Koh Lipe Snorkeling: Turtles, Fish And Finding Nemo!

Koh Lipe snorkeling is some of the best in Thailand. The island’s clear, calm and warm waters are simply stunning.

In fact, snorkeling in the Andaman Sea is some of the best in the world. There’s an abundance of marine life including fish, turtles, coral reef and bioluminescent plankton at night time.

Unlike snorkeling in other parts of Thailand, snorkeling here can be done on the beach without taking a long boat ride. The freedom of being able to snorkel where you like for how long you like is wonderful. And the price is free!

Shot of a Nemo clown fish taken on my Koh Lipe snorkeling trip

Shot of a Nemo clown fish taken on my Koh Lipe snorkeling trip

Koh Lipe’s waters are safe and ideal for nervous swimmers, or people who can’t swim at all. The ocean here also perfect for making underwater videos and pictures.

Read our in-depth guide and review of Koh Lipe snorkeling, including the best places, the price, tours and packages. It really is one of the most fun water activities around.

What’s the  best time of the year for snorkeling on Koh Lipe?

Snorkeling in Koh Lipe is best in high season, when the ocean is still and cleaner. Plus, there are day trips and tours running to all of the islands in the Butang Archipelago and the Tarutao Marine Park (the area of the Andaman sea where Koh Lipe is).

Low season brings rain and storms which can cause the waters to be cloudy, and trips can be cancelled if there is heavy rain.

The only islands open for snorkeling in low season (May – November) are Koh Adang, Koh Kra and Koh Usen – the area directly surrounding Koh Lipe. Excursions therefore follow a much reduced schedule.

However, one positive in low season is the lack of crowds. Many of the nearby snorkeling spots are deserted. This also makes it safer as there are fewer tourists and boats to bump into.

What’s more, low season is vastly cheaper. Beach front  bungalows are about a third or even a quarter of the price of high season. Pick a bright, sunny day in June and you’ll get the benefits of price, peacefulness and favourable weather, too.

Experienced snorkelers can watch my Koh Lipe snorkeling video shot in mid June (above) to see how clear the water is compared with the hotter, dryer seasons. But for holidaymakers and hobby amateurs, low season snorkeling seems fine.

Do-it-yourself snorkeling

The phrase do it yourself snorkeling is something I’ve coined myself after a visit to Lipe. Snorkeling trips on Similan Islands and other popular snorkeling spots in Thailand require a one or two hour speedboat ride to get there.

However, Koh Lipe is already an island in the middle of the sea. So you are already thereJust grab a snorkel, mask and fins and hit the beach.

Koh Lipe snorkeling... just jump in a kayak and paddle to a nearby island

Koh Lipe snorkeling… just jump in a kayak and paddle to a nearby island

A Sergeant Major Fish in Koh Lipe

A Sergeant Major Fish in the Andaman Sea off Koh Lipe

But it gets better. Koh Lipe has three tiny uninhabited islands within easy reach of its shores. We’re talking five to ten minutes in a kayak. Or up to 45 minutes for confident paddlers that want to go further out by themselves to Koh Adang and Koh Talak.

The availability of fish and beautiful underwater marine life so close to the beach makes it great for families. Parents can take their young children snorkeling without the worry of being far out in the ocean.

Koh Lipe’s Sunrise Beach is the perfect launch spot for swimming or paddling out to these secluded beauty spots. Put the snorkel gear, water and a snack in in the kayak and set out for one of these nearby islands. They are the best places for snorkeling in Koh Lipe.

Islands that can be reached in a Kayak from Koh Lipe

Koh Usen: A small rock island five minutes paddling in a kayak from Sunrise Beach
Koh Kra: Ten to 15 minutes paddling from Sunrise beach. Koh Kra also has two small very secluded and private sandy beaches 
Koh Hin Kao: Small island behind Koh Kra
Koh Talak: Uninhabited rock island 
Koh Adang: Large island with beaches, and mountains with stunning views over Koh Lip. 45 minutes to one hour paddling from Koh Lipe

Snorkeling day trips

There are many organised snorkeling day trips and tours available in high season. They include longtail boat and speedboat trips to any of the islands in the Butang Archipelago and Tarutao Marine Park.

These involve island hopping – which means stopping at four or more islands in one day. Some of the tours offer camping overnight on the secluded islands – but beware of the bugs.

Some Koh Lipe snorkeling trips offer overnight camping at islands in the Butang Archipelago

Some Koh Lipe snorkeling trips offer overnight camping at islands in the Butang Archipelago

Turtles can be found in the Andaman Sea around Koh Lipe and its neighbouring islands

Turtles can be found in the Andaman Sea around Koh Lipe and its neighbouring islands

Koh Lipe snorkeling trip prices start from 500 baht per person, or up to 2,500 baht for longer trips that include overnight camping, food and refreshments. Most tours begin at 9am and finish between 3pm and 5pm. Sunset snorkeling trips which include glow-in-the-dark bioluminescent plankton finish a 8pm or 9pm.

Snorkel tours are reduced in low season and they need a minimum of five visitors to run. For this reason,  it may be necessary to charter a private longtail boat. Private longatail boats are only 1,000 baht in low season so it’s still the same price as two people on a regular scheduled Koh Lipe snorkeling tour, with  the added bonus of privacy and a personal captain.

Sunset snorkeling tours on Koh Lipe include the chance to swim with glowing plankton

Sunset snorkeling tours on Koh Lipe include the chance to swim with glowing plankton

Most resorts and hotels can organise snorkeling excursions for their guests. And many even have their own boats. However, there are dozens of tour companies along Walking Street that offer great deals.

Snorkeling tours also provide equipment such as masks, fins and snorkels, life jkackets for those who can’t swim, as well as supplies of water, and lunch.

Koh Lipe marine life

Koh Lipe marine life is rich and varied. It includes many different species of tropical fish, turtles, bioluminescant plankton, coral reefs, starfish, seahorses, crabs, and much, much more.

Many people see the following tropical fish on Koh Lipe snorkeling trips… Sergeant Major Fish, Clown Fish (Nemo), Pennant Butterfly Fish, Puffer Fish, Blue Parrot Fish.

There are sometimes small jellyfish during the rainy season but these are not harmful or dangerous. In fact, the marine life found in Koh Lipe snorkeling trips is almost all entirely safe and friendly.

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