There’s nothing like a poster-worthy tropical island to encourage the feeling of bliss.
When visiting Thailand, head to the mainland for the shopping, the history and the grand palaces, but venture to these Thailand islands to experience landscapes that can only be compared with paradise. The hard part is choosing which island to get your bliss on.
Whether you’re seeking romantic solitude of the thrill of a scuba diving vacation, this guide will help you steer your way to some of the country’s most breathtaking islands – all of which guarantee stunning scenery and amazing diving. We’ve chosen those little isles of paradise that you may not think of immediately; jewels that deserve to be discovered.
A guide to Thailand Islands
Lush, jungle-clad, surrounded by thin strips of white sand and turquoise water – the Similan Islands in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Southern Thailand rise out of the water like paradisiacal lumps on the back of some benevolent sea creature whose only wish is for you to have a good time!
Eleven islands make up this archipelago which flaunts heavenly vistas and incredible underwater opportunities: scuba diving in the Similan Islands is famous for a reason. Head to the east side for diving amongst sloping coral reefs; head to the west for giant underwater boulders and cavernous passages. Whichever side you choose, you’ll be swimming amongst sharks, turtles, triggerfish, barracudas and about a thousand other species of marine life.
Protected as a National Park, the two small islands that comprise Ko Surin are home to thousands of species of land and water-based life, including whale sharks, monkeys, sea turtles, monitor lizards, angel fish and much, much more. In fact, Ko Surin’s teeming underwater society makes it one of the best diving and snorkeling spots in Thailand – if not in the world.
Pristine jungle covers most of the two islands, and as per its National Park status, remains off limits to tourist. Ko Surin is also home to a small Moken sea gypsy community which can be visited after a morning of diving or snorkelling.
With superb diving spots right off its shore and plenty of hiking trails and rock climbing routes for the terrestrially inclined, Ko Tao is small but packs a mighty tropical punch in things to do, things to eat and drink, and about a million different reasons why you should cancel all of your intended travel plans and spend all your holiday time here instead.
This is especially the case if you’re a lover of the sea turtle, as the island is an important breeding ground for hawksbill and green turtles – in fact, Ko Tao translates into “Turtle Island.” Ko Tao is also the perfect place to get your PADI certification, with great schools, affordable prices and some of the best diving spots in which to learn.
Koh Lanta (Hin Daeng)
With a reputation around Thailand as being the country’s best diving spot, expectations will always be high on Hin Daeng to deliver. Thankfully, this easily accessible diving spot from Koh Lanta is home to an abundance of large marine life – such as manta rays and whale sharks – as well as countless species of reef fish, trevallies, scorpionfish and others, all of which swim around a giant underwater boulder pinnacle and lawns of healthy soft coral. Dramatic, awe-inspiring, totally worth it? Yep, yep and yep!
What Ko Kradan lacks in size, it more than makes up for in amazing beaches, snorkelling spots and drop-dead gorgeous-looking sunsets. It’s also an island of tranquility, and finding your own private beach for a couple of hours away from the crowds is built into the geography of the slender isle. More active travellers can opt instead to circumnavigate Ko Kradan on a kayak before lying back in a hammock under the shade of a coconut tree.