Koh Adang, Koh Lipe’s Quiet Neighbour
The grass is always greener on the other side unless you’re on Koh Adang. This is about as green as it gets.
Lying back on the sand I gaze out across the clear waters of the Andaman Sea, with Koh Lipe just a two kilometers away. The pine forest creaks in the cool ocean breeze, the waves gently crash on the shore. It’s amazing that we have this island to ourselves.
Welcome to Koh Adang. This is Koh Lipe of 10 years ago. It is an unspoiled, undeveloped slice of paradise in the Andaman Sea. It is a place where even on a busy day you’ll share a massive 1.3km stretch of white sand with no more than 10 people.
Most people travel from Koh Lipe to Koh Adang as a day trip. If you want to stay overnight, which you should, then you should know that Koh Adang Resort is the only true resort on the island.
So why have we come to Koh Adang, and what is there to do?
Where is Koh Adang?
Koh Adang is situated in the Andaman Sea off the west coast of Thailand. It is just across the water from Koh Lipe, close enough that the adventurous traveler can actually paddle across in a kayak.
Most tourists heading to Satun Province opt for Koh Lipe, a small island that gets busier and busier each year. Koh Adang, however, remains the untapped huge island next door which no one seems to know much about.
Here I’m going to show you why you need to hop on a boat and visit Koh Adang now.
Things to do on Koh Adang
When you arrive on the shore at Koh Adang you will immediately notice the difference between this and other islands. Koh Adang is unspoiled nature at its best. The tall pine forests, the empty beaches, no roads, and no hotels.
Explore the Southern Beach
The beach at the southern end of Koh Adang, by the National Park HQ, is a huge 1.3km in length. The white sand is backed by a pine forest. Behind that, you have the jungle, and beyond that is the mountains. It is one of my favorite beaches in Thailand right along with Ta Pao Beach on Koh Kood.
The west end of the beach has the entrance to the hidden jungle trail for the Pirate’s Waterfall. The east end of the beach has a rocky shoreline which makes for a fantastic sunrise viewing point.
Snorkel Koh Adang’s Coral Reefs
The snorkeling along the coast of Koh Adang amazing. Swim just 20 meters off the shore and you’ll be floating right over the top of a coral reef filled with tropical fish. Expect to see clown fish darting in and out of anemones, puffer fish, groupers and barracuda just to name a few.
Hire your snorkel from the ranger station for just 50 THB (USD 1.50) per day per person. The gear isn’t the highest quality but it gets the job done.
Pirate Waterfall (Koh Adang Waterfall)
This 3km jungle hike to Pirate Waterfall is pretty intense. It was similar to my jungle trekking experience at Kratengjeng waterfall in Sangkhlaburi, Thailand.
To start the waterfall hike, go to the far west of the main beach and follow the black water pipes. Eventually, the pipes veer off into the jungle where you’ll come across a small “Waterfall This Way” sign nailed to some driftwood. It points straight into the jungle.
From here, the hike to the Pirate Waterfall is thick jungle overgrowth, steep slippery inclines and mosquito infestations. After roughly 45 minutes you’ll find a small but refreshing cool stream running through the jungle.
You can hike to Pirate Waterfall in flip-flops, however, I suggest you wear decent shoes. Bring plenty of water as there is none available away from the ranger station (park HQ).
Hike Koh Adang Viewpoint (Chao Dao)
The Koh Adang Viewpoint is a steep climb to a lookout behind the campground. The hike has three viewpoints; the first is worth skipping, the second is nice, but the third lookout point is the main attraction. Lookout three provides an epic view of Koh Lipe across the water.
The Koh Adang Viewpoint trail takes about 45 minutes each way. Allow a 30min break at the top. The hike is steep and slippery on the rocky trail so it is best to wear some sturdy shoes. I’ll bet you that flip-flops will break pretty quick.
The viewpoint would be awesome for sunrise and sunset, but I’d suggest that you take a headtorch. I started the hike at 10.30am because around midday the ocean appears the clearest.
The start of the Koh Adang Viewpoint hike is located just behind the restaurant. There is a signpost which points off into the jungle over a rocky entrance.
Explore the Remote West Coast Beaches
There are plenty of beaches around Koh Adang, most of which are totally deserted. The only way to explore these beaches is to charter a longtail boat for the day from Koh Lipe.
Up the west coast of the island, there are a couple of empty sandy beaches. There is an amazing coral reef about 200 meters out from the sand which a strong swimmer can easily reach. If you’re not so confident swimming then ask the driver to take you out to the reef.
Further up Koh Adang’s west coast, there is a freshwater lagoon. This is where the fresh water comes out from the jungle and pours into the ocean. The water is shallow enough that you can walk around to watch the birdlife in here.
I haven’t been around the north and east of the island yet. I’ve been told that the water gets considerably rougher out there and that the drivers are likely to charge quite a bit more.
Expect to pay around 1,200 THB (USD 40) for a full day with a driver exploring the south and west coast. Split it with a few people on the island and the trip is far more economical than an island hopping day tour booked on Koh Lipe.
Watch Amazing Sunrises & Sunsets
Koh Adang has one of the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets I have ever seen from an island. The main beach must have been made for sunsets as the viewing angle is perfect.
Head down to the main Koh Adang beach for a late afternoon swim and watch the ocean reflect the vibrant colors of the sunset. If you need any convincing, just take a look at this photo, I was here over an hour just awestruck.
Admire the Phosphorescent Algae
Ever seen the Life of Pai where the ocean glows at night? That’s not just in movies but also on Koh Adang.
Head down to the beach at night after 9pm or so. Try to find a location as far away from the campground lights as possible. Watch the ocean light up as the waves crash on the shore.
If you’re brave you can swim amongst the phosphorescent algae and watch it light up around you. However, be careful as the current can get strong, and at night no one will see or hear you if you get dragged out to sea.
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Koh Adang Accommodation
Koh Adang accommodation is limited, that’s one of the main reasons it remains so authentic. If you are looking to stay for a few nights try the following accommodation on Koh Adang, based on your expected comfort levels.
Camping on Koh Adang
You can camp on Koh Adang for 340 THB (USD 11) per tent per night. This fee includes full equipment rental including a tent and sleeping mat.
The area available for pitching your tent is huge. Choose to stay right next to the beach or set up a little further back in the pine forest. Both locations are amazing.
Of course, camping is the most rustic accommodation on Koh Adang, however, I highly recommend the experience. Camping on a tropical island is a unique and memorable experience.
Koh Adang Bungalows (Tarutao National Park)
The Tarutao Marine National Park has 16 basic bungalows on Koh Adang for 600 THB (USD 20) per night. These bungalows have a rock hard bed, cold shower, and ceiling fan. There is no air conditioner or refrigerator and only a limited supply of electricity from 6pm to 6am daily.
Booking these Koh Adang bungalows can be a real challenge. You need to make bookings via the national parks outdated website. The best option is to call the Tarutao Marine National Park service center on +6674783485 with a Thai speaker. From here the staff will provide a booking slip which you will have 24hrs to pay over the counter at a local bank.
The bungalows are a really basic, yet economical Koh Adang accommodation option. I quite enjoyed staying here for three nights over the Christmas break while Koh Lipe was really busy.
Tip: Bungalows 1 to 6 have the best ocean views with Kog Lipe visible across the water.
Koh Adang Resort
The Koh Adang Resort is the only true resort on the island. It is located by itself on another beach 1.4km to the west of the National Park HQ. The Koh Adang Resort has beachfront bungalows with all the typical comforts like air conditioning, restaurant, and a pool.
Beachfront resorts on Koh Lipe typically cost USD 100 and up per night. However, prices on Koh Adang can be a fraction of the cost at around USD 50 per night if booked early. Bookings can be made the easy way here on Agoda.
Facilities on Koh Adang
The national park provides basic facilities on Koh Adang including public toilets and a restaurant.
The restaurant is open daily from 7am to 2.30pm and again from 5.30pm to 9pm. Typical Thai meals such as fried rice, Tom Yum soup, and Pad Thai are well priced at around 80 to 200 THB (less than USD 10) per dish.
Surprisingly for a Thai National Park, you can buy very cold beer at the restaurant at 60 THB (USD 2) per can. There’s no need to carry around your own drinks and ice.
Electricity is only available on Koh Adang from 6pm to 6am. During the day there is minimal electricity available for the restaurant so that you can still buy some cold drinks. If you need to keep anything refrigerated during the day, ask the national park kitchen and they might store it for you.
There are no ATMs on Koh Adang. Bring cash with you, I’d suggest 1000 THB (USD 30) per person to be on the safe side.
How to get to Koh Adang
Getting from Koh Lipe to Koh Adang is simple. Take a long tail boat from either:
- Pattaya beach for 200 THB (USD 8) per person, one way
- Sunrise or Sunset beach for 100 THB (USD 3) per person, one way
- Charter a boat for 1,200 THB (USD 40) for the full day
The boat from Koh Lipe to Koh Adang only takes about 15 minutes. You can make it across as an easy half day or full day trip.
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