4 Days on Koh Lipe Island
Finally we arrive on Koh Lipe after a 1.5 hour flight, 2 hour bus and a 2 hour speedboat journey from Bangkok. Koh Lipe has been a high priority on my “to visit” list for about three years already and now we have made it.
On arrival to the offshore jetty which serves as the regulated entry point ton Koh Tarutao Marine National Park, we are welcomed with a spectacular view of crystal clear waters through which tropical rainbow fish are visible swimming in their schools undeterred by the boat floating above.
Pristine white beaches lined by a forest of palm trees and sprawling jungle plants. Koh Lipe has already gone down as one of the most beautiful islands right next to other favorite destination Koh Kood.
Koh Lipe is one of the southernmost islands in Thailand, within sight of Langkawi Malaysia. The island is set in the Andaman sea off south west Thailand, and is protected by the boundaries of Koh Tarutao Marine National Park. Koh Lipe is just one of the 51 islands in this highly biodiverse archipelago.
Making our final stretch of the journey, a wooden long tail boat ferries us across 500 meters of shallow water to the shore at Sunrise Beach. On arrival we are greeted by our guesthouse staff with a complimentary motorbike pick up service. Big shout out to the Noi Guesthouse for making life incredibly easy!
Walking the Beaches of Koh Lipe
Our first day is spent exploring the island by foot, getting lost in the island backroads and winding through untamed jungle. Eventually we exit onto Sunrise Beach, however it is deserted as the monsoon season has only just come to an end. In fact many shops off the main beaches are still quite empty exiting the low season, however the upside is that the more popular beaches are still not too crowded giving the island a much more personal feel.
Departing Sunset Beach, we continue on through mountainous jungle and end up at Pattaya Beach. Pattaya Beach is the most developed and most happening beach on the island where we decide to park ourselves at a beachfront Reggae bar and soak up the sun with a long awaited cold welcome to Koh Lipe beer. As the water recedes into the low afternoon tide, coral and rocks emerge while the suns lays to rest for the day.
The next day we decide to explore Koh Lipe further as we venture back towards our entry point at Sunrise Beach. This stretch of sand is the longest on Koh Lipe and is scattered with beachfront guesthouses ranging from boutique bamboo bungalows like Ten Moons Lipe Resort to higher end resorts such as Mountain Resort below offering spectacular views over the Andaman.
Walking the entire stretch of Sunrise Beach, then some more over a rocky outcrop, we discover the gem of Koh Lipe. Perhaps the most amazing beach in the world with no name to be given. This mere 20 meter stretch of sand bound between coastal boulders offers us a completely private panorama view of the neighboring Koh Adang which towers over the glass like waters separating it and Koh Lipe.
As the water recedes into the low tide the beach gradually grows larger and larger. Eventually we get enough space available to knock up a game of beach ball. Before leaving our hidden beach we also support local efforts and fill up a garbage bag full of tidal trash that unfortunately washes up on the shores of every beach in Asia daily.
Koh Lipe Snorkeling Trip
Off the beaches of Koh Lipe and venturing further into Koh Tarutao National Park is easily achieved by booking one of the many snorkeling day trips for as little as 500 thai baht per person.
Our day journey kicks off at 9am as we head out to our first snorkeling spot at Koh Yang, some 30 minutes from Koh Lipe by wooden longtail boat. Snorkeling by Koh Yang offers quite shallow 6m clear waters, the bottom of which is densely packed with vibrant soft and hard corals. While floating in the ocean here for a good 45 minutes we are able to closely observe the thousands of tropical fish create their own highways and cities under the water.
Snorkeling packages provide as standard 3-4 snorkeling locations at different islands in the national park, a packed lunch, and time for chilling out on the beach at another island. Boats generally have 6-8 people so not too crowded, or you may opt to pay a higher rate for a private boat. A day snorkeling trip around the islands is definitely worthy for all visitors wanting to explore Koh Lipe and beyond, and a must do for any non-divers.
Another activity we attempt is paddling a two person sea kayak to some of the closer islands situated off Koh Lipe. For the well-coordinated pairs, a two person kayak is a fantastic and cheap way to see the area without the distraction of a loud long tail boat motor. Sea kayaking for us however was a different story. After 20 minutes of mid sea paddle collisions and an imminent argument it was time to give up as I took to laying back on the boat and relaxed to being towed around the ocean on return to the shore.
Koh Adang the Castaway Island
With a more adventurous flair on our final day we set off with a mission to explore the neighboring Koh Adang without the aid of a pre-organized tour. Down at the jetty on Sunrise Beach we meet a local fisherman called Captain. Captain was probably half drunk on cheap whiskey due to the local festival taking place, but still willing to ferry us across to the island privately and pick us up on call for only 500 thai baht.
The beaches on Koh Adang are much more untamed than Koh Lipe, with fallen trees, overgrown forest and families of small hermit crabs taking the place of the nicely groomed and somewhat empty resort beach fronts. If looking for an isolated tropical island vibe, then Koh Adang truly feels like a Tom Hanks Castaway setting.
The island has plenty to offer including trekking up mountain lookouts and through jungle to waterfalls where freshwater rivers meet the sea. There are freshwater lagoons separated by no more than a sand bar to the ocean, great underwater coral gardens and plenty of pristine forested beaches to be explored. Koh Adang also offers beachfront camping available through the national park at just 500 thai baht per night including tent hire, a true escape from civilization.
Read More: Koh Adang Camping Tips
On our late afternoon return from Koh Adang we stop by our favorite bar and chill out sport on Koh Lipe, Salisa Resort. This venue hosts a double story bamboo bar, offering unobstructed views over Sunrise Beach. Despite the name it is still a great place to lay back and enjoy the sunset with good food, cold drinks and some deep house tunes to set a mellowed vibe.
Koh Lipe is a small but welcoming island yet to be exploited by mass tourism and hopefully remains that way for a long time to come. It is undoubtedly a more expensive destination than much of Thailand, and takes considerably longer to reach.
However this has been successful in keeping away hordes of partying tourists travelling on the cheap. Koh Lipe has definitely been one of the most amazing places in asia visited so far, and hopefully continues to improve further in the future with the ocean clean-up efforts going on.
What is your favorite Thai island? Drop me a comment down below!
Which island next? Discover plenty more destinations in my Thailand Travel Guide.