Lying about 20kms south of Phuket, the Racha Islands comprise two islands, Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi. To confuse matters they are also known as Koh Raya Yai and Koh Raya Noi (Yai means “big” in Thai and as you may have already guessed, noi means “little”).
The islands possess crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches. They are very popular with divers and snorkellers, with challenging dive sites for advanced divers as well as plenty for beginners and snorkellers.
Closest to Phuket is Racha Yai. The island is mostly inhabited by muslim farmers and fishermen. This island is also where all the accommodation is located.
The main beach, on the island’s northwest coast, is Ao Tawan Tok (also known as Ao Bungalow), which is located in a u-shaped bay. The sand here is snow white and has the consistency of talcum powder. There are a few bungalow resorts and restaurants located here, including the 5-star The Racha.
Like many islands in the area, Racha Yai is popular with day-trippers from Phuket and Ao Bungalow can get a little busy in the afternoons. However, at night the island is pretty quiet with only a few restaurants and bars. The lack of bright lights means that the night sky is light up with stars, great for stargazing on the beach.
A little to the south of Racha Yai is its smaller twin, Racha Noi. This island is uninhabited and has more rocks than beaches. There is a small bay on its west coast that is a favourite spot for fishing, but apart from diving there is little else to do here.
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There are a few bungalow and resort operations on Racha Yai, as well as a more upmarket resort called The Racha.
The main activities here are scuba diving and snorkelling. Racha Yai’s east coast has a bay that is fine for diving even during the rainy-season. Visibility can be as as good as 30m.
Racha Noi is more suited to experienced divers as the sites are at greater depths. There are some sites where larger marine creatures, manta rays in particular, are regularly spotted.
See more information on scuba diving
Travelling to the Racha Islands
Day-trips are organised by tour operators and can be arranged at a travel agent. If you want to stay overnight, boats can be chartered from Rawai or Chalong Pier. The journey time is about 2 hours in a long-tail boat, though speedboats may make the journey in 1 hour.
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