Main Sites

  • Koh Ma and Mae Haad
  • Haad Chao Phao
  • Haad Salad

More Information

  • You can get to some snorkelling spots independently
  • You can join boat tours
  • You can join dive boat trips





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    Koh Ma

    Haad Salad

    Ang Thong Marine Park

Snorkelling in West Koh Phangan

About snorkelling in West Koh Phangan


The west coast of Koh Phangan has 13 kilometres of coral reefs to explore. They run parallel to the coast and all the beaches on the west coast are affected by the off-shore corals.


At points the coral reef is just 80 metres off the coast and at others 300 metres. While there is nothing preventing the adventurous and prepared from snorkelling many of the reefs off the beaches of such places as Srithanu, Hin Kong and Wok Tum for most joining a boat trip that goes to the best snorkelling spots is the better option.


If you want to rent or buy snorkelling equipment and do an independent trip the best spot is further up the main Srithanu road heading north to Mae Haad. This is the name of the beach on the north-west of the island. It has a sand bank connected to a small island called Koh Ma. This area has been designated a National Marine Park and is protected from fishing. There is an easy to access coral reef here that is great fun to explore.


You can buy snorkelling kits cheaply in Thongsala either at one of the supermarkets or at one of the shops on the main drag. You can also rent snorkelling equipment at Island View Cabana on Mae Haad Beach. The cost of rental is about 100 Thai Baht an hour. To buy in the shops, not much more. You can find fins at All Scuba Solutions in Thongsala, although they are not necessary if you are just doing Koh Ma.


If you book a boat trip they provide all the equipment for snorkelling and often ticket price includes drinks and lunch.


GOOD BEHAVIOUR: remember coral reefs and the habitat they supply are a key environmental resource for Koh Phangan. They must be preserved. Don't touch the corals with your fins, don't take away any corals, and don't leave litter.


SAFETY: at low tide the sea is far out in the distance. If you walk out you are far away from people's notice. If there is a red flag on the beach don't go snorkelling. Unless you are a strong swimmer don't swim out to far - there are undercurrents and hidden rocks. Use sun block. If you are not sure about snorkelling ask at a local resort for advice.


Below are notes about snorkelling at each of the beaches covered by this guide.


What Fish?


If you snorkel around Koh Phangan you can expect to see angelfish, butterfly fish, grouper, cuttlefish, gobies and octopus. There are also rabbitfish, damselfish, wrasse and parrotfish. The reef at Koh Tae Nok sometimes has small reef sharks. At Haad Chao Phao there is a possibility to see stingrays.


The corals are staghorn, leaf corals, plate corals and table corals. Soft corals are found at deeper depths. You can see anemone corals and sea fans. All in all it is quite a profusion of marine life, full of colour. The colour comes out differently with night dives and with flouro torches. See Reefers Dive Resort


Haad Chao Phao


Haad Chao Phao is one of the best beaches on the west coast. It has a beach destination feel to the beach, rather than being a stretch of coast next to the road. The sand is good here and the beach wide.


This is one of the best beaches from which to snorkel. The corals are 100 metres from shore. The water starts out shallow but gets deeper before the reef making for better swimming conditions. The maximum depth is 12 metres. You can see coral fish and possibly spotted sting rays. The corals include nudibranch and soft corals.




Srithanu has a large bay with a big tidal variation. Large parts of the bay are not frequented much by tourists. The bay is home to the squid fishing industry on the west coast. A river comes out at this point. Go over the bridge and you can access a better beach with a few resorts. The corals are 300 metres off the coast here and the water remains mostly shallow before the reefs.


A much better option for snorkelling is the peninsula below the bay. Here there are small beaches. The one next to Loyfa Natural Resort has a coral reef just 50 metres off the coast.


Hin Kong


Hin Kong shares the same large bay with Wok Tum to the south. Sometimes the whole bay is referred to as 'Wok Tum'. Also, for many Hin Kong forms an extension to the southern part of Srithanu.


The coral reef is 300 metres out to sea at Hin Kong. Much of the beach consists of a thin sliver next to the coastal road. Here you will find the ocassional restaurant and other business, but much of Hin Kong does not have a holiday destination feel. The best beach area in Hin Kong is to the north on the peninsula that Hin Kong shares with Srithanu.


Wok Tum


Wok Tum shares a large bay with Hin Kong to the north. The best beach areas in Wok Tum are to the south, in the corner of the bay. As with Hin Kong, the coral reefs are 300 metres out ot sea. There is a large tidal variation in this area. You see few people swimming in the sea here, and even fewer attempting to walk out to the corals to go snorkelling.


The chances for snorkelling at Hin Kong are best during the higher tidal months from April to November when there will be better depth before the corals.


Plaay Laem


Plaay Laem, along with Haad Chao Phao is the leading beach on the west coast in terms of natural beauty. The sea here is scattered with large boulders from nearby mount Khao Hin Nok. You might find a few fish lingering around the rocks in the bay but most of the interesting marine life is found past the coral reef that is 80 metres off the coast.


The sea is shallow before the coral reef and this hinders swimming outside of the higher tidal months from April to November. You can easily hire a kayak at Plaay Laem and if you go in a pair then you could use the kayak to reach good snorkelling points. Beware of scraping the bottom of the the kayak on corals - it is bad for the reef and the owner of the kayak is bound to want compensation.


Nai Wok


Nai Wok is just north of Thongsala. You can see one of the piers from this beach. It is narrow in points and to the north of the bay there are rocks where you might want to try casting a fishing line.


The coral reef is 80 metres off shore here. Snorkelling is not the main water sport at Nai Wok. Nai Wok has SL2KAdventure that specialises in SUP (stand up paddling), sailing and windsurfing. They are based in Baan Manali Resort. They can advise you about snorkelling.




Thongsala has a small beach that is not really used by tourists. There are no dive shops or other water sports shops serving this small beach next to the Lomprayah pier. Just a short way to the east Baan Tai starts. This long coastline caters to a steady trickle of customers looking for snorkelling, diving and kiteboarding. See the Baan Tai Guide.


Koh Tae Nok


This is the small island you see when you arrive by ferry to Thongsala. The island is privately owned and not open (yet) for holiday makers. However there are corals off the island that divers sometimes visit. Snorkelling and diving here is seasonal due to weather conditions. Best to take a dive shop trip if you want to visit this snorkelling spot. People sometimes spot small reef sharks here.


Koh Ma / Mae Haad


This is the closest and best of the Koh Phangan snorkel spots. The depth is 12 metres. The reef has anemones, nudibranch corals and plenty of reef fish. The visibility is between 2 and 20 metres. See the Youtube clip in the right column.


Further Afield


Despite the abundance of marine life locally, the dive shops generally all have boats leaving from either Thongsala, Chaloklum or Haad Rin. These boats go to the best dive sites in the Gulf of Thailand such as Sail Rock, Chumphon Pinnacles and Ang Thong Marine Park. Sometimes they will also visit dive sites near Koh Tao. Much depends on the weather, visibility and the season.


Tours and Organised Trips


There are several companies operating in Koh Phangan that do regular boat tours of Koh Phangan. Most resorts can organise boat tours for guests. Travel agents also sell tickets for boat tours. Several of the operators are small and locally based. These can be found by wandering up the beach and looking for signs.


The alternative is to go to a dive shop. They all welcome snorkellers. You go along on the dive boat and you are given snorkel equipment. The advantage of this approach is that you get the chance to snorkel some of the better sites and also those far out at sea. The boats are also bigger with more shade.


Haad Yao Divers have a branch in Haad Chao Phao. They have day trips snorkelling. They often go to the sites around Koh Tao. The price of trip includes mask, snorkel, fins and wetsuit if required. They also provide soft drinks and a Thai lunch.


Fish and Ships Divers have snorkel trips to Ang Thong, Sail Rock and Koh Tao. Each location costs 1,500 Thai Baht and includes transfer, break, lunch, soft drinks and equipment.



More Koh Phangan Beach Guides

Thong Nai Pan
Haad Yao
Haad Salad
Mae Haad
guide to Thong Nai Pan area
guide to Haad Yao
guide to Haad Salad
guide to Mae Haad and Koh Ma
Thong Nai Pan is famous for its stunning white sand beaches and luxury hotels.
Haad Yao is considered to have a 'perfect beach' as well as several great places to stay.
Haad Salad is an old pirate hangout that now caters for discerning beach lovers.
Mae Haad is a hidden gem that offers 3 beaches, snorkelling and stunning natural scenery.


Haad Rin
Bottle Beach
Baan Tai
guide to Haad Rin area
guide to Bottle Beach
guide to Baan Tai
villa for rent in Thong Nai Pan
Haad Rin is a sleepy village with 2 beaches that once a month become the scene of the legendary Full Moon Party
Bottle Beach is one of Thailand's best beaches. Its remote location inspired the novel and movie 'The Beach'.
Sea, sand, sun and lots and lots of parties. Baan Tai is the home to many of the best parties on the island.
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