KO RACHA YAI IN BRIEF
WHY GO: Ko Racha Yai is a beautiful small island with stunning white beaches, turquoise waters and some nice coral reefs.
WHY NOT: During the day Ko Racha’s main beach can get very crowded with island hoppers from nearby Phuket. Luckily the island has some less known beaches too!
DIVING AND SNORKELING: Ko Racha Yai is a particularly good place if you are interested in diving or snorkeling. The island is surrounded by coral reefs, which can be reached directly from the shore. A boat-ride away is Ko Racha Yai’s uninhabited little brother, Ko Racha Noi, where divers have good chances of seeing manta rays.
ROMANTIC COUPLES: Nice hotels, white beach and turquoise waters – Ko Racha Yai is a good alternative for the Maledives as a honeymoon island.
FAMILIES: Ko Racha Yai makes an easy couple of days’ island adventure from Phuket for families. Here one can enjoy a real small island atmosphere as part of a Phuket holiday.
There’s only one word that will do justice for the tiny Koh Racha Yai Island (also known as Ko Raya Yai): Paradise. The sea around the island is so turquoise and the sand so shiny white that you immediately get carried away thinking that you would have landed on some distant Pacific island. Coral reefs are waiting just below the surface.
Situated 20 kilometers from Phuket on the high seas, Racha Yai is a popular day-trip and snorkeling destination from Phuket. But to really enjoy the island you better stay on for a night or two. At mid-day the island’s main beach can get very busy, when the day-trippers arrive, but on afternoons and early mornings Ko Racha Yai is wonderfully peaceful. And you can always escape from the main beach to the islands smaller and less know coves.
Ko Racha Yai is a very small island, and you can easily walk around it in a few hours.
Diving and snorkeling in Ko Racha Yai
The sea around Ko Racha Yai is incredibly clear, but some of the reefs have suffered from masses of tourists and dozens of speedboats coming from Phuket every day.
The island’s own reefs are pretty ok for snorkeling and scuba diving, but you will find much better diving in the neighboring uninhabited island, Ko Racha Noi (also known as Ko Raya Noi) some 10 kilometers away. Ko Raya Noi is one of Thailand’s best places to spot large manta rays.
The most established dive shop in Racha Yai is Raya Divers, which organizes dive trips also to Ko Racha Noi.
Read more about Phuket’s Best Dive Sites.
Ko Racha Yai’s Best Hotels
Ko Racha has three nice hotels and a few less expensive inns.
The most luxurious hotel on the island is the strikingly modern The Racha. Unfortunately, the beautiful white beach in front of the hotel is a favorite of day-trippers from Phuket, so don’t expect untouched feeling.
A good alternative is Rayaburi Resort Racha Island, which sits on a much quieter beach. Rayaburi is of good three to fours star quality, but just do not expect very smooth service. You’re on a small island anyway!
Ban Raya Resort is a comfortable mid-priced inn on a hill, a short walk from the island’s beaches. Ban Raya’s swimming pool has great views of Ko Phi Phi Island far away on the horizon. The resort is the home of Raya Diver’s dive shop.
How to Get to Ko Racha Yai
Ko Racha Yai is a 45-minute speedboat ride away from Phuket’s Chalong Pier. Boat tickets can be arranged through any travel agent in Phuket.