Boat trips from Koh Chang to the islands of Koh Rang are one of the must-do activities when visiting Koh Chang.
Offered by several different companies, the 5 island snorkeling tour is the most popular day out on the water. The boats head out from Bang Bao or Kai Bae Beach on the west coast down to the Marine Park centre at Koh Rang about an hour away. Koh Rang is encircled by various tiny rocks and outcrops, with the ones at the southern end in particular, home to some terrific little coral reefs.
Our favourite is Mr Khai Tours, who have a fleet of wonderfully colourful wooden boats, so with friends over from London keen to go out snorkeling, this is who we booked. For the 5 island boat trip, he tends to use his larger boat, and the package includes snorkel and mask, transfer to and from your resort, a simple lunch, water, coffee and tea. You can buy beers and soft drinks on board. Introduced in 2014, there is now a fee of 200bt per person for entering the Marine Park, which is normally collected at the beginning of the day by your tour.
Koh Chang Boat Trip – Mr Khai Tours
We were picked-up about 08.30am from Kai Bae Beach in Mr Khai’s songthaew taxi pick-up and after a brief wait on the pier while the boat was loaded, we chugged out of Bang Bao at 09.00am. First off, we headed towards the large uninhabited island of Koh Klum, where local and Cambodian fishing boats shelter in its coves. From there, it is a further 45 minutes or so till you reach Koh Rang, plenty of time to kick back and relax, watch the other boats and spot other islands such as Koh Wai along the way. Mr Khai’s boat has an large upstairs seating area, with canopies and sun chairs, so this is where we headed, a quiet day on board meaning we had the whole upper deck to ourselves.
Koh Chang Boat Trip – Koh Rang
Koh Rang soon enough came into view, passing the smaller satellite islands at its northern end, followed by its pontoon bridge and Marine Park buildings. You can actually stay here, there’s a couple of bungalows and some camping, but it remains a very rare occurrence. We moored up with several other boats at the first little island, Koh Yak, donned our snorkels and masks and in we went. You can happily circle the island without too much energy, lots of good coral to look at and fish everywhere. Emerging back on deck, the boat trip boys laid on lunch, fried chicken, rice, noodles, omelette, fruit, nothing fancy but perfectly tasty.
Koh Chang Boat Trip – Snorkeling
Next stop required a 5 minute chug a few hundred metres further south, parking up so you could swim ashore to the beach at the far southern end of Koh Rang. Other boat trips follow the same routine, so we decided to stay on board, before the our boat turned around and headed back to Koh Yak Lek. The water is deeper here, with some excellent coral drops-offs, and beautifully coloured fish everywhere. Indeed, we happily followed a large strikingly purple one for minutes on end as it took us on a tour of its home turf. Each stop is around an hour, so it also gives you plenty of time for some mad irresponsible but oh such fun deck diving. Work up to the very top tier from the lower decks and it will seem considerably less nerve-racking!
Koh Chang Boat Trip – Fishing
With the afternoon drawing on, the boat trip now took us back to Koh Klum for a spot of fishing, using some rudimentary hooks and lines. There were two rods on hand as well, but nobody seemed that bothered what they used. The clear water means you can see the fish nibbling away at your bait of fresh squid, so snaring one seems a breeze…if only. Nonetheless, we did actually catch something, success of sorts, though it sported very nasty sharp fins and was for sure unlikely to be seen anytime soon outside a Koh Chang restaurant in the bbq ice boat. Still, the boat boys were hauling in them like there was no tomorrow and promptly frying them up for the rest of us, so no one was complaining.
Koh Chang Boat Trip – Monkey Rock
Finally, we headed back to Koh Chang but still had time to stop at Monkey Rock at the top of Bang Bao Bay. Whatever was left on board after our lunch went the monkeys’ way and given the other boats returning to harbour were following suit, that was one busy feeding hour for the troops dropping down from the trees
We reached Bang Bao around 16.30, where Mr Khai’s taxi then dropped everyone back to their respective resorts. Sunkissed, relaxed, tired, a Koh Chang boat trip had, as always, delivered a great day out on the water.
The Mr Khai 4 island boat trip is 875bt per person. You must also pay the 200bt government tax direct to the park rangers in their inflatable dinghy once the boat stops in Koh Rang.