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What is the National Park Koh Rang?

Welcome to Koh Rang National Park! This is a special place in the Gulf of Thailand, with many small islands to explore. But the real magic happens under the water where you can see all kinds of colorful fish and beautiful corals. This is why so many people love to come here to dive and snorkel.

Koh Rang National Park is not far from Trat Province. There are over a dozen islands in the park. They are all beautiful with sandy beaches and green forests. But, the best part is under the sea. The coral reefs here are home to many kinds of marine animals. This is why divers and snorkelers from all over the world like to visit.

When you swim under the water here, you’ll feel like you’re in a different world. You’ll see bright colored fish, and sometimes even sea turtles. Every dive here is an adventure and there’s always something new to see.

The biggest island in the park is called Koh Rang. It has high peaks and rocky cliffs. But below the water, it’s a different story. There are lots of different marine animals and plants, which makes it a great place for divers and snorkelers.

So if you’re someone who loves to dive or snorkel, or if you just like looking at cool underwater things, Koh Rang National Park is the place to be. Get your diving gear or your snorkeling mask ready – there’s a whole world under the sea here waiting for you to explore! Stay tuned as we dive deeper into what makes Koh Rang a fantastic underwater adventure.

More about the history and background of Koh Rang

Koh Rang National Park, also known as Mu Ko Chang National Park, was established in 1982. Covering a vast marine area in the province of Trat, the park includes over 50 islands, with Koh Chang and Koh Rang being among the largest and most significant.

The park’s history is intertwined with the story of Thailand’s efforts to preserve its precious natural resources. Before its designation as a national park, Koh Rang and its neighboring islands were mainly fishing grounds and spots for locals to gather jungle products. Recognizing the unique biodiversity and the fragile coral reefs, the Thai government declared it a protected area.

The political aspect of Koh Rang National Park revolves mainly around conservation policies and local livelihoods. Thailand has had to balance the ecological preservation of the park with the socio-economic needs of local communities and tourism demands. While restrictions on fishing activities have been imposed to protect marine life, this has at times led to tension with local fisherfolk who depend on the sea for their livelihood.

In the context of tourism, the government has introduced regulations to manage the influx of visitors, aiming to mitigate environmental impacts. Issues such as coral bleaching and waste management have brought political attention to the need for sustainable tourism practices. Ongoing efforts are aimed at ensuring that this marine paradise remains a thriving and sustainable ecosystem.

While Koh Rang National Park continues to be a sought-after destination for divers and snorkelers, it stands also as a testament to Thailand’s commitment to conservation. The story of the park is not just one of natural beauty, but also of the ongoing struggle to protect and preserve it for future generations.

The dive sites of Koh Rang National Park

The Pinnacles

Other names:Hin Gue Daeng
Depth:max 30 meters
Suitable for:Advanced Open Water or experienced Open Water Divers
Snorkeling:not recommended

The Pinnacles at Koh Rang is one of the most popular diving sites in the Mu Koh Chang National Park. Known for its captivating underwater topography, it’s located just a short boat ride away from Koh Rang island.

This dive site consists of a series of rocky pinnacles that descend to approximately 30 meters deep, with the shallowest point about 12 meters below the surface. Its deep water and current exposure make it an intermediate to advanced dive site.

One of the most striking features of this site is the vibrant marine life. The underwater rocks are covered in colorful soft and hard corals, and anemones, providing an ideal habitat for a wide variety of marine species. It’s common to spot schools of batfish, barracuda, and trevally. With some luck, you may even catch sight of larger pelagic species like manta rays and whale sharks, especially during the right season.

The Pinnacles at Koh Rang is not only known for its marine life but also for the visibility, which can often reach up to 30 meters on a good day. This makes it a great site for underwater photography.

As always, safety should be a priority while diving. Be aware of the currents, which can be strong at times. This, along with the depth, makes the Pinnacles more suitable for experienced divers.

Koh Tien

Other names:
Depth:max 16 meters, average 10 meters
Suitable for:Beginners, Open Water Divers and advanced
Snorkeling:very nice

Unfortunately, the corals on the north side of Koh Tien have been destroyed by previous dynamite fishing, but the rest of the dive site offers a nice dive, quite different from the typical Koh Rang dive sites, more rocky with hard coral. Since the dive site is too large to go around in one go, we usually dive in a banana shape.

In recent years, the fish population has increased and we see more and more schools of fusilier and groupers. Even when visibility on the east side of Koh Rang is not optimal, we often still have good visibility here.

It’s not a difficult dive site and we rarely encounter currents. This also makes the spot particularly suitable for a DSD (Discover Scuba Diving) dive from the boat. Given its location, we usually visit this place in the morning before we go for lunch.

Koh Yak

Other names:Koh Yak Yai (Big Yak Island)
Depth:max 12 meters, average 7 meters
Suitable for:Beginners, Open Water Divers and advanced
Snorkeling:very nice

Koh Yak is famous for its shallow, calm waters making it an excellent spot for novice divers and snorkelers. The average depth ranges from 5 to 12 meters, which provides plenty of sunlight, illuminating the marine life and making for excellent visibility, often up to 20 meters on a good day.

The main attraction of Koh Yak is its healthy coral reefs, which are teeming with a variety of marine life. These reefs host a colorful selection of hard and soft corals, including brain coral, staghorn coral, and sea fans. This rich habitat attracts a range of tropical fish species like parrotfish, butterflyfish, and angel fish. If you’re lucky, you might even spot more elusive creatures like sea turtles.

Coral farming

Koh Yak is also home of a coral farm. Staghorn coral is a type of branching, hard coral which belongs to the Acropora genus, one of the most diverse genera of corals. Staghorn corals, named for their resemblance to deer antlers, are a crucial part of reef ecosystems. They grow quickly and are known for providing vital habitats for many other marine species.

The term “blue staghorn coral” generally refers to a variation of staghorn coral that has a blue hue. This coloring can be due to several factors, such as the coral’s symbiotic relationship with certain types of algae, specific environmental conditions, or even the coral’s genetic makeup.

This dive site, with its warm, clear waters and vibrant sea life, provides an excellent opportunity for underwater photography, making it a favorite among divers looking for leisurely exploration and a chance to witness the area’s abundant aquatic inhabitants

Heads up: Koh Yak is off-limits for diving at the moment. The National Park authorities have put a pause on visits to protect the coral reefs, which are currently experiencing some bleaching. It’s a crucial step to help these underwater beauties recover and regain their color. We’ll keep you posted on when the site reopens. In the meantime, there’s a whole ocean out there waiting for us, so let’s strap on our fins and explore some other amazing spots.

Koh Laun

Other names:Koh Yak Lek (Small Yak Island), Koh Nok
Depth:max 15 meters, average 8 meters
Suitable for:Beginners, Open Water Divers and advanced
Snorkeling:very nice

The dive site at Koh Laun is known for its shallow depths, typically ranging from 5 to 12 meters. This makes it a particularly good spot for beginners or for those doing Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) experiences. Furthermore, its calm, clear waters offer excellent conditions for snorkeling.

What makes Koh Yak Lek special is the thriving marine ecosystem that it hosts. The island’s underwater world is home to an impressive array of hard and soft corals. You’ll get a chance to see different species of tropical fish, including butterflyfish, angel fish, and clownfish darting around the vibrant coral reefs.

With some luck, you might encounter larger marine life like blue-spotted stingrays and even sea turtles. The island’s serene waters and thriving underwater life also provide a fantastic opportunity for underwater photography.

Koh Mapring

Other names:
Depth:max 15 meters, average 7 meters
Suitable for:Beginners, Open Water Divers and advanced
Snorkeling:a must!

Koh Mapring is another attractive diving spot located within the Mu Koh Chang National Park, near Koh Rang. Known for its shallow, clear waters, Koh Mapring is an ideal site for beginner divers and snorkelers.

The average depth of the dive site ranges from 5 to 14 meters, which offers excellent visibility most of the time, making it an excellent spot for underwater photography. Its warm, turquoise waters host a variety of colorful, hard and soft corals, including brain corals and gorgonians, creating a stunning backdrop for divers.

This underwater paradise is home to a myriad of tropical fish species such as butterflyfish, angelfish, parrotfish, and damselfish. More elusive marine species like moray eels, blue-spotted stingrays, and even sea turtles can sometimes be spotted.

Koh Mapring not only entices divers with its underwater marvels but also delights visitors with a picturesque beach. The pristine, sandy stretch is perfect for relaxing, soaking up the sun, or enjoying a picnic. This spot has become a favored place for divers to take a lunch break, providing an opportunity to relax and refuel amidst the beauty of nature before diving back into the deep. The idyllic surroundings make every meal an experience to remember.

Three Finger Reef

Other names:Hin Kuak Ma, Three Finger Rock
Depth:max 16 meters, average 10 meters
Suitable for:Open Water Divers and advanced
Snorkeling:possible

The Three Finger reef owes its name to its special shape. The dive site is entirely underwater and, along with The Pinnacles, it is the only one of its kind. Two buoys mark the spot where you enter the water and then you slowly dive around the site.

In the final phase of the dive, you swim more or less on the coral and see beautifully expansive blue staghorn coral and groupers hidden in the caves. Since the dive site is a bit further from the island of Koh Rang, you have a higher chance of spotting larger fish, such as a whipray. Usually, we see only one boat present, so you almost never come across other divers.

Your Dive Daytrip to Koh Rang National Park

Your day of diving in the Koh Rang National Park begins with a warm welcome at the dive shop, where you’ll be greeted by friendly staff and the buzz of excited divers. Upon check-in, you’ll be provided with all the necessary diving gear, and you’ll get a chance to ensure everything fits perfectly and is in good working order.

Next, you’ll meet your dive instructor or guide, a professional with extensive knowledge of the local marine environment and dive sites. They’ll go over the day’s itinerary, safety protocols, and what to expect underwater, making sure you feel comfortable and well-prepared for the adventure ahead.

90 minutes comfortable boatride

Once everyone is ready, you’ll embark on a scenic boat ride to the Koh Rang National Park. The journey, which lasts about 90 minutes, is a treat in itself. As you glide across the clear blue waters, you’ll have the chance to soak up the breathtaking views of Thailand’s coastline, chat with fellow divers, or simply enjoy the sea breeze.

Upon arrival at the national park, it’s time to dive in! Whether you’re exploring the vibrant coral reefs of Koh Yak, the intriguing underwater formations of The Pinnacles, or the myriad marine life around Koh Mapring, you’re in for a truly memorable experience.

After your morning dive, you’ll get a chance to refuel with a delicious lunch aboard the boat, typically featuring local Thai dishes. This break also gives you an opportunity to relax, soak up the sun, and exchange stories about your underwater encounters.

The day concludes with a second dive in the afternoon, offering another chance to immerse yourself in the park’s underwater beauty. As the boat makes its way back to the dive shop in the late afternoon, you’ll return enriched with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation for the marvels of the marine world.

Snorkeling at the Koh Rang National Park

The all-levels support at Koh Rang National Park caters to everyone, from complete beginners to experienced divers, ensuring that each participant has a safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable experience.

For beginners or those new to diving, there are Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) courses available. These courses are specially designed for novices, providing a detailed introduction to scuba diving under the guidance of a certified instructor. DSD courses typically involve a brief theory session followed by a confined water practice session where beginners can get comfortable with the diving equipment and basic procedures. After this, they’re ready for their first supervised open water dive. The dive sites in Koh Rang, with their relatively calm waters and abundant marine life, are perfect for beginner divers.

For more experienced divers, the dive guides will help refine your skills and introduce you to the unique features of each dive site. Their expertise and local knowledge enable you to explore the best the underwater world of Koh Rang has to offer, whether it’s navigating intriguing underwater formations or spotting elusive marine life.

Snorkeling is another fantastic option at Koh Rang. It’s a great alternative for those who might not be ready to dive but still want to experience the vibrant underwater environment. Snorkelers are provided with all the necessary equipment and a brief tutorial before setting off. The shallow, clear waters around the islands offer excellent visibility, making it possible to observe the vibrant corals, playful fish, and maybe even a sea turtle right from the water’s surface. Guides are always on hand to ensure everyone’s safety and to point out interesting marine life.

The goal is to ensure that every participant, regardless of their skill level or experience, can explore and appreciate the underwater beauty of Koh Rang National Park in a safe and enjoyable way.

About the Author

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Maurice van den Heuvel

With 15 years of expertise as a scuba diving instructor, I've guided countless individuals through the aquatic wonders of our world. An entrepreneur with successful business ventures across Europe, I also channel my passion into web creation — including this site. My journey has taken me from the south of the Netherlands to the serene waters of Koh Chang. Dive with me and benefit from a legacy of trust, experience, and unwavering passion.