Many of the best snorkelling beaches in Krabi are located on Phi Phi Islands and Koh Lanta Yai but there are wonderful snorkelling places like picturesque bays and islands elsewhere as well. Situated on the western coast of southern Thailand, Krabi is famous for its signature limestone cliffs and thick mangrove forests. Apart from snorkelling and scuba diving, the province is also great for rock climbing, kayaking, speed boat rides, and more. But for now, let’s take a look at the best snorkelling spots in Krabi, including beaches, bays, and islands.
Best Places in Krabi for Snorkelling: Islands
One of the best ways to experience snorkelling in Krabi is to go on a sailing tour to some of its islands that are particularly known for their rich marine life and snorkelling sites. You can visit several different islands that are close together on one such tour. Did you know that ‘koh’ means island in Thai? Islands and bays are the main snorkelling spots in Krabi, and there are boat tours from most major beaches.
1. Hong Lagoon at Hong Island
Hong Island comprises four different islands with beautiful beaches and a lagoon. You can visit all four on a tour, and enjoy snorkelling at the various beaches. The sandy shores and shallow waters make it easy to glimpse the colourful corals. Access to the Hong Lagoon depends on the tide. You may be able to enter on a boat if it’s high tide. Else, a kayak would be your best bet.
2. Ko Daeng Island
During low tide, the coral reef of Koh Daeng can be glimpsed just beneath the water. Since there is no beach, the only way to enjoy the island’s wonders is on a snorkelling excursion. The name translates to ‘Red Island’ due to the red limestone that makes up the island. The water is so clear that you can see the fishes and corals even without getting in.
3. Paradise Island
Paradise Island or Lao Lahding lives up to its name with its turquoise water and striking mountains. The circular snorkelling spot is marked by stunning corals and fishes. Once you’re done snorkelling, you can have a picnic lunch on the beach. Once, bird’s nests were actively collected and sold at the island’s cove but now the sellers have disappeared. Paradise Island can be found to the north of Hong Island.
4. Koh Rok Islands
Enter Mu Koh Lanta Marine National Park and you will encounter the naturally blessed Koh Rok Islands. The twin islands of Koh Rok Nai and Koh Rok Nok are separated by a channel of corals, no less. The shallow reefs are ideal for snorkelling trips, and you are likely to share the water with turtles. On land, there are chances of spotting monitor lizards, and Koh Lanta on the horizon. The islands are also great for watching sunsets and camping.
5. Koh Haa Islands
Enjoy a unique snorkelling experience in and around the five islands that constitute Koh Haa. Between them, the islands nurture colourful and untouched coral reefs with dramatic cliffs in the backdrop. The only way to explore these protected islands is by diving and snorkelling around the 12 dive sites teeming with tropical creatures and corals. For beginners, the shallow lagoon full of puffer fish offers an ideal spot to practice.
6. Pak Bia Island
Pak Bia is an island behind Koh Hong, close to Ao Nang beach. With its picturesque, circular cove, and beautiful aquamarine waters, it is an ideal site for snorkelling. Sheltered beneath sheer limestone cliffs, Pak Bia Island is home to numerous tropical fishes. Crowds are sparse during high tide, letting you have the place all to yourself. So you see why it’s among the best snorkelling places in Krabi?
7. Koh Talabeng
Koh Talabeng is better known as Skull Island due to its rocky cliffs and caverns that look like a skull from the outside! The eerie structures wrap the island in an aura of mystery. While kayaking, swimming, or snorkelling, you can enjoy wonderful views of the lofty cliffs, the ocean, and the monkeys perched on the ledges. The island’s main cavern is worth a thorough exploration and if you dare, you could scale the rock tower.
8. Koh Gai
Close to Ao Nang Beach, Koh Gai or Chicken Island hosts a long, sheltered beach that is perfect for swimming and snorkelling. The island is called so because of an outcrop that looks like a chicken! The water is shallow and clear, and when you’re hungry, there are beach vendors selling delicious snacks like corn cobs. Koh Gai is definitely among the best snorkelling places in Krabi.
From Koh Gai, you can easily make trips to Koh Poda, Koh Mor, and Koh Tup. When the tide is low, you can make it to the more touristy Koh Poda on foot. Enjoy snorkelling amongst the fishes of various colours, shapes, and sizes. For explorers who enjoy the offbeat, these islands are certainly the best snorkelling places in Krabi.
10. Koh Pu & Koh Jum
Koh Pu is the north of the island and Koh Jum makes up the south, but they are essentially the same! Not too many tourists visit these islands and you can have a wonderful time walking through the fishing villages full of forests and mangroves. It’s hard not to be influenced by the cheerful nature of the people here. You can go paddling or snorkelling at Golden Pearl Beach, which is also great for sunbathing.
11. Koh Nok
Koh Nok is a small, secret getaway that is ideal for paddling and snorkelling. As you stroll along the beach, you’ll see handmade wind chimes tinkling in the balmy Krabi air. There’s also a great lookout point on this relatively untouched island. For those who want romance and privacy, Koh Nok is probably the best snorkelling spot in Krabi.
12. Koh Ngai
Seen from above, the densely forested Koh Ngai looks like a ginormous manta ray! The tiny island is bordered by powdery white sand beaches on all sides. It is a fantastic getaway for couples and honeymooners. Designed for exploring on foot, Koh Ngai also has some nice restaurants, hotels, and snorkelling sites.
13. Bamboo Island
Bamboo Island is visually striking, with its white sand beaches and tear drop shape. Located on the Phi Phi Islands, Koh Pai, as it is also known, is part of a national park. Hence, there is a fee to enter the island. But it is worth it to snorkel through the endless coral reefs and roam among the bamboo groves. You could even camp overnight with your better half!
14. Mosquito Island
Mosquito Island or Koh Yung is also a part of the Phi Phi Islands and sits at the north of Koh Phi Phi Don. The island looks like a curved nail when seen aerially, and is totally uninhabited. Soft corals lie on the ocean bed, making the shallow water here a treasure trove of snorkelling wonders. Look out for black tip reef sharks. But beware, at sundown, mosquitos swarm upon the island, making a meal out of anyone they can find!
There are many other smaller islands near the ones mentioned above that are also great for snorkelling. Notable ones include Koh Si, Koh Yawasam, and more. These islands have shallow waters for beginners, and exciting caves and marine life in the deeper water further away. Koh Si and Koh Yawasam are known for their population of red saddleback anemones.
Make sure you book a good tour that covers worthy snorkelling spots with inclusions like meals and snorkelling equipment. If not, you’ll have to take your own food, water, and gear.
Best Snorkelling Beaches & Bays in Krabi
Krabi is home to gorgeous sheltered bays and secluded beaches that you may have all to yourself if you’re lucky. The only company you’ll have are from the parrotfish, clownfish, butterfly fish, and clams that live beneath the ocean it! Incidentally, ‘ao’ is the word for ‘bay’ in Thai, while there are numerous words for ‘beach’, which stands to reason! Do note that most beaches are not meant for snorkelling; but they are good starting points for snorkelling tours of surrounding islands and bays.
1. Ao Nang
Ao Nang is a one stop destination for all kinds of activities in Krabi. The popular and attractive beach is in the town of the same name. Though the beach itself is not a snorkelling spot, you can sail off to many nearby sites for diving and snorkelling. Very close to the beach is the famous Python Rock and many kinds of creatures live in the surrounding water, including clown fish, eels, sunfish, and anemones.
2. Railay Beach
The gorgeous Railay Beach is located in the town of the same name, and is fast gaining a reputation for being one of the best beaches in Thailand. The beach itself is not designed for snorkelling but it is the starting point for tours of the nearby islands including Chicken Islands, Koh Tup, Koh Mawk, and Koh Poda. The waters surrounding these islands are perfect for snorkelling. Make sure you carry your snorkelling gear on these tours.
3. Lohsmaha Bay & Ao Lo Sama
Lohsama Bay on the Phi Phi Islands is a great snorkelling site due to its wealth of coral formations and vibrant fishes. It is right next to Maya Bay, and also renowned for night diving. You can also head to nearby Hin Klang to snorkel among the open-sea waves. Lo Sama is another bay that is blessed with colourful coral gardens and a variety of reef fishes and even leopard sharks.
4. Ao Maya
Ao Maya or Maya Bay needs no introduction, thanks to its feature in the Leonardo Di Caprio starrer The Beach. To get there, you can hop on a boat from Koh Phi Phi Don. Tours may also include snorkelling stops at Monkey Beach and Bamboo Island. The north of Ao Maya is particularly picturesque, with towering cliffs facing the ocean. Due to heavy tourism, the coral reefs of Maya Bay are slightly damaged but they are home to clown fish, anemones, major fish, giant clams, parrotfish, and butterfly fish. Before planning a trip, make sure you check that the bay is open for tourists.
5. Monkey Beach & Monkey Bay
Located on opposite sides of Koh Phi Phi Don, Monkey Beach and Monkey Bay are both fantastic snorkelling spots. Monkey Beach is to be found on Tonsai Bay, and gets its name from the many monkeys that live on the surrounding cliffs and forests. The water at the beach is shallow, making it ideal for snorkelling. You will encounter many colourful corals and sea creatures. Monkey Bay is located at the mouth of Loh Dalum, and a gorgeous coral reef makes the water a great snorkelling spot. Be cautious of the crab-eating macaques that inhabit both the bay and the beach.
6. Pai Plong Beach
A flight of steps over the mountain at the southern end of Ao Nang Beach take you to the beautiful Pai Plong Beach. It is one of the best kept secrets of Krabi and a wonderful spot for snorkelling. Once you’ve made it through the Monkey Trail, as the pathway is called, you can go swimming or snorkelling with cuttlefish among other fishes. The beach is close to Railay and Ton Sai and also ideal for kayaking, which lets you take in the scenery of the cliffs and greenery.
Krabi’s stunning corals and incredibly clear waters make it the perfect destination for plunging into the water and spending time with the creatures of the sea. Just make sure you pack your wetsuit so you can make the most of your Krabi snorkelling experience. Some knowledge of swimming will help you navigate the water though it’s not a pre-requisite for snorkelling. From reef fishes to other tropical marine life, you will have some vibrant company on your snorkelling trips!