The island is part of a small group of islands called the Butang Islands, which are all part of the larger Tarutao National Marine Park which covers some 70 islands in total. Tarutao was the Thailand’s first National Marine Park having been classified as such since 1974 & was declared an ASEAN Heritage Park and Reserve in 1982 by UNESCO.
Koh Lipe or “Paper Island” as it is known to the locals is the only island within the national marine park that has been allowed commercial development, which due to the pace at which it is expanding, fuelled by rapidly increasing visitor numbers has environmentalists understandably worried that this picturesque paradise will be spoiled exactly the same way as has happened to Phi Phi Island ,Phuket and Koh Samui !.
The three main Beaches of Koh Lipe are “Pattaya Beach”, “Sunset Beach” and “Sunrise Beach”. Pattaya Beach, Koh Lipe NOT to be confused with THEPattaya Beach its seedy namesake near Bangkok, is the busiest with a range of Hotels & Resorts ,bars & restaurants stretching the length of its crescent shaped bay.
Sunrise beach is somewhat quieter than Pattaya has some resorts, bars & eateries, as well as a small sea gypsies village, but makes up for that by having both the best views of the smaller islands & also the best snorkeling site off its beach.
Sunset Beach is the smallest beach on Koh Lipe is adjacent to Pattaya Beach and only has a very limited amount of places to stay, the island however is so small that you can walk between any two of the beaches comfortably within half an hour!.
There are generally two distinct bands of visitors currently who visit Koh Lipe, there are the “backpacker/adventurers” & the “underwater enthusiasts”. The first group tend to island hop spending just a day or so on Koh Lipe as part of a much larger itinery, many only heard about the island whilst visiting somewhere else in Thailand & were drawn their by stories of its natural beauty & relative “under-developed” status.
The second group are typically diving/snorkelling enthusiasts who have already been to Koh Tao & the Similan Islands ,and again picked up stories of the quality of the reefs & marine life & just “followed their noses”.
The Tarutao National Marine Park has some of the best dives sites in Thailand. Unlike many other dive sites in Thailand, diving in Koh Lipe is still relatively relaxed and peaceful.
There are several dive shops located at the various beaches around the island,each one boasts of the “best diving expedition” that a novice or a professional diver could experience!, have a good look around first before committing yourself to any particular one.
The high season on Koh Lipe is between November & end of April when the seas are generally calm & the days are hot & sunny, the peak season being December – February during which time you MUST reserve your accommodation several months in advance to ensure availability!.
The low season May – October inclusive you will find that many of the smaller resorts close down, the larger ones remain open all year long, the weather is typically rainy outbursts with plenty of sunshine inbetween, but the seas become heavier, which curtails the amount of ferries that operate during the low season. This is still a great time to visit, as typically you can make savings of up to 50% off the high season hotel & resort rates.
Please use this useful link for other Frequently Asked Questions about Koh Lipe, it contains a wealth of information about the island & getting there.
Getting There is easy during the high season there are boat services coming from all directions to get to Koh Lipe.You can access the island from Phuket, Phi Phi Island,Koh Lanta & Pak Barra(Thai mainland) and from Langkawi Island in Malaysia.
Outside the high season Pak Barra is the only point at which a daily service to Koh Lipe operates.
Koh Lipe as a Thailand Destination offers a stunning bay, white sandy beaches and coral reefs ideal for snorkeling and diving, while neighbouring Adang Island has stunning primary forest with mountainous terrain and waterfalls, its an island that currently is on everyones “hot list”, and should be visited sooner rather than later!.
If you have already visited Koh Lipe, please share your Favourite Memories of both the island & your Thailand holiday here, we would love to hear from you!