Koh Matsum , Koh Tan (the Four Five Islands)
Small unspoiled islands close to Koh Samui
Koh Tan is a small island just a few hundred metres southwest of Koh Samui. It can be reached by hiring a longtail boat from the Samui fishing village of Taling Nam.
There is a small local village on Koh Tan but there are no roads or cars, it’s pretty much unspoiled. There are some shallow reefs off shore where you can see some coral and clams and small fish.
A little further south of Koh Tan (or Koh Taen) is Koh Matsum (or Koh Madsum). It takes about 30 minutes to get here by longtail boat. The long sandy beach here is popular with day tripping Thai’s, some even camp out on the beach overnight.
Koh Tan and Koh Matsum are two islands in the Koh Sii Koh Haa chain. That translates as “Four Islands Five Islands.”
The funny name derives from the fact that from the shore in Koh Samui only 4 of the 5 islands are visible as one is hidden behind another.
The islands are important because they are home to thousands of nesting swifts. These birds nests are gathered by climbers who make bamboo scaffolding to scale the rocky ledges. The nests are then sold, mostly to Chinese restaurants that pay thousands of dollars per kilo. Birds nest soup is a Chinese delicacy. Because of the money involved the islands are vigorously guarded by the local sea gypsy inhabitants.
How to visit Koh Matsum and Koh Tan
You can visit the islands on a sailing cruise from Koh Samui. That’s the relaxed and luxurious way to see them.
If you give us some advance notice we can also arrange private tours for small groups with a long tail boat, a guide and transfers from your hotel. Ask us for details.