Ever wondered where the author of “The Beach” (made into a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio) got his inspiration from? The answer is Ang Thong National Marine Park, a group of islands about two hours away from Koh Samui. Here you’ll find a total of 42 islands, some of them just rocks in the sea, others large islands with swaying palm trees and white beaches. This day trip through paradise, from Koh Samui, is a must for anyone traveling through Thailand.
Photos and text by: Esther Kool from Go Live Go Travel
Ang Thong National Marine Park
Ang Thong means “pot of gold” and refers to the rich underwater life around the islands, replete with all kinds of colorful fish. The wildlife on land is no less impressive. The thick jungle is home to monkeys, iguanas, and pythons, among other animals.
For centuries the area was a sanctuary for pirates. This large group of islands, with its dense jungles and hidden caves, was the perfect hiding place for these bandits. After the time of the pirates, the Thai Marine created a training base here, hence the name National Marine Park. Ever since the eighties, Ang Thong has been a protected area of about 100 square kilometers, making it Thailand’s second largest nature reserve.
Koh Mae: spectacular green-blue sea lagoon
One of the most important islands of Ang Thong is Koh Mae, also known as the “mother island”. At first glance, this is a small island paradise, much like any other island in this archipelago. But looks can be deceiving, as this island harbors a secluded lagoon with blue and green colored sea water: Talai Nai, known as the “Blue Lagoon” among fans of the “The Beach”.
It’s a beautiful emerald green lake surrounded by steep limestone cliffs. You’ll have to put in some work to see this hidden gem though. The climb is at least 100 steps, but so worth it.
If you want to see even more of this island, several tour operators offer kayak tours. Because kayaks are smaller than boats, they’re the ideal way to get close to the rock formations and visit the small hidden caves.
Koh Wua Talap: fantastic view
After visiting the mother island it’s time to explore the archipelago’s most popular one, Koh Wua Talap. Its viewpoint offers a panoramic view of all of the islands, however, the climb is quite arduous. The path leading up to the viewpoint consists of rocks, boulders and here and there a rope to grab on to. Every 100 meters or so you’ll get a chance to catch your breath at one of the intermediate viewpoints.
The higher you go, the more beautiful the view. You will have to suffer a bit, but don’t give up. Once you arrive at the top, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view. Green islands as far as the eye can see, clear blue water and the sound of roaring monkeys in the background.
When you return to the beach, take a dip in the clear water to recover from the arduous climb. This is also an excellent opportunity to grab your snorkeling gear and explore the “golden” underwater life. You’ll come across fishes in all shapes and sizes.
Ang Thong: I want to go there!
You can reach Ang Thong National Marine Park by boat (duration: 2 hours). Some tours even offer this excursion by speedboat (duration: 1 hour). I chose the former, as it was a lot cheaper. I booked my excursion at one of Khiri Travel’s local partners and paid 1,500 baht for a complete day tour (7:30 AM – 5:30 PM).
The entrance fee for Ang Thong National Marine Park (200 baht) was included in that price. The speedboat option will cost between 1,800 and 2,000 baht. For the kayak option, a surcharge is often required. Don’t forget to bring a sturdy pair of shoes and drinking water, it could be quite a tiring day.
During the entire month of November and the first three weeks of December Ang Thong National Marine Park is closed because of high waves and the rainy season.
Best Hotels Koh Samui
Coco Palm Beach Resort - $$Coco Palm Beach Resort is located on what might be Koh Samui’s nicest beach. Escape the hustle and bustle in the beautifully landscaped garden with its palm trees, luxury swimming pool and beach location.
Crystal Bay Beach Resort - $$Sleep in one of the nicer hotels at a reasonable price. Located between busy Lamai and Chaweng Beach, the Crystal Bay Beach Resort offers everything you would expect from a tropical island. One of Koh Samui’s best kept secrets!
When will you be going to Ang Thong National Marine Park?