Island Hopping in Phuket: 11 Incredible Destinations To Explore By Boat

by Mama Loves Phuket

Phuket is a beautiful beach destination in southern Thailand, renowned for its soft white sand and warm aqua waters that drive tourists from around the world to come and enjoy.

Whilst Phuket – an island itself – is a wonderful destination; some of the most picture-perfect beaches, snorkelling and diving opportunities are another boat ride away in the tiny islands that surround Phuket, making it the perfect destination for island hopping.

In this guide, we will talk you through what to expect at each of the islands that surround Phuket. Some are protected reserves so can only be admired from the water; others have overnight accommodation options and the ability to go hiking on the islands themselves.

We have linked to tour operates and accommodation partners with whom we have an affiliate relationship. If you book through any of our links, we may earn a commission.

Let’s take a closer look at each

Best Islands to Visit From Phuket

This is just a summary so you can make a quick overview, we dive into more of the details below:

  1. Phi Phi Islands: These islands are some of the most popular in Phuket, with clear waters and beautiful beaches. You can take a speedboat tour or a traditional longtail boat to explore the islands.
  2. Similan Islands: The Similan Islands are a group of nine islands located about 84 kilometres northwest of Phuket. The islands are famous for their beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities.
  3. Racha Islands: The Racha Islands are a pair of islands located about 12 kilometres south of Phuket. The islands are known for their beautiful beaches and excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities.
  4. James Bond Island: Located in Phang Nga Bay, this island is famous for its unique rock formations and beautiful scenery. It was featured in the James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun.”
  5. Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi: These two islands are located between Phuket and Krabi and are known for their quiet and peaceful atmosphere. They are perfect for a relaxing day trip or a romantic getaway.
  6. Coral Island: Also known as Koh Hae, this island is located just 10 kilometres off the coast of Phuket. It’s a popular day trip destination for tourists, known for its beautiful beaches and clear waters that are perfect for swimming, snorkelling, and diving.
  7. Koh Lanta: Koh Lanta is an island located in the southern part of Thailand, in the province of Krabi. It is part of the Mu Ko Lanta National Park and is known for its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and lush tropical forests.
  8. Koh Rok: Koh Rok is a small island located about 90 kilometres south of Phuket. It’s known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities.
  9. Koh Maphrao: Also known as Coconut Island, this island is located just off the east coast of Phuket. It’s a peaceful island with a small fishing village and several beautiful beaches.
  10. Koh Maiton: Koh Maiton is a small island located about 15 km southeast of Phuket. It takes about 45 minutes by speedboat to reach the island.
  11. Koh Panyee: Koh Panyee is a small village built on stilts over the water, located in Phang Nga Bay. It’s a unique destination that’s perfect for a day trip, with plenty of seafood restaurants, souvenir shops, and beautiful views of the surrounding cliffs and islands.

1. How to Island Hop From Phi Phi to Phuket

There are several ways to get to Phi Phi Islands from Phuket, including by speedboat, ferry, or private charter. Here are the most common ways to get there:

  • By Speedboat: Speedboats are the fastest way to reach Phi Phi Islands from Phuket. They typically depart from Rassada Pier, which is located in Phuket Town. The travel time is about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the sea conditions. Some speedboat operators also offer hotel pick-up and drop-off services for added convenience. The cost of a speedboat tour can range from 2,000 to 4,000 baht per person, depending on the tour operator and the inclusions.
  • By Ferry: If you’re looking for a more affordable option, you can take a ferry from Phuket to Phi Phi Islands. The ferries depart from Rassada Pier, as well as from Ao Po Grand Marina and other piers in Phuket. The travel time is about 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the type of ferry and the sea conditions. The cost of a ferry ticket can range from 350 to 600 baht per person, depending on the ferry operator and the seating class.
  • By Private Charter: If you’re travelling in a group or prefer a more personalized experience, you can also charter a private boat to Phi Phi Islands. This option allows you to customize your itinerary, choose your own departure time, and enjoy the privacy and comfort of your own boat. The cost of a private charter can range from 10,000 to 20,000 baht, depending on the boat size and the inclusions.

Overall, the best port to depart from is Rassada Pier in Phuket Town, as it offers the most frequent and reliable connections to Phi Phi Islands. The travel time can vary depending on the mode of transportation and sea conditions, but the journey is usually scenic and enjoyable, with plenty of opportunities to admire the beautiful views of the Andaman Sea.

Day Tripping? See Recommended Tour Options:

Can You Stay in the Phi Phi Islands?

Yes, plenty of accommodation options are available on the Phi Phi Islands, ranging from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxurious resorts. Here are some options for different budgets:

Budget Accommodation on Phi Phi

For budget-friendly accommodations on Phi Phi, there are plenty of guesthouses, hostels, and bungalows available. Some popular options include:

  • Phi Phi Andaman Legacy Resort: This resort offers comfortable rooms with air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and a swimming pool, with rates starting at around 1,000 baht (about $30 USD) per night.
  • PP Insula Hotel: This hotel offers cozy rooms with air conditioning and free Wi-Fi, with rates starting at around 1,500 baht (about $45 USD) per night.

Mid-Range Accommodation on Phi Phi

For those looking for mid-range accommodations on Phi Phi, there are plenty of options available as well. Some popular options include:

  • Bay View Resort: This resort offers comfortable rooms with balconies overlooking the ocean, as well as a swimming pool, spa, and fitness center, with rates starting at around 2,500 baht (about $75 USD) per night.
  • Zeavola Resort: This boutique resort offers spacious villas with private pools, as well as a restaurant, spa, and dive center, with rates starting at around 10,000 baht (about $300 USD) per night.

Luxury Accommodation on Phi Phi

For those looking for a truly luxurious experience on Phi Phi, several high-end resorts are available. Some popular options include:

  • Phi Phi Island Cabana Hotel: This resort offers elegant rooms and suites with ocean views, as well as a swimming pool, spa, and fitness center, with rates starting at around 8,000 baht (about $240 USD) per night.
  • SAII (formerly Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort): This resort offers luxurious rooms and villas, as well as a private beach, swimming pool, and spa, with rates starting at around 15,000 baht (about $450 USD) per night. We have a full review from our stay a few years ago here.
  • Six Senses Yao Noi: This exclusive resort is located on a nearby island, and offers luxurious villas with private infinity pools and stunning ocean views, as well as a spa, fitness centre, and several restaurants, with rates starting at around 25,000 baht (about $750 USD) per night.

Whether you choose to stay in a budget-friendly guesthouse or a luxurious resort, you’re sure to enjoy the stunning natural beauty and laid-back atmosphere of these popular islands.

2. How to Get From Phuket to Similan Islands

The Similan Islands are a group of nine islands located in the Andaman Sea, about 70 kilometres northwest of Phuket. They are known for their stunning natural beauty, clear waters, and abundant marine life, making them a popular destination for snorkelling and diving enthusiasts.

The Similan Islands are home to some of the most diverse and colourful coral reefs in Thailand, with a variety of fish species, sea turtles, and other marine creatures. Some of the most popular dive sites in the Similan Islands include Elephant Head Rock, Christmas Point, and Shark Fin Reef, where divers can spot whale sharks, manta rays, and other large fish.

island hopping similan islands

You can take a speedboat or liveaboard tour to get to the Similan Islands from Phuket. Here are some details about each option:

  • By Speedboat: Speedboats depart from various piers in Phuket, including Chalong Bay, Tab Lamu Pier, and Thap Lamu Pier. The travel time is about 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the sea conditions and the departure point. Speedboat tours usually include multiple stops at different islands and dive sites, allowing you to explore the beauty of the Similan Islands on a day trip.
  • By Liveaboard: For a truly immersive experience, consider joining a liveaboard tour of the Similan Islands. These multi-day trips involve staying on a boat and leisurely exploring numerous dive sites in the area. You’ll be provided with meals, accommodation, and diving equipment so that you can fully indulge in the exquisite beauty and peacefulness of the islands.. Some popular liveaboard tour operators include Deep Andaman Queen, The Junk Liveaboard, and Manta Queen.

Can you stay on the Similan Islands?

There are no accommodation options on the Similan Islands themselves, as the islands are protected national park areas, and camping is not allowed. You’ll need to look at staying on the nearby mainland and islands, such as Khao Lak, Phang Nga, and Phuket, from where you can easily visit the Similan Islands on a day trip or overnight liveaboard tour.

Here are some of the accommodation options that you can consider when visiting the Similan Islands:

  • Khao Lak: Khao Lak is a town located north of Phuket, and is a popular base for visitors to the Similan Islands. Numerous accommodation options are available in Khao Lak, ranging from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts. Some of the popular resorts in Khao Lak include the Sarojin, JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort & Spa, and the Kantary Beach Hotel.

  • Phang Nga: Phang Nga is a province located north of Phuket and is also a popular base for visitors to the Similan Islands. There are various accommodation options available in Phang Nga, ranging from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts. Some of the popular resorts in Phang Nga include the Aleenta Resort & Spa, the Six Senses Yao Noi, and the Khao Lak Merlin Resort.

The Similan Islands are a must-visit destination for anyone who loves nature, diving, and adventure. Whether you choose to explore the islands by speedboat or liveaboard, you’re sure to be amazed by the stunning natural beauty and abundant marine life of this magical destination.

3. How to Get to Racha Islands From Phuket

The Racha Islands, also known as Raya Islands, are a group of two islands located south of Phuket in the Andaman Sea. The two islands are called Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi, with Koh Racha Yai being the larger and more popular island for visitors.

boats floating near racha islands

You can take a speedboat or ferry to get to the Racha Islands from Phuket. Here are some details about each option:

  • Speedboat: Speedboats are the quickest and most well-liked mode of transportation to the Racha Islands from Phuket. Departing from Chalong Pier on the southeastern coast of Phuket, they usually take around 30 to 45 minutes to reach Koh Racha Yai, subject to the sea’s condition. Some speedboat service providers also offer pick-up and drop-off services from your hotel, making it even more convenient for you. The cost of a speedboat tour can vary from 1,500 to 3,000 baht per individual, depending on your chosen tour operator and what they offer in their package.
  • By Ferry: If you’re seeking a pocket-friendly way, you may consider taking a ferry from Phuket to Koh Racha Yai. The ferry sets off from Rawai Pier, situated on the southern coast of Phuket, and takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours to get to the island. The ferry operates once daily, and the cost of a ferry ticket is approximately 600 baht per person.

The Racha Islands are an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful and secluded getaway, away from the crowds of Phuket. With crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches, and excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities, the Racha Islands offer a perfect escape for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Can You Stay on Racha Islands?

There are several accommodation options available on Koh Racha Yai. Koh Racha Noi is uninhabited.

Koh Racha Yai Accommodation

Some of the popular resorts on Koh Racha Yai include Rayaburi Resort and Ban Raya Resort & Spa. These accommodations offer a range of amenities, such as restaurants, bars, swimming pools, and spa services.

Racha Island is also an ideal destination for honeymooners or those seeking a romantic getaway, as many resorts offer private villas with stunning ocean views. The most exclusive romantic escape is The Racha.

4. How to Get From Phuket to James Bond Island

James Bond Island, also known as Khao Phing Kan, is a popular tourist destination located in Phang Nga Bay, near Phuket. made famous by the 1974 James Bond Movie “The Man With the Golden Gun”, here’s how you get to view this Thai icon:

james bond island Phang Nga national park
  • By Tour: The easiest way to get to James Bond Island from Phuket is to book a tour to Phnag Nga Bay. Many tour operators offer day trips to the island as part of a package, which usually includes hotel pickup, transportation to the pier, a longtail boat ride to the island (you need to disembark briefly from a larger vessel to dock), and a visit to other nearby attractions. You can book a tour online, through your hotel, or at one of the many tour agencies located throughout Phuket.

  • By Public/Private Transportation: If you’re travelling on a tight budget, you can also take public transportation to reach James Bond Island. Take a local bus from Phuket Town to the town of Ao Por, which is located on the eastern coast of Phuket. From Ao Por, you can hire a longtail boat to James Bond Island. It will not be as fast as the larger vessels, but a more unique and intimate experience!

Once you arrive at James Bond Island, you can explore the island’s stunning limestone cliffs and turquoise waters, and take a walk around the island to see the famous rock formation. There are also several souvenir shops and food stalls on the island, where you can purchase snacks and souvenirs.

Do note, the island is not big! It should be seen as just one of many stops on a larger tour of Phang Nga Bay, where you’ll get to enjoy several other scenic stops amongst the limestone cliffs and caves..

Can You stay on James Bond Island?

Unfortunately, there is no accommodation available on James Bond Island itself. The island is a small limestone rock in Phang Nga Bay and is mainly visited as a day trip from Phuket or nearby areas. However, there are several nearby areas where you can find accommodation, such as Phuket, Khao Lak, and Phang Nga town.

5. How Do you get to Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi from Phuket?

Another really popular day trip destination for day trippers and those seeking a more remote getaway from Phuket is Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi, two small islands located in Phang Nga Bay, between Phuket and Krabi.

a swin g on the beach koh yao yai

To get there, you have a few options:

  • By Speedboat: If you’re looking for a quick and comfortable way to reach Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi, taking a speedboat is one of the best options available. Several private companies and tour operators offer speedboat transfers from Phuket to the islands, making it a convenient choice for travelers who want to save time and enjoy a hassle-free journey.
  • By Public Ferry: If you’re looking to reach Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi, you can take a public ferry from Bang Rong Pier on the east coast of Phuket. The journey takes around 30-45 minutes, and the ferry schedules may change based on the season. Hence, it’s advisable to check the latest schedule beforehand.
  • By Private Longtail Boat: If you prefer to travel independently, you can also hire a private longtail boat to take you to Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi. This is a more expensive option than taking a ferry, but it allows you to set your own schedule and explore the islands at your own pace.

Once you arrive at Koh Yao Yai or Koh Yao Noi, you can explore the islands’ stunning natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere.

Can You Stay on Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi?

Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi offer a range of accommodation options, including resorts, guesthouses, and homestays. Here are some places to stay on Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi:

Koh Yao Yai

Koh Yao Noi

  • Six Senses Yao Noi: a luxury resort with villas and private pools, set on a hillside overlooking the sea. The resort also offers a spa, fitness centre, and several dining options.
  • Paradise KohYao: a mid-range resort with a private beach, infinity pool, and bungalows with sea views.
  • Koyao Island Resort: a boutique resort with bungalows set in a lush tropical garden, offering a private beach, spa, and yoga classes.

There are also several guesthouses and homestays on both islands, which offer a more affordable and authentic local experience.

6. How To Get to Coral Island From Phuket

Coral Island (Ko He, Koh Hey) is a small island located a short distance from Phuket, renowned for its crystal-clear waters. It’s a popular destination for day trips from Phuket, being only 3 kilometres away. A stop at Coral Island may be combined with stops at other islands to make for a longer day trip, or take your time and enjoy the tranquillity without rushing around.

coral island phuket

You get to Coral Island, you can try:

  • By Speedboat: The fastest way to get to Coral Island is by speedboat, less than 20 minutes away from Rawai. Many tour operators offer half-day or full-day tours that include round-trip transportation from Phuket, as well as snorkelling, swimming, and other activities on the island.
  • By Public Ferry: You can also take a public ferry from Chalong Pier in Phuket to Coral Island. The ferry ride takes about 15-20 minutes, and the schedule can vary depending on the season, so it’s best to check in advance.

Can You stay on Coral Island?

There is limited accommodation available on Coral Island. There are only a few small bungalow-style resorts on the island, such as Coral Island Resort and Coral Island Bungalow, which offer basic accommodations with sea views. (As of early 2024, we understand they may both be closed).

7. How to Get To Koh Lanta From Phuket

Located in the southern part of Thailand’s Krabi province, Koh Lanta is an island renowned for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and verdant tropical forests. It encompasses an expansive area of approximately 340 square kilometres, featuring numerous small towns and villages where tourists can find accommodations, restaurants, and other facilities.

Koh Lanta is part of the Mu Ko Lanta National Park and is increasingly becoming a sought-after destination for travellers who desire to explore Thailand’s islands’ splendour without the crowds that populate popular islands such as Phuket or Koh Samui.

Kantiang Bay Koh lanta

There are several ways to get from Phuket to Koh Lanta:

  • By ferry from Phuket: One of the most popular ways to get to Koh Lanta from Phuket is by taking a ferry. You can catch a ferry from Rassada Pier in Phuket to Saladan Pier in Koh Lanta. The ferry journey takes around 2-3 hours, depending on the type of ferry and the sea conditions. There are several ferry companies that operate this route, including Phi Phi Cruiser, Tigerline, and Andaman Wave Master.
  • By speedboat: for a faster journey, try this speedboat option from Phuket, or there are a few options which leave from Koh Phi Phi if you’d like to break up the journey.
  • By bus and ferry: You can also take a bus from Phuket to Krabi, and then take a ferry from Krabi to Koh Lanta. This option can be cheaper than hiring a private car or taxi, but it can also take longer and be less comfortable. The journey takes around 5-6 hours in total, and several bus and ferry companies operate this route, including Ao Nang Travel and Andaman Wave Master.

Can You Stay on Koh Lanta

There are several accommodation options on Koh Lanta to suit different budgets:

8. How to Get to Koh Rok From Phuket

Koh Rok is a pair of small islands located in the Mu Koh Lanta National Park, and it’s a popular destination for snorkelling, diving, and beach activities. While it’s not possible to visit Koh Rok as a day trip from Phuket due to the distance, it’s still possible to get there with a combination of transportation options. Here’s how to get to Koh Rok from Phuket and where to stay:

the turquoise waters of koh rok
  • By Ferry: To get to Koh Rok from Phuket, you can board a ferry that takes about 3-4 hours, depending on the schedule and route. Upon arriving at Koh Lanta, you can hop on a longtail boat or speedboat to reach Koh Rok, which takes around 1-2 hours, depending on the sea conditions..
  • By Speedboat: Alternatively, you can take a speedboat directly from Phuket to Koh Rok, which takes about 2-3 hours depending on the sea conditions. Many tour operators offer day trips to Koh Rok from Phuket, but overnight tours include camping on the island.

Can You Stay on Koh Rok?

Koh Rok is a protected area, and there is limited accommodation available on the island. However, it’s possible to camp on the island with a permit from the national park authorities. The camping facilities are basic, and you need to bring your own camping gear and supplies.

If you prefer more comfortable accommodation, it’s best to stay in Koh Lanta or other nearby islands, such as Koh Phi Phi or Koh Ngai. There are several guesthouses, bungalows, and resorts available on these islands to suit a range of budgets and preferences.

9. How To Get To Coconut Island From Phuket

Coconut Island, also known as Koh Maphrao, is a small island located off the east coast of Phuket. Here’s how to get to Coconut Island from Phuket and where to stay:

Koh Maphrao coconut island
  • By Boat: Many resorts on the island offer a free shuttle boat service from the mainland at Laem Hin Pier, which takes about 5-10 minutes. Alternatively, you can hire a private longtail boat or speedboat from Phuket, which takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on the sea conditions.
  • By Bridge: There is also a bridge connecting Coconut Island to the mainland, which is open to pedestrians and motorbikes. The bridge is located near the Laem Hin Seafood restaurant, and it’s about a 300-meter walk to the island.

Can You Stay on Coconut Island?

Once you arrive on Coconut Island, you can enjoy its tranquil beaches, lush greenery, and stunning views of Phang Nga Bay. There are several accommodation options on Coconut Island, including:

  • Barcelo Coconut Island (formerly The Village Coconut Island): This is the largest resort on the island, offering a range of villas and suites with private pools, garden views, or sea views. The resort also features a spa, fitness center, pool, and several dining options, along with full board and all inclusive packages.
  • Island Escape by Burasari: This is a small boutique resort located on the northern tip of the island, offering a limited number of beachfront villas and suites with ocean views. The resort also features a restaurant, bar, and outdoor pool.

Coconut Island is a peaceful and secluded retreat from the bustling Phuket, making it a great destination for a relaxing holiday for all the family.

10. How to Get to Koh Maiton from Phuket

Koh Maiton is a small island located about 9 kilometres off the southeast coast of Phuket.

  • Private boat charter: You can hire a private boat charter from Phuket to Koh Maiton. This is the most convenient and quickest option, but it can also be quite expensive.
  • Day trip tour: If you’re looking to visit Koh Maiton from Phuket, there are many tour operators that offer day trips. These tours generally provide round-trip transportation by boat, snorkelling gear, lunch, and sometimes a trip to other nearby islands. This is a more cost-effective option than chartering a private boat and gives you the chance to discover other areas too.
  • Speedboat tour: Another option is to take a speedboat tour to Koh Maiton. These tours are usually faster than traditional boat tours and can get you to the island in around 30 minutes. However, they can be a bit more expensive than traditional boat tours.

Can You Stay on Koh Maiton?

Once you arrive at Koh Maiton, there are no accommodation options on the island as it is primarily a wildlife sanctuary. Day trips typically last a few hours and include snorkelling and beach time.

11. How To Get to Koh Panyee From Phuket

Koh Panyee is a small island located in Phang Nga Bay, about 20 kilometres northeast of Phuket. It’s known for its unique floating village built on stilts above the water, as well as its seafood restaurants and picturesque views.

koh panyee floating village

Here’s what you need to know about visiting Koh Panyee from Phuket:

  • Day Trip: Koh Panyee is a popular day trip destination from Phuket, with many tour operators offering guided tours that include transportation, a visit to the floating village, and a seafood lunch at one of the island’s many restaurants. The trip usually takes about 6-8 hours in total.
  • By Boat: You can hire a private longtail boat or speedboat from Phuket. The trip takes about 30-45 minutes, depending on the sea conditions.

You will find Koh Panyee is typically paired with a visit to James Bond Island, as both sit within Phnag Nga Bay. These tours include a stop at Koh Nayee:

If you do decide to visit Koh Panyee, make sure to check out its famous floating football pitch, which was built by the local fishermen in the 1980s and has since become a popular tourist attraction. You can also explore the village’s many handicraft shops, visit the mosque, and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding limestone cliffs and mangrove forests.

Can you stay on Koh Panyee?

There are no accommodation options on Koh Panyee, as the island is primarily a fishing village with limited tourist facilities. However, there are several nearby islands where you can stay overnight, such as Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai.

We hope this Phuket island hopping guide helps you narrow down your options on which island experience would suit you best. Whether you’re seeking underwater experiences, instagrammable beauty or serene sandy beaches, there’s a southern Thailand island to suit you, all accessible from Phuket.


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© Mama Loves Phuket 2024

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