Coral Island (Koh Hay)
Coral Island is the most popular of the group of small islands just south of Phuket. As its name suggests, it is well known for its shallow coral reefs and excellent snorkeling.
The island's Thai name is Koh Hay (sometimes written Koh He, Koh Hae, or other variations). This does not actually translate to Coral Island. It means crowded island and the name is not totally inaccurate. The island does receive plenty of day-trip visitors throughout the high season.
However, it is not always crowded and there are quieter spots.
Coral Island is a 2.5km long, jungle covered, granite island. There are two nice beaches on the north side of the island facing Phuket and there is also a small but pleasant little beach on the south side of the island. There is nothing inland where the vegetation is too dense and the gradients are too steep to be suited for development or agriculture.
This 800-meter beach is the most popular on the island. It is where the majority of day-trip boats arrive. There are plenty of deckchairs for rent on the beach. There is beach volleyball and through the high-season, there are often jet-skis and parasails. There are several restaurants and bars. The only overnight accommodation on the island is nestled into the palm trees at the east end of this beach. The Coral Island Resort has nice little bungalows close to the beach and its own swimming pool.
The snorkeling at this beach is not actually the best around the island. Most of the coral close to shore has been damaged by the constant activity. However, if you are happy to swim out around 100-meters then you will still see plenty of coral and colourful fish.
If you want to avoid the crowds and you are renting your own boat then tell the driver to take you to Banana Beach. This beach is just to the east of Long Beach and only about half its length. There is a single restaurant, clean toilet facilities and a few deckchairs. There is actually a jungle trail between Long Beach and Banana Beach so you can walk between them. The trail can be a little tricky so a decent pair of walking shoes is a good idea.
This beach is generally much quieter than Long Beach. There is good snorkelling almost immediately offshore. The shallow coral reef is an ideal snorkeling site for novices and children.
If you want to look around the island a little more, you could ask your boat driver to take you to Freedom Beach on the south side of Coral Island. This is a small beach with a restaurant and a handful of deckchairs. The beach is nestled into a bay with steep-rising hills all around. You may see the odd giant monitor lizard amble out of the vegetation to eat food left by the restaurant owners.
There is good snorkeling right offshore and as you swim further out you will see plenty of coral, nice rock formations and sea life.
We have to say the food at this restaurant was unreasonably expensive. Make sure you check the prices on the menu before ordering anything.
There are plenty of tours that visit this island. However, this site does like to encourage visitors to go out and explore themselves. You can go to Rawai Beach or Chalong Pier and rent a longtail or speedboat for the 9km ride. If there is a group of you then it can work out cheaper than booking a tour and it is a more rewarding experience.
A longtail should cost between 1000 and 1500 baht for the return trip which takes around 25-minutes each way. A speedboat will cost around 5,000 baht but is much quicker.
The trip will take you between the large island Koh Lone and the small island Kon Bon out to Coral Island. Further out to sea you can see the deserted island of Koh Aeo.
Since Long Beach and Banana Beach both face north, they are shielded from the worst of the monsoon waves. This means they can still be good snorkeling locations even during the rainy season. That is not to say they are totally shielded and on rough days the waves will still be too much. However, there are plenty of nice days during the rainy season when the sea here will be calm. The 9km ride out there could still be rather unpleasant at this time of year so this is still only worth considering on those genuinely nice rainy season days.
Book your tour to Coral Island through our tour partners at Easy Day Thailand.Coral Island Tours
Just fill in the form with your requirements.
Fully Insured - Tourism Authority of Thailand Licence 31/00838
The only accommodation on the island is the simple but very pleasant Coral Island Resort. It has nice little bungalows nestled into the trees at the end of Long Beach. It also has its own swimming pool. The beach can be quite busy during the day but once the day-trippers return to base, it is utterly tranquil.
Island Resort (3 Star)