Thailand offers a range of exceptional beaches and islands to explore while snorkeling, all crawling with huge schools of fish and colourful coral life. The beaches are amongst the best in the world, and while most are popular with tourists, you can still find a few secluded spots to explore the underwater world in solitude.
The waters around Thailand are truly like an aquarium, and you can easily reach most of the best snorkeling sites straight from shore. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced snorkeler, you’ll be able to see the best of Thailand’s sea life along many of its beaches. There are so many places to go it might be a struggle knowing which are the best, so here’s where you should go snorkeling in Thailand.
Branching Corals, Crown of Thorns Starfish, Elkhorn Coral, Encrusting Corals, Finger Corals, Fire Corals, Foliose Corals, Indica Nudibranchs, Mushroom Corals, Polka Dot Nudibranchs, Red Anemones, Table Corals, and more.
Best places to snorkel in Maui
Ao Niang Bay
Where: Koh Kradan Details: This is Thailand’s best snorkeling destination for people who want to explore nature away from the tourist crowd. Koh Kradan is one of the quietest islands in Thailand, full of luscious untouched landscapes, crystal clear secluded beaches, and a spectacular reef to explore. Ao Niang Bay is the best spot for snorkeling, an 800-metre long beach with loads of vibrant marine and coral life to explore right off the shore. This island is part of Hat Chao Mai National Park, so the reefs are healthy and protected.
The best place to enter the water is next to the Ao Niang Resort restaurant. Once you enter there’ll be a channel you can swim or walk through to the drop-off. From there you’ll find excellent snorkeling for 200 metres to the right and 800 metres to the left. Enjoy!
Bathrooms and small kiosk on-site.
Aow Leuk Beach
Where: Koh Tao Details: A beautiful white sandy beach with sparkling blue waters, this is one of Koh Tao’s best snorkel spots if only for the view alone. There are coral reefs on either side of the bay with access right off the beach, and you don’t have to go far to feel like you’re in an aquarium. With views of Shark Island in the background, you can snorkel amongst triggerfish, baby sharks, clownfish, and a variety of other marine life.
The water here is calm and the reef starts in the shallows, making this the perfect spot for novice snorkelers and children.
If you come at the right time of year, you can spot baby blacktip reef sharks swimming in the shallows, with the adults trailing further out about 500 metres from shore.
Bathrooms, food & drink, and snorkel hire available on-site.
Where: Pattaya Details: This beautiful island has turquoise waters, numerous beaches, and an abundance of coral reefs to explore. Dubbed as ‘Coral Island’, you can bet there that there’s some exceptional snorkeling to be had here. With a huge fish population as well as colourful hard and soft coral life, you’ll be swimming amongst rabbit fish, butterfly fish, angelfish, stingrays, clownfish, and it’s your best bet for spotting a tawny nurse shark or blue spotted ray in this area.
You can reach Koh Larn by catching a 1 hour ferry from Pattaya. It’s also a popular destination for snorkeling tours.
The best snorkeling beach on Koh Larn is Naul Beach, where you can explore the marine life in shallow waters. Look out for the coral garden full of seahorses!
All the beaches on the island will have bathrooms and showers on-site.
Where: Tarutao National Marine Park Details: This island paradise offers some of Thailand’s best snorkeling. With calm, warm waters surrounded by more than 30 islands and hundreds of incredible reefs to discover, this is a prime snorkeling destination with tonnes of sites to explore. The whole area is rich in diverse, colourful marine life, including fish, bioluminescent plankton, turtles, and an abundance of beautiful coral life.
You can snorkel straight off the shores of Koh Lipe, or hire a kayak and explore one of the many beautiful surrounding islands, just a 5-10 minute ride away.
Some of the best spots to snorkel in Koh Lipe are Sunrise Beach, Sunset Beach, and Pattaya Beach, where you can easily swim to other small surrounding islands in deep waters populated with marine life.
Koh Nang Yuan
Where: Koh Tao Details: These three islands are connected to Koh Tao by a beautiful white sandbar, and are a must visit when in Thailand. With a shallow, protected coral reef lining the islands you can enjoy snorkeling in crystal clear waters with hard and soft coral, lots of sea life, and some of Thailand’s best waters. Besides the picture perfect setting, you can also feast your eyes (and GoPro) on clownfish, anemones, butterfly fish, clams, parrotfish, and more.
This is a popular spot for diving and snorkeling tours (due to its sheer beauty), but it does mean that the corals are damaged in some places.
There is an admission fee of 100 bahts for adults (50 baht for children) to enter the snorkel site. You’ll also need to take a boat to reach the island or organize a snorkeling excursion. For more detailed information on this snorkel site, click here.
Where: Ko Phi Phi Details: If you’ve ever watched the movie The Beach, you’ve wanted to visit this jaw-droppingly beautiful setting. A strip of white sandy beach enclosed by towering green cliffs on three sides, Maya Bay is protected from the open ocean and almost entirely covered in coral reef. You’re surrounded by jungle and crystal clear waters filled with hundreds of colourful fish, but it’s worth noting that a lot of the coral life here has been damaged due to excessive tourism.
Information: Maya Bay is accessible only by boat. It’s one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations so you’ll find plenty of guided snorkeling tours and boat excursions to take you. Most of the snorkeling will happen off your boat, and the tours generally come with meals and refreshments.
If you want to avoid the crowds then you can organise for a private boat to take you to the island – try and arrive before 9 and after 5 for the quietest periods. There is also an admission tax of 200 baht per person for landing on the beach.
This is one of Thailand’s most beautiful landscapes, but be aware that you’ll be sharing the water with hundreds – if not thousands – of other snorkelers.
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