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Koh Lipe Snorkelling Trip

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Introduction
Charter vs Join-on
Tips
Snorkelling Sites
Package
Itinerary
Price

Introduction

There is nowhere in Thailand that has coral that can be compared to that around Lipe.

It is possible to cover all the snorkelling sites in one day, but a better idea is to take two days over them. If you want to book 2 days snorkelling, simply book this trip twice and we will take you to different places on each day.

The incredibly clear water and excellent visibility around Lipe are other factors contributing to its snorkelling and scuba reputation. A snorkeling trip around Lipe is a kaleidoscopic odyssey through all the colours of the rainbow.
The base colours are the deep blue of the open sea, and the emerald, turquoise and aquamarines of the shallower waters. This blue/green-based palette is augmented by every shade imaginable, once the snorkeller ventures beneath the surface.

 

“The highlight of our daytrip was the dolphins jumping clean out of the water – pity I was looking the other way at the time”.

 

Private Charter vs Join-on

All snorkeling trips from Lipe are by traditional longtail boat. These are perfectly comfortable for up to about 6 people, everybody can find a bench or flat space to stretch out, maybe using a life jacket as a cushion or pillow. For more than 6 people, however, longtail boats are not so great.
When 12 people are squashed together like choirboys in a pew, they become distinctly uncomfortable for journeys longer than twenty minutes or so. Because all the snorkelling sites are near to Lipe, the cost of a private charter is low, making it an option within the financial means of most travelers.
Comfort isn’t the only benefit of a private charter. When nobody else is on the boat, you can more or less set your own agenda – nobody will hurry you up to get back in the boat, you never have to wait for other people to get back in the boat, and there is no agenda that needs to be stuck to.
Join-on trips can be purchased for as little as THB 700, and there is no need to book in advance, provided you are staying on Lipe a few days. If you arrive on the island wanting to go on a join-on snorkelling trip the next day, you may be disappointed, as all boats may be full. If, however, you can wait an extra day, you will almost always be OK.
Private boat charters cost a maximum of THB 1,600 per person (less for groups larger than 2 people). For these, however, availability is a different story. The local tour operators would much rather take a boatful of people out on a join-on trip, as by doing so they earn way more money.

 

If you haven’t pre-booked, you may get lucky and find a boat, or you may have a very frustrating experience. As it’s Thailand, you won’t be told ‘no’, as Thai people hate to disappoint you. You’ll be told ‘maybe’/’possibly’/’perhaps’/’sure’, possibly for days on end, and possibly never ending up going. If you book in advance with us, you are guaranteed a boat on the day you want, for the same price you would pay direct (we earn our revenue from the commissions that your operators pay us, not from our customers).

 

Tips

Shave - your mask will fit better.

Bring some bread or rice. Bring some along, and create your very own feeding frenzy wherever you go.

Soft drinks and food. Don’t rely on finding refreshment anywhere, bring all food and drink with you. There is a great place to buy sandwiches and drinks at the departure point.

Life jackets. Wearing one stops you diving down deep to take a closer look, but they are a good idea if you are getting tired, as they offer virtually effortless access to the underwater cornucopias.

Toilets. There are no toilets on the boats, making this trip unsuitable for small children. There is a toilet at the halfway point in the trip, on White Sand Beach on Rawi Island. If you have an upset stomach, tell the tour operator – if your problem isn’t too acute, we can offer a cut-down version of the day’s fun, and keep you fairly close to the toilet on White Sand Beach. If your problem is acute, don’t go. Maybe your trip can be postponed, ring us and we’ll do our best.

Things to Bring. Suntan lotion, sunglasses, camera.

 

Sites

In April 2010 we revisited all the Lipe snorkeling and beach sites, and found them to be in great shape, with no evidence of dynamite fishing, and minimal signs of anchor damage. Some sites are better than others. Three of the nearest sites to Lipe are somewhat uninspiring and are best avoided – these are Ja Bang, Koh Yang and Hat Somchai on Koh Rawi. The following beach and snorkelling sites are great, and get top marks:

 

Hin Sawn (Rock On Top)

A large pile of improbably-piled rocks marks this spot, capped with a single giant boulder . The area to the west of the boulders usually has a gentle current running, which causes the soft corals to bloom, increasing in size and colour, so attracting even more fish.

Tigerfish are numerous here – they won’t bite, but they may inadvertently nibble your fingers if offered a handful of bread. Yellow and black-banded bannerfish swim by in graceful columns, their banners streaming behind them. Red-bellied Fusiliers chase each other in courtship rituals (or maybe they’re just playing hide and seek, a game the fish will always win, if you decide to try and join in).

 

Koh Pai (Bamboo Island)

The fish here are more exotic and varied here, if not particularly numerous. Speckled rainbowfish compete for the eye’s attention with threadfin bannerfish or triggerfish (we’re not sure which they are). Moray eels glare menacingly at all-comers, and don’t retreat back into their lairs if approached – don’t get too close to these fish.

They don’t seem very good predators, as they’re such an obvious menace, but their size attests that they must be. Clownfish (‘nemos’) make a beautiful image surrounded by the swaying tentacles of their soft coral anemone homes, and make tentative sorties out, scurrying home at the approach of anything as small as a can of coke, or as big as a human.
The cleanerfish are less timid, and will take a nibble on you if you stand and rest on a rock for a while, even if you took a shower that morning. These nibbles don’t hurt, but if you want to avoid them, just keep moving.

 

Koh Dong (Dong Island)

This is the best place near Lipe, and quite probably in the whole kingdom, to see hard corals.

The colours are kaleidoscopic, with shades of purple, vivid blue, pink, mother of pearl and yellow being in precedence. The coral here will stun the senses of most snorkellers, it looks like a surreal tableau from a different planet, resembling nothing above the waves.

Mounds of marshmallow seem to have frozen in mid-melt, while concentric circles of fan coral look so delicate that they shouldn’t be strong enough to exist. Enormous table corals are big enough to feed a small army off, while giant brain corals do resemble a brain, but infinitely more beautifully than the real thing. The colours manage to be vivid without being lurid - it’s nature’s perfect taste at work, even the brightest of Her colours avoiding being garish or anything but beautiful to behold.   

 

Koh Rokloy

This little islet forms a welcome shore break for snorkellers to have a bit of terra firma under their feet for a while. A short and easy trail leads to the top of the island, which offers panoramic views of the islands around Lipe.

 

Koh Peung (Bee Island)

Drift diving is a common enough experience for scuba diving, but drift snorkeling is a novelty for most snorkellers. It works like this: the boat drops you off, then motors downstream (keeping out of your way) and waits for you to arrive.

A lifejacket is recommended for all but the strongest swimmers, not just for safety, but also because the lifejacket enhances the experience considerably.

All the swimmer has to do is … absolutely nothing – just lie motionless in the water and drift over the pretty corals and their exotically decorated inhabitants. Quoy’s Parrotfish are fairly common here, and if you look carefully you may spot Moon or Four-spot Wrasse.

 

Hat Ling (Monkey Beach)

Our simian cousins aren’t as well-mannered as they are cute, so watch out here. If you want to give them food, give them all of it at once, and then show them that you have none left. For parties with children this is an indispensable stop, but other groups are advised to move on after a quick look. This is certainly not a good place to eat lunch, unless you want to defend it from all-comers (that’s the monkeys, not the other visitors). There are plenty of better spots for lunch nearby on the southern coast of Koh Rawi, which has several kilometers of pristine and uninhabited beach for you to choose from. You can find a deserted stretch of beach, even in peak season.

 

Hat Sigh Cow, Koh Rawi (White Sand Beach, Rawi Island)

This lovely beach forms a welcome break on solid ground from the day’s sea safari. There is a toilet and café/restaurant, which has usually run out of just about everything.

The sand on the beach lives up to its name, and is so dazzlingly white that it’s painful to look at without sunglasses. The beach is fairly narrow, which isn’t so great, but what is excellent is that branches of the mature trees bordering the beach completely shade it from the sun. This is a most welcome respite, as this is a day in which you will get a lot of sunshine (assuming you’re not very unlucky with the weather). The big trees next to the beach also provide swings and climbing opportunity for the young, and also for the not so young. One of the swings is rather difficult to get on to, but strong enough to take 2 people, if one person sits on the other person’s lap.

 

Hin Ngam (Beautiful Rock)

The hard and soft corals here rival those at Koh Dong. So many colours and shapes compete for the eye’s attention that no snorkeller can be disappointed, however fantastic his or her prior experiences have been.

The brain corals are a particular highlight here – they are enormous and of varied colours, some are as big as wheelbarrows, and all are covered in the beautiful filigree pattern that gives them their name.
Table corals, fine-spined corals, mushroom corals, mountain corals and masses of staghorn corals further decorate the underwater garden, accompanied by other species that we have as yet been unable to identify.
You’ll need to look carefully to spot a Black-spotted Toadfish or an Eight-banded Butterflyfish, but you can’t miss the numerous ‘nemo’ clownfish drifting in and out of their gorgeous homes of soft swaying anemone coral.
Most parties land on the little headland covered with beautiful black smooth rocks which gives the site its name.

 

 

Package

In partnership with our local snorkeling contractor, a leading local company which owns 11 boats, we have put together a package which covers all the best sites. It is a long day out, and some people will find that they have insufficient energy for all the snorkeling spells. Such customers are welcome to simply decide as they go along, on the spur of the moment, what they want to do. Snorkelling sites and/or beaches can be skipped at will, and at any time the customer can ask the boatman to head back to Lipe. In order to cater for customers cutting short the trip, we have included a great coral destination, and a great fish-viewing destination, in the first part of the itinerary.

 

Itinerary

09.00 Customer walks to pickup point on Pattaya beach, arrives 9am
09.30 Boat leaves
10.00 Arrive Hin Sawn, snorkel 30 mins
10.45 Arrive Koh Pai, snorkel 30 mins
11.30 Arrive Koh Dong, snorkel 20 mins
12.00 Arrive Koh Rokloy, relax
12.30 Arrive Koh Peung, drift snorkel 20 mins
13.00 Arrive Hat Ling, lunch 40 minutes
14.00 Arrive Hat Sigh Cow, swim and play
14.45 Arrive Hin Ngam, snorkel
15.30 Dropoff Pattaya beach

Lunch and drinks are not included, equipment is.

 

Prices

Charter for minimum 2 people - THB 2,200 each, each additional adult THB 1,000, each additional child THB 500. Price includes fins as well as snorkel & mask, plus lunch and water. No pick up or drop off is included, please walk to Moonlight Resort to meet up with your boat.

Join-on - Not available for advance booking.

 


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