Getting to this beautiful and teeny little island in the Andaman Sea was quite treacherous at some points, but very much well worth the trip!!
Really I should (or rather could) simply blame the travel treachery on the fact that I was traveling during low season. There’s a reason why it’s low season! Simply stated the seas are unpredictable. In high season it is relatively easy (due to calm waters) and cheaper to get from island to island via a longtail taxi boat or other ferry boats, however once again because of low season the options were limited.
I left Ko Muk (Mook) easily on the morning ferry (which seemed to not only haul a couple of tourists but also local commuters to the mainland and bundles of rubber ready to be processed into final products) for the mainland where I was met by a mini bus. Several very rainy hours later, we came upon a stop where I was told to exit the mini bus. The name of the town, I can’t at this point recall, but it was a good 20 minute motorbike ride to the Pak Bara pier for Ko Lipe.
100 baht and 20-ish minutes later and I was at a teeny tour place near the pier buying my roundtrip (open return!) ticket for Ko Lipe. As I waited for the powerboat, I encountered my first and only unsettling experience as a solo traveler. Ladies, if you are traveling solo (or even with people!) to or from this pier, beware of the very large (literally) local. He’s on the younger side, but you can’t miss which one he is because he really is quite obese. When I first arrived I thought he was part of the working crew at the pier, but after observing him for a bit, I figured out he wasn’t. What made him unsettling was he kept trying to get VERY close to me and other female tourists. He would sit next to you on a bench, then try to shake your hand, then try to hug you, and even tried to lean in to kiss you!
What was more suspicious of his behavior as I watched, was that he would first look around as he tried to sit with a female, and if he didn’t spot any actual workers or security guards, he would sit. But if he did (even when halfway down) he would immediately jump up and walk away. With me, he did get as far as sitting next to me and trying for a hug to which I immediately put a very harsh stop to his behavior. He left me alone for the remainder of my wait, but when coming back to the pier on my way back Ko Lipe, he was there again up to the same antics! Beware female travelers!
Now the only other unpleasant portion of getting to Ko Lipe was the powerboat ride itself. Again, it was because of the unpredictable low season seas, but if you are one who gets sea sick easily, I recommend to travel only when the seas are calm!! The ride was only a couple of hours long but they were very bumpy, and at some points a bit unnerving as the powerboat launched skyward and then slammed down onto an oncoming wave. Just about everyone on the boat (except the locals chilling all their way in the back smoking away) lost their lunch, and some even lost their breakfast, and perhaps even the meals from the day before! Yes, it was THAT rough! I almost lost it at one point smelling all the vomit surrounding me, but thankfully I didn’t… But I won’t share what I kept saying to myself in order to prevent myself from getting sick because it may make some readers lose their lunches just reading it, lol!
When we arrived to Ko Lipe, the seas were calm (protected by beautifully lush surrounding islands) as we disembarked on a floating dock and switched to a longtail taxi boat for the 2 minute transfer to the island. Once again, I didn’t have a room booked anywhere, so once on land I started my usual walk around to try to find a place. We were dropped off by the longtail boats on Sunrise beach (beautiful beach along the East side of the island) and it wasn’t until I made it to Pattaya beach along the South side of the island that I was able to find a place.
Again, because of low season, many of the places along Sunrise beach were closed. In fact, even walking along the walking street in the middle of the day, the island felt relatively deserted, giving the place a slightly spooky feel to it. As I wandered along Pattaya beach with my backpack and sweating my rear off (despite the cloud cover) I finally spotted a little sign for The Seaside Resort. For 500 baht a night, I got my own bungalow with a bathroom and lovely porch, only about a 30 second walk from the stunning beach. The people were very friendly (though they didn’t speak a ton of English) and accommodating for my week stay there.
While at first I wasn’t entirely convinced I liked Ko Lipe (due to the initial spooky vibe I got), after my first full day there I was in love with the place and honestly would never want to go there during high season just because I grew to adore how quiet it was and couldn’t imagine it stuffed to the gills with tourists.
Though it is a teeny island, there was plenty of walking and hiking trails to various areas of the island and the snorkeling on Pattaya beach was stunning!! I spent hours for days on end watching clown fish nestling against sea anemones (the first in nature I’d ever seen!! I’d seen plenty of anemones, but never the clown fish with them!!); sea urchins and sea cucumbers chilling on the ocean floor; puffer fish swimming by; angel fish, damsels of all kinds, corals, clams, you name it, they pretty much had it! I was so enamored with the variety of tropical life just off the shore! And while there were several times I wished I had a waterproof camera, part of me is thankful that I was actually present for the experience instead of being fussed by getting the perfect shot and looking constantly through a lens.
Seriously, while Ko Lipe does have a couple of shortcomings (revealed in Ko Lipe Trash Hero!) it is NOT an island of Thailand to miss!!