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Description
White sand, crystal blue water, coconut trees, this is Raya(Racha) Island in Thailand. From many island in Thailand the Raya is one of the best. Not so many tourists know about this island. Popular destinations near Phuket area are Koh Phi Phi with his neighbor islands: Monkey Island, Mosquito Island.

Ban Raya Ya, Racha Island Phuket Thailand

Up in the North of Phuket are a island like : Phang Na (James bong Island), "Ice cream" Island with "Ice cream Cave", Mangrove island, Fisherman Village and many other islands. A lot of them! But those are part of National reservation and is quite difficult (rather than say impossible) to find a camping or motel/hotel in those islands.  

 

Ban_Raya_Ya_-Racha_Island_Phuket_Thailand

The Raya is Thailand's premier deluxe island hideaway where people can balance body, mind and spirit in an environmentally friendly space.


The island consists of Racha Yai and Racha Noi islands located south of Phuket. Koh Racha Yai (Big Racha) has an enchanting beach located on the west between the valleys that resembles horseshoes.

Racha_Yai_Island_Phuket_Thailand_Map

The area is known as Ao Bungalow which is famous for its white powdery beach and crystal clear water. Visitors can marvel at the delightful panoramic view of the whole island from the vantage point at the peak of the mountain located south of the bay. Koh Racha Yai is the ultimate place to explore the wonders of the underwater world, especially at Ao Siam, Ao Tue and Khon Kae.


Kon_Kare_bay_view_Raya-Racha(Thailand)_island

Accommodations are available. Koh Racha Noi (Small Racha) is located just 10 kilometers from Big Racha Island. Originating from the accumulation of coral stones, the island has more rocky hills than beaches, thus the island is more suitable for fishing. To get there, visitors can charter long-tailed or speed boats from Chalong Pier. Alternatively, they can buy a package tour from reliable travel agencies


Still, in terms of quiet place, nice and beautiful, Raya Island remain BEST offer. Koh Phi Phi is one of the most busy Island crowded with tourists, local people smelling open air restaurants, open markets and many, many tourists no matter if is season or not. Specially in the tourist season (Nov - March) i would strongly recommend NOT to visit the island more then 1-2 days, book in advance the hotel, take a map of the island with you and take some 1-2 days trips around the island or scuba diving.

 

Scuba_diving_on_Ban_Raya_Ya_-Racha_Island_Phuket_Thailand
Compare with the over agitated Koh Phi Phi, Raya island is much more quite, but still having a lot of opportunities for entertainments (disco, golf, tennis, trekking, scuba diving, trips around the island, etc).
The Racha (or Raya) island, is located around 12(15) km south of Phuket, and offers excellent diving and snorkeling daytrip destinations.


Patok_beach_Raya-Racha(Thailand)_island

The beaches of Raya island offers an incredible view, white sand and U-shaped bay, called Ao Tawan Tok or Ao Bungalow.The water here is clear and perfect for snorkeling, though the bay gets quite busy with visiting boats in the afternoons. Recommend to have rest in the morning or in the evening. The other large bay, Ao Siam, is a pretty place where lonely strolls in solitude are possible. Racha Noi is uninhabited and has no services or accommodation, but there's some great diving in the area.



How to get there
The distance to Raya Island is around 12 km and basically depending on the sea/ wind conditions and of course what king of boat is chosen (long-tail or speed boat) it takes between 30-45 min.
One or two days trip are possible to book from Phuket (strongly recommended).The trips can be found on most of local travel agencies in Phuket.



What to do
If you chose for 1 or 2 days trip from Phuket the following points of interests are available :
1 -day trip : Departure in the morning from hotel (organized by trip agencies) - pick up time around 8 am , transport to Phuket pier for Departure (south of Phuket) Chalong pier. Departure by speed boat to Raya island.
First stop is a close by another island where snorkeling and swimming is available, nice beach, you can also see (if lucky) sea eagles. Departure then to Raya island -
Arrival on Ter Bay, trekking /transfer to the Patok beach by (usually) a tractor equipped with 2-3 carriages. Arrival at Patok beach. One of the best in the island and Phuket also 1-2 hours swimming - free program.
This exquisite island offers easy diving for beginners with drift diving for more experienced divers. Beneath the water you'll find a sloping rock face dotted with hard coral forests, and especially colorful blue staghom corals.

Ban_Raya_Ya_-Racha_Island_Phuket_Thailand


There are false barracudas, octopus and cuttlefish along with more common tropical species.
Transfer to the lunch on the Ban Raya Resort -one of the best. Free schedule for some tourist or you can choose (from initial offer from travel agencies), to have scuba diving in the Staghom Reef on Ter Bay with a local diving agency - one of the best, (www.divesupply.com) well trained scuba diving instructors, an amazing underwater flora and fauna, corals, etc. After 2-3 hours in this area return to "etc bay" for departure to Phuket.

Scuba_diving_on_Ban_Raya_Ya_-Racha_Island_Phuket_Thailand


Arrival in Phuket around 4-5 pm.
For 2 days trips additional is one night on the "X" hotel

Other activities: disco on the "etc" hotel beach, tennis, trekking, snorkeling, and ..relax !
On each hotel you can find different offers for entertainment: Horse Riding, Mountain Bike, Fishing, Diving, Snorkeling, Natural Walking etc

On the island there a school, sanitary point /small hospital, police station.


Activities :

    ::. Horse Riding
    ::. Mountain Bike
    ::. Fishing
    ::. Scuba Diving
    ::. Snorkeling
    ::. Free Diving
    ::. Natural Walking



Flora and fauna
Beside usual palm trees and coco nut trees the island abound in flowers, small insects but also "local buffalo", a lot of lizards - among them an interesting species of dragon - "Raya Island dragon" which is protected by law, somehow a mini -version of prestigious Komodo dragon from Indonesia.
Under the water a lot of species of fishes, aquatic plants and reef
flower_on_Racha_Island_Phuket_Thailand   dragon_lizzard_on_Racha_Island_Phuket_Thailand


Resorts

Ban Raya Resort & Spa located in the same part of the Island with the Ter Bay pier, but far enough to offer quiet and relaxing environment, golden sand beach and blue water.
Also near to the hotel there are small shops and scuba diving club, opportunities for different open-air activities.
The resort offers "60 acres of coconut palm and lush tropical garden right beside Kon Kare Bay; the best coral reefs of the island where offers 48 high standards of cleanliness bungalows with electric fan or air-conditioning in a friendly atmosphere. All the rooms have own bathroom, mosquito screen and balcony. None of the rooms are more than two minutes walk from the seafront (Kon Kare Bay). In Ban Raya Resort you can enjoy your own privacy far from the crowds" (official ban Raya site http://www.banraya.com)

Raya Bungalow Resort is located on Raya Island on right side of Patok Beach, surrounded by crystal clear tropical sea and snow white sand




The Racha Resort was opened in 2003 and is located on left side of Patok Beach having in front the cristal blue water and white snow sand of Patok Beach.
The resort has also one Club - Cafe del Mar, inside pool wide view to the beach
This resort looks like it belongs more to an European style rather than Thai style. Is one of the best on island (not so many although) ,but also one of the most expensive even when the touristic season is no longer present.

 


The resort facilities include :a tennis court, three restaurants, fitness centre, two pools, basketball court, Cafe del Mar Club disco and bar, spa, yoga studio, own dive shop.
The rooms have in their facilities: air con, plasma TVs, espresso coffee makers. Each villa has a private terrace and outdoor rain shower, private Jacuzzi tub or infinity-edged swimming pool.



Rayaburi Resort (Racha Island) is a brand new resort, set on a pristine beach on Racha/Raya Yai Island (Phuket). The resort located on a private property set among 75 acres of coconut palm and lush tropical garden right beside Siam Bay - the longest and widest powdery white sand beach on Racha Yai Island. The resort features 28 spacious en-suite rooms to ensure your comfortable and pleasant stay. Its unique mixture of authentic Thai style beach resort facilities with calm and peaceful atmosphere, and heartfelt hospitality and service - suitable...



Beaches and Bay's on Raya Island

Patok bay, also known as 'Bangalow Bay', 'Namtatok Bay' (Falling tears Bay ) and 'Plubpla Bay', is located on the west of Racha Yai Island. This Bay best known for its pristine long white sandy beach front is ideal for swimming, sun bathing and diving and is surrounded by shops, a restaurant and a scuba diving school.

 

Patok_beach_Raya-Racha(Thailand)_island
Patok Bay is located on the west coast of Racha Yai Island. Depth range from 5 to 18 m. There are fringing reefs with colorful fish and Reef Balls (artificial reef). This diving site is separated in left side and right side. Reef fish such as parrotfish, grouper, snapper, butterflyfish are common. Some Kuhl's stingray's shot their backs on the sandy bottom.


Kon Kare bay locates on South-east side of Racha Yai Island which Ban Raya Resort And Spa is located. It's famed for best diving spot by the beautiful fish and fully well formed coral. The beach characteristic is mixtures of sand and rock but suited for dabble and sun bathing. There are also a shops and lavatory around the beach.

 

Kon_Kare_bay_view_Raya-Racha(Thailand)_island
Konkare Bay is also called Bay 3 and is located on the South-east coast of Racha Yai Island. There is rocky shore and the coral reef starts from 2-30 m. Marine life with colorful reef fish such as butterflyfish, angelfish, wrasse and parrotfish are common. Further out we also find an artificial reef at 30 m where batfishes play around. Five species of anemone fishes can be discovered here as well as a big school of yellow tail barracuda, giant moray eel, lobster, scorpion fishes, lion fishes, box fishes, Pikachu nudibrachs, sea turtle and so on. The sandy bottoms are also the home of many Kuhl’s stingrays, founder fishes, and garden eels. Ghost pipefish have also been spotted at the sand bottom.



Lha Bay
This small beach near to Ter bay is only about 100 m. long and is probably more suited to those who prefer a more secluded place to sit and enjoy the tranquility.



Siam Beach located on the north of Racha Yai Island, is approximately 10 minutes walk from Ban Raya Resort. Similar to Patok Beach, Siam Beach is a great place to work on your tan or take a refreshing dip in the warm clear water.
Siam Bay locates on the north of Racha Yai island. Two big concrete elephants guarding a concrete gate, authentic Thai heritage, make this dive something special. Depths range around 20 m. The dive starts at the mooring line then 20 minutes on the bottom and swimming up to 14 m to the soft coral field and back to shallow water swimming around big submersed rock. Colorful reef fishes such as butterflyfish, angelfish, wrasse and parrotfish are common.


Ter bay is located on the East side of Racha Yai Island, about 5 minutes walk from Ban Raya. A good location for diving this bay is best visited between the months of November and April.
Ter Bay or Bay 2 locates on the East coast of the Island. Depths are from 5 to 20 m. There are wonderful massive corals and colorful reef fishes such as butterflyfish, angelfish, wrasse and parrotfish swimming leasurly around. Another artificial reef (concrete block) at 20 m sits on the sandy bottom where Kuhl’s stingray hide together withs founder fishes, pipe fishes and garden eel. Ghost pipefish, an uncommon species in this area, have also been spotted at the sand bottom near a big submerged rock.


Racha Noi island is an hour away from Racha Yai by long-tail boat and is the last island before the open water of the Andaman sea and the Indian ocean. The deeper water provides a more challenging dive condition but visibility and aquatic life are the best. Banana Bay locates on eastern side of the island. This is shallow dive site starting from 3 – 10 m and the hard coral reef slope through 25 m on the bottom with staghorn coral. Marina Bay locates on southwest of the island. The dive can start at 18 m at the bottom down to 30 m. There are flat worms, nudibranchs, mixture of sea fan and sea whips. Racha Noi Bay is located on the south of the island. The dive starts as shallows as 5 m. Then swimming through to the depth to 30 m following the sand slope. Explore the sand bottom and discover flounder, cuttlefish and pipefish. South Tip locates on the south as it's name tells us. There are soft corals, fire corals, and sea fans attached to the rock from the shallows to the deep. But the current is very strong running from northeast to southwest. Depth ranging from 12 m in the north to more than 40 m in the south. Large pelagics such as manta rays, leopard sharks are commonly seen here.




Recommendations :


Take 1 day or 2 days tour from Phuket to the Raya Island, either with scuba diving program included or, on two days with accommodation included on Ban Raya Resort
Best time to visit in terms of wheatear - Nov -March.
Best time to visit in term of money/wheatear - end of March -mid of May latest


(Here details about every day trips to Ko Racha Yai Island)

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Sources:
@text and images u2know.net
http://www.banraya.com

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