The Racha Islands are a group of two islands located just off the coast of Phuket, Thailand. Although they are relatively close to shore, the islands feel a world away from the chaos of Phuket, with their rampant greenery and powdery beaches.
Day trips to the Racha Islands from Phuket are easy to arrange, because of the close proximity of the two destinations. There is no better way to spend a day in the Thai paradise than by snorkeling, diving or swimming in its bountiful waters.
You will find below all you need to know about the Racha Islands, one of the most mesmerizing destinations for day trips from Phuket.
The Racha Islands sit in the Andaman Sea, just under 20 kilometers south of Phuket.
The islands are only accessible by boat. Luckily, it's easy enough to rent one and make the jaunt to the Racha Islands across the Andaman Sea.
You can hire a boat from Ao Chalong Pier or Rawai Beach. The journey takes around 45 minutes and, depending on the type of vessel you travel on, you'll pay upwards of THB1,200 (US$30).
Alternatively, you can leave the details to the professionals and book an organized Racha Islands excursion. These day trips include a hotel pickup service so you can simply relax and enjoy the experience. Tours last approximately 8 hours and begin around 7:30 AM.
The itinerary of your Racha Islands day tour will vary depending on the activity you're participating in. After a hotel pickup, you'll head towards Ao Chalong Pier, where you'll start your boat tour. It takes between 30 minutes and an hour to reach the Racha Islands.
As you sail through the Andaman Sea, you'll be astounded by the vibrant color of the water. You'll often enjoy breakfast on board before you reach your first stop — Koh Racha Noi. If you're participating in a fishing trip, you'll stop along the way to let down your rod and catch your lunch.
Koh Racha Noi is the smaller of the two islets and both snorkeling, and diving are easy enough for beginners here. If you're opting for a water activity tour, you'll gear up and jump in the clear sea in search of tropical sea creatures. If not, you'll still have the opportunity to take a dip among the multicolored fish.
Before sailing the short distance to Koh Racha Yai, you'll be presented with a freshly prepared lunch on board. Once you've enjoyed your traditional feast, you'll enter the waters around Koh Racha Yai for your last dive or snorkel of the day.
After a memorable experience, you'll end your Racha Islands day trip back in Phuket.
Racha Islands day tours revolve around water activities. Whether you want to scuba dive, snorkel or simply splash around in the waves, there's an excursion for you.
This Racha Islands day trip allows you to participate in three dives in the waters surrounding the beautiful Koh Racha Noi and Koh Racha Yai. If you're a certified diver, you can explore greater depths, including shipwrecks, which are always teeming with life.
However, if it's your first time donning a scuba mask, you can still see barracuda, batfish and turtles from the shallows. You'll enjoy breakfast and lunch on board to revive you after your time in the water.
If you're not confident about scuba diving, opt for a snorkeling day tour of the Racha Islands. You'll take part in two snorkeling sessions at Koh Racha Noi where colorful fish will swim lazily past you without a care in the world.
Moving on to Koh Racha Yai, you'll participate in another snorkeling experience, where you may see octopuses, triggerfish and cuttlefish. The waters surrounding the Racha Islands are crystal clear with excellent visibility and will provide you with an unforgettable excursion.
This tour voyages to the Racha Islands in search of big fish. You'll probe the waters hoping to catch a tuna, wahoo or barracuda on the end of your line. You'll have ample opportunities to swim and snorkel in the clear seas before cooking up your catch for lunch.
You'll pay approximately US$60 per person for a fishing day tour to the Racha Islands, which includes lunch prepared from your catch.
If you wish to participate in a snorkeling day trip to the Racha Islands, you'll pay around US$90 per person for a tour that lasts all day. You can expect breakfast, lunch and snacks to be provided for you at no additional cost.
Diving tours cost between US$90 and US$140 per person. Those on the higher end of the price range are usually private trips. While most excursions include diving equipment, some require you to pay an additional cost for the rental of scuba gear.
The Racha Islands are a blissful haven of tranquility away from the scooter horns and crowded beaches of Phuket. The island chain — composed of Koh Racha Noi and Koh Racha Yai — is best known for its clear turquoise seas that are ideal for water activities.
Koh Racha Noi is uninhabited and the only visitors you'll see on the island are those seeking out the bountiful marine life on the ocean floor.
Koh Racha Yai, on the other hand, is inhabited by a small group of devout fishermen and farmers. There are a sprinkling of amenities on the island, including a few hotels, if you want to spend the night in heaven.
The Racha Islands are renowned as a paradise for divers and snorkelers alike. While water visibility is often greatly affected in Thailand during the wet season, this is not the case on the Racha Islands.
You can see up to a depth of 30 meters depending on the time of year you visit.
The coral thrives in this region of the world, encouraging a plethora of fish species to call these waters home. From barracuda and tuna to wahoo, triggerfish, and cuttlefish, this stretch of Andaman sea is resplendent with vibrant beings.
As you swim to greater depths, you'll find an abundance of reef fish, including parrot fish, groupers and basslets. As well as tropical fish, you can also find larger creatures in the waters of Koh Racha Noi and Koh Racha Yai, such as octopuses, giant morays, and an occasional turtle.
Thailand experiences a wet and a dry season. While the temperatures hover around 30 degrees Celsius year-round, heavy rain storms are common and torrential during the wet season. For this reason, you should journey to the Racha Islands between December and March when there is little chance of rain, and the waters are calm.