Off the west coast of Thailand islands of soft white sand and swaying palm trees dot the crystal clear waters of the Andaman Sea. A jewel among them is the untouched beauty of Koh Rok Island. Officially designated as a national park, Koh Rok is protected from any form of permanent development including hotels. The best way to visit therefore is to join a daily snorkelling excursion leaving from one of the nearby inhabited islands. A day trip is an ideal way to experience the stunning scenery both above and below the water.
A full day, speedboat excursion will cost about 1000 Baht per person. The package will include pick up from your hotel, three snorkelling stops, all the snorkelling gear, lunch on the beach and unlimited drinking water.
The day will start bright and early when a flatbed trucks collects you from you hotels and drops you at a nearby beach where dozens of speedboats are will be waiting. Insider tip: be sure to verify that you are on the correct boats as several companies running excursions to many islands depart at the same time and place. Once on board, do your best to get a seat at the back of the boat. The water can be very choppy and seats in the front risk seasickness or even injury. Plus at the back of the boar, you’ll be perfectly positioned to be the first one into the water and last one out, giving you the most time snorkelling!
After you’re on the boat, it will likely make another several stops picking up more passengers before heading off on a 45 minutes ride across the sea to Koh Rok. Arriving to the first snorkeling stop, the guides will hand out fins, mask, and snorkel to each guest. For those who are unsure of their swimming abilities, wearing a life jacket is a good idea. Once in the water the at swim at your own speed and enjoy the view. While the guides were very friendly and enthusiastic, their mastery of english wasn’t such that they could provide any real information about the sea life. If you are lucky enough to own a waterproof camera or GoPro now is the time to use it!
The main draw for Koh Rok is that it is a well preserved reef system with an array of fish species. The three areas visited are shallow and the visibility is excellent. You can easily spot dozens of kind of coral, sea anemones, starfish and sea slugs. Darting in and out of the reef are a myriad of fish many that you will recognize on sight and a few that will remain a beautiful mystery. Parrot fish, clown fish and moorish idol are all visible with their colourful and distinctive patterns. Shy moray eels can be seen hiding among the coral. Huge schools of small, silver fish swirl in shape-shifting patterns around you. As the tour guides are quick to point out, it is basically a scene directly out of Finding Nemo.
After the first two swims, comes a stop on Koh Rok island itself for lunch, a bathroom break and two hours to play in the softest, whitest sands you’ll ever see. Lunch is served buffet style and will likely feature rice, a meat-based curry, and fruit. If you are vegetarian don’t expect much and think about bring some snacks along. Sunning, swimming and taking photos will easily fill your time on the island and before you know it, the guides will be calling you back on the boat for one last snorkel stop. Another blissful 45 minutes in the clear waters will not seem like enough but as you climb back on board a sense of happy exhaustion will sink in. By 3pm you will be back at your hotel reviewing your photos and thinking back on your glorious day.