Updated on February 18, 2019
There are close to 60 islands around Koh Samui, and each is a tropical paradise in its own right. Some are reputed ones and have a small population while others are just small dots of land in the Gulf of Thailand. But what is common to these islands are the breathtaking surroundings, the pristine beaches, and the serene atmosphere that pervades all around. Day trips to some of these islands are a favorite activity for the visitors of Koh Samui – both foreign and local. This article will look into the five famous islands near Koh Samui that are great for day trips.
1) Ang Thong National Marine Park
The Ang Thong National Marine Park is made up of 42 islands. It covers a total area of 102 sq km, but only 18 sq km is actually land. The majority of the islands consist of limestone mountains that are around 100 – 400m above sea level. Since limestone can change its structure rapidly due to climatic and chemical conditions, the islands have many caves and cliffs, and some of the islands even look like the ancient Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Ang Thong Park was established in 1980 and is a protected area housing a rich variety of wildlife and some of the most exotic sea creatures in the region. The most popular activities here include hiking, sea kayaking, sailing, diving, and snorkeling.
Visitors can buy a join-in day trip package or a boat charter from Koh Samui or Koh Phangan. The highlight of the tour usually includes sea kayaking in Mae Koh and visiting a Talay Nai (saltwater lake) viewpoint and Wua Ta Lap Island. Staying overnight at the marine park is also possible as there are simple bungalows and camping tents available at the Park Headquarters on Koh Wua Ta Lap. There are also some local restaurants on the island. Check out the other activities you can do when chartering a boat from Koh Samui.
2) Koh Phangan
The 5th largest island in Thailand, Koh Phangan covers an area of 167 sq km. It is just 12 km from Koh Samui, and the only mode of transportation is the ferries that commute between it and mainland Koh Samui. It is an incredibly gorgeous island that has over 20 dive sites nearby.
Koh Phangan is famous for its full moon parties at Haad Rin Beach where youngsters, mostly backpackers, gather and party away till dawn.
Apart from the crazy parties, the island still has many to offer. Mainly, it is the pristine white sandy beaches, lush and untouched wilderness, and the crystal clear waters that win tourists’ hearts.
Although the place is popular among backpackers, the upscale resorts have come up in recent times to attract different types of visitors. The vast inland jungle is relatively unexplored which adds to the mystery of this place. Tourists should check out the secluded bays that command stunning beauty and where you can string up a hammock and idle your time away. There are ferry services available from Koh Samui with varying prices depending on the type of boat and on which pier visitors choose to take.
3) Koh Taen and Koh Mudsum
Koh Taen is just a few hundred meters from the Southwest coast of Koh Samui. It is a small island but largely unspoiled and primarily known for its coral and marine life. The fan corals and the giant clams are the chief attractions of the protected reefs. Tours to Koh Taen include snorkeling on the reef, walks along wooden platform where you can view the mangrove forests, and a visit to one of the finest beaches on the island.
Koh Mudsum is located just south of Koh Taen and is a very popular spot for day trips. The long sandy beach is a hot favorite among the local Thai tourists, and one can usually find groups of students camping along the stretch. Swimming is not recommended here as there is a dead reef directly off the shore.
4) Koh Tao
Koh Tao is considered the baby of Koh Samui for though it is a small island, it has become well-known over the years due to its magnificent dive spots. The island is synonymous with diving. But this is not the only attraction or activity here.
It was once a paradise for sea turtles but today people love to flock here to get away from the busy city daily life. If you are into diving and want to see the colorful coral beds, Koh Tao is your place. The beaches remain tranquil and sparsely crowded, but there is no dearth of good accommodation or eating places.
Scuba diving is easily the biggest attraction in Koh Tao. Diving in Koh Tao is easy, fun, and one can see a vast array of marine life like turtles, stingrays, reef sharks, and barracudas. Any time of the year is good for diving in Koh Tao, with more than 40 meters of visibility. However, average visibility can reduce to 10m in November due to choppy seas.
5) Koh Nang Yuan
Koh Nang Yuan is an incredibly beautiful island just off Koh Samui. You can arrive here by a speed boat in around 90 minutes. The sandbar beaches will take your breath away. One can enjoy snorkeling in the clear waters and get a chance to come face-to-face with the ocean life. The views from this island are quite spectacular as well. Since the island is small, one can get around on foot. Snorkeling and diving are the main activities here. Koh Nang Yuan also boasts the world’s only zip line that crosses from one island to another. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you should sign up for this for an exhilarating adventure.
If you have not been to Koh Samui, get an introduction of the island by looking at these photos that represent the best of Koh Samui.