Published/Last edited or updated: 11th April, 2017
Group and private boat tours to a host of pristine beaches and snorkelling sites scattered around the Adang archipelago can be arranged all over Lipe. Though many of the reefs are bleached and dormant, you’ll still find some soft and hard coral supporting healthy schools of tropical fish and other marine life, including clownfish, anemones and rays.
Some package tours include up to five chances to snorkel off the boat but only one or two stops on dry land, typically at Ko Hin Ngam's mysterious smooth-rock beach and a white-sand beach on Ko Adang, Ko Rawi or Ko Tong for lunch. Other tours will stop at a couple of snorkelling sites while allowing more time for beach lounging or hiking. Late-day trips include a sunset dinner and, if you’re lucky, a chance to swim among glittering bioluminescent plankton.
Most group tours include lunch, drinking water and snorkelling gear, with the most popular running from around 09:00 to 16:00 and costing 500 to 1,500 baht per person. Snorkellers can also tag along with some of the day-dive boats for around 650 baht including lunch. Reputable snorkelling tour outfits include Thai Beach Travellers and Paradise Tours.
The other option, which we prefer, is to charter a longtail boat privately. Expect to pay at least 1,500 baht -- for the boat, not per person—for a three-hour trip to snorkel at Jabang pinnacle and stop at Ko Hin Ngam and Ko Adang to relax on the beach or climb Chadoe Cliff. Full-day private trips can cost anywhere from 1,700 to 4,000 baht or more. Speedboats and sailboats can also be chartered at travel offices on Walking Street.
One option not offered by tour companies is Ko Khai, a tiny undeveloped island located an hour’s cruise east of Lipe with a natural stone arch standing over a stunning coral-sand beach. If you’re up for a full-day adventure, consider making a loop all the way around Ko Adang with stops at distant beaches before cruising south alongside Ko Rawi and down to Ko Tong, where a host of offshore islets conceal some of the best snorkelling sites in the archipelago.
Private longtail boats can be arranged directly with the boat drivers in front of the school on Sunrise Beach, at a boatmen's shack further down the same beach near Castaway Resort, and at the makeshift pier at the centre of Pattaya Beach. It's normal to simply walk up to a boatman and see if he's up for a trip. Many resorts also have a boat that can be arranged in advance, and larger resorts will have several on payroll.
While you won't be able to haggle for a lower price if booking through a resort, the advantage is that their boat drivers are more likely to be sane, sober and dependable. We’ve found that some freelance boatmen are heavy drinkers who start early, so do try to get a whiff of their breath before finalizing plans. Private boat trips are always paid for at the end of the trip and do not include national park fees or lunch, though most boats have a spare snorkel or two.
If you’re on a tight budget, consider a day trip to Ko Adang for 200 baht, round trip, which can also be arranged through the longtail boat booths on Sunrise Beach.
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.