Published/Last edited or updated: 20th April, 2018
Lying six kilometres west of Ko Mak, Ko Rang is popular with daytrippers and divers thanks to clear turquoise water concealing reefs and lots of tropical fish. Super-soft white sand also helps to make this largely uninhabited island one of the most beautiful in the Ko Chang archipelago.
Ko Rang is part of Mu Ko Chang National Marine Park, though most people who live on Ko Mak refer to it and surrounding islets simply as “the marine park”. Jungle blankets all of the interior hills and, unlike Ko Wai, you’ll find no resorts on any of the beaches. While camping is possible (more on that below), nearly all visitors come on day trips—Ko Mak is closest but a lot of folks come from Ko Chang and a handful from Ko Kut as well.
We booked a snorkeling trip for 1,000 baht with Koh Mak Divers in mid February, shoving off in their double-deck wooden boat from Ao Nid at around 09:00. Around 30 others joined us, including half a dozen divers, and our guide mentioned that the total number of heads was unusually high on that day. Still, there was plenty of space to lounge around and chat with others on the boat. The overall experience was quite laid back, which is not always the case for those visiting from Ko Chang.
After 45 minutes we pulled up to the first snorkeling site, a rocky islet known as Ko Hin Bai. Visibility was excellent in the emerald water and at least 30 different types of fish joined hard and soft coral to vie for our attention. There was plenty of room to swim until a much larger tour boat from Ko Chang arrived.
We then cruised closer to Ko Rang itself before dropping anchor off the far southeastern coast and digging into a lunch of fried rice and fruit. Here we were given the option of snorkeling around the boat or swimming to Haad Sam Nan, which locals told us is the best of Rang’s four notable beaches. After breast stroking ashore we checked out a Chinese-style shrine where fishers offer wooden phalluses believed to bring fertility and abundance.
The beach consists of extraordinarily fine and fluffy white sand and nothing else save the shrine and a national park shack. Forest blankets the adjacent hillside. We shared the sand with quite a few others who were shuttled to the beach from the large Ko Chang-based tour boats. The Koh Mak Divers boat anchored further away and the only option for reaching the beach was a roughly 200-metre swim.
For the last stop we hit Ko Yak Yai, another pile of rocks surrounded by a reef that was similar to our first dip of the day. We did not hit the other beaches, including a bay to the north that hosts a national park office, restaurant and campground. Travel agents on Ko Chang told us that campers might be able to book a tour and arrange for the same boat to pick them up later, though we’ve not met anyone who has tried this. We were also told that campers need to bring their own tents.
Koh Mak Divers’ multi-lingual guides did a fine job on a busy day, even if the bearded guy organising things at the pier on Ko Mak seemed a bit irritable. The price included lunch and the 200-baht national park entry fee. Snorkelers can also hit Rang from Mak with BB Divers. Those looking to be shuttled to the beach, rather than swimming there, should look into the Totti Boat Trip, which also costs 1,000 baht per person. Private boats start at around 6,000 baht and can be arranged through resorts and travel offices on Mak.
If hitting Ko Rang from Ko Chang you’ll most likely pile into a much larger boat with upwards of 100 others, or a cramped speedboat, on tours available from various companies. Each of Ko Kut’s diving outfits also run trips for snorkelers and divers to Rang, but only once or twice per week. No matter where you're coming from, private boat may be the only option in low season and even that will depend on weather conditions.
BB Divers Koh Mak: Office on road behind central Ao Kao (also has offices on Ko Chang and Ko Kut); T: (092) 602 2260; (082) 220 6002; www.bbdivers-koh-mak.com
Koh Mak Divers: Office on road behind eastern Ao Kao; T: (083) 297 7724; www.kohmakdivers.com
Totti Boat Trip: Office on road behind central Ao Kao; T: (081) 916 6536;
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.