Jungle Paradise Part 4: The Islands
The Lower Gulf features the three islands, Ko Samui, Ko Pha-Ngan and Ko Tao, which lure millions of tourists every year. With idyllic beaches made up of powder soft golden sand and crystal clear emerald waters, it isn’t difficult to understand why!
Ko Samui is Thailand’s third largest island (after Phuket and Ko Chang), and is synonymous with sun, good food, and pampering. Despite being a major tourist destination it has retained its tropical paradise status, but is by no means the backpacker’s haven it once was. As well as a diverse range of paradise beaches there are, amongst other things, waterfalls, a fisherman’s village, secret Buddha gardens, and beautiful temples to visit and enjoy.
Ko Pha-Ngan is famous for its Full Moon parties and laid-back island life. Much smaller and cheaper than Ko Samui, its bohemian atmosphere makes it popular with young people and budget travellers. However, it isn’t merely a party island, large parts of the island remain undeveloped. With tree-clad mountains, accessible corals, excellent dive sites, and a deep unspoilt forest interior, there is much for nature enthusiasts to enjoy.
Ko Tao is the baby of the three main islands and is best known for it’s excellent and easy-to-get-to offshore dive sites, where you can see a variety of coral and marine life including groupers, moray eels, barracudas, stingrays and sharks. It is also a breeding ground for hawksbill and green turtles. Because there are so many scuba-diving schools, certification prices are low and standards of service high, so do shop around!