Thailand’s shoreline is known for its picturesque ivy speckled cliffs and gemmy aquamarine tide ideal for water adventures like scuba diving and snorkeling.
During a month long stint on Ko Lanta, an island in the Andaman Sea off of Krabi in eastern Thailand, we experienced an unforgettable day of snorkeling at Koh Ha and Koh Rok, part of Mu Ko Lanta National Park (comprising the southern tip of Ko Lanta and several small nearby islands).
Walking up and down Klong Nin Beach, our stomping grounds for the month, we discovered a plethora of tour companies offering snorkeling and scuba packages of all varieties almost everywhere we turned, each featuring day trips, overnights, and a seemingly inexhaustible list of islands to choose from for an excursion.
After doing our own research, we identified Koh Ha as our top choice for a day on the sea: a group of five limestone islands jutting out of the ocean to form an aqua lagoon, and booked a tour of three snorkeling locations, including lunch at the national park. The full day out cost 1,800 Baht each (about $55 a pop) and was absolutely worth it.
Our package explored Koh Ha and Koh Rok, consisting of the islands Koh Rok Nok and Koh Rok Nai, which are popular for their shared crystal clear strait, the potential for sea turtle sightings, and spotting large monitor lizards patrolling the shore.
Have a look at our video for a view into the adventure, and read on for more details about our tour followed by snapshots at the end of this article.
Our tour began early, with our bright green boat (as advertised in the brochure) set to pick us up on the beach in front of our hotel at 8:00 AM. But as things sometimes go in life, the boat was late and the pick up turned out to be farther down the beach than we were told (lost in translation?), but we made it.
Once aboard, the boat began to immediately experience engine trouble causing us to turn back to shore where we waited for the crew to complete the necessary repairs: about 45 minutes. Some guests left during this time, but we didn’t mind sitting on the beach waiting it out. Meanwhile, the friendly captain assured us that the crew would extend our trip, affording our group the same amount of time at the islands as promised during booking. This turned out to be exactly as he described and we enjoyed a full day out on the water. When all was fixed, we returned to the boat and headed toward Koh Rok.
The speedboat took about an hour splashing over the waves, and soon we were sailing between the tree-covered islands that form Koh Rok's lagoon. Eager to get underwater, our caravan of 15 jumped in to explore what the site had to offer. We dove two different points, swimming amongst tropical fish, a group of small clear squid, over colorful, textured coral patches and spiny sea urchins waving in the current.
We stopped for a pre-prepared lunch on the island, which also offers camping, and enjoyed more snorkeling off the beach, reveling in the opal waters, and digging our toes into the most powdery sand we’ve ever felt.
After lunch, we were back on the boat ferrying to Koh Ha for more snorkeling amongst beautiful plant dusted cliffs jutting out of the sea. A protected cove roped off to warn ships from entering offered sightings of more tropical fish, enormous clams, coral reefs, and bright blue and pink starfish.
An hour or so of fun and play later, our troop piled back into the speedboat and shipped off to Ko Lanta with satisfied smiles on our faces, arriving back at our hotel just before sunset.
This journey into the ethereal, mysterious and otherworldly universe of the sea remains one of the most memorable during our travels in Asia. It’s these kind of experiences that can deliver a renewed perspective and awe for the ocean, its incredible creatures, the importance of this ecosystem, and the diversity it contains.