Excursion from Koh Phangan
One of the best excursions from Koh Phangan is to the nearby group of small islands known as the Angthong National Marine Park. It is a protected area that was not open to the public until 1980. It is a collection of over 40 islets that are mostly uninhabited and have a good selection of wildlife and marine life. It also has some splendid scenery and a breathtaking inland lake.
Until 1980 the collection of islands known collectively as Angthong was a naval base for the Thai navy. Now it is a national park. It costs 200 Thai Baht for foreigners to enter (40 Thai Baht for Thai nationals).
About Angthong National Marine ParkThe 42 islets cover an area of 250 sq km. The islands are the peaks of limestone mountains that finish in Nakhon Si Thammarat. The islands have wonderful rock formations from which they take their names such as Sleeping Cow Island and 3 Pillars Island. There are also dramatic cliffs, hidden beaches and lush forest.
Wildlife in AngthongThe islands are home to a variety of animals including 40 types of tropical birds, dusky langurs, short tailed macaques and sea otters. The sea around the islands is also rich in corals and marine life. One of the best diving and snorkeling spots is around Koh Sam Sao. It is an area that has fan corals and a wealth of fish to spot. Sometimes dolphins can be seen in the area too. Most diving schools on Koh Phangan have trips to Angthong Marine Park year round except in July when the currents change and make visibility bad. Recommended diving specialists in Koh Phangan is H2O Scuba School.
The park headquarters is on the largest island, Koh Wua Talab. Here it is possible to hire guides to see something of the interiors of the islands. On the same island there are treks to impressive viewpoints of the archipelago. Also on Koh Wua Talab is a camping ground with tents for hire. Staying the night in Angthong is wonderful because you have beautiful beaches all to yourself like you were Robinson Crusoe.
Golden Basin HighlightThe highlight of a trip to Angthong National Park is a visit to Koh Mae Ko. It is an island that contains a big lake with turquoise water. Surrounding the lake is a golden basin (‘angthong’ in Thai) that gives the name to the archipelago.
Other activities in AngthongAs well as trekking, snorkeling and diving, other popular activities include sea canoeing and exploring limestone caves. The whole area has pristine natural scenery that is well worth the effort getting to the island.
Other than the park headquarters the only other inhabited island is Koh Paluay that is a semi-permanent home to sea gypsies.