Thursday, 21 April 2016

Exploring Tarutao Marine National Park

I'm in the midst of planning our next two trips (cause planning one at a time is, apparently, too little for me). But, at the same time, I'm still looking back at our adventures in Thailand. I still have a few posts to go to finish that off. Once I'm done with Thailand, I'll let you know what I'm planning next.

Today, I'm taking you on an island-hopping trip with a lot of snorkeling on the way.

But first things first. What are the options for trips from Koh Lipe? We are not divers, so diving trips were not for us. We also didn't want to learn to dive. But you can easily do that. There are trips both for advanced divers and for beginners.

We wanted to see the sea life, but in a more approachable way. So snorkeling was an alternative for us. We were offered three trips. Two snorkeling trips (A and B) and a sunset trip. All three programs shared some of the stops. The two snorkeling trips included also lunch (apart from the equipment, water and fruit). You could choose from one of the three options: chicken, seafood or vegetarian.

1. Sunset trip was the cheapest of the three. Price (as of October 2015) - 450 THB/person. Time: 14:30 till 18:30. All the equipment (mask, snorkel, fins, life jacket) plus water and fruit included in the price. Program? Jabang - snorkeling by a pinnacle rising from 16 metres to just underneath the surface. It's covered with soft corals. Koh Hin Ngam - an island built of thousands of smoothly polished black stones. Koh Yang - a snorkeling stop near of the the smallest islands of the archipelago. Koh Adang - watching the sunset from one of the beaches of Koh Adang.

2. Program A - The trip covered the islands and reefs closer to Koh Lipe than Programme B. Price (as of October 2015) - 550 THB/person. Time: 9:30 till 16:00. Program? Jabang. Koh Hin Ngam. Koh Rawi - lunch and relax on one of the sandy beaches. Koh Adang - you can snorkel right from the beach, explore the jungle or relax on the beach. Koh Yang.

3. Program B - This trip covered the most distant islands of the archipelago. Price (as of October 2015) - 650 THB/person. Time: 9:30 till 16:00. Program? Koh Hin Sorn - strange rock formations housing a wide variety of soft corals and marine life. Koh Lugoi - a snorkeling stop at the edge of the marine national park with interesting corals and fish. Koh Dong - a stop for lunch and for watching monkeys. Koh Pung - swimming, snorkeling or relaxing on the beaches of honey island. Koh Bulu - a tiny island around which you can find beautiful corals and tropical fish. Koh Hin Ngam. Jabang.

The prices above do not include the national park fee. If you arrived to Koh Lipe from Pak Bara (as we did), you already paid the Tarutao Marine National Park fee and it's enough to take the ticket with you (so that you don't have to pay it the second time). If you came from Langkawi, Malaysia, you have to pay the fee either on Koh Hin Ngam (park rangers come to the island, but they don't have a station there) or on Koh Rawi (they have a station there).

We were thinking and thinking and discussing and dwelling on choosing either Program A or Program B. Since they shared so many points, we didn't want to do both of them. Plus the weather wasn't too perfect either... Finally, we decided to choose Program A. We liked the option of exploring the jungle on Koh Adang (there is no stop near Koh Adang in Program B). And we were not that keen on seeing monkeys anymore.

We ate a quick breakfast, packed our snorkeling equipment, put on water shoes (just in case, neither of us uses fins) and we were ready to go. We met our guide on Pattaya beach, got onto our longtail boat and off we were. There were just seven of us plus our guide (the two of us, a pair from Sweden, a pair from Malaysia and a guy from England). The sky was covered with dark grey coulds. We were terrified that it might start raining any minute and spoil the trip for us. Spoiler here - it wasn't raining at all and, at times, the sun was shining beautifully.

Our first stop - Jabang. That's a stop somewhere on the sea. Like in the middle of the sea, surrounded by islands. Nothing special at first. If it hadn't been for the ropes stretched from one buoy to another, you wouldn't have noticed the place. But once you put your face under water, you sea a whole lot of things. First of all, a lot of yellow, striped fish.Thousands of them. And the rock formation itself is amazing. We had to stick to the rope, though. One of the guys from our group let go of the rope and after a few second he was ten metres away from us. And he was just floating, looking at fish, not moving at all... I have no idea if it looks like that always, but our guide warned us that we should stick to the rope. It was much better, much more colourful than my pictures show (it was dark and I don't have a go pro or any other special underwater camera. I don't use PS either). And it was really hard to stick to the rope and take pictures at the same time...

Next stop - Koh Hin Ngam. First, we stopped for snorkeling right off the island. Again, a rope stretched between buoys marked a parking place for longtails. A funny view, come to think of it. This time there were no tides, so we could swim around watching the sea life. There were some fish swimming around, but not as many as by Jabang. And they were swimming around much faster, so it made it almost impossible for me to capture them. The reef formations were beautiful, though.
Having seen what we wanted to see, we were back on the boat and headed towards Koh Hin Ngam for a quick stop on the beach on the black stones. That's where we met the rangers who checked our national park entrance tickets. Those of us who didn't have them (aka everyone else from our group) had to buy their tickets. Since they didn't have enough change, in the end they bought the tickets on Koh Rawi. We took a few pictures with the name of the island and a few pictures of the stoney beach and we were yet again back on our longtail.

Parking place for longtails.
The rangers and the tourists. The one talking to tourists spoke perfect English.
The following stop was by Koh Yang. A typically snorkeling spot. We spent quite some time there - enough to see all the beautiful fish and formations. Plus, there were moments when the sun was shining beautifully! Such a change after Koh Hin Ngam, though so close one to another.
Yes, that is me in the picture...
Our guide!
This purple fish had neon orange mouth! It was beautiful! Abd really fast swimming away from me ;)
This was all shells. I have no idea if there was a rock under the shells, but on the outside...shells, shells and some more shells.
Finally, we got to Koh Rawi for lunch. We got our lunchboxes and could find ourselves a place to sit, eat, chill out, enjoy ourselves. That was the longest of all stops. There was a picnic place on the island, right by the beach, but shadowed by trees. With tables and all. And there were toilets on the island as well, right next to the picnic spot. Pretty decent and quite clean.

Our last stop was by Koh Adang. Unfortunately, we didn't get to the beach. So we also didn't get to the island. The water level was getting low and our guide was scared that the boat would either get stuck or will destroy the reef in the area. I was bummed, but I couldn't do anything about it anyway. Jungle on Koh Adang still has to wait for me. We got to see some more fish though. And this reef was also pretty and diversified. I just didn't feel like taking any pictures. I just wanted to enjoy the view and nothing else. If you want to see what it looks like, you have to go there yourself (or, most likely, googling it will also show you...).

Have you ever been to Koh Lipe? Have you done any of the trips? Do you enjoy snorkeling? Can you recommend any good places for snorkeling?
Travel Tuesday


  1. wow joanna, that looks like a great time! i like how you broke dowm the different options

    1. I hope somebody looking for information might find that useful. Plus, I'm planning to get back to Koh Lipe, so that will be (hopefully) useful for me, too. And that day was truly amazing!

  2. Wow, I would love to go here..the pictures of the fish and coral are just beautiful. Anything in the water Has my attention right away! Lovely post!


  3. I love all of your underwater/in-the-water photos!! Makes me wish I had a GoPro or waterproof camera! :) Thanks for sharing this with us on Travel Tuesday!

    1. I put my camera in a waterproof case ;) Instead of buying a new waterproof camera or GoPro, I rather spend the money on travelling. Oh, priorities ;)

  4. Those underwater photos are great! Sounds like you had a great trip even if the weather didn't necessarily co-operate. I have to say I found snorkelling quite stressful when I tried it; I'm a confident swimmer but it just felt totally wrong to me. I think that's just me though...

    1. Thank you. That was my first snorkelling experience. Meaning in Thailand. And a good one. Though at first I wanted to scream a lot to share with my husband what I waas seeing ;) I was too excited. Then I was just experiencing it, fiesting my eyes. Thanks for dropping by!