Since we love the ocean so much, one of our main quests during our last trip to Trat was to find the best snorkeling in Koh Chang and enjoy it as much as possible. We actually booked our accommodations based on the possibility of snorkeling in several different locations. Since online content about Koh Chang snorkeling is in small supply and mostly consists of dive center and tour company advertising, we wanted to share our detailed discoveries for fellow snorkeling aficionados!
Virtually anyway near the water in Thailand, snorkeling will be available. However, the quality, cost and convenience of snorkeling excursions varies greatly. We always prefer to be able to snorkel right off the beach whenever possible. This way, we can stay as long as we like, explore at our own pace and have easy access to our room when we are done. We do take boat excursions also, but these add to the time factor, often decrease the privacy factor with crowds and certainly increase the price of each swim.
We first tried to snorkel near Kai Bae Beach, between Seaview Resort and Koh Mun Nai. Similar to Pearl Beach close by, this area is better known for seagrass than for fish. It is cool to swim around in the grass for a while, but the visibility is not great and fish sightings are confined to occasional chance encounters. The area around Koh Mun Nai is a bit better, but not much.
The next day we hired our own boat to take us out to the islands beyond Koh Mun Nai. We visited Koh Mun Nok and Koh Yuak and found amazing snorkeling here with no crowds at all. In fact, we were the only people at Koh Mun Nok and 2 of 4 on Koh Yuak, since a couple of kayakers were present taking a break from their paddle. Both locations featured really great conditions, with tons of live coral, huge numbers of friendly fish and some interesting stars of the show including octopus, stingrays and huge anemone and urchins. The fish at Koh Yuak immediately surround you when you get into the water, with huge schools of Sergeant Majors leading the charge. We all know these are curious and interactive fish, but around Koh Yuak, they are downright friendly. Koh Yuak also is a stunning island itself. It has a tiny beach with a great atmosphere. It is the optimal Instagram location! Seaview resort wanted to charge us 2000 baht for the trip, but we hired our own guide and captain who was just the most amazing guy for a total cost of 800 baht. Money well spent for an epic snorkel. We will definitely come back here!
Our next attempts at snorkeling Koh Chang were on the east side of the island in Salek Phet Bay. We tried from the private beach at Parama Resort and found the worst conditions ever. It was completely unswimmable. There was zero visibility and lots of huge urchins practically breaking the sea surface all around. We moved down to the small beach at the Thai Navy Memorial near the Southern tip of the eastern end of the island and found acceptable snorkeling. The water had turned rather rough late in the day, which greatly diminished visibility. If you timed the tides right, this is a good spot to check out. Additionally, the little beachfront is precious and picturesque. There is no one around, so if you like off-the-beaten-path, this is THE place to come.
Our favorite snorkeling spot was off the dock and around the rocks at Chai Chet Point. We had low expectations, but found the area to be amazing the first day we were there. There is a vast amount of live coral and tons of fish, including large schools, octopus and lots of reef dwellers. We stayed in the water for hours here! This was by far the best and most convenient snorkeling off the beach we had found since The Maldives or Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka. The second day, the visibility had changed with the tides and the experience was completely different. We saw none of the amazing corals or animals near the dock due to too much sediment in the water. However, once we swam out in between the rocks at the point, we found a completely clear and cool world of seagrass and lots of inhabitant fish in territorial mode. It was great to join them in their home for an hour or so!
Honorable mention goes to the beach area in front of Kai Bae Beach Resort and KB Resort or along the Peninsula that makes up Coral Resort. Anywhere in this area provides nice snorkeling with a very easy swim from the sandy beach. We never actually reached the end of the coral, since it seems to extend quite far out, but the water depth eventually interferes with visibility here. If you stay a few hundred meters off shore, you will see a world of fish and assorted adorable marine life! Find Coral Resort and look for their buoys far out into the water at the end of the peninsula. Anywhere near here or south of here will be a nice swim!
We heard that snorkeling would be nice on the southern end of the island, near Chivapuri Resort, but it turned out to be a big disappointment. No visibility and nothing alive to see if you could see anything… lol. Likewise, the area in the northwest of the island around Aiyapura Resort was not good for snorkeling either.
We did not make it to the small inlet that sits opposite Bang Bao Bay on the other side of the small isthmus of land near Cliff Cottage. Next time we travel to Koh Chang, we will make the time to check this place out as well, since we have heard good things about it.
We did not do any of the typical tours, since they are usually crowded and eat up your time for others on a boat just to enjoy minutes in the water with 500 strangers from a dozen tour operators at each swim drop. No thanks. We know that some of the places they bring you are nice to see, but it is just not worth the time, cost and lack of private space to enjoy REAL nature without the area being destroyed by tons of tour boats day in and day out. Give us our own private spot any day.
Best of luck in your snorkeling adventures. Let us know on FB if we missed any good spots!