Guide to Koh Lipe Island
Koh Lipe is a small island located in the Andaman Sea, in the far south of Thailand. It is one of the 51 islands in the archipelago which makes up the Tarutao Marine National Park. That means it is protected by conservation laws from overdevelopment and overfishing.
This island has been at the top of my to-do list for about three years already. Now, finally, after a 1.5hr flight, 2hr bus, and 2hr speedboat ride, we have arrived!
As the boat pulls up to Koh Lipe’s offshore jetty, we look down into the crystal clear water. There are all sorts of colorful fish swimming about the soft coral. They are unphased by the speedboat pulling in overhead.
The view out to the island is beautiful. A pristine white beach is lined by coconut palms, small bungalows, and those iconic wooden longtail boats. We’ve only been here a few minutes, but Koh Lipe is already one of my favorite islands along with Koh Kood.
On arrival, we check into the island and pay the National Park fee. Don’t try to skip this fee, as the funds are used towards the conservation efforts which keep this region so beautiful.
We are then greeted by the staff from our guesthouse with a complimentary motorbike pick up service. A huge shout out to the Noi Guesthouse for making our arrival on Koh Lipe incredibly easy!
For the next three days, we are going to explore all the beaches on the island.
Beaches on Koh Lipe
We spend the first day exploring Koh Lipe by foot. The island is small enough that you can walk just about anywhere in under an hour. There are really three main beaches on Koh Lipe, and a couple of other smaller stretches of sand worth visiting.
As the name suggests, this is the place to catch the sunrise on Koh Lipe. Sunrise Beach faces east back towards the Thai mainland. The beach is lined with wooden longtail boats which locals take out on the ocean to go fishing, run day trips, or scuba diving trips around the other small islands in the region.
One of our favorite things to do at Sunrise Beach is to kick back at the bar at Salisa Resort around lunch. This small beachfront bar puts out some great deep house tunes, tasty cocktails, and really cold beer. A great place to spend a lazy day.
Again, as the name suggests this is the place to watch the sunset on Koh Lipe. In my opinion, Sunset Beach has the most beautiful view of Koh Lipe. The beach is much less developed. There are only a few small resorts along the beach and just a handful of wooden longtail boats parked here. This is also the cheapest spot to cross the water to Koh Adang.
I was seriously confused when I read about Pattaya Beach on Koh Lipe. it made me think about that dirty, grungy, sex-tourist beach near Bangkok. However, Pattaya Beach on Koh Lipe is nothing like this. This beach has the main jetty, so is the first place you will arrive in Koh Lipe from the mainland.
Other Beaches on Koh Lipe
There are another few small beaches along the north coast of Koh Lipe. The only name I can determine is Bulow Beach, however, this stops short of where you want to get to. From Bulow Beach, you will have to walk around the headland and over the rocks. Continue beyond Mountain Resort for a few hundred meters.
You will eventually come across this small 20-meter long beach, with an incredible view looking out over the water to Koh Adang. As the tide goes out, the beach triples in size, yet there is no one else around. This is the best beach on Koh Lipe, but I can’t name it for you!
Koh Lipe Snorkeling Trip
So I mentioned there are actually 51 islands in the archipelago which make up the Tarutao Marine National Park! That means you really have to get out and explore a few others in the area. The best way to do this is with a snorkeling day trip, starting at 500 THB per person.
Snorkeling trips start between 8am and 9am, depending on which tour you book a with. Typically, you will visit two of three snorkeling spots at a seemingly random spot in the ocean. They know what they’re doing because there are some really incredible snorkeling spots out here.
Note: if you are not a good swimmer, they will give you a life jacket so you can float easily.
The next stop is Koh Yang, which is located about 30 minutes from Koh Lipe. The coral here is quite shallow, only 3m to 4m under water. The bay is quite well protected, so this is the perfect spot if you are not a strong swimmer. I highly recommend snorkeling here for a while.
The third and final stop on the snorkeling day trip is Koh Hin-ngam. Unlike the beaches on Koh Lipe, this beach on Koh Hin Ngam is covered in black stones.
The story suggests that if you take the stones from the island you will be cursed by the islands guardian spirit. However, if you can build a tower of 12 stones or higher, then your wish will come true. This island seems to be a huge hit with the Thai tourists, probably because of the good luck story. Although I don’t believe in it, I still wouldn’t go stealing the stones.
These snorkeling trips from Koh Lipe generally fit 6 to 8 people per wooden longtail boat and include a basic lunch like a fried rice or pad krapow. Unfortunately, the lunch comes packed in styrofoam containers, and too many people leave these discarded on the nice beaches.
Please take your rubbish with you!
Koh Adang (the real Castaway Island)
Koh Adang is that huge island right across the water from Koh Lipe. What may seem like a difficult to explore, uninhabited island, is actually the castaway paradise you’ve been looking for. And… it is easy to reach!
There are two main options to get from Koh Lipe to Koh Adang; kayak, or longtail boat.
We tried kayaking across until we got halfway and realized how big the waves were in the middle. Though it looks close by, kayaking will take you at least half an hour if you are fit, and much longer if you are not.
The longtail boat to Koh Adang is definitely the quicker and easier way. Head down to Sunrise Beach, look for a local with a boat and tell him you want to go to Koh Adang. The standard price is 500 THB one way. The boat driver won’t wait for you there, so be sure to get his phone number or agree a time to be picked up.
The beaches on Koh Adang are much less developed than on Koh Lipe. Instead of well-kept resorts, you will find fallen trees, overgrown forest coming right up to the beach.
There is actually plenty to do on Koh Adang. Try hiking up the lookout for an amazing view over the Andaman Sea, or crawl your way through the jungle to hidden waterfalls. The snorkeling is fantastic, the beaches are pristine, and the small kitchen by the National Park makes some great meals for a fraction of the price on Koh Lipe.
Be sure to read my full guide to Koh Adang, which also includes information on how you can camp here, right on the beach!
How to get to Koh Lipe
We traveled to Koh Lipe directly from Bangkok. The simplest way of getting from Bangkok to Koh Lipe is to book a ticket directly to the island with Air Asia. The fare includes the flight from Bangkok to Satun, the minivan from Satun to Pak Bara Pier, and the speedboat from Pak Bara Pier to Pattaya Beach.
You can still organize this solo, however, you won’t save much, and could quite easily miss connecting services.
If you are coming from elsewhere in the south of Thailand, then you just have to get to Pak Bara Pier early in the morning. All the speedboats depart the pier for Koh Lipe early in the morning. The last boat leaves around 10am. If you miss this, you will have to wait until tomorrow.
What is your favorite Thai island? Drop me a comment down below!