Who wouldn’t want to lie on a beautiful sandy beach with glittering blue seas surrounded by an ocean vista? Where is this place and does it exist? It does, and it goes by the name of Koh Lipe. An L-shaped, lush tropical island in the Andaman sea filled with so much splendour that it has been dubbed as the ‘Maldives of Thailand’!
In our opinion, the Maldives should be dubbed as the ‘Koh Lipe of the Indian ocean’.
Koh Lipe is a small island that lies in the Adang Rawi archipelago and belongs to the Satun province in Thailand, close to the Malaysian border. Like a well-kept secret, Koh Lipe has just recently been fully developed as a tourist destination.
It’s easy to reach its golden shores as there are both ferry and speedboat transfers available from the mainland like Ko Lanta, Pak Bara, Phi Phi and Trang. Once you get there, the first thing you see is one of Koh Lipe’s most famous beach which is only one of many in this crystal clear ocean paradise.
The Beaches of Koh Lipe
As you arrive at the small port in Koh Lipe the first thing you see is Pattaya beach, the islands most popular beach. It’s a great way to arrive at a new destination and really sets the tone for what to expect.
Your whole body has already started to relax as you see the iconic high tail boats sway gently with the waves. This beach will not get confused with the other Pattaya beach on the mainland close to Bangkok. No, the only thing they have in common is sand and ocean. But here in Koh Lipe, this is no ordinary sand, it’s so smooth, so fine-grained that the locals could manufacture highly reliable hourglasses if they wanted to. And then they could rinse them in the majestic blue water which is so clear that you might think that those £12 sunglasses you bought at the airport came in Ultra HD!
Pattaya Beach Koh Lipe
Pattaya is Koh Lipe’s main beach and lies in a sheltered bay next to Walking street where you can find an array of restaurants, bars, accommodations and shops. Usually, when people arrive at Pattaya they can’t decide whether to jump in immediately or go into town to rent snorkelling equipment. Thankfully, with the perks of being on a small island, there is no need to travel long distances in a poorly ventilated bus sitting next to caged chicken when in Koh Lipe you only have to swim a couple of meters to start exploring the local reefs.
As this is the most metropolitan area in Koh Lipe it can get quite busy during high season as it is the only real cluster of buildings on the island. But no worries, other amazing beaches are within a walking distance, no joke! It is possible to walk around the island in about an hour as it is only 2km long! In general, travellers get used to walking on Koh Lipe as there are no cars and only a few motorbikes around, preferable means of transportation in this part of the world is by tail boats or speed boat.
For the early morning person, on the east side of the island, you can find the aptly named Sunrise Beach (Haad Chao Ley) It’s fairly long (around 800m) and lies in a wide shallow bay well protected by the monsoon in low-season and benefits from an ocean breeze during high season. This beautiful beach lets no-one down with its powdery sand and clear waters. Sunrise Beach might sound similar to Pattaya except it’s more laidback and has a great view towards Koh Adang, the next island to Koh Lipe. If you are looking for even more peace and quiet then Pattaya and don’t mind a little walk then this is your spot.
Chao Ley village, which the beach takes its name from is close by and has both shops and some restaurants. Accommodations are more spread out in this area compared with Pattaya beach.
Sunset Beach (Haad Pramong) is one of the shorter beaches on Koh Lipe, around 200m long and radiates a cool, hip vibe with its thatch and driftwood-built bars and restaurants.
Sunset Beach treats every creature of nature the same way so no matter where you sit you will enjoy every second of earth’s rotation as the sun slowly bids you a good evening.
As you top up on your drinks and enjoy the shift when day becomes night and you can feel notes of music resonate in the still coconuts above followed by the evening breeze.
There are more beaches to check out like Sanom beach, hidden in plainsight next to Pattaya beach! Or check out the Billa miniature Beach which lies between Sunset and Pattaya beaches. There are so many beaches in this little paradise plot of land that some of them are not even named. But what they all have in common besides the exotic crystal clear blue waters and soft sand are the beach activities, and I am not talking about sandcastles, though of course they are allowed.
Snorkelling and Scuba Diving in Koh Lipe
The most popular activity on the island is snorkelling and scuba diving.
In the area, there are many well-known dive points which is no wonder as there is much to see underwater in Koh Lipe. The colourful coral reefs are home to around a quarter of the world’s tropical fish species can be seen there. They are usually easy to spot as most of them are quite vivid in colour and stay around the coral. Some of the dive points even have names which can suggest what you can find if you look under the waves like “8 Mile Rock” Though I am not sure you can find Eminem there! “Sting Ray City” Don’t let the “sting” part in Sting ray mislead you, apparently they are very misunderstood or check out “Yong Hua shipwreck” I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a bar on Walking street with that name.
In Koh Lipe, there are many dive centres around. There you can find information and even be taught how to dive so you could get a PADI, an open water certificate. So, there is no chance you might miss out on the underwater adventures that await you around the island.
If you finish exploring the seaboard you can also go sea-kayaking which is a great way to explore nearby uninhabited tropical islands and reefs, like Ko Usen and Ko Kra. If you came here to chill out maybe going sailing on a classic long-tail thai boat is maybe more your thing if you are feeling romantic.
If you miss firm land, you can always trek around the island and investigate the lush tropical vegetation in between sessions at the beach. The island rewards explorers with great treasures as there are many small beaches off the beaten path so you could take a nap and imagine you were the last man on earth.
Koh Lipe: The Island
Travellers can find all the necessary things needed for a beach holiday on Walking Street as well as other shops around the island like convenience stores and mini-marts.
The locals are resourceful and in some places, you can find handcrafted souvenirs and handmade jewellery in Koh Lipe. Thai cuisine and gourmet seafood, in general, are popular eats among tourists and locals alike but you can find also find other choices including western food, Indian, Italian, vegetarian and many more.
The nightlife in Koh Lipe is very well alive and involves anything from cocktails and casual drinking to international DJs and even full moon parties! The majority of bars and clubs are on Walking Street but you can easily find a watering hole anywhere on the island.
Koh Lipe isn’t the only amazing island around. Nearby there are some uninhabited islands to check out. Go and speak with the locals or the dive centres and inquire about dive spots around the mysterious islands. You can then venture out there on a tail boat and check out some dive spots which probably has fewer visitors than the ones close to Koh Lipe and find the tropical fishes that stick to the more discreet spots.
On the two large islands Koh Dang and Koh Rawi there are Bungalows and a ranger station where it is possible to camp if you wanna try out your Desert island discs.
Whatever your wish, we are certain that a stay at Koh Lipe would be a memorable experience for anyone looking for a unique holiday.
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