Angthong Marine Park 2018 : Koh Samui
Opens again after rainy season

Let’s cover the basics of Angthong Marine Park quite quickly: it’s beautiful, and you need to go there. Actually, you’ve probably already seen it without realising. When Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t splendidly shirtless and fighting crocodiles, his character in The Beach spent some time at Angthong’s beautiful, bright blue lake: Thale Nai, or Emerald Lake.

Angthong Marine Park: quick stats
  • 42 islands comprise this protected archipelago. If you’re picturing a “park-park”, replace picnic benches in your mind with, oh, three dozen more islands.
  • 41 of the islands are uninhabited. Sea gypsies are said to live on one, living as traditional fishermen.
  • Angthong means “Golden Bowl”.
  • Park size: 250 square kilometres.
  • 16 types of mammals are found across the island (or so says Wikipedia).

Why visit Angthong Marine Park?
Even if you’ve spent time in other beautiful corners of Thailand – this place has extra-special all over. It’s remote, a few hours’ boat from Koh Samui (depending on the boat), though the islands’ composition looks even further removed. (Mountains and rock faces are limestone, as opposed to Koh Samui’s rich, orange-red, earth).

Your Angthong options
Get there in a big boat, little boat, private boat, busy boat, fast boat or by sail boat. Many Koh Samui charter companies have a range of craft to suit your budget and size of group. Be sure to ask what’s included and not – i.e. life jackets, water and snacks, snorkel gear, etc. Also check in advance the availability of shade on the boat you choose!

Your day at Angthong National Marine Park
Yes – it will be a full day, so keep that in mind when planning your Samui itinerary. This is really not an excursion you want to miss. Group bookings will depart on a set schedule with designated times at each island stop – i.e. a few hours set aside for snorkelling. The largest island, Koh Wua Ta Lap, operates as a sort of “Camp HQ”, with a small restaurant and adjacent museum (perhaps a stretch of the term). The food is along ‘get what you’re given’ lines – it’s basic but not really the point of your trip. Call it sustenance on a nature outing, rather than Pad Thai of a lifetime.

To see Leo’s Lake, you’ve got the option of hiking up some stairs to enjoy the view. You can’t swim in it or go near it – but nature’s better appreciated in a “look but don’t touch” sort of way, right? Back down at sea level, you’ll have time to enjoy your desert island experience, swim, snorkel and enjoy your group’s company. Some charters offer kayaking as a separate option – the only way to see some of the caves up close.

Booking a trip to Angthong
If you have a big group, a tight schedule or specific requirements – certainly inquire with boat charters in advance, by email. Many have expat involvement so English language communication isn’t a problem. However, if you’d like to wait and see, it’s definitely possible to book your Angthong day-trip with little notice once on Koh Samui or Koh Phangan. You’ll find booking offices and travel agents all over Samui. Otherwise, check with your hotel and have them do the legwork. It’ll cost more, but laziness and holidays go so well together.

Coming to Samui in November or December?
The park is closed to visitors from November 1st through December 23rd yearly, to give nature and its creatures a break. That said, this period is Koh Samui’s rainy season, with high likelihood of very rough seas. You don’t want to go to Angthong at that time of year, anyway. Promise. (See our ideas for rainy day activities on Koh Samui).

What to bring with you to Angthong
You might appreciate the function of the following things both on the boat to Angthong Marine Park,  and while spending time on Samui beaches more generally. From top left:

  • Waterbuoy floating recovery device for your keys, camera or phone
  • Microfibre travel towel, if you like to dry quickly and pack light!
  • Waterproof iPhone case (or waterproof digital camera case)
  • Dry bag – great if you have babies and nappies to contend with, or expensive camera gear
  • A reliable sunscreen with high SPF, and a sunhat (with or without dinosaurs)
  • Seasickness bands, if you’re so afflicted

See, as well, our recommendations for polarising filters for your camera – they’ll make your ocean shots.

Any advice for Angthong Marine Park?
Above all – be smart with the sun and do take a hat. Bring water, unless you’ve checked that your charter provides it. Getting from your boat to the island, you’ll likely need to hop in an out of a longtail boat tender – just a mention if anyone in your group would struggle.

The climbs up to the viewpoints are quite steep – highly recommended if you’re in decent shape (and are wearing shoes or sandals up to the job).

Finally – check the weather forecast before departing. If poor weather is predicted, perhaps postpone your day trip to avoid a rough journey. Channelling Leo in The Beach is one thing, Titanic… quite another.

Angthong Marine Park: reality vs expectation
Unlike the movie and the postcards, there will be other people at Angthong. It’s a great spot and, while not over-run, many TripAdvisor comments bemoan: “Lovely spot, shame about everyone else”. Depart for Angthong with realistic expectations. Yes, it’s absolutely paradise, but it’s not going to be all yours. Compare:

Still prettier than where you’re currently sitting? To have more control over your day at Angthong and where you stop, considering booking a more personalised charter.

However you make it happen – do be sure to get to Angthong Marine Park at least once in your lifetime. We insist! For more detailed Angthong coverage, and everything else worth trying/buying/tasting on Koh Samui,Enjoy!