These three islands are the northernmost in the Hat Chao Mai National Park and are the most visited by tour boats. Quite different from each other in geology, they all have some bungalow development and interesting features.
The area just south was part of Malaya until 1909 and its ancient Muslim culture migrated north, with mosques still dominating these remote fishing villages.
In addition to the pristine beaches and fertile scenery of the islands, Tham Morakot (Emerald Cave) at Koh Muk is the must-see highlight of the region.
Perhaps the best way to explore the area is to rent a longtail boat for the day, which can be arranged through the shoreside bungalows. Prices range from 500 baht per person.
Trang town, the provincial capital with its airport, is 30 kilometres inland and there are ferry piers at Pak Meng and Had Yao giving main road access.
The Anantara Sii Khao is located on the mainland at Pak Meng Beach and is heralding this area as a destination for more exclusive travellers.
KOH NGAI EAST
Anchor anywhere off this coast in 6-8 metres. On the southeast corner a small jetty serves bungalows and a restaurant where limited supplies are available. The east coast is a long white sand beach fringed with coral and, at the north end, the Koh Ngai Villa is the most upscale in the area with spacious fan bungalows and a restaurant with stunning panoramic views.
There is a Sea Gypsy fishing village on the northeast end of the island. Koh Ma and Koh Chuak, both large rocky outcrops, offer great possibilities for exploring by dinghy or canoe.
6 miles from Koh Lanta Lighthouse
Anchor in 8-10 metres off any of the three beaches with small resorts ashore on the west coast. These anchorages offer excellent protection in the northeast monsoon.
13 miles from Koh Lanta Lighthouse
This anchorage is our pick of the group. Anchor in the northeast monsoon only in 6-8 metres between the two towering cliffs and off the very small beach. The shoreline north and south is honeycombed with crevices and caves, making for excellent dinghy exploring. The beach leads to a small freshwater creek.
A few hundred metres south of the anchorage is the entrance to Tham Morakot − the “Emerald Cave” − easily recognisable by the mooring buoys with ropes leading into the entrance of the cave. The entrance is an 80-metre pitch dark passageway leading to a completely enclosed circular, cathedral-like ‘hong’, with a diameter of 60 metres.
The walls are draped in lush foliage above a tiny patch of grey silica sand beach and an ethereal glow makes it seem as if you were encased inside an emerald, looking out. Access is possible at most tides by swimming or canoe.
Do not use your dinghy outboard as there is a delicate bat population living in the ceiling of the very narrow passage. Do not try to go through the passage without a reliable waterproof torch.
Never mind the untidy lines, moorings and jostling day boats at the entrance. This experience will remain etched in your memory for the rest of your lifetime. Awesome!
14 miles from Koh Lanta Lighthouse
This secluded anchorage in 6 metres offers good holding on a muddy bottom. Sometimes there is also a buoy available.
Facing southwest, the bay has an all-tide beach and makes an ideal overnight haven in the northeast monsoon season. Perched high on, and jutting out over, the rocks at the southern end of the bay is a no-name, family-run, restaurant with good food and a warm welcome for yachties. A great spot for sunset-watching.
A small village in the middle of the bay has a shop and two small resorts. A track leads from the village to the southeast facing beach where there are more restaurants and bungalows.
HAT SAI YAO & EAST COAST KOH MUK
Anchorage can be found in the shallow southeast facing bay in 3-5 metres on a sandy bottom. Ashore are Sawadee Resort and Charlie’s Bungalows on the 800-metre-long, jungle-backed beach. The Sivalai Resort occupies the sand spit running east to the north of the anchorage.
Shallow anchorage is also possible east and north of the sandy headland halfway up the east coast. A long jetty is situated at Hua Laem Muslim village and Koh Muk Resort is to the north.
14 miles from Koh Lanta Lighthouse
Look for anchorage off the small southeast-facing bay with a small resort ashore. The bay remains deep until close in, and vessels can pick up a mooring or anchor in no less than 10 metres. At the south end of the beach is a small National Park HQ.
This makes a nice day anchorage although, depending on the prevailing season, better overnight holding can be found on the east or west coasts. The Anantara Si Kao Beach Club and a small bungalow resort welcome visitors. Anchorage is available in no less than 12 metres anywhere along the east coast, taking care to approach the visible fringing reef very slowly and preferably perpendicular to the beach.
12 miles from Koh Lanta Lighthouse
Reasonably sheltered in the northeast season, this anchorage lies in 10-12 metres on a muddy bottom. This stunning beach is palm-fringed and a track cuts through the island to the eastern side where there are two restaurants.
While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, the charts of anchorages are based on personal experience and satellite imagery and are intended as a guide only. They should not be used for navigation. Please refer to Official Hydrographic Charts of the respective countries.
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