The Sunrise beach (or Hat Chao Ley) is my favorite 2 kilometers stretch at Koh Lipe. The white sanded beach is located along the west side of the island and is known to have the best snorkeling location.
Back in the day, Sunrise beach belonged to the backpackers, and there are still a few cheap places around. Several boutique resorts have opened over the last few years. The beach is located neat the Chao Ley (Sea Gypsies) Village, where you can get a glimpse at the local life. There are a few small restaurants and shops nearby at the beginning of the Walking Street.
When we arrived at the island I wasn’t fascinated by the appearance of this beach. There were far more remote beaches (The Sunset beach) or ones that featured a wide variety of restaurants and bars to slip a cocktail. The water was beautiful, but I was somehow put off by the piles of trash and plastic bottles that were spread out through the whole stretch of the beach. Due to the increased popularity of Koh Lipe, the once green shores are now covered with concrete buildings and upmarket resorts.
After me and Dilyan settled in the hotel room we decided to go for a walk around the island. The tiny Koh Lipe is not that difficult to explore by foot, but you can always get a tuk-tuk or a boat taxi if you don’t wish to walk. So few minutes after embarking on our exploration tour around the island, we decided to head to the Sunrise beach. As we were visiting during the low season, most of the restaurants along the Walking street were closed or were only working few hours a day.
Before reaching the beach we had to pass through the Sea Gypsies village. The name itself prompts thoughts a la Pirates of the Caribbean, and early in the morning you could see the old fishermen, with wrinkled sun-burned faces, pulling their long tailed boats back in the sea. Because the place is so small, there are resorts everywhere and in order to reach the beach you will have to pass through few of them.
At first I thought that the beach had lost some of its glamor during the low tide. Without the mesmerizing colors of all variations of blue and green, this was just another ordinary beach. Or so we thought.
At the southern end of the beach, the shallow water have uncovered the rich coral bottom of the sea. And what by day was one of the famous island spot for snorkeling, now was a walking path leading deep into the sea, connecting the shore with a small island across.
We were surrounded by urchins, octopus, vibrant colored sea clams and puffer fish. Along the way we saw many varieties of corals and seaweed. The marine life here was so rich that it surpassed the one we saw in the Philippines, near El Nido. Of course there were few slips here and there and a wet shoe, but it was all worth it.
The Sunrise beach is perfect not only for admiring the beautiful colours of the sky during the sunrise, but also for people that love to explore the marine life, but don’t dive or snorkel. You don’t even need to know how to swim in order to discover the richness of Koh Lipe.
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