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Where to find the 'best' snorkeling in January?

Posted by malotte on 27/8/2010 at 04:32

Hi,

We are a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 teenagers, going to Thailand for 3 weeks in January. We are flying in to Bangkok and plan to spend some days in the Kanchanaburi area and then find some nice beaches where we can swim and hopefully go snorkeling.

We were in southern Thailand in 2002 and loved the snorkeling at for ex Ko Rok and Ko Ngai.
This time we're think of going to either Ko Samet or Ko Chang and to Ko Mak to avoid too much travelling. Does anyone know how the snorkeling is there compared to going south?

I guess Ko Tao/Ko Pha Ngan/Ko Samui could also be an alternative but I seem to remember having read that January could be a period with 'bad' sea, making it hard to swim, is that true?

Thankful for any advice,
Malotte

#1 malotte has been a member since 24/8/2010. Posts: 2

Posted by swag on 27/8/2010 at 06:17

Hi Malotte I have dived at both Chang + Mak where there were snorkellers onboard for the day. Both diving and snorkelling seemed to be better at Chang.Bigger variety
cheers

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Posted by busylizzy on 27/8/2010 at 06:26

I was on Koh Tao early Feb this year, and yes, the winds and high seas can make snorkelling disappointing in some areas, difficult in some areas, and impossible in others.

Can't comment on Chang and Mak as I didn't snorkle there.

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Posted by exacto on 27/8/2010 at 09:05

We were on Ko Maak in late December and did a 1-day snorkel day trip. Can't compare it to Chang, but felt like there was enough to see to enjoy it. Doesn't compare to the GBR of course. If you find yourself there, I recommend Paradise Divers for your snorkel trip. Competitive price, comfortable and charming boat, good lunch, and quality folks who run it.

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Posted by SBE on 27/8/2010 at 10:25

Ko Mak and Ko Chang don't have as good snorkelling as Ko Ngai /Ko Kradan and they are definitely not as good as Ko Rok in my opinion. (I've been to all these islands)

Better even than Ko Rok are the Surin islands if you're prepared to camp and it's a good time of year to go there. There are National Park bungalows available too but they're pricey ... 2000B/night last season and the beds are rock hard (well the bed I tried once was!). You'd need to book the bungalows in advance ...unless you're very lucky they're always full. The tents should be available though, unless you're planning on going during Chinese New Year maybe (can't remember what the dates are for next year ...sometimes it's in January, sometimes February)

Thai food, snacks and drinks are available at reasonable prices at the two park campsites and there are two organised snorkelling trips every day @ 80B a pop last season.

PS I was on Ko Tao in February too Busylizzy...doing my TF open water course!!

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Posted by busylizzy on 27/8/2010 at 11:06

"PS I was on Ko Tao in February too Busylizzy...doing my TF open water course!!"


I think we missed each other by a matter of days, by memory. I know I was there on 31 Jan as I remember having the hottest curry ever for my birthday dinner. :-) I was there only for another 2-3 days after that.

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Posted by SBE on 28/8/2010 at 05:19

What a shame, it would have been good to catch up!

Next time. Have you chucked in your cubicle job yet. ;-)

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Posted by triplinky on 28/8/2010 at 18:23

Dont think you can go wrong with Koh Tao - its one of the best for snorkelling


PJ @triplinky

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Posted by malotte on 30/8/2010 at 02:48

Thank you.

I will see if i will be able to convince my family to go further south than we originally had planned ...

#9 malotte has been a member since 24/8/2010. Posts: 2

Posted by busylizzy on 30/8/2010 at 03:54

I agree with SBE about Koh Kradan. Because of her suggestion, I went there earlier this year (after Koh Tao) and from a weather and snorkelling perspective, Koh Kradan was far superior.

Also another consideration - at that time of year, accommodation was much harder to find in Koh Tao. The place was packed with people, being the busy season. In comparison, the islands in the Trang region were lovely, peaceful and quiet. But there is far less 'night life' too, so I guess it depends on what you're after.

"Have you chucked in your cubicle job yet. ;-) "
No SBE, I'm still here! I think I will be hanging in there until next year , and am now starting to seriously look at planning another long-term trip starting next August: Laos, NE Thailand and Borneo so far. Meanwhile, I continue to live vicariously through the experiences of Travelfishers. :-/


I'm heading down for a week of adventure in the South Island (NZ) later this week. It all sounded great until it dawned on my that the temps have been as down to 2 degrees and less. What was I thinking???

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Posted by SBE on 30/8/2010 at 04:00

Ko Tao is very (too, IMO) developed nowadays and the snorkelling isn't in the same class as the Surin s. Depends what kind of place you want really...

Ko Tao has ATMs, bars, motorbikes, parties, restaurants, Thai and western food , internet cafes, 7/11s loads of resorts and nearly all the tourists are foreigners.

Ko Surin has jungle, unspoilt beaches, birds, monkeys, flying squirrels, a moken (sea gypsy) village, tents, communal washing facilities (cold water showers), one restaurant (only open at certain hours, Thai food) and a small shop, not that much to do in the evenings except read and chat and the majority (but not all) of the tourists are Thai. Day trippers invade en masse at lunchtime at the National Park HQ (not the other campsite) every day (and then leave after lunch). If you aren't bringing your own camping gear, the NP tents are good quality and quite large but pitched very close together so not much privacy and the sleeping mats the NP provide are pretty thin.

Lizzy did you check out Tanote Bay when you were there? When I was in Indonesia I met a Thai/French couple who live on Tao and they said there had been a landslide that had buried all the coral in that bay under a lot of mud last monsoon. I didn't go and check it out and a dive instructor (Ayesha) was unaware of it, but the receptionist at the dive centre said she'd heard about it too. Tanote used to be one of the better places to snorkel ... just wondering if anyone has actually been snorkelling there since last December.

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Posted by busylizzy on 30/8/2010 at 05:21

No - I never made it to Tanote Bay and didn't hear anything. I had planned on staying on that side of the island, but was talked out of it because the winds, etc coming from that direction made the water too choppy on that side for any decent snorkelling.

I did do a round-the-island snorkle trip, but it didn't stop at Tanote Bay ( we stopped at Shark Bay, Ao Leuk, Hin Wang, Mango Bay, Koh Nang Yuan). Overall, I was pretty unimpressed with each of the snorkelling stops. The water was fairly murky all around, and the coral just wasn't that interesting. I remember really being impressed with Koh Nang Yuan a few years earlier, but not this time. Koh Kradan was far superior; I never made it to the Surins though.

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