We haven’t gotten our open water PADI certificates to scuba dive, so we do the next best thing: snorkel. We’ve gone on several snorkeling adventures within the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea, but our most recent one has turned out to be our favorite to date. In fact, while we were searching for the best Koh Lanta snorkeling spots during our last trip down south, we stumbled across the little island of Koh Rok just off Thailand’s southwestern coastline and ended up checking it out. It couldn’t have been prettier!
We’ve gone snorkeling on three other occasions in the Andaman Sea but none of them had the wow factor as did our latest trip to Koh Rok.
Koh Rok is actually two tiny sister islands called Koh Rok Nai (inner island) and Koh Rok Nok (outer island) directly south of Koh Lanta. Since it’s not a place that’s easily accessible on your own, we went with a tour company called Opal Speed Boat. The entire trip was six or seven hours long, of which three hours were dedicated entirely to snorkeling across three different dive sites. The rest of the time we spent blissfully cruising around the open water with the wind in our hair and exploring one of the most picturesque beaches we’ve been to in Thailand.
Gorgeous Fish and Coral
Check out these sea creatures! After picking the last tour guest, we cruised for another 45 minutes before stopping at our first snorkeling spot off Koh Rok. We hopped off the back of the speedboat with our underwater camera gear and immediately began pointing out several varieties of fish, coral, and other creatures to each other in the clear, warm water. Our expectations were a little low because during our last trip snorkeling in the Andaman Sea we saw little more than rocks and sea urchins in semi-cloudy waters, but snorkeling off of Koh Rok turned out to be amazing!
We saw parrot fish, anemone fish, groupers, and angel fish (several kinds of each). We even spotted a huge Moray Eel! We were able to figure out which species we saw with the help of a handy laminated cheat sheet our tour guide whipped out for us.
At our second dive site, we saw clown fish. Hey Nemo! These were our favorite fish to photograph because they let us get really close for pictures (less than a foot away)! Instead of fleeing when we approached, they would nestle in the nearby anemones knowing we wouldn’t get too close because they can sting if you touch them.
We saw many other fish but some were just too fast to get a clear picture of. We also saw sea urchins, sea slugs, Christmas tree worms, and brain coral. They stood out brightly against the deeper browns and blues of the sea floor.
|TIP: The snorkeling sites are only two to three meters deep. If you are comfortable diving down, the coral and fish look really amazing up close.|
Beaches, Lizards, and Hermit Crabs
After two rounds of snorkeling, we took a break for a buffet lunch on Koh Rok Nai near the island’s ranger station. We were given about an hour to eat and lounge on the beach. While we ate at the picnic area, there were several huge Monitor Lizards moseying about. It wasn’t hard to see why: they were after the food scraps from the tour groups’ buffet lunch! Although they got pretty close to us, they were definitely more interested in the chicken bones left behind than the tourists themselves.
After a quick lunch we had the option to either walk up to a viewpoint on the tiny island or wander down the beach. As it turned out, Koh Rok Nai is one of those picture-perfect beaches you see on postcards. Its sand is nearly white and its water is a gorgeous aquamarine. The sand is also ultra fine and we distinctly remember how soft it felt under our toes.
If we go on this snorkeling trip again in the future, we might just opt out of the last snorkel spot and relax on Koh Rok Nai. The beach was so pretty and when we walked a minute or two away from the picnic area we had the beach all to ourselves. In fact, some of the families with younger children on our tour stayed here while the rest of us went to the third reef. Afterwards the boat came back and picked everyone up before heading back to Koh Lanta.
A photo posted by Chris and Angela Scott (@tielandtothailand) on
While we walked along the shore we kept seeing little rocks move. On closer inspection we found several dozen hermit crabs skittering around in the sand.
Koh Lanta Snorkeling with Opal Speed Boat
Snorkeling is just one of many things to do on Koh Lanta and there are several tour companies providing this service. Opal Speed Boat was recommended to us and we had a great time during our snorkeling trip with them.
Phone: (089) 875-4938, (089) 469-9262, (075) 684 438
Months of Operation: November 1st to April 30th
We were picked up in a super sized speedboat that met us at the beach nearest to our resort on the northern tip of Koh Lanta. The boat made several stops along the west coast of the island, picking up other guests as we made our way southbound along the island.
Our boat was full but not overbooked (we went during high season) but it was spotless and there was enough room on the padded benches to be comfortable. The equipment and life vests were clean and the guides were friendly and professional. Heck, we even sat down with one guide and he showed us exactly where the snorkeling spots were on a map.
The pace was perfect. We visited each dive site for about 50 minutes and didn’t feel rushed when it was time to get back in the boat. The guides also did a good job of looking out for members of our group who strayed outside the boat’s safety zone. You have to be careful of other speedboats driving by in the area.
Snorkeling Packing List
- Sun block
- Underwater camera with wrist strap or flotation device / waterproof case for phone
- Towel or wrap
- Beach cover-up or extra shirt
|TIP: Wear a shirt in the water while you snorkel. Otherwise you risk getting sunburned across your entire back. Ladies should also be wary of burning their bums and upper legs!|
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DISCLOSURE: We were grateful guests of this day tour but our opinions of Opal Speed Boat are our own.