Although Koh Tao is the most famous island in the Samui Archipelago for snorkeling and diving, the small island does not have a monopoly on dive sites in the Gulf. There is over 16 km of live corals around Koh Phangan, much of which is easily accessible by swimming from shore or taking a kayak out from the beach. Because Koh Phangan is not famous for its snorkeling it is often the case that you can find yourself alone on a reef. Less people snorkeling means the marine life is less disturbed and the better the chances you have of seeing something special. Below is a list of some of the best snorkeling spots around Koh Phangan.
Koh Ma is a small island off the Mae Haad beach. It is joined to the mainland by a small sand bar. In a way Koh Ma is Koh Phangan’s Nang Yuan because it has a sand bar; it is a marine park; and has some great snorkeling.
Koh Ma has boulder, staghorn and fan corals. There is a spectacular 30 meter long anemone garden. There is an abundance of marine life to see including Blue spotted stingrays, Barracuda, Butterfly fish, Groupers and sometimes a reef shark.
This is a favorite snorkeling spot for many. The reef stretches around the bay. At the southern end it is sandy and ideal for snorkeling and diving. The reef has many brain and table corals. There are many colorful fish to see such as Butterfly fish, Angel fish, Parrot fish and Damsel fish. Haad Salad used to be a smuggler’s hideout and is a great beach to stay on.
Haad Yao is sometimes referred to as a ‘perfect beach’. The snorkeling does not disappoint either. The corals stretch for the whole length of the 1km beach. Haad Yao has a very healthy coral system that includes brain corals, table corals and barrel sponges. The coral is accessible for snorkeling from the beach and has Porcupine fish, Blue spotted rays, Parrot fish, Squirrel fish and fusiliers.
Haad Chao Phao
Haad Chao Phao is a lesser known beach on the West coast. It is a great place to snorkel uninterrupted by groups of people learning to dive. The dive site is close to the shore. There is a soft coral field where you can see Nudibranches and Blue spotted rays.
Other dive and snorkeling spots on Koh Phangan include the small beach of Haad Khom between Chaloklum and Bottle Beach, and some small islets a short boat journey away – Kong Nui and Kong Yai (both 15 minutes by longtail boat off the West coast), and Koh Tae Nok, Koh Tae Nai (off the South coast). Even if you don’t want to spend money joining diving or snorkeling trips it is possible to hire a motorbike and get to many of these snorkel sites by yourself. As always never touch the corals and don’t be tempted to take home a souvenir.