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Diving in Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe is miles from anywhere and as off the beaten path as you are likely to get in Thailand today. The longer journey will reward you with a beautiful, peaceful location with some excellent diving options.

Diving in Koh Lipe

Quick facts

Koh Lipe is a small island on the border of the Tarutao National Marine Park, close to the Malaysian border. Picture postcard white sand beaches, tropical palm trees and warm aquamarine waters make this an idyllic island destination. With an estimated 25% of the world’s tropical fish species being found here along with dugongs, dolphins, 3 species of turtle, minke and sperm whales, Koh Lipe is as mesmerising underwater as it is on land. Diving here is around the many islands that make up the Adang Archipelago. This archipelago is part of the Tarutao National Marine Park, which, including Adang, comprises of 50 islands in total. This offers a tremendous diving opportunity; there are at least 20 different dive sites that are regularly visited by the islands dive operators. You’ll dive sites around Koh Lipe plus Koh Adang, Koh Rawi, Koh Tong, Koh Lek and their surrounding smaller islands. Diving here is mainly by boat, but there are a few shore options that might better suit your schedule particularly if you like night diving. Apart from 8 Mile Rock, the dive sites are mostly within 25 mins of Koh Lipe. Rocky formations, pinnacles and boulders are the back drop to Koh Lipe’s reefs where you will see colourful soft coral and much more. There is diving here suitable for all levels with some mind blowing options for the more advanced. There are fewer divers here compared to other locations, so the underwater experience on the sought after dives is much less of a crowded affair.

When to go

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USD 510Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers
Tarutao National Marine Park – The area is comprised of over 30 islands with colourful, vibrant coral reefs abundant in varied marine life. Dugong, common dolphins, the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin, sperm whales, minke whales, several shark and ray species, innumerable reef fish and critter species have all been spotted here. No matter how many dives you make here, it won’t be enough. Stone Henge – As the name suggests, this site features several large pinnacles which rise up from the reef resembling Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. You’ll also find a boulder, hard coral slope and a stunning soft coral garden. In the deeper areas, leopard sharks and eagle rays have been spotted. On the slope, moray eels and groupers are common with the soft coral garden home to a spectrum of interesting critters. If you want diverse topographies and marine life, Stonehenge should be on your list. 8 Mile Rock – Located 8 miles / 13 kilometres south of Koh Lipe, this exposed pinnacle site is a magnet for pelagics and schooling fish. The top of the pinnacle sits at approximately 15 metres / 50 feet and goes down to 50 metres / 160 feet. This can be an exhilarating current dive with the chance to see devil rays, manta rays, leopard sharks, barracuda, groupers, trevally and even whale sharks. Koh Taru - This small island dive site is perfect for beginners, offering easy conditions and a diverse mix of corals. The reef attracts a range of marine life and critters including seahorses, nudibranch, commensal shrimps, scorpionfish and even occasional harlequin shrimp. You’ll also find sting rays, moray eels, schools of snappers and plenty of colourful reef fish darting in and out of the reef. Far Islands - This group of islands offers several stunning dive sites which are characterised by healthy, vibrant reefs, colourful soft corals, an abundance of reef fish including some larger species and a plethora of critters. These dive sites are a must for photographers as you can expect to find a host of different nudibranch, various crustaceans including harlequin crabs, moray eels, turtles, schools of colourful antheas and damsels as well as scorpionfish and other interesting bottom dwellers.

What to see

Highlights in Koh Lipe include Dugong, common dolphins, Irrawaddy dolphin, sperm and minke whales, eagle rays, leopard sharks, whale sharks, devil rays, manta rays, sting rays, barracuda and tuna. See whale sharks and manta rays at 8 Mile Rock and possibly a few other deeper sites too. Tuna, mackerel and barracuda are the reefs stalkers, and there are plenty of batfish to entertain you. You’ll see plenty of trevallies, snapper and fusiliers. Devil and eagle rays swim passed, and you might be lucky to spot a coral cat shark hiding in a nook. There’s plenty of shrimp, pipefish, nudibranch and seahorse to spot. Stonefish and scorpionfish are there to be discovered by those with keen eyes.


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Koh Lipe is a small island on the west coast of Thailand. It’s nearly 40 miles (60km) from the mainland and so far south you can see Langkawi in Malaysia on a bright day. Koh Lipe is one many islands that make up the Adang Archipelago and the only one that is inhabited.

Its remote location makes the journey to get here a little longer, and this is what has kept it relatively quieter than other island destinations. There are no cars; you can walk everywhere, and this adds to the peace. If you don’t want to walk, there are motorbike taxis with or without sidecars. The islands development is fast catching up, and although it is still beautiful, it’s not the castaway rustic island retreat that it once was. There are some great eating options and some good nightlife but not the glare you will find in Phuket.

Other attractions

If you’ve chosen Koh Lipe, it’s likely you are happy to simply get away from it all. Trips into Tarutao National Park will get you even further away from it all. You can arrange anything from half-day cruises to 4-day trekking, and camping trips.

Getting there

The closest airport is in Hat Yai and connections run daily from Suvarnabhumi Airport although there are more services from Don Muang Airport. From Hat Yai Airport, the best to the pier in Pak Bara way is a private taxi. However do note that if you land after 11.30am you will miss the last ferry and need to stay overnight.


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Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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