Island of Ko Muk, boats from Ko Lanta.
NOV to APR daily.
4-island-tour between EUR 25 and EUR 50.
Emerald Cave Small Group Tour by Longtail Boat from Koh Lanta EUR 67.
|Light:||life jacket and headlamp provided.|
|Guided tours:||self guided|
|Address:||Tham Morakot, Hat Chao Mai Marine National Park, P.O.Box 9, Amphoe Sikao, Trang 92510.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|2004||two visitors in the cave entrance killed by tsunami.|
ถ้ำมรกต (Tham Morakot) is visited by swimming or by small inflatable boats. The name of the cave means Emerald Cave. It describes the emerald colour produced by sunlight filtered through seawater, an effect which can be seen best between 10 and 14. Inside the cave is a secluded beach of white sand. This is the real world version of The Beach from the Leonardo DiCaprio movie. Fortunately there are no drug farmers like in the movie. According to legend the secluded spot was used by pirates as a storage place for their loot.
The cave is only accessible by boat, so you have to take a half or full day trip. The 4-island tour from Koh Lanta to Koh Chuak, Koh Muk, Koh Kradan, and Koh Ngai normally includes the cave. These tours are intended to spend the day swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking in and around the four islands, but the cave is only one of numerous stops. There are also boat tours to the cave, which is the main tourist site of the island. Starting from a ship, the swimmer has to enter the cave until he reaches a waterfilled karstfenster, which is lit by sunlight through a hole in the ceiling. The entrance passage is 80 m long and rather small and low, and a section in the middle is quite dark, so a headlamp is recommended. It's also possible to cross the cave in boats, but only in kayaks. The cave is not passable during high tide, if visitors miss the time inside, they have to wait some time to get out again. On the other side, when the water is at its lowest, there is no water in the hidden beach, and hence no emerald light. The boat operators know the best times and the boat trips are scheduled accordingly, so this is actually no concern.
Like many cliffs and caves in Thailand, the walls of the huge sinkhole are full of swallow nests. Before the cave became part of the National Park the locals visited the place to collect the nests fro bird's nest soup. As far as we know this is now forbidden. Also, the place can only be visited during the winter months, which is actually the high season. From May to October the place is closed to allow nature to recover. This is also the rainy season and the sea can be rough during bad weather, which makes the access through the cave quite dangerous.
This cave played a small role in the enormous disaster of the 2004 Christmas earthquake and tsunami of southeast Asia. When the wave hit the cave, two swimmers were washed in, battered, and killed. Eighty visitors who survived the wave were rescued after five hours.
Another cave in the Hat Chao Mai Marine National Park is called Tham Chao Mai. It is located in the south of the park and is a dry cave above the sea with a small spring inside. It also only reached by boat, but it is not necessary to swim.