Koh Lipe is miles from anywhere and as off the beaten path as you are likely to get in Thailand today. The longer journey will reward you with a beautiful, peaceful location with some excellent diving options.
Koh Lipe is a small island on the border of the Tarutao National Marine Park, close to the Malaysian border. Picture postcard white sand beaches, tropical palm trees and warm aquamarine waters make this an idyllic island destination. With an estimated 25% of the world’s tropical fish species being found here along with dugongs, dolphins, 3 species of turtle, minke and sperm whales, Koh Lipe is as mesmerising underwater as it is on land.
Diving here is around the many islands that make up the Adang Archipelago. This archipelago is part of the Tarutao National Marine Park, which, including Adang, comprises of 50 islands in total. This offers a tremendous diving opportunity; there are at least 20 different dive sites that are regularly visited by the islands dive operators. You’ll dive sites around Koh Lipe plus Koh Adang, Koh Rawi, Koh Tong, Koh Lek and their surrounding smaller islands. Diving here is mainly by boat, but there are a few shore options that might better suit your schedule particularly if you like night diving. Apart from 8 Mile Rock, the dive sites are mostly within 25 mins of Koh Lipe.
Rocky formations, pinnacles and boulders are the back drop to Koh Lipe’s reefs where you will see colourful soft coral and much more. There is diving here suitable for all levels with some mind blowing options for the more advanced. There are fewer divers here compared to other locations, so the underwater experience on the sought after dives is much less of a crowded affair.
Tarutao National Marine Park – The area is comprised of over 30 islands with colourful, vibrant coral reefs abundant in varied marine life. Dugong, common dolphins, the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin, sperm whales, minke whales, several shark and ray species, innumerable reef fish and critter species have all been spotted here. No matter how many dives you make here, it won’t be enough.
Stone Henge – As the name suggests, this site features several large pinnacles which rise up from the reef resembling Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. You’ll also find a boulder, hard coral slope and a stunning soft coral garden. In the deeper areas, leopard sharks and eagle rays have been spotted. On the slope, moray eels and groupers are common with the soft coral garden home to a spectrum of interesting critters. If you want diverse topographies and marine life, Stonehenge should be on your list.
8 Mile Rock – Located 8 miles / 13 kilometres south of Koh Lipe, this exposed pinnacle site is a magnet for pelagics and schooling fish. The top of the pinnacle sits at approximately 15 metres / 50 feet and goes down to 50 metres / 160 feet. This can be an exhilarating current dive with the chance to see devil rays, manta rays, leopard sharks, barracuda, groupers, trevally and even whale sharks.
Koh Taru – This small island dive site is perfect for beginners, offering easy conditions and a diverse mix of corals. The reef attracts a range of marine life and critters including seahorses, nudibranch, commensal shrimps, scorpionfish and even occasional harlequin shrimp. You’ll also find sting rays, moray eels, schools of snappers and plenty of colourful reef fish darting in and out of the reef.
Far Islands – This group of islands offers several stunning dive sites which are characterised by healthy, vibrant reefs, colourful soft corals, an abundance of reef fish including some larger species and a plethora of critters. These dive sites are a must for photographers as you can expect to find a host of different nudibranch, various crustaceans including harlequin crabs, moray eels, turtles, schools of colourful antheas and damsels as well as scorpionfish and other interesting bottom dwellers