On our arrival to Koh Tao, the ferry stopped by a small island with a narrow stretch of sand between two green bumps. After our overnight train journey from Bangkok and a 2 hour high speed ferry chopping across the Gulf of Thailand, I was too hot, tired and slightly seasick to take pictures or even look at the scenic islands we just arrived to.
However, once we rested, cooled down and recovered from the long journey, all I could think of was the picture perfect island with its idyllic white stretch of sand connecting the 3 tiny islands.
Getting to Koh Nang Yuan
Koh Nang Yuan Island is around 15 minutes away from Koh Tao island. The best way to get there is by one of the longtail boat taxis and it doesn’t come cheap if you are on a budget. The prices vary from 300-400 THB one way. You can buy tickets in Koh Tao, they are sold everywhere, but we noticed that booking a boat on the beach is cheaper. You will see lots of other offers advertised by the Lomprayah catamaran company, but getting a boat taxi is the cheapest way to get to Koh Nang Yuan.
We were walking along Sairee Beach when we saw a lady holding a card with the boat taxi prices. We booked a return ticket for 600 THB which was cheaper than booking a boat taxi on the high street. You can buy a one way ticket if you are unsure how long you want to stay on the Ko Nang Yuan island.
We decided to spend half day and get back to Koh Tao with the last boat at 5pm. As soon as we booked our tickets, we were shown to the horizon and told that our taxi is on its way. Only 5 minute wait, our luck, I guess. If you are the first ones to book, you might need to wait a little longer for the boat to fill up. Just enjoy the beach or have a swim in the meantime!
It’s safe to get an upfront ticket, you get a receipt and the boat will wait for you at the agreed return time. All you have to do is note the number of your boat and make your way to the port at agreed time, the boat will be waiting.
The taxi boat holds up to 10 people and we’ve seen some boats overfilled with passengers, but (our luck again) we had a comfortable journey with only 4 other people on board.
If you are staying in a resort of a more remote part of Koh Tao, the staff might be able to book you on a boat.
Arriving to the island
Depending of the time of day you arrive to the island, you might have a slightly awkward way out of your boat. We arrived to the island at around 1pm to find a row of boats moored up at the tiny harbour which we had to climb over in order to reach the bridge. Make sure you have comfortable footwear or do it barefoot as the boat decks might be wet and slippery. Also beware of the hot footbridge surface and don’t burn your feet like I did!
The island is privately owned so an entrance fee of 100 THB per person applies as soon as you reach the entrance. You will also have to leave any plastic bottles you may have with you. So if you are thinking of carrying some water reserves, make sure it’s stored in glass containers, otherwise you will have to ditch anything plastic.
The beach on the island is picture perfect, but it also is extremely busy. The beach chairs are squashed one next to another in a few rows like an outdoor cinema. We tried to hide from the sun under the umbrella, but felt more suffocated than relaxed. And if you are unfortunate enough to sit in the second row, all you see is the backs of your fellow holidayers instead of idyllic white sand beach. You also get charged for using the chairs.
Having booked the return taxi, we had no other way but to make the most of this overcrowded divers paradise. We walked across the shallow stretch through some sharp bits washed up from the coral reef and joined the other sunbathers who also refused to pay for the beach chairs. As we settled down and immersed into the turquoise water, we looked around to realise we are in a postcard-like bliss.
Things to do on the island
The island is located in a natural reserve and the shallow reefs make it one of the best diving and snorkelling spots in Thailand. But of course, a number of day trippers come here to soak up the beach life too.
Apart from lazing on the beach, you can have a hike to the island’s viewpoint for some spectacular views. Unfortunately, when we were in Ko Nang Yuan (February 2016) the viewpoint was closed for refurbishment. We climbed a couple of stones on the beach to get a better view and it was nice to see the island deserting at around 4.30pm.
Food and drink options
There is only one restaurant on the island and one beach bar. We didn’t eat at the restaurant, but noticed that the prices are sky high. We had a couple of milkshakes at the beach bar just before leaving. The strawberry and pineapple shakes were pretty fresh, but set us back around 220 THB for both.
Koh Nang Yuan Island opening times
Because it’s a resort island, it’s only fair that people who book the expensive accommodation, have some private and peaceful beach time. The island opens at around 9.30am to 5pm. Make sure you don’t overstay as the last boat taxi leaves at 5pm.
Was it worth visiting the island?
Once we made peace with the hustle and bustle of the island, we enjoyed it. If we knew what to expect, we would have prepared better mentally and left Koh Tao much earlier. But still, it was definitely worth getting there and swimming at one of those beaches that you only see in the high definition postcards.