What is the best place to snorkel in Thailand? To find the finest coral reefs you have to travel to small islands far out into the sea. The islands on the Andaman Sea have in general the best snorkeling spots, but Gulf of Thailand has some nice coral reefs too.
1 Ko Surin – Living Like a Sea Gypsy
Ko Surin’s two distant deserted islands on the Andaman Sea are surrounded by fabulous coral reefs. The reefs lie close to the surface, making them excellent for snorkelers.
Ko Surin is a great destination for adventure minded travelers: you will sleep on a tented camp run by the marine park rangers and snorkel from the morning to the evening (there is not much anything to do in these small islands anyway).
One of the islands has a small Moken sea gypsy settlement, which you can explore too.
2 Ko Similan – Join the Snorkelers’ Liveaboard
Liveaboards for divers are organized all over the world, but Ko Similan Islands you can explore on a three-day liveaboard trip aimed for snorkelers, the only one of its kind in the world as far as we know it. Ko Similan is composed of nine stunningly beautiful desert islands with crystal clear waters and abundant marine life.
The snorkeling liveaboard leaves from Khao Lak. There are also a plenty of day-trips to the Similan Islands from Khao Lak, but the liveaboard is definitely the best and most memorable way to explore this untouched archipelago and avoid the day-tripper crowds.
3 Ko Lipe – Snorkel from the Shore
Nicknamed as the Maldives of Thailand, Ko Lipe is a beautiful little island surrounded by coral reefs. You can go snorkeling directly from the beach, but the best underwater scenery awaits you on the waters of the nearby deserted islands such as Ko Adang. Ko Lipe is located on the Andaman Sea, close to the border of Malaysia.
4 Ko Phi Phi – Guaranteed to See Sharks
Ko Phi Phi Islands are the most beautiful ones in Thailand, and they are not pretty only above the surface; the underwater scenery is spectacular too. While snorkeling you have a good chance to see sea turtles and even sharks. There is actually a peculiar snorkeling trip organized by Adventure Club dive shop with a promise that you get your money back if you don’t see sharks.
5 Ko Talu – Unspoiled Snorkeling Paradise
Ko Talu is the best place to snorkel in the Gulf of Thailand. The island’s waters are reefs are meticulously protected by the island’s conservation minded owner. Corals are in great condition and teeming with marine life.
The island is located 250 kilometers south of Hua Hin, and the best way to enjoy snorkeling in the island is to stay on the island’s only resort, Koh Talu Island Resort. Another option is to stay in the nearby quiet beach destinations Ban Krut or Bang Saphan.
+ 1 Runner-up: Ko Tao
The list wouldn’t be complete without Ko Tao, even if the island didn’t make to our top 5. Ko Tao has some nice and shallow corals reefs, but the heavy underwater traffic from the more than 50 dive schools has left a mark on them. Ko Tao will be great for novice snorkelers but more experienced snorkelers might be a bit less enthusiastic.
Ko Tao is best known as the place to do the diving certificate, but you can also join free-diving lessons to learn to hold your breath for long time and dive to impressive depths without any diving equipment (we are talking about 20+ meters here!). Once you master the skill, you will enjoy snorkeling more than ever before.