Touristing Ko Lanta

We’ve had two and a half lovely lazy weeks on Ko Lanta. Okay, they weren’t lazy, we were working. We just weren’t running all over the island ticking off the tourist bucket list.

We were running and walking the beach every day, sometimes a quick dip in the sea, avoiding sea lice as much as we could. Definitely spending longer than necessary reading books in a hammock.

By our second weekend, I was ready to explore a bit more. I was also ready to spend a day in water that didn’t try to sting me. At one of our regular restaurants, the staff convinced us that a snorkel trip would be worth it so we booked a day out to Ko Rok and Ko Ha. I’m not sure why they print prices in the brochures. Every booking agent will give you a better price.

We were a little bit apprehensive about a number of things – the trip being super crowded, the coral reefs being completely dead, and the environmental damage snorkel tourism might cause.

We were unable to answer the questions without seeing for ourselves so we took the plunge. It’s entirely possible that looking after the coral reefs becomes more important if an activity brings money into the region. Maybe the rise of tourism would mean a drop in worse industries. I probably need to do more research.

We were picked up on time, directly from the beach by Lanta Gardenhill Speedboats. At first, it seemed the boat wouldn’t be too crowded. At the various stops along various beaches, most people seemed to be getting on to the boat which was presumably heading to 4 islands, another popular snorkel destination.

However, eventually, we filled up with 25-30 people, which I suppose is much better than the maximum of 40 people.

Although the day started sunny, a storm was brewing as we sped across the ocean to Ko Rok. The waves splashed inside the boat and drenched us all. I was even a bit cold and started to wonder if we’d made the right choice.

The sun started to return as we got to the marine national park. We tied up on a buoy at the first snorkelling spot at Ko Rok, alongside three or four other boats. Luckily, the section of the reef was large and once face down in the water, we didn’t see many other snorkelers.

Ko Rok

Despite being told not to touch or stand on anything I did catch someone from our boat grab onto a coral rock to hold himself down while taking a picture. I gave him a hand signal telling off though.

The reef seemed to be in relatively good condition; I’ve certainly seen worse. I loved the clown fish swimming around the sea anemones and the angel fish darting around the coral. We saw some blowfish and parrot fish and other fish. I saw my first sea snake. It was long and skinny with black and white stripes. I’ve no idea whether they are poisonous or not, but I kept a good distance.

Turns out they are venomous but rarely bite.

The second Ko Rok snorkel spot was not quite as good as the first. We tied up on a coral rock. The reef was shallow and not quite as varied as the first spot. I did see some newly growing sea anemone. It looked like someone had planted it in a purple bag and was ‘reforesting’ the reef but Barry thinks that’s how they grow. Quite cool.

We had lunch on the main island and chilled out on the super white soft sand and swam in the lovely crystal clear water. There were some huts on the island, accommodation which looked like it might be run by the national park service. It would definitely be great to spend a night there. When the crowds leave after lunch it must be the most beautiful spot in the world. Maybe next time.

The third spot was at Ko Ha, where we tied up to a buoy along with a number of other boats. It wasn’t quite as good. It might have been the strong currents but the snorkel area was quite small so we felt the crowds a bit more. Still not bad but if you were on a budget, it might be just as nice to go only to Ko Rok and skip Ko Ha.

Ko Ha (translates to five islands)

All in all, it was an enjoyable day and I’m glad we went. There were no stingy things in the water. We only got a little bit sunburnt.

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