Lying about 20kms south of Phuket, the Racha Islands comprise two islands, Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi. To confuse matters they are also known as Koh Raya Yai and Koh Raya Noi (Yai means “big” in Thai and as you may have already guessed, noi means “little”).
The islands possess crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches. They are very popular with divers and snorkelers, with challenging dive sites for advanced divers as well as plenty for beginners and snorkelers.
Closest to Phuket is Racha Yai. The island is mostly inhabited by muslim farmers and fishermen. This island is also where all the accommodation is located.
The main beach, on the island’s northwest coast, is Ao Tawan Tok (also known as Ao Bungalow), which is located in a u-shaped bay. The sand here is snow white and has the consistency of talcum powder. There are a few bungalow resorts and restaurants located here, including the 5-star The Racha.
Like many islands in the area, Racha Yai is popular with day-trippers from Phuket and Ao Bungalow can get a little busy in the afternoons. However, at night the island is pretty quiet with only a few restaurants and bars. The lack of bright lights means that the night sky is light up with stars, great for stargazing on the beach.
A little to the south of Racha Yai is its smaller twin, Racha Noi. This island is uninhabited and has more rocks than beaches. There is a small bay on its west coast that is a favourite spot for fishing, but apart from diving there is little else to do here.