Phuket : Phang Nga Bay : Ko Racha
Ko Racha Yai (เกาะราชาใหญ่) and Ko Racha Noi (เกาะราชาน้อย), also known as Ko Raya Yai and Ko Raya Noi, are twin islands off the southeastern coast of Phuket. Known for their crystal clear blue waters these islands have been an almost exclusive paradise for divers for years. With Racha Yai's white sand beaches and expanding accommodations, Racha Yai is growing in popularity.
Ko Racha Yai with its gleaming beaches can be reached by chartered boat from Ao Chalong and Rawai. Travelling time varies by type of boat:
Sightseeing and snorkeling services are available from tour operators in town. Accommodation is available. A hilltop viewpoint on the bay’s south offers a magnificent view of the whole island.
Ko Racha Noi, 10 kilometres from Raya Yai, is the result of coral reef build up, and there are more rocks than beaches. In a small bay on the west is a boat anchorage. The waters at Raya Noi are emerald green, and the fishing there is famous, but swimming is not recommended.
Racha Yai is an available travel and tour option year round. When the seas and winds are too strong, boats will cancel their trips for safety reasons. During the summer season this only occurs a few times.
Once at Racha Yai your feet become your carriage. The island has a small network of dirt paths that link all of the beaches and resorts. You can easily walk from Bungalow Bay to Siam Beach and back again. It takes about 10-12 minutes to walk to the beaches on the other side of the island. Longtail boats are sometimes available for rent to visit other beaches if you are not inclined to walk. Motorbikes can be rented also, but distances are short.
Looking back towards Phuket from Siam Beach is one of the best things to do. Most visitors to Racha Yai come to escape the noise and distractions of Phuket and Coral Island.
Walking around some of the island's pathways you will be treated to views of wonderful coconut groves and the occasional water buffalo grazing nearby.
One of Phuket's best kept secrets is the wonderful snorkeling at Koh Racha Yai. Perhaps due to the extra distance from Phuket or the Island's lees familiar or attractive name means that there are significantly less visitors to this island than almost every other island around Phuket. The physical layout of Racha Yai offers places to snorkel no matter what time of year it is. Even on days when there are large waves, there will be a protected cove to snorkel in.
Water clarity and visibility is some of the best in Phuket. The water has a turquoise color and has a lot of marine life. The depths range from a few meters and deeper. Most snorkeling is done from speedboats or from the shore in Batok Bay and Raya Bay. Walk across the island to less crowded Lah Bay, or to Kon Kare Bay.
Tour & activity operators
Racha Yai is Phuket's best-known scuba diving site, with its sloping rocky reefs and its plentitude of solid coral forests. There is also Ter Bay where there is an exciting wreck in the depths of 25-35 meters. The area south Racha Yai, Racha Noi, is a haven for experienced divers as the depths are greater and the currents stronger. The overall topography is strikingly different from Racha Yai with huge granite boulders. The diving in Racha Noi compared to Racha Yai is definitely more challenging but the rewards are far greater.
Racha Yai's coral reefs and shallow depths make it a great location for SNUBA. SNUBA combines the ease of snorkeling with the excitement of diving. SNUBA is popular with families, couples, and small groups looking to combine a day of snorkeling with something a little more adventurous and exciting. Ages 8+ can try SNUBA and there is no certification required to participate. Professional dive guides accompany the tours, provide instruction before and guide guests underwater. SNUBA is offered only through licensed SNUBA Recreational Centers.
The waters around Racha Yai and Noi are crystal clear and turquoise in color. Swimming near the beaches and in the bays is a great way to spend the day. The water is warm and inviting. Bungalow Bay has an area sectioned off for swimming. Use caution when swimming outside of designated swimming areas off shore as there are a number of dive boats and speedboats that come in and out of the bays. Currents inside the sheltered bays are usually not an issue, but use caution when swimming out further from shore. Ask a dive operator or instructor for advice on the current conditions.
Racha Yai is one of the nicest islands to simply get away from everything and relax. Less boats and tourists visit this island and Jet Skis & Para sailing are officially banned.
The beaches are white powdery sand with plenty of space to spread out. The sun lounge chairs for rent are spaced a good distance apart from each other and there is only one row unlike the crowded beaches of Phuket and Coral Island where the chairs are sometimes 5-6 deep.
Chairs are also available at Lah Bay on the other side of the island, with a restaurant only a few metres from the water.
There isn't much to purchase on Racha Yai. There is a little shop on the side of Bungalow Bay that has miscellaneous sundries. If your child has forgotten their swimsuit they even have swimsuits for sale.
There is a small village in the centre of the island, with a couple of restaurants, and the nearby Father Resort has a general store. This village also has a Dive Centre - prices are cheaper here.
Ban Raya and The Racha Resort have small mini-marts for juices, water and snacks.
Only Ko Racha Yai offers acommodation. Several resorts to suit all pockets.
Mobile phones work on Racha Yai. Internet is available at Ban Raya and the Racha Resort.