Koh Lipe Guide: Beaches, Resorts, and Reefs
This Koh Lipe guide will give you a detailed description of the three major beaches, the top resorts, and some of my favorite things to do around the 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. It is protected by marine conservation laws, meaning it has some incredible coral reefs to explore!
On arrival, the view out to the island is beautiful. A pristine white beach is lined by coconut palms, small bungalows, and those wooden longtail boats which are so iconic of Thailand. Koh Lipe really is one of the most stunning Thai 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!
Beaches on Koh Lipe
There are three main beaches on Koh Lipe; Sunset Beach, Sunrise Beach, and Pattaya beach. I’ll give plenty of details on each of these in this Koh Lipe guide.
There are also a few other small beaches around the island which many visitors don’t know about like; Pitiusas Beach, and Koh Lipe’s Secret Beach on the western end of the island, and Bulow Beach on the north coast.
The island is small enough that you can walk to any beach in under an hour. If you don’t like walking, then just hop on a tuk-tuk for 100 THB.
As the name suggests, this is the place to catch the sunrise on Koh Lipe. Sunrise Beach faces east toward the Thai mainland, but you won’t be able to see that far even on a clear day.
In the early morning and late afternoon, the beach is lined with wooden longtail boats. The locals use these for fishing trips and scuba diving trips around the Koh Tarutao Marine National Park. During the day the beach is mostly free of these longtail boats.
One of our favorite things on Sunrise Beach is to chill out at Salisa Resort around lunch. This small beachfront bar puts out some great deep house tunes, tasty cocktails, and really cold beer. It is a great place to spend a lazy day by the beach.
This is the ultimate spot on Koh Lipe to watch the sunset. In my opinion, Sunset Beach has the most beautiful view of Koh Lipe. Even if you don’t stay here, you should definitely visit. There are far fewer boats around and a much nicer coral reef to snorkel along with lots of tropical fish and even turtles!
Sunset Beach is much less developed than Sunrise Beach and Pattaya Beach. There are only a few small bungalow style resorts along the beach. My favorite bungalow here is the Bayview Sunset Resort. The bungalows have an amazing view looking out over the Andaman Sea.
Sunset Beach is the cheapest location to cross the water to the neighboring 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. How wrong I was.
Pattaya Beach on Koh Lipe is actually much nicer than the version near Bangkok. The beach has the main arrival point on the island, so there are a few speedboats departing in the morning and arriving in the afternoon, otherwise, it is fairly relaxed.
Pattaya Beach has a mix of basic bungalows and upscale resorts. You will also find a few seafood restaurants along the beach nearby the Walking Street entrance. One of my favorite places to visit along Pattaya Beach is the Reggae Bar located further east of the Walking Street entrance. It is the most chilled out late afternoon spot on the island.
Smaller Beaches on Koh Lipe
There are another few small beaches along the north coast and far west coast of Koh Lipe.
On the north coast, you will find a small stretch of sand called Bulow Beach. From Bulow Beach, you can walk around the headland and over the rocks. Continue beyond Mountain Resort for a few hundred meters and you will reach this secret beach in the photo below.
This secret beach has an incredible view over the water looking towards Koh Adang. As the tide goes out, the beach triples in size, yet there is no one else around.
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!
Bars on Koh Lipe
I mentioned that this island is not a party destination. However, the ultimate Koh Lipe guide has to give you a few options for nightlife! You won’t find raging parties here, but you will find some nice chilled out bars around the island. These are my favorite:
- Reggae Bar – a small beachfront hippie shack located right on the sand on Pattaya Beach. There are cheap cold beers and the occasional smoke.
- Maya Bar – one of the most lively nightlife spots on Koh Lipe. The bar is intricately designed with bamboo and thatch roof to look like a big bungalow. There are late night EDM tunes and awesome cocktails.
- Happy Vibe Bar – a great spot to get lunch and a cold beer or a cocktail during the day. Happy Vibe Bar is located on the beach as part of the Salisa Resort complex. You’ll love the deep house tunes played over sunset.
Know another great bar? Let me know and I will check it out then add it to this Koh Lipe guide!
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 from Bangkok
We traveled directly to Koh Lipe from Bangkok. The simplest way is to book a direct ticket 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.
Flights from Bangkok to Koh Lipe depart from Don Muaeng airport at about 6am. It’s an early wake up call.
You can also organize the trip from Bangkok to Koh Lipe solo, however, you won’t save much. Make sure that you don’t book a late flight which could result in you missing the connecting speedboat 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.
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