In a National Marine Park on the Andaman Sea in the very southwest corner of Thailand, is where you find a little paradise island, Koh Lipe. The marine park houses about 70 islands, and Koh Lipe (about 70 km from the mainland) is the only one that has been allowed private development.
Getting there these days can’t be easier, as there are now boats from all directions, allowing visitors access both directly from Thailand’s west coast and its internal airport, Hat Yai, or from the north from Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, and Trang. There are also daily boats crossing from Malaysia and its famous island destination, Langkwai.
There are 3 main beaches on Koh Lipe, each with a different feeling and views.
Pattaya beach is the busiest, and this horseshoe-shaped bay with views out to the Adman Sea is full of bars, restaurants, and resorts. Sunrise is much quieter and offers much better views of the smaller islands. Sunrise also boasts the best snorkeling strait off the beach with reef and several small islands to explore. Another advantage of Koh Lipe is that it receives a cool breeze most of the year.
At night, Lipe turns into the ultimate chill-out scene with the restaurants and bars setting up chairs and bamboo mats right on the beach, lit by candle light, as Bob Marley tunes waft down the beach. Some of the must-see places at night include Phoo’s Bar in the center of the island and one of it’s long-standing institutions; Karma Bar, which is well known on the back-packer scene; and the relatively new Castaway restaurant and bar with its raised decks and stunning views.
Taurutau National Marine Park also has some of the best dive sites in all of Thailand, renowned for it’s amazingly good visibility; huge hard and soft corals; numerous marine life species; thousands of colorful fish, moray eels, poisonous scorpion, and lion fish; large 2m-wide sting rays; and it’s passing visitors such as whale sharks. But even if you aren’t a diver, just drifting along with a mask and snorkel is an amassing experience. There is just so much to chouse from. Reefs that should not be missed are the easily-accessible reef off sunrise beach on Koh Lipe and the reef in front of the ranger station on Koh Ravi.
Koh Lipe offers an impressive variety of accommodation, ranging from the inexpensive back-packer Bamboo Huts (Varin 2) to the chic and stunningly-designed Castaway resort, which added some stunning beach-view bungalows this year that are two-stories with amazing views that will fulfill any traveler’s dream.
Tips for Travelers:
* Arrive at Pak Bara before 11:30 am if you are coming via Hat Yai.
* Taking the boat straight from Langkawi is only slightly more money, but the time it saves and the hassle-free immigration is worth it.
* There are no ATMs on the island, so make sure you bring enough for the time you anticipate to stay, and then double it as you’ll end up staying longer!
* Varin 2 on Sunrise beach has the newest and cheapest bamboo bungalow huts.
* Castaway resorts offer the chicest accommodation http://kohlipe.castaway-resorts.com.