This is one of our favourite small islands but, if you are looking for a party island, you will be disappointed as Lipe is a laid back tropical island, where you will find vibrant coral reefs. As it is one of the best locations in Thailand for snorkelling and diving, beach lovers will not be disappointed as it has wonderful white sandy beaches. What you will find on Lipe is that people are more interested in yoga, relaxation and beach clean-ups than in cheap cocktail buckets.
Koh Lipe is the most Southern island in Thailand, and is closer to Langkawi in Malaysia than it is to the Thai mainland. While on Koh Lipe, the best way to explore the neighbouring islands is to book a longtail boat, there is a kiosk on sunrise beach were you can rent a longtail and they all have snorkelling equipment if you don’t have your own. To explore the Tarutao National Park you will need a parks ticket for 200 baht, you can usually purchase one when you land at the pontoon off Pattaya beach on arrival. Koh Lipe is part of the Adang Archipelago, which is a cluster of uninhabited islands, Koh Lipe being the only inhabited one.
Koh Lipe can be reached by speedboat from Krabi Town or Langkawi, the journey time from Krabi is approx. 4 hours, so take a good book. There are 3 main beachs on Koh Lipe: Pattaya, Sunrise, and Sunset. We think sunrise is the best, it’s the largest with good accommodation options and a few great beach bars plus it’s quiet. Pattaya is the busiest and liveliest beach and can easily be reached from Sunrise beach via walking street. Sunset is the furthest away but since Lipe is only 2km x 1km nothing is far. Sunset beach is the quietest with only a few hotels and bars, but definitely worth a visit to watch the sunset.
If you are looking for luxury look no further – The Ten Moons Resort is right on Sunrise Beach, we stayed in bungalow No 1 right on the sand. Located at the end of Sunrise beach, it is like having your own private beach and is only a 10 minute stroll to walking street. They have happy hour from 4–6pm each day where drinks are two for one. The restaurant sells wonderful food and, for a 5 star resort, is extremely well priced and it’s open to non-residents so definitely worth a visit. This year we have the family with us and will be spending Christmas on Lipe staying at the Cabana Lipe Beach Resort which is on Sunrise Beach. Will update in January.
Snorkelling is certainly one of the highlights of Lipe, as is scuba diving and there are numerous diving centres on the island. It is said that 25% of the worlds tropical fish can been spotted here. There is also a relaxed feel with Yoga classes, chilled beach bars, and trash clean up days. The island has a sense of paradise about it, you can see why it is called the Thai Maldives.
There is an abundance of restaurants and bars to suit all tastes and budgets. Our favourite, if you can afford to indulge yourself, is On the Rocks by Serendipity. It’s situated at the far end of Sunrise, beach past Ten Moons Resort and you’ll climb a few, well about 50, stairs. The setting is spectacular with amazing views and the food is of a really high quality. Restaurant staff are very welcoming, attentive and go above and beyond to make sure you have a truly great dining experience. We have booked Christmas dinner here with the family so will update in January.
The Elephant Bar and Coffee shop situated on Walking Street, our place to go when you want some great western food. The menu is full of great choices and here are a few of our favourites; Avocado Toast, Smoked Salmon Toast, Eggs Florentine, Eggs Benedict and of course, the classic Full English. For lunch its Wraps, Burgers, Pizza and Salad. It also has live music in the evening. Both the Nee Papaya and Rak-Lay are good Seafood BBQ restaurants on Walking Street, get there early as both are very popular.
As for beach bars Sea La Vie, Happy Vibe and Castaway are all worth a visit on Sunrise Beach if you want to just chill. Poohs on Walking street was the only bar we found that had live premier league football on, as well as live music. We will certainly be trying out a few more with the family this December also.
So, our overall assessment of Koh Lipe is that if you want to have a real snorkelling experience then it is a must, if you are looking for peace, tranquillity and just want to relax then it is certainly worth a visit. It is not a party island but there are enough bars and restaurants to keep you entertained. So overall is it worth four hours on a speedboat? Yes if you do as we do and island hop.