Diving & Snorkelling
The dive sites near Ko Chang offer a variety of coral, fish and beginner-friendly shallow waters.
The seamounts off the southern tip of the island within the Mu Ko Chang National Marine Park are reached within a 30-minute cruise. Popular spots include Hin Luk Bat and Hin Rap, rocky, coral-encrusted seamounts with depths of around 18m to 20m. These are havens for schooling fish and some turtles. In 2013, near Hin Rap, a 30m gunship was deliberately sunk and now lies on its side.
By far the most pristine diving in the area is around Ko Rang, an uninhabited island protected from fishing by its marine park status. Visibility here is much better than near Ko Chang and averages between 10m and 20m. Everyone’s favourite dive is Hin Gadeng – spectacular rock pinnacles with coral visible to around 28m. On the eastern side of Ko Rang, Hin Kuak Maa (also known as Three Finger Reef) is another top dive spot and is home to a coral-encrusted wall sloping from 2m to 14m and attracting swarms of marine life.
Ko Yak, Ko Tong Lang and Ko Laun are shallow dives perfect for both beginners and advanced divers. These small rocky islands can be circumnavigated and have lots of coral, schooling fish, pufferfish, morays, barracuda, rays and the occasional turtle.
About 7km offshore from Ban Bang Bao there's a popular dive to the wreck of the HTMS Chang, a 100m-long former Thai naval vessel purposely sunk in 2012 to form an artificial reef that now sits 30m beneath the surface.
Reef-fringed Ko Wai features a good variety of colourful hard and soft corals and is great for snorkelling. It is a popular day-tripping island but has simple overnight accommodation for more alone time with the reef.
The snorkelling on Ko Mak is not as good, but the island offers some decent dives, even if the reefs don't see as many fish as elsewhere.
One-day diving trips typically start at 3000B. Think 15,000B per person for PADI or other certification. Many dive shops remain open during the rainy season (May to October) but visibility and sea conditions are generally poor. The following are recommended dive operators:
BB Divers Based at Bang Bao, this well-run diving outfit has branches in Lonely Beach and Hat Sai Khao, as well as outposts on Ko Kut and Ko Mak (high season only).
Scubadawgs This upbeat outfit based at Bang Bao is helpful and customer focused. They do PADI and RAID certification.
Scandinavian Chang Diving Centre Professional diving set-up at Ban Khlong Prao offering a good range of excursions and courses.
Kayaking & SUP
Ko Chang cuts an impressive and heroic profile when viewed from the sea aboard a kayak. The water is generally calm and offshore islands provide a paddling destination that is closer than the horizon. Many hotels rent open-top kayaks (from 300B per day) that are convenient for near-shore outings and noncommittal kayakers; some provide them for free. Contact KayakChang for more serious apparatus.
Ko Chang isn't just about the beaches. The island has a well-developed trekking scene, with inland routes that lead to lush forests filled with birds, monkeys and flora. A handful of English-speaking guides grew up near the jungle and are happy to share their secrets.
Though the inadequate national park map shows a walking trail traversing the island, this is long overgrown: don't try it without a guide.