The Ang Thong National Marine Park is composed of 42 islands, covering 102 square kilometers, though only 18 square kilometers of the total is land. The park is located in the Gulf of Thailand between the west coast of Koh Samui & Koh Phangan & the Thai mainland. The name “Ang Thong” means “golden bowl” when translated.
The islands are all shaped differently and vary considerably in size. Most of them have tropical rainforests and are often named after distinct features they possess.
Many of them have limestone-mountains standing from 10 to 400 meters above sea level. There are also hundreds of beaches around the Ang Thong Islands chain, most of them deserted and ready to be anyone’s secret place away from the crowds!.
All of the islands are uninhabited, with the exception of Koh Paluay, whose only inhabitants are sea-gypsies who still earn a living from fishing locally.
The main islands include Wua Talap, Mae Ko, Samsao, Thaiphlao and Wua Kantang.
Wua Talap is in Kha Bay, where the National Park Headquarters are located. A white sandy beach and the Bua Bok Cave are the main highlights of the islands whose name means “sleeping cow” in Thai.
On Mae Ko, Thale Nai, or the “Lake in the Mountain” can be found. The lake is a large natural lagoon surrounded by limestone-mountains, the viewpoint for the lagoon is made by climbing a gruelling set of steps, but the view is certainly worth it.There is an underground tunnel connecting to the outer sea. Samsao, Thaiphlao and Wua Kantang each have clean white sand beaches.
There are four types of forest covering the park’s islands. There are Limestone Forests, mostly on the exposed cliff faces and on top of limestone-hills. There are Beach Forests, formed in narrow strips in the surrounding area of the larger islands. There are Mangrove Forests, which, unlike the limestone forests, occurs in the sheltered spots where mudflats and sandbars have formed. Mangrove forests can be found in Mae Ko Island. Lastly, there are Dry Evergreen forests, which are found mostly on the larger islands, particularly in Wua Talap and Samsao.
A considerable amount of wildlife can also be found in the Ang Thong National Marine Park. Amongst these are hair nosed otters, white bellied sea eagles, ashy drongos, pacific reef egrets, lizards, pythons, sea turtles, tortoises, and Asian long tailed monkeys. In the surrounding sea, dolphins and short bodied mackerel can be found.
There are several activities to take part in for tourists visiting the Ang Thong National Marine Park. A 500-meter trekking trail called the “View Point Trekking Trail”, located in Wua Talap, is available for tourists who fancy a hike.
There is also the “Study Nature by Boat”, two boating trails located in Wua Talap, too. Many tourists choose to try out the snorkeling routes in the park, called “Studying Nature under Water”, these are always popular, to the point of being overcrowded, as its completely unknown until you arrive at the islands how many other day-trip tours are also visiting at the same time!.
The best time to visit the Ang Thong National Marine Park is the period from late March to October (please note the park is closed November & December due to heavy & unpredictable seas around the islands.