Phi Phi Island has some of the best snorkelling spots in southern Thailand. The archipelago is home to among the world's most abundant coral reef systems, with sights that are both plentiful and astounding. When the tide is right, places like Monkey Bay are accessible with the coral just below the surface with brightly coloured fish darting here and there, just inches from your mask. 

    Hin Klang is in the middle of the Andaman Sea, though it isn't nearly as deep as expected. Phi Phi Leh has a few more snorkelling locations, as does Koh Phi Phi Don and Bamboo Island. Fins and a mask would usually be provided on package trips, but you can rent them from many dive centres and shops if you choose to snorkel on your own.

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    Hin Klang

    Hin Klang is an underwater reef or coral mountain (as some call it) that doesn't break the surface. Located 2 km offshore, right in front of Laem Tong Beach in the north of Phi Phi, it's 90 metres long and 60 metres wide. Most first-timers approach the reef not knowing what to expect but are soon wowed by the immense landscape, right under the calm surface.

    With its crystal-clear water and colourful coral teeming with lots of fish, Hin Klang is one of the best places to snorkel in Phi Phi and all of southern Thailand.

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    Maya Bay has exceptionally clear water, although you can only enter it by boat from November to April. Some encounter at least an octopus after just 10 minutes out in the sea. Stunning coral and fish are seen by thousands who arrive on various day trips, so yes, it often gets busy. 

    The side closest to the entrance is best as there are many boats close to the beach. Maya Bay was closed to allow for recovery of the seabed and is expected to open mid-2021. It's best visited on an organised tour, preferably early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

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    Loh Sama, or Sama Bay, is one of the most famous sites of Koh Phi Phi Leh which, we have to admit, hosts a fair deal of outstanding attractions. Located on the eastern side of the southern tip of the island, the bay features a small islet in its centre and a tiny beach behind a small canyon on its northern part. Loh Sama is reputed for its snorkelling and diving opportunities.

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    Bamboo Island is 5 km from the northern tip of Phi Phi Don. The small island is only 500 metres across, with beautiful beaches virtually all the way around that give way to coral underwater. 

    Many day trips stop by Bamboo Island each day but it's not too crowded. Dive boats go there, too. The reefs are extensive and fairly shallow which make it an excellent place to snorkel, while the beach is always there for a rest.

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    Pi Leh Bay is on the opposite side of Phi Phi Leh, towards Maya Bay. It's a long, thin bay with 100-metre-high cliffs on all sides. At the entrance, there's a shelf, the top of which is too shallow for anything other than speedboat or longtail boat. This stops it from getting too busy, too.

    Flat calm water awaits inside with some excellent snorkelling, bright parrotfish and sergeant majors rush the boats coming in hoping for some bread, pineapple, or banana even. High tide is one of the best times to visit Pi Leh Bay. Alternatively, at the entrance to the bay, there's also some great snorkelling opportunities. Morning is the best time as the area is in the shade in the afternoons.

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    Monkey Beach is located on the south-western side of Tonsai Bay, about 700 metres from the jetty. It is a simply stunning 150-metre-long strip of white powdery sand fringed by emerald waters. Monkey Beach is not only famous for its furry inhabitants. Its other draw is that it is a top-notch snorkelling spot. 

    The shallow waters next to the beach host colourful and vivid underwater habitats, which really gives you the feeling of swimming in an aquarium.

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    Mosquito Island ('Koh Yung' in Thai) is the northeasternmost island in the Phi Phi group. Its immediate surroundings are famous among the underwater sports community. The waters near the south-eastern tip of the island host splendid soft coral reefs as well as an impressive abundance of marine life, making it a stunning snorkelling spot.

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    The snorkelling from Long Beach is best done directly from the beach in Phi Phi. You don't have to go very far to see the colourful fish and underwater habitat. Around 200 metres from the beach, there's a rock that just breaks the surface called Shark Point, where you'll find blacktip reef sharks swimming around the reef.

    During the day, when there are lots of boats around, these sharks are hard to find but they're easily spotted after 5pm. The swells from May to October can make Shark Point quite dangerous, so you should only go there on calm days. Do be vigilant as currents can get strong, especially at mid-tide. Novice snorkelers should go on an organised tour.

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    Moo Dee Bay ('Loh Moo Dee' in Thai) has a 500-metre-long white sand beach bordered by the Andaman Sea. Situated on the east coast of Koh Phi Phi Don, it's an excellent spot if you want to escape from the crowds. The beach offers pleasant snorkelling opportunities, mostly at both ends of the bay.

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    Monkey Bay, also known as Ao Ling, is a popular spot on Phi Phi Don Island. Located near the entrance of Dalum Bay (Loh Dalum), it is a small cove, very similar to Monkey Beach save for the sand, which is thicker here. A superb coral reef lies some 50 metres from the beach, offering memorable snorkelling opportunities.

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    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveller

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