After spending a few days in busy Lanta we decided to pop over to a small island called Koh Muk to meet up with some friends we met earlier in our trip and to do some snorkeling.
Despite being so close, Koh Muk wasn’t exactly the easiest place to get to and from. But we managed to meet up with our friends and the rest of the group from Coco Lodge (our bungalow accommodations) on a smaller island called Koh Kradan. Chest, the owner from Coco Lodge, sent a longtail boat to pick us up from the other side of the island and we joined their snorkeling trip. It was a bit of a choppy day for snorkeling, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect for the rest of the trip, but we were super excited when we heard we would be going to Emerald Cave otherwise known as ‘Tham Morakot’.
Emerald Cave is a secret lagoon hidden inside Koh Muk. The only way to access it is to swim through an underwater tunnel at high tide, which opens to a small bay and cave surrounded by huge limestone cliffs. Normally this is a very busy spot for tourists. You can expect to see 50 plus people swimming their way through the cave, however our guide Chest knew when the tour boats came and went so he waited until the end of the day to take us there.
Our small group got on our snorkel gear and followed Chest with his headlamp into the cave. The tunnel turns about halfway through so there are points when you are swimming in total darkness. If you look back while swimming into the cave you can see why they call it Emerald Cave - the water at the entrance is a stunning deep, bright blue-ish green. As you exit the tunnel and enter the lagoon you are welcomed with crystal clear water and a white sandy beach. It was one of the most incredible sites, and being there with a small group made it that much better. Rumor has it the cave used to be used by pirates to store their treasure and this cave was the original inspiration for the film ‘The Beach.’
After we explored Emerald Cave, Chest took us to another snorkel spot a few minutes away. The snorkeling was much better here as the water was calmer and the sun had come out towards the end of the day and it was looking like another great sunset. Chest gave Vic a harpoon to shoot some fish, if he could find some large enough. Unfortunately it was not the day for fish, turns out, reloading the harpoon while treading water with no life vest is quite the challenge. That evening we all enjoyed dinner at the lodge with our group from the day and went over to a very local bar made out of bits of driftwood for some beers later. These kind of bars seem to be a thing here.
We spent the next day exploring the island. As it’s one of the smallest islands we’ve been to, this did not take much time at all. No cars, just motorbikes, goats and geese wandering around the road. there were a lot of small little restaurants and very friendly people. There are a couple of more upscale resorts and bungalows here, just down the road from where we were staying, but it doesn’t seem to take away from the local feel of the island.
Unfortunately we had to get back to Lanta as we had booked a couple more nights there, departing early the next morning for our ferry.
Ferry service available from Koh Lanta to Charlie Beach, if you need to go to the other side of the island you can take a motorbike taxi or a longtail boat.
Coco Lodge - seaside bungalows in the fisherman's village. A range of options to stay - tent huts, simple fan bungalows, or more lux bungalows with air con.
Hilltop - wonderful little inexpensive restaurant run by a local thai family, the owner who speaks very good English will sit and chat with you while you eat
Boon Chu Cuisine - near Coco Lodge, thai food and cheap cocktails, very friendly staff
Pattana Reggae House Bar - teeny tiny little bar just down the road from Hill Top , fantastic Mai Tais and great company
Emerald Cave - even if you aren’t staying at Coco Lodge, you should take a trip over there and do a day out with Chest, very different from the typical tourist snorkeling excursions
4 Island Tour - you can do this from Lanta as well, usually includes Koh Kradan, Koh Ngai, Koh Maa, Koh Chuek, Koh Muk - or a variation of these