A while ago I realised that no-one could agree on how many islands there were in the Koh Chang Marine National Park. Many websites said 52, others said 46. The National Park website just says over 40. In addition it was clear that some islands went by more than one name which added to the confusion. So, how to get an accurate figure. Two ways – the simple way would just be to get a map and to count the number of islands. Job done & dispute settled. But that’s a bit boring and wouldn’t provide me with any content for this site.
The harder way would be to visit all the islands in person and count them in real life, as maps can be incorrect. This is what I have done. Only real islands are counted, even if they are nothing more than rocks but their name begins with ‘Koh’. Nothing with the Thai prefix ‘Hin’ ( a rocky outcrop, usual not visible at high tide ) is allowed. ‘Visiting’ the island means getting close enough to see if there is anything worth getting out and exploring or if there is a beach worth stopping off at.
Visiting the islands would be relatively easy if I had a speedboat – but I don’t. Or if I was well off and could just hire a speedboat for a few days – but I’m not. However, I do have a kayak, nothing fancy just a sit on top Feelfree, but it floats and goes in a relatively straight line.
So just to make the task a bit more of a challenge I decided to kayak to all the islands from Koh Chang. Some of these day trips were pretty lengthy eg. 25 kilometres, which is around 6 hours of paddling in pretty hot weather, and it wasn’t always easy finding a day when I had free time, plus good weather – not windy, plus not having too many aches and pains in my dodgy elbow and shoulder. ( I did cheat on the Koh Rang islands as I didn’t have time to kayak down to Koh Mak when the weather was suitable – so went from Koh Mak to those islands by kayak instead.)
Click the Koh Chang islands map below for the links to specific island pages where you can see a few photos of each island.
How many islands are there?
If you can’t be bothered counting the answer is 43. And these are . . .
Koh Chang PLUS
( You might notice this list includes no less than 5 islands called Koh Mapring, which must have got a bit confusing for sailors in the days before GPS.)
Koh Mak and the 7 islands close by – Koh Pli, Koh Kham, Koh Rayang Nok, Koh Rayang Nai, Koh Kradat, Koh Nok Nok, Koh Nok Nai aren’t within the Marine National Park boundaries and so don’t count in the total, likewise nether does Koh Kood and the two islands off it’s shores – Koh Mai See Lek and Koh Raet.
Adding these 11 additional islands onto the 43 we have already brings us up to grand total of 54 is the Koh Chang Archipelago. This also doesn’t tally with the figure of 52 that is listed in pretty much every guidebook, website and official tourist publication for the area.
Something is wrong. Either people can’t count or two islands aren’t officially named – which seems a bit odd either way. It appears that the two islands off the northern tip of Koh Kradat, Koh Nok Nok and Koh Nok Nai are giving the erroneous result. These are named on my old map of the area but nowhere else. But I’d class them as islands, as, although they are small, they are the same size as islands such as the four small ones off Koh Mai See Yai and are covered in trees – they aren’t rocks that are covered at high tide.