Ang Thong National Marine Park
One of the most popular tourist spots among an archipelago of 42 islands is Ang Thong National Marine Park. Situated an hour from Koh Samui by speedboat, these beautiful islands are known for their natural beauty. Also known as Golden Bowl, these islands cover an area of around 250 Km2. Each island has its name derived from its exquisitely shaped and sized geography that has also resulted in some breathtaking rock formations and cliffs.
The islands chiefly consist of beaches, evergreens, and limestone tropical rainforests. Ang Thong Marine Park also serves as a refuge for the wildlife around as its waters are protected. The local wildlife includes monkeys, bats, boars, iguanas, lizards, pythons, cobras, green and hawksbill turtles, reef sharks, whales, dolphins, lizards, and otters among others. They are also home to over 54 different species of birds.
Taking your camera along on the tours is highly recommended, as you will likely come across the wildlife native to the islands. Among the things that will gain your interest on the islands are white sandy beaches, kayaking tour of the caves, sightseeing, hidden lagoons, and the awe-inspiring underwater landscape.
Situated at the North-West of Ang Thong is the Koh Wao island. Since it is at some distance from Koh Samui and the mainland, its waters are clear and offer great visibility, making it an ideal location for snorkeling. You can find soft corals on this island only, in contrast with the hard corals that are found on the other islands.
This island is a paradise for snorkelers as its waters are protected and therefore abundant with various vibrant, colorful, and tropical fish. Some of the common fish include angelfish, barracuda, bannerfish, butterflyfish, fusiliers, moray eels, puffer fish, snappers, and stingrays.
Koh Mae Koh, also known as Mother Island, is one of the most visited islands in Ang Thong Marine Park. What attracts tourists to this spot is the breathtaking view of the entire island that it offers, as well as the fact that it is home to a saltwater lagoon called the Emerald Lake, which sits among limestone cliffs. Staircases have been carefully fixed into the surroundings that can take you to the top of the island in a mere 20 minutes. You can climb to the top, take in the view, stop for a few photos, and if you will, you can come down another set of stairs that will take you to the Emerald Lake.
The only inhabited island in the Ang Thong National Marine Park is the Koh Paluay island. The residents chiefly earn their living from fishing a little off the park’s boundaries, out in the sea where the sea-gypsies reside.
Perched in front of a mountainous background along the West coast and protected by a rocky manmade barrier is a fishing village. This is the place where sightseers and snorkelers stop for lunch during the tour. It also has a restaurant, the only restaurant of the town, which is made on the waterway so tourists can arrive directly on their boat. It is filled with friendly and helpful people who host the guests and serve their lunch.
The village is chiefly constructed with materials that are local to the island, but there is also a concrete building. Chickens, monkeys, and several other reptiles can be seen running freely in the village. The locals are very friendly and hospitable, and if you happen to have a tour guide with you, you can communicate with the locals, and if you are lucky, you might even get to try the local specialties like the Thai chewing gum made from the leaves and sap of a local tree.
Two Brothers, or Song Pee Nong in Thai, is a comparatively deserted beach of the Ang Thong Marine Park. It is located along the Northern coast of Ko Paluay, in between the coastline, and very close to the James Bond island. The island is ideal for a relaxing afternoon on the beach, as well as kayaking.
Although there are many tour operators from Koh Samui to Ang Thong when it comes to sightseeing, kayaking, and snorkeling, this tour operator takes the lead as it avoids other small tours and focuses on the main tour, saving you time for yourself.
In the morning, you may be be approached by other companies from Koh Samui at Koh Wao and Koh Mae Koh, but the afternoons in Koh Paluay are relaxing and free of the crowds.
The tour guides at Koh Samui are one of the best. They are friendly, helpful, willing, and communicate very well. Moreover, they will be delighted to answer any questions you may have.
Ang Thong Marine Park Tour includes:
- Transfer from your hotel to the pier in the morning, and from the pier to the hotel on your way back.
- Snorkeling gear (snorkel and mask) and life jackets are available throughout the day. Children’s gear is also available. Do note that the equipment is loaned to you, and in case of loss or damage, you may be charged.
- Kayaking (2 per kayak) is also included in the cost of the tour*
- Refreshments and soft drinks are provided throughout the day, free of charge.
- All tour guides have a good command of English, and some of them also speak French, German, Mandarin, and Russian. They are also trained in providing first aid and have first aid kits at hand at all times.
- The medicine for seasickness is provided free of cost, and should be taken 20 minutes prior to leaving Koh Samui, and then again 20 minutes prior to leaving Ang Thong upon your return.
- A light breakfast (in the morning) and a Thai lunch buffet are included in the cost of the tour.
- During kayaking and snorkeling at the Ang Thong National Marine Park, you will be fully insured.
*Only available in tours that include kayaking.
Ang Thong Marine Park Tour does not include:
- Flippers/Fins for snorkeling
- Swimming costumes & towels
- Tips for the members of staff/crew
- Admission fee to Ang Thong Marine Park (300 for adults, 150 for children)
Detailed plan of your Ang Thong Marine Park’s snorkeling and kayaking tour:
The tour will start in the morning by picking you up from your hotel and taking you to the pier toward at the North of Koh Samui. The staff will greet you there and check you in for the tour to Ang Thong National Marine Park; they will check your insurance details to make sure no problems arise later on. To make the check-in quick, please bring along the voucher that is emailed to you. Once the paperwork is finished, a breakfast of tea, coffee, toast, and jam will be served at the beachfront.
The speedboats will leave for the Ang Thong National Marine Park after everyone has arrived. The first stop is Koh Wao for snorkeling, and you will have 45 minutes to an hour to snorkel and view the beautiful world underwater. The guide will provide masks and snorkels, as well as lifejackets (if needed), for snorkeling, and will not only tell you about the best areas to snorkel but also help you identify the fish. Tour guides are well-trained and will attend to those who are not comfortable snorkeling alone. Please take care of the snorkeling equipment, as you will be charged in case of loss or damage; in case you drop or lose your equipment, immediately alert the guides so they can help you locate it quickly.
The guide will collect the equipment loaned to you once you are done snorkeling, and then you will be taken to Koh Mae Koh via speedboat through Ang Thong Marine Park. The tour guide will show you several interesting places on the way.
You will have around an hour to sightsee after reaching Koh Mae Koh. The places that you must visit include the viewpoint over the Emerald Lake and Ang Thong Marine Park that can be reached by climbing the stairs. And if you want to see more, you can take different stairs on your way down to see the other side of the Emerald Lake. Your tour guides will be happy to tag along and take photos. The stairs are steep on the way down so there is no rush on the way back.
Lunch will be served at the fishing village of Koh Paluay when everyone has returned from Koh Mae Koh; a speedboat will take you to the fishing village. The speedboat ride lasts about 20 minutes, going further south through the park, allowing you to see more beautiful scenery and providing opportunities for photos. Once you reach the fishing village, you will get off directly at the restaurant where you will have an hour to enjoy the buffet style lunch; the lunch includes rice, fresh fruits, water, and 3 scrumptious Thai dishes. You can purchase alcohol, soft drinks, etc., from the restaurant at affordable rates.
If you have special dietary requirements, vegetarian, for instance, please mention it at the time of booking so the restaurant can be informed ahead of time and is able to cater to your needs. You will be allowed to roam free and explore the village for the remainder of your time after the lunch.
On the way back from the fishing village, you will travel North toward Koh Paluay, to Song Pee Nong, a deserted beach. Once you are there, you can explore and see the rugged coastline on kayaks; singles can form pairs with others or the tour guide. You can kayak under the limestone karst overhands and caves. Those of you who are waiting for a kayak can relax on the beach in the meantime, explore the shallow waters, and take photos.
Then you will head back to Koh Samui, cruise along its north coast as the tour guide shows points of interest to you; they include beaches, hotels, and houses belonging to the rich and famous. The guests staying at the Bang Por, Mae Nam, or Bophut will be dropped right at their hotels; those of you who aren’t staying at the aforementioned hotels will be guided by the tour guide on how to proceed and head back to their respective hotels.
You have to ensure that your personal items and belonging are not left behind. Keep your bags, towels, shoes, etc., with you at all times. If you are satisfied with the service, you can use the tip box to tip the staff; the staff usually has low incomes, around 8,000 Baht per month only.
The itinerary for the VIP tour is the same as the standard one. The experience, however, is made much more personal with only 20 people and twice as many guides.
06:45 – 08:30 Transfer to the pier along Big Buddha Beach from your hotel. Complimentary breakfast of tea, coffee, toast and fresh fruit will be served.
08:30 – 09:30 Departure for Koh Wao by speedboat for snorkeling at the marine park.
09:30 – 10:30 Snorkeling at the coral reef
10:30 – 10:50 Cruise to Koh Mae Koh through the marine park
10:30 – 12:00 Time to see the green lake “Thale Nai” on Koh Mae Koh, and to climb to the viewpoints for a stunning view of the park.
12:00 – 13:30 Traditional Thai buffet at waterfront restaurant at the fishing village on Koh Paluay
13:30 – 15:00 A stop at the Song Pee Nong beach for kayaking and sightseeing
15:00 -1 6:00 Speedboat journey back to Koh Samui and transfer back to your hotel
Things to bring to Ang Thong Marine Park
Pick Up Times
06:45 – 07:00 Taling Ngam, Lipa Noi
07:00 – 07:15 Lamai, Nathon, Butterfly Garden
07:20 – 07:40 Chaweng, Baan Tai
07:40 – 08:00 Maenam, Bophut, Choeng Mon, Bangrak
- Much faster journey, much shorter day
- Their speed means they can visit dive sites further away
- Speedboats are smaller vessels, so they can moor up closer to dive sites and visit some dive sites that larger boats can’t
- A bit more exciting than a slow boat!
- Slow boats are big boats, which have more space to move around and they’re more stable in the water.
- They also typically have more divers on board making for a good atmosphere where everyone has 1 thing in common.
- Big boats tend to use less gasoline, so the tour prices are typically cheaper.
- Generally as there’s more space, tea, coffee, and snacks are provided and there are better facilities onboard such as a wash tank, shower, and proper sized toilet.
- All transfers
- Thai Buffet Dinner
- Non-alcoholic drinks, coffee, tea, and espresso
- Full breakfast
- Seasonal fruits
- Wreck Diving
- Night Diving
- Search and Recovery
- Peak Performance Buoyancy
- Digital Underwater Photography
- AWARE Fish Identification
- Diver Propulsion Vehicles (Underwater Scooters)
- Underwater Videography
- Multilevel & computer diving
- Boat Diving
- Visit Talay Nai, the emerald green lake on Koh Mae Koh
- Go to the viewpoint for a view of the entire park at Koh Mae Koh
- Hiking to multiple view points all the way up to 500m on Koh Wua Ta Lap
- Bua Boke cave featuring impressive stalagmites and stalactites
- Scuba diving
- Snorkeling at Koh Yippon and Koh Wao Yai
- BBQ on the Beach
- Go to the Picnic area
- Knowledge Development to understand the basic principles of scuba diving
- Confined water dives to learn basic scuba skills
- Equipment assembly, adjustment, and preparation
- Deep water entry
- Proper weighting
- Snorkel regulator exchange
- Regulator recovery and clearing
- Air depletion
- Alternate air source
- Partial and full mask flooding and clearing
- Mask removal and replacement
- Breathing from a regulator without a mask (60 seconds)
- No mask swim
- Scuba unit removal and replacement at the surface
- Weight belt removal and replacement at the surface
- Cramp removal
- Tired diver tow
- Scuba unit removal and replacement underwater
- Weight belt removal and replacement underwater
- Fin pivot (oral and low pressure inflator)
- Neutral buoyancy (hovering)
- Free flowing regulator breathing (30 seconds)
- Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent
- Exiting the water
- Equipment disassembly & maintenance
- Open water dives to review your skills and explore!