Ang Thong Marine Park
Koh Wua Talap - the main island with a restaurant and a few basic bungalows
The Ang Thong (“Golden Bowl”) Islands lay out about 25-30 nautical miles from Koh Samui and Phangan. We recommend to take a power boat which will be able to cover the distance in approximately one hour. However, if you are an enthusiastic sailer it can be done by sailboat in a day - but transfer times will increase to 3,5hrs+ (one way). Maybe the best way to see Ang Thong is to charter a yacht which can accommodate your group on board for an overnight trip. You the will experience this scenic location in a way only few can imagine: on your own, without other tourists in sight. Why? The tour boats flock in by 10:30am and they leave at 3:30pm - outside this timeframe you have 40+ islands with its breathtaking scenery to yourself.
the famous "Inner Lake" on Koh Mae Koh
Ang Thong was declared a national park and officially protected against development in 1980. It occupies almost 250 sq km and includes 50 sq km of limestone islands and karst topography which rise from the sea as dramatic rock cliffs and bizarre rock formations. Hundreds of beaches here in the archipelago are deserted. Get a private boat and find your own secret beach away from the crowds.
to experience THIS you have to rent a private boat
Caves, hidden lagoons, and white sand beaches are there to be explored and snorkelling among the shallow coral gardens makes for a popular and fascinating day trip. To this day the park remained largely pristine and uninhabited. It’s permissible to set foot on only the larger islands which are manned by park rangers who also collect the entrance fees.
Most of the islands are close to each other, making a breathtaking panorama when sailing around the park. All the islands are of different sizes and shapes. Most of them are covered with tropical forests and named after their distinguishing geography, a kind of descriptive appellation, such as 'Sleeping Cow Island' and 'Three Pillars Island'. Ko Wua Talap is the island that contains park headquarters as well as tourist information center, a rustic beach restaurant, a Cave, some basic tourist bungalows as well as the famous view point from where you can see the panoramic view of the National Park. Ko Wua Talap has two beaches. Both beaches are located on opposite ends of the island and it is possible to go from one to another via a short but by no means easy jungle trek (around 30 mins) using a trail. There is a rope all along the trail which ensures you do not get lost.
Admission to the marine park is normally not included in the tour fee unless otherwise specified. 300 baht/foreigner, 150 baht for foreign children under 12 years old or less than 120 cm height.
Snorkeling at Koh Wao - visibility highly varies
Towering limestone cliffs ring a large emerald lagoon, or Thale Nai (“Inner Sea”), at the centre of Koh Mae Koh. Steep steps – more like ladders in places – begin behind a beach and lead to a viewing platform placed high above the lagoon. From here you can descend close to the surface and watch fish explore the crystalline water. The lagoon inspired the book-turned-movie, The Beach. Ao Kha faces north and is within paddling distance of many small islets with overhanging ledges, making it a kayaker’s paradise. Strong kayakers can paddle from here up to Ko Mae Ko along with a natural rock bridge and empty beaches on Koh Sam Sao – both are around three kilometres north of headquarters, where maps are available. The park’s longest beach stretches on Ko Hin Dap, a less-visited island located around six kilometres north of Ao Kha.
Million Dollar viewpoint at Wua Talap
Groups of monkeys (Dusky langurs) are commonly seen on Koh Wua Talap, their shaggy white faces swinging through the treetops. You also might spot sea turtles, tortoises, monitor lizards, pythons and wild boars. Some 50 species of birds twirl through the unspoilt jungle as well. This island offers also probably one of the best hikes in Thailand. At park headquarters there is a path leading up the side of the rocks. This will take maybe 25-30 minutes to walk up, and well worth it. But be warned, this is not a hike for the faint-hearted. Make sure you have good footwear as there are sharp limestone crags which will be your foothold, especially towards the peak. With a breathtaking view of all the Ang Thong islands, the end-result of the hike is well worth it. Beware though, the hike is very steep in some sections and offer questionable ropes to hang on to. But this hike alone will justify your trip to Ang Thong.
The chain’s largest island is Ko Phaluai, located eight kilometres south of Wua Talap and drawing far fewer tours. However, it is worth a visit due to a fantastic seafood restaurant catering for visitors. There is also a very nice usually deserted sandy beach on Paluay and Ko Hin Lak, resembles “James Bond Island” in Phang Nga Bay.
The best snorkeling can be found at Koh Wao which is about 7 miles north of the Kho Wua Talap. However, please be aware, that despite many tour companies give a completely different impression, the Marine Park does NOT offer a particularly great visibility due to a large river bringing in sediments from the mainland. Koh Wao is situated in deeper waters than the southern part of the park, so here you find always the best conditions. As with all outdoor activities, the visibility depends on a large nr of factors and is sometimes great, sometimes mediocre. If snorkeling is your main focus, we recommend to cruise to Koh Tao.