Koh Chang Snorkeliing 4 Island Boat Tour Review Thailand by JetSettingFools.com

Koh Chang Snorkeling: 4 Island Boat Tour Review

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Swimming counter-clockwise from where our Koh Chang snorkeling boat was anchored, we reached the far side of the small, rocky island. There was no one else around, except for the fish that idly swam a few feet below us, always just out of reach.

The sun made its first appearance of our Koh Chang day trip and illuminated the sea floor in a spectrum of vibrant colors. Coral glowed neon blue, purple anemone swayed on the current and bright butterfly-fish and brilliant parrot-fish vied for our attention.

Further ahead of us, what looked like a murky shadow emerged as a dense school of fish. Hundreds – if not thousands – of foot-long, yellow-spotted, silver fish moved synchronously in rhythm with the soothing tide.

We chased after them, marveling at their effortless ability to travel in perfect formation. Watching the massive school of fish was the pinnacle of our Koh Chang Snorkel trip; a day that had started quite grim.


Koh Chang Snorkeling Trip

Islands, Koh Chang, Thailand

After a week in hot and humid Bangkok, we were ecstatic to be spending time on a Koh Chang beach. We weren’t looking for a long list of things to do in Koh Chang: we simply wanted to soak up the sun, swim in the sea and put our feet in the sand on one of Thailand’s Best Beaches.

It wasn’t until after we saw how clear the water was that we decided to take a Koh Chang snorkeling tour. There was just one catch: our Koh Chang trip was during the ‘Rainy Season’ – and we were in no way prepared for just how dismal the Thai wet-season weather could be.


Koh Chang Rainy Season Visit

Storms brewing over Kai Bae Beach on Koh Chang, Thailand

Our first day on Koh Chang was full of sunshine, but on the second day it started to rain…and rain…and rain. Ponchos and umbrellas became the hottest souvenirs and the main road flooded with each downpour. Regardless of the foul weather, each morning we watched truckloads of tourists depart on Koh Chang tours.

A 90% chance of rain was looming on the forecast for the remainder of our stay, but since we weren’t interested in indoor Koh Chang activities (and we’re not even sure there are any!), we went ahead with our plans and booked a Koh Chang boat trip…and wondered what it was going to be like to go snorkeling in the rain.


Sattra Tour Koh Chang

Koh Chang Snorkeling Tour, Stop 3

The most popular and inexpensive option for snorkeling Koh Chang is the Sattra Tour. With a price of just 700 baht ($20 USD) – plus an additional 200 baht ($6 USD) to enter the National Park – it is one of the most affordable Koh Chang excursions. Note that it is an additional 100 baht to rent swim fins. 

The Sattra Wooden Boat Tour is offered at most Koh Chang hotels and travel agencies. We found the best price for this boat trip in Kai Bae at the small excursion hut next to the all-you-can-eat buffet. The full-day adventure departs Bang Bao, Koh Chang and makes swimming stops at four islands near Koh Chang: Koh Yak Yai, Koh Rang, Koh Yak Lek and Koh Wai.


Sattra Koh Chang Snorkeling Review

Rainy season Koh Chang snorkel trip

There are multiple boats in the Sattra Tour fleet that take visitors on snorkeling day trips – and the one we were on was large, slow and – surprisingly – near capacity. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who were willing to get rained on while snorkeling in Koh Chang.

As we were loaded onto the ship and the rain pelted us from a dark, foreboding sky, the mood amongst the passengers was surprisingly jovial. Without much instruction, the relaxed crew prepared for the day’s outing and soon enough we headed out to sea away from Koh Chang Island.

Moments after getting underway, the crew handed out motion sickness tablets – and we were bewildered by the number of people who so eagerly swallowed the pills. As our old, converted fishing boat cleared the protection of Bang Bao Harbor and into the open sea both the rain and rolling swell steadily grew more intense.

The cheerful vibe completely vanished. Passengers sat slumped in their chairs and the crew reappeared with plastic bags for those who were feeling ill. We kept our eyes on the horizon and did our best to block out the unpleasant sounds of the seasick voyagers.


Koh Yak Yai

Sattra Tour boat crew on Koh Chang Snorkeling Excursion

After what seemed an eternity, we arrived at Koh Yak Yai (so aptly named under the circumstances). More of an islet than an island, Koh Yak Yai is located off the east coast of the larger Koh Rong Island. 

With only a narrow swimming area roped off, we were bemused that this ‘island’ was the first stop on our Thailand 4 Island Tour. However, despite the slight let down – and continued rain showers – we couldn’t wait to get off the Barf Barge. We were the first to jump in the water from the bow of the ship.

The snorkeling gear was in remarkably good condition, considering the price of admission. We adjusted our masks and tubes and reveled in the sights – and, particularly, the sounds – of the sea. Fearing the stormy weather would have clouded the water, it was in fact, quite clear and there was much more to see than we anticipated. We spent the entire 45 minutes with our faces in the water watching the sea life swim by – and were the last to climb aboard when time was up.

Meanwhile, on the ship they had prepared a simple buffet lunch of traditional, yet basic, Thai dishes: a spicy potato curry, chicken pad Thai and chicken fried rice. Still dripping wet, we stood in line for a plateful and the boat motored to the second island, Koh Rang.


Koh Rang

Sattra Tour Koh Chang boat slide

We arrived at Koh Rang before we had even finished our lunch – Rang Beach is less than a mile from Koh Yak Yai. We hurriedly slurped up the rest of our noodles as the crew lowered a slide from the side of the boat. With snorkel gear in hand, I zipped down the slide and squealed like a child as I flew off the end into the water.

A larger island sits just south of where we anchored, so rather than heading for Rang Beach, we swam to investigate what sea creatures might be living around it. Unfortunately, there weren’t many and the current at the south end of the island made it much more difficult to swim.

We retreated to Koh Rang Beach – which is home to the Koh Rang National Park Ranger Station. The sand was fine and clean and, for just a moment, the rain stopped. We lounged on the beach, digging our feet into the sand and watching large crabs dive into their holes.


Koh Yak Lek

The third island on our Koh Chang snorkeling trip, Koh Yak Lek, was larger than the first, but not by much. Even though it had started raining, we were quickly in the water and happily snorkeling in the rain – a truly unique sensation. We swam away from the boat toward the back of the island where we knew not many of the other passengers would venture.

In the solitude, we were astounded by the abundance of fish and marine life. That’s when we encountered the enormous school of fish. We also spotted a family of swimming squid, a long, black eel, parrot-fish that were two-feet long and massive, multicolored sea clams that snapped their shells shut when they sensed our approach.

The stop on Koh Yak Lek alone was worth the trip. Without a doubt, it was the best Koh Chang snorkeling spot of the day. We would have been content if it was the only stop on our day tour!


Koh Wai

Koh Wai Snorkeling, stop 4 on 4 Island tour Thailand

Koh Wai is a larger island, about halfway between Koh Rang and Koh Chang, and the last stop on our 4-island tour in Thailand. The rustic spot has a somewhat dilapidated looking ‘resort’ consisting of a cluster of small cabins on the beach.

We were told that Koh Wai snorkeling was some of the best in the region, but when we peered into the water, were disappointed in the water clarity. We could barely see our hands through the turbid water. Whether due to the sand, the storms or pollution, the limited clarity did not lend to fish spotting. Instead, we bobbed – with our heads above water – until they called us back to the boat.


Back to Koh Chang

Koh Chang Boat Tour in Thailand

The Koh Chang weather had cleared by the afternoon and the trip back to the island was substantially smoother than the ride out (but not void of seasick passengers). The crew served fresh fruit and spicy chicken kebabs. We bought a couple beers to go with the food and listened to Bob Marley crackling through the speakers on the relaxing ride back to Koh Chang.


Final Thoughts on Snorkeling Koh Chang, Thailand

Koh Rang Beach, Stop 2 on 4 Island Snorkeling Tour, Thailand

Although our Koh Chang boat trip started out disastrously, once in the water we were quite impressed by the viewable sea life. The small islands (Koh Yak Yai and Koh Yak Lek) were spectacular for snorkeling, which isn’t always the case when places are frequented by so many visitors.

Without high hopes for Koh Chang snorkeling (given the weather), overall we were pleased with the trip – especially for the price. As with all things, it’s best to properly set expectations for this type of tour before signing up to go.

This Koh Chang boat trip is designed to accommodate as many passengers as possible – which is what keeps the cost affordable. The crew efficiently dispersed gear, meals and snacks. The food was decent and the crew was hard-working. Despite the lack of a provided itinerary, the friendly staff answered any questions we had. They also were prepared and quick to respond to ill guests.


Koh Chang Map: 4 Islands Snorkeling Tour

Use this Google Map for an interactive version of the Koh Chang Snorkeling Map below.

Koh Chang Map of 4 Island Snorkeling Tour Thailand


More Koh Chang Things To Do

Sunset, Koh Chang, Thailand

Rainy season or not, there are many additional Koh Chang Things To Do. From diving to island exploration, we are sharing a few other popular Koh Chang activities.


Half Day Koh Chang Snorkeling Tours

On our trip to Koh Chang, we were seeking an affordable, full day snorkeling tour – and Sattra provides just that. Travelers who do not want to spend an entire day at sea can hop aboard a Koh Chang Snorkeling Half Day Trip. The shorter tour visits Koh Chang area islands that boast healthy reefs and marine life. Get the price and details!


Koh Chang Diving Tours

For those who want to dive deeper into sea life, there are Koh Chang Scuba Diving Tours. These companies will even teach and certify novice divers and then proceed to several small islands near Koh Chang for additional dives. Check out these diving tours for your trip to Koh Chang. 


Koh Chang Tours

There are several types of tours for activities in Koh Chang. Trekking to waterfalls, bird watching and fishing excursions can all be booked through hotels or with tourist agencies. Additionally, there are elephant camps on the island (Koh Chang translates to Elephant Island), but we recommend researching treatment practices before booking.

On the Koh Chang Explorer Tour, participants embark on a journey along the coast. Top sights are the White Sand Beach Viewpoint (rated by many as the best beach in Koh Chang), temples, shrines, villages and an idyllic secret beach. Get the details!


Kayaking Koh Chang

Many of the beachfront resorts offer kayak rentals. We rented a kayak for a half day and paddled around the offshore islands…in the rain. (Did I mention we visited in Rainy Season?!) Travelers can rent kayaks on site or book a kayak online in advance.


Best Koh Chang Beach Towns

During our Koh Chang trip, we stayed in Kai Bae Beach, which we loved. However, we also visited some of the other beaches on Koh Chang.

We spent lazy days at Klong Prao Beach, White Sand Beach and Lonely Beach. A ride via songthaew (a pickup with two benches in the truck bed) cost 50 baht ($1.50 USD) per person. Note: It costs more if the truck is parked and not yet already carrying other passengers.


Travel Tips for Koh Chang, Thailand

Fisherman with colorful umbrella at Kai Bae Beach on Koh Chang, Thailand

Before you set off on your beach holiday, we have a few additional travel tips and packing hacks for your trip to Koh Chang, Thailand.


Where to Stay on Koh Chang

The Stage Boutique Hotel in Kai Bae Beach on Koh Chang, Thailand

During our visit to Koh Chang, we stayed on Kai Bae Beach at The Stage. The affordable, boutique hotel is located off the beach (but is accessible via a 5 minute walk), and has two pools and air conditioning in all rooms. They also offer a simple included breakfast and free Wi-Fi.

However, there are many Koh Chang hotels to choose from, ranging from cheap and basic to beachfront luxury. Check out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews) for your upcoming trip: Serenity Resort Koh Chang, The Chill Resort and Spa and Gajapuri Resort and Spa

Before starting your search, use our tips for Booking Hotels for Cheap. Travelers can also search for Koh Chang holiday apartments on Booking.com or Airbnb.


How To Get to Koh Chang from Bangkok

Getting to Koh Chang in Thailand from Bangkok can be easy or difficult – depending on your budget. Travelers arrive by ferry to Koh Chang via Trat, the province of southeastern mainland Thailand along the border of Cambodia.

From Bangkok, Koh Chang is reached by bus or private transfer. While the bus is the much cheaper option, finding good information about the route is not easy. There is supposedly a Bangkok public bus (Government Bus 99 or 999) from Ekamai Bus Station. A more expensive tour bus/minivan departs from BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport.

However, for door-to-door service that is confirmed upon booking, we recommend the private ride with a driver. The ride should take about 5-6 hours depending on traffic. 

Depending on your Thailand Itinerary, it is also possible to fly to Trat Airport and then negotiate your way to the ferry dock and on to your accommodation. You can search for the best deals on airline tickets on Skyscanner – but only after you read our advice for Finding Cheap Airfare!

We aren’t keen on driving abroad, but renting a car can often save time and money (especially when traveling with more than two people). Plus, having a car rental allows for greater discovery. Before booking a car hire, read our Tips for Saving Money on Rental Cars.


What To Pack for a Koh Chang Snorkel Trip

Okay, it’s time to talk about what to pack for your Thailand trip! First, get your FREE Packing Checklist.


Sun Protection

Take along plenty of sunscreen and consider bringing a swim shirt to wear while snorkeling to avoid exposure. Even while snorkeling in the rain, we managed to get sunburned on our backs (and we reapplied after each swim!) Also, don’t forget your favorite beach sunglasses and a hat to shade your face.


Beach Towel or Wrap

Budget snorkeling tours do not include the use of on board towels, so you will need to bring your own. Rather than packing a thick towel for your trip, bring along a versatile wrap.


Flip Flops and Swim Shoes

Flip flops are our go-to choice of footwear in Thailand, and Reef flips are my favorite! When packing for your trip, be sure to read our reviews on the Best Travel Shoes.


Underwater Camera and Waterproof Phone Case

Underwater action cameras are perfect for capturing the marine life on your snorkeling trip in Koh Chang. Pack your Go Pro (or less expensive action camera) and don’t forget to bring a waterproof case for your phone! 


Thailand Trip Insurance

If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip to Thailand, consider traveling protected with World Nomads.


More Thailand Travel Guides

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Koh Chang Snorkeling 4 Island Boat Tour Review Thailand JetSettingFools.com

2 thoughts on “Koh Chang Snorkeling: 4 Island Boat Tour Review

  1. Ian

    Nice write up. The snorkelling & diving conditions can be as good as high season. Although it’s a bit hit and miss how good the visibility will be.

    Only thing I’d like to add is that the boat you were on was full because several boat operators will have pooled their passengers and put them on the same boat. This makes sense at this time of year.

    But if you were here in high season those small islands would be pretty much ringed by speedboats and large tour boats. On the plus side they’d be calm sea & clearer water. On the downside you’d be snorkelling with hundreds of others.

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