Koh Samui is a complete tropical destination in itself. On your holiday, you may choose to remain here from day 1 til the time you get home or you may opt to explore the neighboring islands and see what is out there. The nearby islands may not be as developed as Samui but they can still compete in terms of their beauty and natural resources.
Angthong (Angthong National Marine Park)
An archipelago made up of 42 islands, Angthong National Marine Park is a haven for nature lovers and is a paradise in every sense of the word. Think lush jungles, high mountains, and gorgeous clean bodies of water. This is a protected area and is the habitat of many different species. Because of its location and the fact that water is almost everywhere, Angthong offers variety in terms of water activities for the guests. They can snorkel and sea rare fishes and corals. They can ride a kayak and explore the hidden depths of the jungle or they can sail around the park and all around the nearby beaches. Because of its varied and awesome terrain, hiking is also popular here. You can take long walks and climb up the mountains to be able to see out-of-this-world panorama offered by the park and the adjacent islands.
The atmosphere here is way different than the usual cityscape so if you are looking for solitude, love nature sounds, and are amazed by raw beautiful scenery, visit Angthong National Marine Park.
Koh Tao and Nangyuan
Smaller than Samui and Koh Phangan, Koh Tao combines the best qualities of the two islands. It has the developed feel of Koh Samui and the raw beauty of Koh Phangan. Over the years, this humble island has begun to make a name for itself as another wonderful destination in Thailand. With breathtaking azure waters and plenty of diving spots, it is a cool place for a honeymoon or a nature-oriented vacation. Just like Phangan, it can be pretty laid back and you can find lots of solace here and find an excuse to shut down your gadgets and let time stand still. But then Koh Tao may also surprise you as it can be really current and modern with its party atmosphere you can experience when the night sets in.
Like in most islands, snorkelling is a top attraction here. You can find various companies offering underwater discovery packages. Among them are Ocean Sound Dive and Yoga and Big Blue Diving.
A popular family stop in Koh Tao is the Ao Tanot Bay. This is a clean beach with plenty of corals. The water is warm and inviting, making it a great place to relax and take in the beauty of the tropical environment. This place is very quiet too and is not as crowded as you’d expect. Here you can see the turtles, go cliff diving, or just lay back and get a tan.
A spectacular diving spot just 15 minutes away from Koh Tao is Nangyuan. This is a blissful tropical paradise that will make you swoon upon your arrival. Since it is quite small, it is suitable for a day trip with friends or family. The water here is very clear and the aquatic life is highly diverse, making it a joy to explore. The quiet scenery is so romantic, which is why it is an option for couples or newlyweds who are on the lookout for an unbeatable honeymoon venue.Visitors need to pay 100 baht as an entrance fee since the island is private.
For those who are looking for an even less crowded spot near Samui, you can visit Koh Madsum. This island is not that much advertised and not so much is said about it aside from fact that it is gorgeous, quiet, and is a diving place for those who want to see the barracudas. Unlike other islands near Samui, you won’t usually find Koh Madsum in tour itineraries so if you want to get here, you have to dig deep and organize the tour yourself by chartering a boat in Thong Krut. If you are the adventurous type, this approach could work for you. Once you get here and see the beauty of Madsum, you’ll be glad you took the trip. Here you can have a tranquil moment by the beach. There is not much to see in the area except nature so you if like that you will be surely pleased. For those who would want to stay on the island for a while, there is this lovely resort called The Treasure. This offers quality accommodations so you can have a comfortable abode in Koh Madsum.
Another low profile island that is about half an hour away from Koh Samui is Koh Taen. This is yet another place to explore for people who like the offbeat path. This island is small and underdeveloped but it is a good secluded site if you want to avoid the crowd. Like Koh Madsum, the gateway to this island haven is Thong Krut. The boat ride fee can be pretty steep. Most riders will charge you 1500 baht for the trip or even more. If you are planning to stay on Koh Taen overnight or for several days, make sure you get the contact number of the boat driver so that you can be picked up from here. Some agencies offer a stop to Koh Taen as a part of their day trip packages so check their prices too. You may get better deals with an organized tour than heading out here on your own. It is safer too with a group.
A group of five islands that looks like four since the other one seems hidden or “gets lost” behind the other, 5 Islands is another stop near Samui. It is a home to the birds called swifts–a rare kind of bird that creates nests that are the primary ingredient for the world famous bird’s nest soup. This is another isolated island where the only human residents are tasked with protecting the birds from their attackers. Everything is so peaceful here and it is a great place to watch the sunset or simply spend a lazy day at the beach. You can explore the individual islands using a long tail boat. During your trip, you will get a chance to see the islands in depth and wonder on their many fascinating natural gifts. Getting here is not that easy and if you have the opportunity to visit, you have bragging rights so take lots of pictures and make your friends green with envy over your trip.