The Emerald Cave in Thailand is a place full of wonders. You must swim through a cave to get to a seemingly magical pool of bright green waters. This cave is off the coast of Koh Lanta, Thailand, my favorite Thai island.
Unfortunately, the Emerald Cave is no longer a secret and has hundreds of visitors a day. Here’s how we were able to visit the cave with just our guide and NO CROWDS!
Private vs. Group Four Island Tour
Emerald Cave is a stop on the infamous “Four Island” tour, which is typically done with a large group. You can, of course, book your own tour ahead of time online or in Thailand at one of the many tour agencies but we decided that we just wanted to spend a half day seeing Emerald Cave rather than doing all four islands, which is an exhausting day in the sun!
I’ve been on my share of group tours and I can tell you that while they can make an experience more fun in some cases, it was much better to do Emerald Cave privately to really get the full effect of the island!
Booking A Private Tour
To book a private tour, we visited a local tour agency near our hotel (Cozy Guesthouse) in Koh Lanta. They arranged transport from the hotel to the pier and the whole trip.
It took us about 2.5 hours to ride there via longtail boat from Koh Lanta’s Saladan Pier. Our guides were a Thai man and his 13-ish-year-old son – their English was limited but we figured it out with miming and pointing.
The man drove the boat, son assisted, and the son was the one to actually take us through the cave. They never told us their names, unfortunately! At the end of our trip, the son asked us for a tip because they said the tour company pays them just a little for actually doing the work. Not sure how true this was, but we gave them a great tip anyway because they provided great service.
All in all, it was about a half day trip. We visited a second island for lunch that I can’t remember the name of and then headed back to Koh Lanta.
Emerald Pool & Beach Area Amenities
Please note that there are NO bathrooms, food, hotels, or facilities at Emerald Pool and Beach. It’s literally just a small amount of beach and a pool when you swim through the cave. That’s a BIG part of what makes this area feel so magical!
We were only at Emerald Pool for about 10 minutes because the tide was nearly to the point of being high again.
What to Bring
Don’t forget these things and you’ll have a magical day at the Emerald Cave! Also, check out our full Thailand packing list!
- Water – again, there are no bathrooms so balance your intake
- Allergy pills
- Dramamine or other motion sickness meds for the windy boat ride – we suggest the non-drowsy kind!
- Waterproof camera + batteries
- Dry bag for phones
- Change of clothes (note there is nowhere to change)
- Hair ties for the long-haired among us
- Snorkel + food (if not provided by your tour company)
- Something to hold your camera – we suggest a floaty wrist strap or head mount like the below.
How to Get the Emerald Pool to Yourself
Want to visit the Emerald Pool by yourself, without the crowds? Check out these tips:
- Go as early as you can convince your boat driver to go! We suggest leaving Koh Lanta by 8 AM.
- Schedule your tour around high tide so you can actually swim back through the cave. Find tide info here.
- Book a private tour for your group rather than a group tour.
- Look at local group tours and see what time they’ll be at Emerald Cave. Avoid those times. TripAdvisor is a great place to find tour companies.
- Be willing to be flexible if your schedule needs to change.
Enjoy Your Trip!
Enjoy your time at the magical Emerald Cave. It’s weird to feel so cut off from humanity when you’re laying on an abandoned beach on a Thai island. For more Thailand travel tips and guides including how to get a Thai style tattoo and eat street food safely, click here. If you went to Emerald Cave, tell us about it in the comments below!