Exploring Ang Thong in Koh Samui

42 islands that rise directly up out of the sea are what make up the beautiful archipelago that is Ang Thong.

Located in Koh Samui, the tall limestone islands stand beautifully, surrounded by gorgeous blue waters.

It’s the location which inspired Alex Garland to write the novel, ‘The Beach’. But whilst ‘The Beach’ was inspired by Ang Thong it was filmed in Koh Phi Phi, and due to the incredible popularity of the film a huge influx of tourism was created, causing the once isolated beaches of Phi Phi to become almost unrecognisable. Fortunately, whilst many boat tours operate throughout the day, Ang Thong is (fairly) protected, with just one of the islands housing bungalows, ensuring that what happened in Phi Phi won’t happen here, and as a result, the islands remain as beautiful and untouched as ever.

After extensive Googling, I decided upon a day trip with Blue Stars, a company in Koh Samui that has won many Trip Advisor awards. The trip cost 1,800 THB per person, which included transfers, activities during the day, and lunch.

The day of the trip, I was picked up from my hotel early morning and bought to the pier where we immediately boarded the boat. The boat had two main decks (upper and lower) and a sundeck for those looking to catch some rays. Wanting to get a good view of the islands as we approached I chose the sun deck.

The first stop was split into two groups; one went snorkelling whilst the others kayaked, with each group swapping activities afterwards to try the other. I won’t lie, the snorkelling wasn’t great—with just one fish seen by the entire group. A very sad ordeal considering it is supposed to be a marine park. However not so surprising when you had seen many fishing boats (that shouldn’t have been there) dotted around the islands. The kayaking, however, was much more exciting. Albeit more challenging!

Choppy waves combined with people *ahem* who hadn’t kayaked before, and a rowing buddy that had more interest in taking photos than helping row, meant that there may have been a few shrieks as I almost plunged to my rock-filled death. However I survived and after twenty minutes of kayaking I was hungry, so hopped aboard the boat for lunch.

Lunch was a choice between three Thai dishes: Massaman Curry, Sweet and Sour Chicken or Vegetables in Oyster Sauce. The only downside was that lunch was served whilst the boat moved on to the next destination. Whilst I understand that this was to make time more efficient, it would have been much more enjoyable if the boat had stayed stationary for lunch, ensuring people could enjoy their meal without hair flying in their faces. We also lost some towels, a top and some bikini bottoms as we sorta kinda forgot about our belongings on the sundeck whilst we were eating… Oops!

At the next stop Group 2 kayaked to shore whilst Group 1 waited for a longtail boat to transfer them from the boat to the nearby beach. The plan was then for Group 2 to enjoy kayaking along the beach and/or back to the boat. However, Group 2 did not seem to relinquish their vessels and so Group 1 were left a little disappointed. But once we arrived, was forgiven.

The island was quiet, with sunbathers from boat trips lounging on the sand, and a small wooden shack selling ice cream and drinks. Whilst I was climbing off the boat, I noticed a few hundred steps that looked harmless enough, and so I decided that climbing them was absolutely a good idea. But as I began to do so, I realised just how deceiving they were, because it felt more like climbing a ladder, than a set of stairs.

But at the top of the stairs was this. Views overlooking the shore in one direction…

And a green lagoon on the other.

A natural pool hidden inside a ten-minute climb.

Wanting to get a little closer to the lagoon, I walked down a few more steps and noticed that the more I climbed, the fewer people I saw! Which, although nice, didn’t help the leg ache I had forming. The workout was worth it however, as when I walked along the jetty built over the lagoon I could see schools of fish, jellyfish and a few corals, including sea urchins.

Swimming is completely prohibited and as a result, the area remains tidy and the fish plentiful. Eventually, my legs had had enough and so I ventured back up and over the thousands of steps, and into the longtail boat which lay waiting.

It was a fun day, and whilst I recommend Blue Stars Kayaking, if you want some epic snorkelling I wouldn’t recommend Ang Thong as the place to go. But if you’re looking for a great day out to see something new—I definitely recommend it.

over and out,
Amy Morgan