Koh Racha, also called Raya Island, is a tropical paradise less than 20 km south of Phuket. Koh Racha islands are known as the perfect destination for those who desire a relaxing vacation or want to explore coral reefs by diving and snorkeling. There are no roads and no cars, only beaches, palm trees and coral reef.
On Koh Racha Island you will find every comfort you might need, from seaside restaurants, internet, beach with umbrellas, and even the seaplane service!
Why to choose Koh Racha?
There are many small islands scattered around Phuket and each island has its own characteristics. We would recommend visiting Koh Racha Island as it was voted to be the best preserved aquatic ecosystem in Thailand. This island has many advantages as there is a fine white sand beach, just steps away from the shore you can swim freely with fish, and the distance from Phuket is not that long as it takes only about 30 minutes by speedboat to reach Koh Racha. Most importantly, this is the place where you can take an affordable snorkeling course and dive in the clear water and diverse marine system.
Koh Racha Yai & Koh Racha Noi
Koh Racha or Raya Island is actually a group of 2 islands Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi that are about 6 km away from each other.
Koh Racha Yai (Big Racha)
Koh Racha Yai, meaning Big Racha Island, is a popular tourist center with fine white sand beaches.
Koh Racha Yai Beaches
On Koh Racha Yai, there are 5 beautiful beaches, some larger and others smaller. The two largest beaches are Patok Beach and Siam Bay. The other three smaller ones are located on the eastern side of the island and are called Lha Bay, Ter Bay and Kon Kare Bay.
Patok Beach is Koh Racha Yai’s main beach where you land with the boat so you will understand that it is also the one with the most people. However, Patok Beach remains a very beautiful beach where you can snorkel and see different varieties of fish. The beach lies by the long, deep U-shaped bay with white sand and crystal clear turquoise water, looking like a large swimming pool. The water is clear, similar to the sea around the Similan Islands.
Patok Beach is quite crowded with daily tours but if you stay on the island, you have the opportunity to enjoy this beach without crowds. Near this beach, there are restaurants and also the beautiful resort the Racha which offers luxurious villas with breathtaking sea views. It is also the place where many couples come for an unforgettable marriage proposal (with the enthusiastic help of resort staff of course).
If you walk across the low hill to north of Patok bay for not more than 200 meters, you will find Siam Bay or "Siam Beach". Compared to Patok Bay beach, Siam Bay is longer but you only find one restaurant on it. The advantage of Siam Bay is that it is much less crowded than the other. Therefore, the atmosphere of the beach is quite calm so it is suitable for those who want to relax with high privacy. Some people claim that Siam Bay of Koh Racha Yai is even better than the famous Maya Beach of Phi Phi Islands.
Here you can find a beautiful beach resort, Racha Island Resort (Rayaburi) with restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, fitness center and bar.
Lha Bay is a small bay located on the eastern side of Racha Yai Island. The beach of Lha Bay is a narrow area of pebbled rock with soft white sand. This bay has a shallow reef so you can swim just under 10 meters off the coast to see coral reefs. There are also a variety of small fish that swim around these coral reefs. In addition, Lha Bay is also known as one of the most beautiful sunrise viewing points. Here you will also find "Sunrise Rock", which looks like a large rock, about 3-4 meters above the sea floor.
Ter Bay is located about 200 meters south of Lha Bay. Found on the southern beach side of Ter Bay, the beach bar is the property of the luxury resort "The Racha" but now the beach bar is abandoned. Ter Bay is a very small bay and it is ideal place for diving.
Kon Kare Bay
Kon Kare Bay is one of the most popular snorkeling spots on Racha Yai Island. From morning to late afternoon every day, in front of Kon Kare Beach expect to see a group of small and large tour boats that bring tourists for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Kon Kare Bay is practically the beach of Ban Raya residence, which is located nearby. All 48 hotel rooms have views of the sea. There is also an infinity pool at the hotel.
Koh Racha Noi (Small Racha)
Koh Racha Noi, meaning Small Racha Island, is the smaller island, which consists mostly of rocky hills and beaches, whose formation is due to the constant accumulation of coral stones. For this reason, this island is more suitable for fishing than swimming. It is easily accessible by chartering a long-tail boat or motorboat at Chalong pier in Phuket, or by booking one of Racha Yai, Racha Noi tour packages usually offering you to go on an island hopping day trip to many islands.
What to do on Koh Racha?
Enjoying the beach
When traveling to Koh Racha Yai, you definitely cannot ignore the beach with the smooth white sand, so just bring your towel and sunglasses to find a spot on the sand for lying in the sun, watching the blue sky and swimming in the clear blue water.
Snorkeling & diving
This is the most popular activity when traveling to Koh Racha. You can prepare a set of snorkel gears and life jacket in advance or rent it on the island for the price from 200 baht to 250 baht. If you want to go more far, long-tail boats can be arranged from any hotel.
There is a trail that leads to the top of the mountain for the whole view of the island, which is especially beautiful at dawn and dusk. However, you must have a local guide and must wear sports shoes for safety.
If you like fishing, you can rent fishing rods, climb a cliff near the sea and just go fishing. You can bring the fish to the local restaurant for processing for a small fee.
Strolling around the island
As it is a small island, you only need to walk for about 45-50 minutes to visit the whole island.
Watching sunset and sunrise
To watch the sunrise, you should wake up early in the morning, and walk to the beach on the eastern side of the island.
The best place to watch the sunset is in front of The Racha resort. You can sit on the beach or climb up the cliff next to the Bungalow Raya Resort and enjoy it.
On the main road connecting the eastern and the western parts of the island, there is a row of restaurants offering delicious fresh seafood that you can try in the evening while sipping a glass of beer.
Things you won't find on Koh Racha
Be noted that motorized activities, such as jet skis and paragliding, are prohibited on the island, so it is the best place to just relax and enjoy the nature.
The fun nightlife until morning is not preset here either.
How to get to Koh Racha
In general, you can get to Koh Racha from Phuket by one of the following two ways.
For getting to Koh Racha, you need to go to Chalong Pier in Phuket.
If you will be traveling to Koh Racha right after reaching Phuket, after landing at Phuket International Airport go straight to the main door of the airport where a taxi ticket desk is located. The taxi fare from the airport to Chalong Pier should be 800 baht. If you are staying in Phuket Town, you can take a taxi or tuk-tuk to Chalong Pier and the trip should cost no more than 300 baht.
At Phuket’s Chalong Pier you can buy tickets to Koh Racha. Expect to pay for a one-way speedboat ticket about 300-400 baht. In about 30-40 minutes by speedboat, you will be in Koh Racha.
You can also travel by a long-tail boat and it should be a bit cheaper (with positive bargaining), but the journey takes about an hour.
For those who do not want to stay overnight in Koh Racha, it is possible to visit the island in one day thanks to the day tours from Phuket.
Usually a bus goes to pick up tourists at hotels between 7:30-8:30 in the morning. Then you will be brought to Chalong Pier and the speedboat will transfer you to Koh Racha in about 30 minutes.
On the island, the guides accompany tourists to the beach areas that are the most suitable for snorkeling, where it is possible to admire an abundant and colorful marine life.
During the visit in Koh Racha, you also have time to relax on the beach, snorkel, or enjoy other activities such as spa, swimming pool, mountain biking, horseback riding, etc.
The return trip to Chalong Pier and then to hotels Phuket normally takes place in the afternoon, around 15:30. The organized day tour including transfers, lunch and diving with a mask will cost from 700-1,700 baht per person.
Some of the most popular day tours to Koh Racha:
Hotels on Koh Racha Island
Rather than taking the day tour, we would recommend fully enjoying Koh Racha by staying on the island for at least one or two nights. On the island, there are several resorts and hotels and you can stay at one of these places.
The Racha Resort
The Racha Resort is the most beautiful and modern luxurious 5-star resort in Koh Racha Yai. A white sandy beach is located right in front of the resort with a large swimming pool facing the sea.
Racha Island Resort (Rayaburi)
Racha Island Resort (Rayaburi) is one of the 4-star resorts in Koh Racha, located near Siam Bay. The beach around the resort is wonderful, and water is clear blue with fishes swimming around.
Bambooraya Villa is situated just 100 m from Kon Kare Bay and features beachfront accommodation with a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, and garden.
Bungalow Raya Resort
Bungalow Raya Resort is one of the cheapest hotels in Koh Racha. The bungalows are built along the ridge, looking down to the sea. The rooms are small, with only fans and shared bathrooms, but there is a beautiful view of the sunset.
Ban Raya Resort and Spa
Ban Raya Resort and Spa is a medium-sized resort with nice gardens and pool area. The beach nearby is great for snorkeling.
Food on Koh Racha
You can eat food at the restaurant of the resort or bungalow that you stay. In addition, you can try to visit restaurants on the island's main road, as there is a row of restaurants close to each other opened by locals. They are selling various seafood, grilled food, and buffet lunch. Everything you need can be purchased in small shops, cafes and eateries. However, you should expect prices in Koh Racha to be a bit higher than in Phuket.
When to go to Koh Racha
The best time to go to Koh Racha is the same ideal time that is good for Phuket, which is between November and March when the dry season is in place and no rains are expected. Koh Racha welcomes tourists year-round, as only few times during the summer, boats canceling trips to the island for safety reasons due to typhoons.