swimming, fishing, picnicking, sunbathing and last but not least, snorkelling!
Now you might pay a pretty penny to get to this island, but because it’s so secluded and desolate it’ll be worth it!
Hong Islands is a small group of islands found along Krabi’s coastline which belongs to the National Marine Park, and is set against the spectacular backdrop of Phang Nga Bay.
These islands belong to the Koh Hong Archipelago with about 12 surrounding islands. However, some of them are tiny with no beach areas, but the bigger ones have spectacular beaches that are never crowded!
Some great spots around the islands include:
Hong Island Lagoon, an amazing lake, which you can reach by boat
Tree covered cliffs climbing up all around you, right in the very heart of the island
Hong Island Bay/Pelay beach), a beautiful beach with white sand, perfect for swimming and snorkelling
Lading Island, a place where the locals traditionally came to collect a vital ingredient for the famous bird’s nest soup. (although I personally condone this one)
Pakbia Island, with its entanglement of caves that have eroded into the cliffs
Daeng Island, which is famous for its coral reef which, at low tide, can be seen clearly from the surface