Among the islands scattered about the Andaman Sea , Koh Lanta at present is the better known jewel. But the islands that scatter about Koh Lanta are themselves pieces of paradise blessed with turquoise waters and white sandy beaches in a nearly untouched environment.
Not that they’re lesser known places. Smaller islands the likes of Koh Phi Phi is a favorite haunt for island hoppers. Islands like Koh Ngai, while unfamiliar to the majority of beach goers, has been frequented for some twenty years by those in the know.
Scuba divers themselves are familiar with the islands of Koh Daeng and Koh Muang based on their knowledge that in addition to the rich underwater scene, leopard sharks and whale sharks lurk about the area.
From Koh Lanta, it’s about a two hours and 20 minutes to Koh Phi Phi; and a shorter travel time for neighboring islands. It’s the best way to get to know Koh Lanta and its environs with a day-trip of island hopping. Arrangements are easy and the opportunities plenty to get a true flavor of the different islands that make up the archipelago.
Going to Koh Phi Phi actually means visiting Phi Phi Lay and Phi Phi Don. People go to Koh Phi Phi for many reasons. Some visit Koh Phi Phi as a holiday destination—there are many resorts to stay in on Koh Phi Phi Don and the activities are countless. But when people visit Koh Phi Phi from Koh Lanta, it’s likely they go there to dive. Just a two hour trip from Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi offers 30 to 35 dive sites. The underwater world in Koh Phi Phi is known to be spectacular. The reef-rich island has many different species for divers to see. Expect to mingle with leopard sharks. Swimming around the rocks is one of the best times for divers. The visibility is about 15 to 30 meters . The water is blue, clear and warm. The scenic greenery of the national park on Koh Phi Phi Lay also attracts people with an appreciation for its dense forests and natural beauty, all well taken care of by the national park personnel.
Literally meaning ‘five islands,’ Koh Haa actually has five and a half if you care to count. This is a heaven on earth for many people. Divers love to come here as the visibility is exceptional and the coral life is strikingly beautiful. Snorkelers don’t feel left out as Koh Haa hides an incredible lagoon with shallow water. Koh Haa is also good for those who aren’t interested in water sport activities. The lagoon is a great place to just swim or sunbathe. The adventurous and curious types can swim into intriguing caves. Expect to see tiger shells, turtles and hermit crabs. Lobsters, squid and cuttlefish are not rare. There is an extensive chamber of stalactites around this area which completes Koh Haa as one of the most enriching islands around Koh Lanta.
Koh Rok Nok and Koh Rok Nai are two sister islands next to each other. The distance between the two islands is a few hundred meters crossing by the water channel. The beaches of the two islands are pristine, unspoilt and have powder soft sand which makes Koh Rok a great island for snorkeling and swimming. Divers may prefer to go to a deeper site such as Hin Daeng and Hin Muang or Koh Haa but if the depth is not a big deal, the marine life at Koh Rok is no less exciting. There are soft corals and tropical fish to see. Koh Rok’s beauty comes from its wilderness as there are not many tourists here. There is an opportunity to stay at Koh Rok if you want to go beyond a one-day trip. Camping is one of the choices by renting the tent from the national park and arranging a boat pickup the next day.
Koh Muk is one of the must-see islands on the island hopping list. One of the main attractions is the Emerald Cave . The narrow path into the cave is perfect to swim into or ride a canoe when the tide is low. The distance to the cave is about 80 meters—you will be swimming or canoeing in the dark for some five minutes but from that darkness will emerge an incredible view of a secluded lagoon with emerald green water.
It is such an immense island that to approach it from the back would be to encounter a whole different perspective. Here, one sees a bustling sea gypsy village while bungalows are available more inland. While fishing is the main livelihood here, diving for pearls is a sideline of some villagers. All you have to do is ask around and you will be directed to a few households who sell pearls already taken out of the oysters for you to see. Expect to pay at least 500 Baht and above for a single pearl.