Koh Ngai (pronounced Hai) is officially part of Krabi province, although geographically it is closer to Trang and is usually thought of as part of the Trang ‘4 island’ group accessible from Pak Meng Pier, or on day tours from Koh Lanta.
It’s a pretty little island, almost deserted during the week, although at weekends it gets busy with Thai tourists en route to visit the area’s most famous attraction. Emerald Cave on neighbouring Ko Muk, is a collapsed cavern in the centre of the island, featured in TAT’s ‘Unseen Thailand’ campaign.
The entrance to the cave is almost unnoticeable, save for the boats parked in the shadow of the sheer rock face. From here, it is an 80-metre swim through an often crowded, pitch dark tunnel to arrive in the bright green lagoon in the centre of the island, enclosed by cliffs on all sides, and with its own beach. Non-swimmers must don a life jacket and follow guides with flashlights; progress can be slow at peak times. Note that this is NOT a trip for the claustrophobic! Even strong swimmers are recommended to wear a life jacket as random people may grab on to you as you swim through.
Both Koh Ngai and Kho Muk are regular stops on the Lanta 4-island tour; other places visited include Koh Kradan, which offers picture-postcard beaches and excellent coral, as befits the venue of the annual Trang underwater wedding ceremony, and Koh Cheuak, whose twin cliffs provide the perfect conditions for the sheltered coral reefs between them to thrive.
Koh Ngai itself should be considered as more than a lunch stop, however. The triangular shaped island has several resort operations along its long sandy beach. There’s a lovely, laidback atmosphere and the beach itself makes one want to linger. The colour of the water is astonishing, the sand soft and white and there’s a beautiful view from the shore across the neighbouring islands.
Directly facing the beach is Koh Maa, another excellent snorkelling spot where barracudas and groupers are often seen. It is also possible to go scuba diving from here, as well as rent a longtail boat to visit the other islands in the group. Kayaks are available for hire to explore the coastline and further snorkelling areas.
Although close to Koh Lanta, the islands and seascape here more closely resemble the dramatic rocks seen further north around Ao Nang – without the crowds. It’s very quiet, especially at night, but for a pure, relaxing beach holiday, Koh Ngai would fit most people’s bill.
To get to Koh Ngai independently, you will need to travel from Pak Meng Pier in Trang (journey time around 45 mins – 1 hour); alternatively you can take the ferry or hitch a ride on one of the tour boats from Koh Lanta (Nov – April only). Bring enough cash to see you through your visit: there are no ATMs, or any modern conveniences here. Koh Ngai is Krabi Province’s southernmost island, around 30km south of Koh Lanta.
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