Koh Lipe – The paradise island
Koh Lipe is a small L-shaped island located in the southern Thailand’s Satun Province near the Thailand/Malaysia border. It belongs to the Adang-Rawi Archipelago, situated on the outskirts of the Tarutao National Marine Park. Originally only inhabited by Sea Gypsies, the Chao Ley who gave the island its name – Koh Lipe means Paper Island in Chao Ley, Koh Lipe (a.k.a. Koh Lipeh or Koh Lipey) has been through rapid development to face the increasing tourism demand.
Sunset Beach (west), Sunrise Beach (east), and Pattaya Beach (south) are the three main beaches of Koh Lipe. The island and its surroundings are quite famous for snorkelling and scuba diving; its coral reefs are easy to reach as they start just a few metres away from each of the four main island’s beaches. A large number of accommodation choices are available on Koh Lipe, from bamboo-and-thatch bungalows to four-star resorts.
Koh Lipe is a small tropical paradise with all the usual (but welcome) clichés: white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, coconut tree-fringed beaches, luxuriant tropical forest, colourful coral reefs (25% of the world’s tropical fish can be found here), but to make it short, the main attraction here is the natural splendor of the island. Add to this the chilled-out atmosphere and the slow pace of life found in most tropical destinations, and you’ve got a winning holiday destination. Note has to be made about the negative effects of a too-fast development; Koh Lipe needs to fix a few issues such as rubbish treatment and animal conservation if it wants to remain an attractive destination.
The three most famous Koh Lipe beaches are the following:
Pattaya Beach is the longest (1km) and most popular beach features a wide range of hotels, restaurants, boutiques and bars.
Sunrise Beach (Haad Chao Ley) is a long (approximately 800m) strip of white sand bordering a wide shallow bay. It is protected from the monsoon in low season and enjoys refreshing breezes in high-season. Located near the Chao Ley village (hence its Thai name) which hosts a hospital and a school, there are a few restaurants and shops here.
Sunset Beach (Haad Pramong) is a peaceful and laid-back small beach (200m) located in the northern part of the island but facing west. Bamboo-and-thatch and driftwood-built restaurants and bars give a typical hippie feeling to the place.
The Tarutao National Marine Park consists of a group of 51 islands in the Southern part of the Andaman Sea, near the Thai – Malay border. 2 clusters of islands lay in between 20 and 70 kilometres from the mainland. The largest island is Koh Tarutao and is over 10 kilometres wide and about 26 long. This mountainous island is covered mainly with rain forest and there are several mangrove swamps. A few long sandy stretches of unspoiled beach and some caves can also be found. The second group of islands that makes up the marine park is the furthest away from the mainland and includes Koh Lipe, Koh Adang, Koh Rawi and Koh Dong. The largest islands Adang and Rawi are almost completely covered with rain forest. During rainy season several waterfalls run of Adang into the sea. The waters around Koh Lipe and it’s neighbouring islands are very clear and house a wide variety of living coral and other marine life.