Kilometres of tropical beaches stretch in Koh Samui - some are with sand sea bottom and some with rocky ledges. You can have a beautiful photo session almost at any beach. But the water at the island seashore is not very transparent and there are no coral reefs and thus - no fauna which usually inhabits the coral reefs. Snorkeling lovers go to the north off Koh Samui - to Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan.
70 km away from Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand lie the two islands - Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan which take the first places in the rating of the places with the most beautiful underwater world in Thailand. Beautiful coral reefs and crystal clear water attract snorkeling and diving fans all year round. If you contact any diving center in Koh Samui and see their offers, they all will include a diving tour at Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan.
Koh Tao is an island in the Gulf of Thailand with an area of 21 sq. km. In the Thai language it means “a turtle island”. The weather is good there all year round and the water is transparent (you can see down to 40 m, average visibility is 15 m). The only obstacle for a safe diving can be high waves. The island has a large number of diving schools. This place is good for beginners and advanced divers, free divers also like this spot.
Koh Tao seashore has good conditions for snorkeling. For example, in Mango Bay you can see turtles, hundreds of fish, beautiful seashells and coral reefs in the water. The water current in bays isn’t strong, the water is clean and transparent which creates favourable conditions for snorkeling.
Koh Tao is an inhabited island which has its own infrastructure, but not as developed as in Koh Samui. The prices for meals and accommodation are higher. However, if you stay there for only a couple of days and spend the most time in the sea, you won’t feel a big difference. The sea there is like a shining emerald. Those who want to vary their activities in Koh Tao can go kayaking or climb a viewpoint.
You can get to the island by ferry or with a tour. The tour to Koh Tao is one of the top three popular tours in Koh Samui. Traveling time from Koh Samui to Koh Tao is about 1 hour and 30 minutes by speed boat.
15-minutes’ trip away from Koh Tao there is another paradise nook which is good for snorkeling g - a tiny island of Nang Yuan. When you travel there, your associations will be “a paradise at the end of the world”, “a bounty island”, “turquoise lagoon”. The island is divided into several parts by sand spits. During tides the sand spits disappear under water and the island’s look changes.
Koh Nang Yuan is protected by the government and you have to pay for the entrance - 100 THB per an adult and 50 THB per a child. The Thais care for the island’s nature and try hard to protect it from the human’s influence, that is why there is no auto transport and there are many restrictions. You can not:
- bring anything in plastic bags and plastic wrapping (there is a guard at the pier that checks tourists’ bags, however there is an exception for the hotel’s guests on the island);
- feed fish and collect sea shells and corals;
- go fishing on the island;
- swim with flippers in order not to damage the corals.
There is only one hotel on the island with the same name - the Nang Yuan Island Dive Resort. The hotel meets its guests with the phrase: “Welcome to the Paradise!” Every bungalow has a seaview. In some places where there are no signs of civilization you can sometimes feel as a character of a well-known film “Blue Lagoon”. However, not far from the pier there are all needed facilities - fresh water, a beach with sun chairs and umbrellas, a shower, a restaurant and a bar.
There are no strong currents in the bays which attracts beginning divers. Nang Yuan diving center is also situated here. It should be mentioned that Koh Nang Yuan is the perfect place for snorkeling - you can not find a place like that in all of Thailand. You can see beautiful sea shells and corals of unusual shapes and schools of small and medium-sized colorful fish.
You can get to Koh Nang Yuan from Koh Tao by speed boat which travels there twice a day (in the morning and in the afternoon) and with a sea tour to Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan from Koh Samui or Koh Phangan.