Koh Phangan offers the best access to the Gulf of Thailand’s premier dive site, Sail Rock. With some good local dive sites, access to Koh Tao’s diving and plenty of things to do on land Koh Phangan is a good choice.
Similar to the neighbouring island of Koh Samui, many dive trips visit the sites around Koh Tao, with one big difference; Sail Rock. From Koh Phangan, Sail Rock can be reached in just 15 minutes by speed boat and around an hour on a normal dive boat. Probably the best dive site in the area, Sail Rock usually makes it into any Thailand dive site must see list.
Shore dives are possible in Koh Phangan but only around the small island called Koh Ma. This isle connects to the main island via a sandbank. Otherwise diving close to the island is on fringing reefs that offer mainly hard corals, some interesting topography and vibrant reef fish.
While Sail Rock can experience current, dive sites are mostly calm and suitable for entry level but still pleasing for more advanced divers too. It’s a good place to test the waters for the first time and for newer divers to get some experience too. It’s a quieter training area than neighbouring Koh Tao so groups will be smaller and courses more relaxed. Although the gulfs best dive site lies just off the coast, diving is not a headliner on the island. It does, however, make a great spot for those divers who travel with non-divers but still want to get a few great dives in without a problem.
Whale sharks cruise into Sail Rock around soar around the pinnacle. The best time to see them is March, April time, but you can be lucky outside of this time too. A glorious school of batfish shimmer in the blue here too. The number of barracudas can be a little intimidating. Around the island, you’ll find colourful reef fishes and an array of macro delights too. Bluespotted ribbontailed rays are common reef dwellers to the area and some quite sizeable groupers too.
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Koh Phangan is an island that lies off the east coast of Thailand. It’s home to the infamous Full Moon Party. Urban legend has it that around 30 years ago Paradise Bungalows welcomed 20 or so travellers to their simple resort with a party lit by the full moon. Today it can attract up to 30 thousand neon painted partiers to Haad Rin Beach to dance until dawn. Its popularity has spawned more parties with names like Half Moon Party and Black Moon Party. While these parties may help extend revellers stay they don’t have the same draw. Outside of the few day’s pre and post a Full Moon Party the island returns to a normal holiday destination renowned for beautiful beaches, scenery and spiritual, health and wellness journeys.
Typical of the surrounding islands, the early inhabitants would have been fishermen and coconut farmers and not so typically, tin miners. Coconuts are still important to Koh Phangan’s industry, but tourism is now the mainstay. Resort development circles the 25 miles (40km) of coastline and there are numerous beach areas to choose from and explore. As a rough rule of thumb, the further away from Haad Rin, the quieter the area is likely to be. The interior is mountainous and covered with jungle and while resorts and retreats do perch higher up it's mostly inaccessible.
The marine reserve of Ang Thong lies within easy reach of Koh Phangan and makes a great day trip of beautiful scenery. Koh Phangan has many spiritual, health and wellness options that will nicely complement a relaxing rejuvenating holiday.
The closest airport is on the neighbouring island of Koh Samui. Numerous daily connections are available from Bangkok. From Koh Samui, it’s just a half hour ferry ride to Koh Phangan. Budget airlines land at airports on the mainland at Nakhon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani. These leave from Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok rather than Suvarnabhumi Airport. They do link to ferry services, but this route is the slower option.