Thailand Top 10 Island Yachting Destinations

Ocean Emerald cruising in Thailand
Ocean Emerald underway in Phang Nga Bay Photo Frances Howorth

The Kingdom of Thailand in Southeast Asia is surrounded inland by Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and Cambodia with the other part lying on the Malay Peninsula and neighbouring Malaysia. This area also divides Thailand into two important areas for visiting motor & sail yachts & superyachts — the eastern Gulf of Thailand and the western Andaman Sea.

Ocean Emerald at anchor off Ko Phi Phi Leh Photo Frances Howorth

From July 1st a plan named the ‘Phuket Sandbox’ will allow vaccinated international visitors to roam the island without having to quarantine for 14 days. The plan allows for tourists fully inoculated with World Health Organization-approved vaccines to spend 14 days on Phuket without having to be confined to a hotel room. After two weeks and multiple Covid-19 tests, the tourists, who must be from countries considered at low or medium risk for the coronavirus, will be allowed to travel to the rest of Thailand.

For future voyage planning, there’s really no better place to experience life on a yacht than the ‘Land of Smiles’ with its beautiful expanses of calm turquoise water, postcard-perfect islands and famed Thai hospitality and cuisine.

Thailand is a playground for superyachts
Ocean Emerald underway in Phang Nga Bay Photo Frances Howorth

The length of the Thai coastline stretches approximately 3,200 km and is a paradise for yachties. Thailand’s top 10 island visits follow as suggested by longtime expert superyacht professionals and residents, Gordon Fernandes and Captain Charlie Dwyer, Asia Pacific Superyachts co-founders, along with Captain Scott Walker.

Top Ten Islands of Thailand

1 Phuket

The ‘Superyacht Hub of Southeast Asia’ has four world class marinas northeast of the island with berths in a variety of sizes. Two marinas in Phuket offers deep water access to accommodate ships that are over 80 meters in length. Gordon Fernandes (APS) can arrange all services from arrival to delivery to custom itinerary to departure. Phuket is world recognised for its vibrant and cosmopolitan resort life, luxury spas and famed Thai cuisine, from street stalls to fine dining. The country’s definitive yachting and luxury lifestyle events are held in Phuket with boat shows welcoming thousands of visitors and internationally recognized regattas that draw in participants from around the world.

2 Surin and Similan Islands

The Similan and Surin Islands are among the world’s top dive destinations; a group of nine islands northwest of Phuket with beautiful coral reefs and numerous fish species. Stunning above and below the waves, the warm tropical waters around these islands are teeming with aquatic life. Marine life regularly spotted amongst the corals around the Similan Islands include moray eels, leopard sharks, sea turtles, snappers and barracudas. In the waters further north around the Surin Islands and Richelieu Rock, whale sharks are often seen amongst the angelfish and parrotfish.

3 Phang Nga Bay

The World Heritage Site between Phuket and the western coast of mainland Thailand boasts of a 200-metre long cave tunnel from Koh Phanak to Khao Phing Kan and the island of the James Bond film, “The Man with the Golden Gun”. Phang Nga Bay’s distinctive feature is the sheer limestone karsts that jut vertically out of the emerald-green water, covering an area of 400 sq km, with around 100 islands.

4 Koh Phi Phi

Two of the biggest islands, Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh – have spectacular cliffs, dive spots and lots of other uninhabited islands to explore. Phi Phi is a group of six islands, the two main islands are Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. The smaller uninhabited Phi Phi Leh hosts stunningly beautiful bays and beaches including the world-famous Maya Bay, where “The Beach” (with Leonardo Di Caprio) was filmed.

5 Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe belongs to a group of 51 islands comprising the Butang Archipelago and belongs to the Adang-Rawi Archipelago, situated on the outskirts of the Tarutao National Marine Park. Originally it was only inhabited by Sea Gypsies, the Chao Ley who gave the island its name. The island and its surroundings are quite famous for snorkelling and scuba diving and its coral reefs are easy to reach as they start just a few metres away from each of the four main island beaches.

6 Hua Hin

Hua Hin is one of the top tourist destinations of Thailand with many attractions and activities – plus it isn’t far from Bangkok. The city has many beautiful beaches, mountains, viewpoints, Temples, night markets, water parks, and fine dining. There’s some great inland activities such as golfing at some of Thailand’s most renowned courses. Just down the coast at Takiab Bay, visitors can take seaside horseback rides and visit a hilltop Buddhist temple with a spectacular view.

7 Koh Samui

The country’s second largest island is popular for its white sand beaches and luxury five-star resorts & villas, gourmet dining, open-air markets and upscale health spas. Beautiful anchorages and all services can be arranged with Captain Charlie (APS) along with provisions, fuel and a custom itinerary. From the inner jungle to the serene beauty of the south shore, to the lively yet relaxed atmosphere of Lamai Beach, the hustle and bustle of Chaweng Beach, the timeless feel of Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village and to the tropical beach paradise of Maenam, Samui is unique among Thailand’s islands in maintaining a broad appeal for everyone.

8 Ang Thong National Marine Park, Koh Tao & Koh Phangan

A great voyage is to journey down the east side of Samui past Koh Katen and up around the 5 islands to Ang Thong National Marine Park archipelago to anchor. Then up to Koh Tao, down to Koh Phangan and back to Samui. The Marine Park with its 81 uninhabited islands has amazing hikes and kayaking (through caves). Then off to Koh Tao, a world famous top dive spot and then Koh Pha Ngan’s beautiful beaches, perfect for an SUP or kayak exploration of its scenic coastlines before the short hop back to Koh Samui.

9 Pattaya

This vibrant coastal city is only 147km from Bangkok, the closest of Thailand’s major beach resorts to the capital city. Ocean Marina Yacht Club stands is one of Asia’s largest marinas and offers full facilities. The Royal Varuna Yacht Club is Thailand’s premiere sailing club and the prestigious organizer of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, located nearby between Pattaya and Jomtien.

Koh Tao ‘Whale Shark’- Photo Credit: Mann

10 Koh Chang

Known also as ‘Elephant Island’, Koh Chang is located around 300 kilometres east of Bangkok in Trat Province, in the Gulf of Thailand near the Cambodian border. Part of the Mu Ko Chang National Park, from jungle covered mountain peaks to sweeping bays, great waterfalls to flourishing coral reefs, Koh Chang has retained its remote and rugged character. With an area covering approximately 212 square kilometres, 70% is covered in rainforests, mountains and beaches.