Ko Pha-Ngan's airport plans are on hold, so watch this space. At the time of writing, there were issues relating to the airport encroaching on land belonging to Than Sadet-Koh Phangan National Park, so everything was still in the air, so to speak.
Bangkok, Hua Hin & Chumphon
The Lomprayah and Seatran Discovery (www.seatrandiscovery.com) services have bus-boat combination packages (Lomprayah from around 1300B, Seatran from 1000B) that depart from the Th Khao San area in Bangkok and pass through Hua Hin and Chumphon. The whole voyage takes between 10 and 17½ hours.
It is also quite hassle-free (unless your train breaks down, which happens a lot) to take the train from Bangkok or Hua Hin to Chumphon and switch to a ferry service. In this case expect to pay 300B for a second-class seat on a train from Bangkok to Chumphon (about 8½ hours); Lomprayah boats from Chumphon to Ko Pha-Ngan take around 3 to 3¾ hours and costs 1000B.
There are around a dozen daily departures between Thong Sala on Ko Pha-Ngan and Ko Samui. These boats leave throughout the day from 7am to 6pm, take from 20 minutes to an hour and cost 200B to 300B depending on the boat.
The Haad Rin Queen goes back and forth between Hat Rin and Big Buddha Beach four times a day (the first boat leaves Hat Rin at 9.30am and departs Big Buddha Beach at 10.30am), with double the number of sailings the day after the Full Moon Party and an extra trip laid on at 7.30am the same day. The voyage takes 50 minutes, costs 200B and the last boat leaves Big Buddha Beach at 6.30pm.
The Thong Nai Pan Express is a wobbly old fishing boat (not for the faint-hearted) that runs once a day from Mae Nam on Ko Samui to Hat Rin on Ko Pha-Ngan and then up the east coast, stopping at all the beaches as far as the pier at Thong Nai Pan Noi. Prices range from 200B to 400B depending on the destination. The boat won't run in bad weather.
Ko Tao-bound Lomprayah ferries (500B to 600B) depart from Thong Sala on Ko Pha-Ngan at 8.30am, 1pm and 5.30pm and arrive at 9.30am, 2.15pm and 6.30pm. The Seatran service (450B, 90 mins) departs from Thong Sala at 8.30am, 1.30pm and 5pm daily. Taxis depart Hat Rin for Thong Sala one hour before the boat departure. The cheaper but slower Songserm (350B) leaves Ko Pha-Ngan at 12.30pm and alights at 2pm, before continuing to Chumphon.
Surat Thani & the Andaman Coast
There are four daily Lomprayah (550B, 2¾ hours) services to Don Sak (for Surat Thani), both travelling via Ko Samui. These boats leave from Thong Sala from 7.20am to 2.30pm. One Seatran (www.seatrandiscovery.com) boat (700B) also leaves daily from Thong Sala for Surat Thani at 10.30am, with a bus connection to Phun Phin train station outside the city. Every night, depending on the weather, a night boat runs from Surat Thani (400B, seven hours), departing at 11pm. Boats in the opposite direction leave Ko Pha-Ngan at 10pm.
Combination boat-bus tickets are available at any travel agency. Simply tell them your desired destination and they will sell you the necessary links in the transport chain. Most travellers will pass through Surat Thani as they swap coasts.