Koh Lipe, an island off the shore of Southwestern Thailand, is considered a tropical island paradise: jungles, secluded beaches, swaying palms and calm waters. The island has some of the best reefs in Thailand, which makes for really great snorkeling and diving. It is just outside Tarutao National Park and surrounded by uninhabited islands of the Butong Archipelago.
Since Koh Lipe is located an hour or so by boat from both mainland Thailand and Langkawi, Malaysia, it’s a popular destination for tourists from both locations. If you’re looking for a deserted Thai island, Koh Lipe is not the place to go. However, if you go in low season, which is May to October, you might enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches without the crowds, though some hotels may be closed. Any time of the year, however, you’ll find great snorkeling as well as gorgeous sunrises and sunsets.
Billa Beach is a small secluded beach facing the Andaman Sea. It doesn’t get the hordes of tourists that other Koh Lipe beaches do, so if you’re craving peace and quiet, this could be just the ticket for you. It’s got a rocky beach, so this could be one reason it’s not as crowded. Still, you can find some decent spots for sunbathing or beachcombing. However, the seclusion doesn’t stop Billa Beach from being a great place to snorkel or kayak. Billa Beach is located between Sunset and Pattaya beaches on southern Koh Lipe.
The water off tiny Sanom Beach is varying shades of turquoise, from light to dark, but still so clear you can see the rocks underwater. This secluded beach has great white sand if you want to work on your tan, plus the water is calm enough for swimming. It’s possible you might see small parrots, hornbills and Mynah birds that come visiting from the nearby jungle. The main draw for this beach, however, is the excellent diving opportunities, which some describe as world class. Sanom is just a short walk along a wooden sidewalk from Pattaya Beach. There is one seasonal resort on the beach that offers seaside bungalows and a dive center.
Sunset Beach, or Hat Pramong in the local lingo, lives up to its name. The smallest of Koh Lipe’s major beaches, it’s the place to see when the sun goes down in truly spectacular fashion, with gorgeous reds and oranges reflecting on the water. What a way to end a day on the beach! Sunset Beach is located on a secluded lagoon in western Koh Lipe and, therefore, is considered a good spot to chill out, relax on a beach towel or swim in the small bay. There aren’t many options for accommodation on Sunset Beach but there are a few nice hardwood bungalows available.
If Sunset Beach is a good place to see sunsets, then it stands to reason that early risers will gravitate to Sunrise Beach to start their day. Sunrise Beach, also known as Hat Chao Ley Beach, is located on the east side of Koh Lipe, just a five-minute walk from the town of Chao Ley, where mainly sea gypsies live. The beach is popular with snorkelers because they can snorkel right off the shore to see the exotic marine life. Refreshing breezes throughout the day keep sunbathers cool.
Pattaya Beach is the largest and most visited beach on Koh Lipe; it’s located on the southern part of the island. Scenic Pattaya Beach is where the ferry boats land during the high-season and you go through immigration when coming from Langkawi. This beach is on a large bay that is often filled with fishing boats, so swimming isn’t always a good option. Activities on the powdery sand beaches include volleyball and Frisbee. You can also go kayaking in the bay. Pattaya Beach is where most of the partying and night life on Koh Lipe takes place.