The two idyllic Racha Islands – Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi – provide the ideal destination to enjoy nature; with some of the best snorkelling reefs in Thailand, tropical white powdery beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Most visitors explore only Koh Racha Yai (situated just 20km south of Phuket, and a mere 45-minute speedboat ride away); however, to experience the plethora of marine life on offer, you need to venture a little further to its smaller twin, Koh Racha Noi – an uninhabited rocky island, with plenty of fantastic snorkelling bays.
With only February and March providing the accessible window to experience aquatic life around Koh Racha Noi, this Sea Safari has been put together to enjoy the abundance of marine animals over 2 days and 1 night (although day trips are also welcomed).
With deserted beaches and an abundance of nature to explore, let’s look at some of the wildlife you could encounter on your private speedboat trip (for up to 18 friends and family):
Dolphins – Get the opportunity to experience a pod of these inquisitively playful creatures up close and personal. As intensely social animals, you might be lucky enough to have them play near the boat’s wake, around Koh Racha Noi or Koh Maithon.
Turtles – The most common varieties you could get a glimpse of whilst snorkelling are the Green or Hawksbill turtles. The latter were named due to their hawk-like beaks, and are found around Koh Racha Yai. These beautiful creatures are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems as they help maintain the health of coral reefs.
Hornbills – These unusual birds are characterized by their long, down-curved bill with a bright yellow casque (or horn as we all refer to it) on top. Coral Island is the perfect spotting ground for these birds, which are often seen in the trees above Banana Beach, an ideal stop-off on your way to or from Racha.
Sea Otters – The smooth coated otter can be surprisingly amiable, and they have even been known to try to get aboard some of the 5 Star Marine speedboats! You might just get lucky enough to see them frolicking near the beach around Naka Yai, or even trying to climb on board.
Dragons – Well, OK not exactly. However, Thailand’s Monitor Lizards can grow up to a staggering 2 metres long, so dragon might not be too far-fetched. Get the chance to whiteness these huge creatures swimming up and down the waterways in the early morning, or go for a dragon-spotting ramble on Koh Racha Yai, where you are sure to spot at least one around the beach or island roads.
Marine Life – The stunning coral reefs around these twin islands are just teeming with aquatic life, and make for excellent snorkelling. At Koh Racha Noi, both Pirates Beach and Banana Bay provide opportunities to see the abundance of fish where you might sight giant starfish, pufferfish or sea turtles. Reef fish like Parrot fish, snapper and angelfish can be found in the shallow waters just steps from the beach at Koh Racha Yai, where you have your pick of snorkelling spots including Batok, Ter, Siam and Kon Kare Bays.
Although sightings of these creatures cannot be guaranteed, one thing is for sure; February and March are the only months you can safely experience Koh Racha Noi, and when tourists do return, spotting some of these animals will again become a rarer opportunity.
By Joanna Matlub
5 Star Marine offers a 2 day / 1 night Sea Life Safari itinerary - Please contact Shaun on 093 720 6221 to book. Quote ‘The Phuket News’ to receive FREE round-trip private minibus transfers to and from Boat Lagoon.