Ko 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 Ko 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, recently 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 (NOT for the claustrophobic!) 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 can don a life jacket and follow guides with flashlights; progress can be slow at peak times.
Both Ko Ngai and Ko Muk are regular stops on the 4-island tour; other places visited include Ko Kradan, which offers picture-postcard beaches and excellent coral, as befits the venue of the annual Trang underwater wedding ceremony, and Ko Cheuak, whose twin cliffs provide the perfect conditions for the sheltered coral reefs between them to thrive.
Ko 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 Ko 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 Ko 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, Ko Ngai would fit most people’s bill.
To get to Ko Ngai independently, you will need to travel from Pak Meng Pier in Trang (journey time around 45 mins – 1 hour); alternatively you can hitch a ride on one of the tour boats from Ko Lanta (Nov – April only). Ko Ngai is Krabi Province’s southernmost island, around 30km south of Ko Lanta.
Last updated: October 24, 2016