Latest schedule and price update on April 25, 2017
Thailand's western coast is dotted with small Andaman Sea islands, and that's where tourists will find the well-kept secret of Koh Libong. It's just south of the Hat Chao Mai National Park on the mainland, and is the largest island of Trang province. Koh Libong is a unique destination for travelers who want an experience where they'll find more locals than tourist groups, and more wildlife than either of them.
Many of the 6,000 island residents are Muslim fishing families, living in quaint and colorful communities that thrive by the sea. Tall cliffs with impressive views rise above them and the four resorts clustered along the southwest coast of the island. Among them is Le Dugong Beach Resort, where coconut trees surround the bungalows made with thatched roofs, bamboo furniture and other natural materials in keeping with the island's undeveloped, wild-jungle character. It's an adventure, except maybe for the Internet access connecting you to the life you've left behind - maybe. Sometimes, and only if that's what you want.
This resort takes its name from one of Koh Libong's key attractions. The island is one of the last refuges of the endangered dugong, a manatee-like sea mammal that feeds on grasses. Because the underwater grass meadow of Koh Libong is believed to be the largest in Southeast Asia, your chance to spot them while dugong-watching is improved by the habitat and the helpful locals who operate tour boats. Le Dugong also offers a diving and snorkeling center, for spying some colorful fish, rays, and other marine life. On land, visitors see and hear monkeys in the trees, and spot geckos sunning themselves. At low tide visitors can walk from Chu Hoi Cape to Koh Tup where migrating seabirds stop during their journey.
But you'll be disappointed - and Koh Libong is not at all where you'll want to be - if your dream holiday includes modern hotels and amenities, casinos and spas, fine dining, entertainment and leisure pursuits. There is a pier for scheduled trips back to the mainland, and there are kayaks, canoes and motorbike rentals to travel to rubber plantations and other attractions, but transportation options are limited. The islanders don't always have electricity available throughout the day - and you may need to plan for the few hours that power is available. Occasionally, running water may be unreliable, and it will probably be cold. Hungry tourists have been known to pay locals who serve them as dinner guests in their homes, if for some reason the restaurants are closed, which seems like a perfect solution for travelers who want an authentic island immersion experience. But be sure to bring all the cash you'll need with you because there aren't any cash stations or banks.
What there are on Koh Libong, though, are exquisite sunsets and coral formations. The beaches are darker and rockier, but they're more natural, wild and full of seashells. Instead of beach bars and parties and throngs of backpackers, you're more likely to encounter the children who live here and their fishing-boat families. The island is also a good jumping-off point for day trips to swim the Emerald Cave on Koh Mook, or visit the reefs of Koh Kradan without dealing with that island's bigger resort crowds or the cost.