Kayaking around Koh Phangan is a great way to explore the hidden coves and beaches of this paradise island. Just renting a kayaks from the beach and paddling out is great fun, although guided tours of Ang Thong Marine National Park allows visitors to see a lot more gorgeous scenery in their day.
Kayaks are available for hire on most Koh Phangan beaches for 100-150 baht per hour. Kayakers should be careful to check any rented vessel for scratches or dents before setting off, as occasionally tourists are stung with phantom ‘damage’ which suddenly becomes apparent upon their return.
Seemingly calm water can become suddenly choppy just a few metres around a group of rocks, and so those embarking on Koh Phangan kayaking trips should ensure that they either choose a moulded plastic ‘bubble’ boat which is unsinkable, or alternatively that there is a tightly-fitted ‘spray skirt’ for a traditional form of the boat so that water cannot lap over the edge.
Other obvious precautions include covering your skin from the baking sun, especially if planning to head out over the midday zenith, taking plenty of water and factoring in enough time to return before dark. Sunset excursions are not recommended as avoiding rocks and other obstacles such as boats becomes incredibly difficult in the pitch black of night!
There are also occasional dangers regarding Koh Phangan kayaking associated with strong currents and tidal drift. It these occasions it can be very easy to paddle in one direction, but very difficult to come back again. Always ask local advice when heading out on the water and – as with swimming – always head into currents first to give you an easy return journey.
The west coast of Koh Phangan from Wok Tum to Koh Ma boasts some of the Thai Gulf’s calmest water and great beach hopping possibilities. However, if the seas are tranquil then there are superb kayaking opportunities in all four corners of the island.
Other popular routes for Koh Phangan kayaking are between Chaloklum and Haad and also from Khuat Thong Nai Pan to Haad Kuad (Bottle Beach). From the Full Moon Party beach of Haad Rin it relatively simple to paddle around to Haad Khontee and then onwards to Haad Thian and Haad Yuan. But don’t attempt this after a night on the tiles and certainly not late in the day when the sun is near to setting.
Phangan Adventure, based in Chaloklum, can take you on guided kayak tours of the coast line or you can hire kayaks from them or many other resorts on the island. Haad Rin’s Backpackers Info Centre(Lotus Dive Resort, Central Haad Rin, tel: +66 77 375 535) offers kayaking trips to Ang Thong National Marine Park.