Snorkeling, Fishing, and the Best Hostel on Koh Lanta

Speeding across the Andaman Sea in a shiny new powerboat, my hair whipping wildly in the warm tropical wind, my every sense is engaged. I feel the hot sun on my face, I hear the slap-slap-slap of the boat flying across the waves. I smell and taste the salty sea air as fine mists of water dapple my skin. I soak in the deep blue and emerald green water, craggy rock islands soaring from its surface and giving a teasing glimpse of the powder-soft sand lining the shore where I’m heading for a day of snorkeling.

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Koh Lanta boasts many small tour companies that offer a wide variety of day trips. I was lucky to have one of the best little companies sitting directly across the road from Paulee’s House, my hostel on Koh Lanta and home for the next twelve days.

The snorkeling on Koh Lanta is fantastic. The warm, tropical waters are as clear as a fresh spring morning. Lush underwater tropical foliage and vibrant, colorful coral make a home to the incredible variety of bright, colorful fish. Huge clams lined with puffy lips of purples, greens, blues, browns, and mottled golds have me singing “Suddenly Seymour” and “Little Shop of Horrors” in my head. Little orange and black Nemo fish hide shyly among the sea anemones, darting in and out like sprinters that never get off the line.

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Lush tropical fish. Photo by Alex.

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Hundreds of fish like this swim everywhere.

The lush, green islands are surrounded by the most incredible green and blue waters I have ever seen.

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Snorkeling spot.

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I swam 80 meters through that cave.

Island life

The other side of the cave swim: the center of a towering rock, completely surrounded by enormous vertical walls.

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Incredible snorkeling island.

Andaman Sea

Yes, this is the real color of the water.

But let me brag just a little for a moment on behalf of Paulee, the owner and generous host of Paulee’s House.

I can honestly say that this has been the BEST hostel experience I have had so far, and there have been several good ones. Paulee and his housekeeper Noi instantly made me feel like family, like I was coming home, upon my arrival after a very long journey by plane, bus, mini-van, and ferry. I was looking for the hostel in the dark, dragging my weary butt along the street where my mini-van driver had dropped me off. Paulee and Noi were clearly watching for me, as they immediately jumped up when they saw me. “JESSICA! Is that YOU?! Welcome HOME!” burst Noi, genuinely excited to see me. It only got better from there.

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Paulee at Paulee’s House hostel in Koh Lanta

Paulee’s House is a very social, chill, and comfortable place to just hang out for the day. With the beach just minutes away, though, early morning beach strolls, before the heat of the day set in, tempted me most days. A little mini-market and ATM are practically next door, which I found super-convenient.

Paulee took a few of us from the hostel out for a full day of fishing. We stopped on a deserted island for lunch. The fish everyone caught was whipped up for dinner that evening, and I can honestly say that this was one of the most fun days on the water I have ever had.

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Our fishing boat for the day.

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Living the life!

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The gang from Paulee’s House hostel.

Nice one, Paulee

Big catch o’ the day.

Feet and sand

Sand like baby powder.

I ended up staying at Paulee’s House for twelve days. The beach, the hostel, the private fishing day out with Paulee and some folks from the hostel, the food, the beach (did I say that already?), the company, the snorkeling trips (yes, I took two!) were the closest I can imagine to creating a perfect day, every day. I could easily have stayed twelve months instead.

Paulee’s House, in my opinion the best hostel in Koh Lanta, is really clean, draws very cool travelers, and Paulee loves hanging with his guests and showing them a good time.

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Friends from Paulee’s House.

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Dorm room.

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The view from my room at the best little hostel on Koh Lanta.

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Private double room at Paulee’s House.

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The bar at Paulee’s House

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Going to Koh Lanta? At the airport at Krabie on the mainland of Thailand, find the little place with the big, obvious sign selling tickets to Koh Lanta. I paid 40 baht (about $1.15) for a local bus to the (sort of) air-conditioned mini-van. The rest of the trip was 400 baht (about $11.40), which is a two- to three-hour drive, including two ferry crossings. The driver drops you off at your hostel (if he can find it). Use the app map.me everywhere you go, and bookmark your hostel before you leave.

Paulee’s House is around $10–$13USD for a mixed dorm, up to $31USD for a private double room. It’s a very easy six-minute walk to the beach, and many excellent local bars are nearby. 

The two snorkeling trips I took, one a four-island trip and one to Koh Rok, were each 1200 baht, or about $35USD each. Equipment, water, a fab lunch, and towels are provided, making the day ever so easy to enjoy.

 Paulee and Noi will help you in any way they can to make your stay thoroughly enjoyable. Like me, you may want to stay forever. You can book through Booking.com.