Search For Beautiful Pink Dolphin of Khanom
Tucked between Nakhon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani is a small fishing village where I search for beautiful Pink Dolphins of Khanom, Thailand.
We’ve dreamed of this dream for weeks before making the trip overland to Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Pink Dolphins of Khanom
Welcome to the pristine, empty beaches that are quiet and home to the elusive pink dolphin – Khanom District in southern Thailand!
Getting to know Khanom
Khanom is a small, quiet fishing town with lovely beaches, a little off of the beaten path. The area is a non-touristy area tucked away in the Nakhon Si Thammarat province on the south-eastern coast of Thailand.
Khanom is a great stopover when traveling through southern Thailand. The village is quite close to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.
The region has beautiful mountain scenery and many long, white beaches to relax on.
There are several beaches to visit around Khanom.
- Nai Plao Beach
- Thong Yee
- Feng Phao
- Nadan Beach
Nai Plao Beach is the most popular while Thong Yee and Feng Phao beaches tend to be quieter. One of Thailand’s longest beaches, Nadan Beach, stretches out over nine kilometers nearby.
Khanom’s also one of the few places in Thailand that is quiet and relatively unmarked with tourists.
The main attraction in Khanom is the pink dolphins. Locals and volunteers work together to create a safe have for these protected creatures that can only be sustained with the help of travelers who come to see them.
In the village, there are statues and paintings of pink dolphins.
My trip to Khanom to see Pink Dolphins
We reached Khanom.
The smell of the sea and drying fish permeates the air as we gleefully hop off the van.
The village is small with several small buildings. The activities here are mainly fishing.
Khanom locals are proud of their friendly pink dolphins.
These are Indo-Pacific dolphins, which are also known as Irrawaddy dolphins.
Going Out to Sea
We have an experienced tour guide, Khun Mont Supit, who continuously checked on wind and sea conditions from the night before our arrival to Khanom. It was high tide today, and it lifted the long tail boats almost to moor at the pier.
The sea was a little rough and the water choppy. Khun Mont looked worried as the group was anxiously waiting to see the pink dolphins.
After checking on the wind and sea conditions, Khun Mont decided that it was okay and the expert boatmen took us out on the long tail boats.
We headed out to sea with the warm sun beating down. There was no shade on the long-tail boat and our hats, sunglasses, and sunblock didn’t seem to work with the sun beating down mercilessly.
Eventually, after some time the sea calmed and the slight wind bought cooling breeze to tease our hair and cool our flushed cheeks.
Khun Mont explained that seeing pink dolphins along the coastline meant that the sea has a healthy ecosystem. The locals of Khanom have been planting seaweed along the coast to provide a sanctuary for marine animals to nest.
Pink Dolphins Spotting
We were so happy to see these beautiful mammals. Dolphins by nature are a playful and sociable creature. They’re fun-loving and seem to smile.
The name ‘dolphin’ refers to a synonym for the Bottlenose Dolphin, the most common and familiar species of the dolphin.
A group of dolphins is called a “school” or a “pod”. Male dolphins are called “bulls”. The females “cows” and young dolphins are called “calves”.
Why are some Dolphins Pink?
Dolphins are gray, black white, and even pink. We can also find pink dolphins living in the Amazon, Orinoco, and Araguaia rivers.
These are the Amazon River dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) an endangered species and are to be protected.
There are four kinds of dolphins living in the waters of Thailand. The most common is the Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin.
When they are born, pink dolphins start as gray.
When they’re young their color is gray. They slowly turn pink as they get older.
Gradually the “pink” spreads in patches all over the dolphin until maturity. So, the older the dolphin is, the pinker it gets.
The pink dolphins are believed to be a sub-species of the White Chinese Dolphin.
They get their unique color from a network of blood capillaries just under their skin. These capillaries help the dolphins regulate their body temperature.
Their final color can be influenced by their behavior, capillary placement, diet, and exposure to sunlight.
And when the dolphins get excited, they can flush bright pink, similar to humans blushing.
Their color can vary from grey to white and rosy to a deeper pink. The bubble-gum-pink hue is very distinct.
For the pink dolphins to live happily in Khanom, it goes to show how pristine the waters are.
What are the best times to sight pink dolphins?
In the early morning, between 7:30 AM and 9 AM, from February to September.
Things to consider when visiting Khanom.
There are a few things to consider when visiting these amazing creatures.
Local tour boats and fishermen have an agreement to stay at least 50 meters away from the dolphins. They need to switch off their boat motors when the dolphins are near.
If you want to go see the pink dolphins, make sure that you find a company that puts the safety of these dolphins first.
When will I see the Dolphins?
Dolphins are naturally curious creatures and might swim up to the boat if you sit quietly with the motors off and wait for them.
While feeding the dolphins will attract them and increase your chances of seeing them, it also changes their feeding habits and thus the ecological environment.
Chasing the dolphins causes them to stress and leave the area – doing exactly the opposite of what you want.
Time for Some Souvenirs
Soon it was almost time to leave and grab a few souvenirs for home!
How do I get to Khanom in Thailand?
By mini-bus – You can get to Khanom from the nearby cities of Surat Thani, an hour+ west of Khanom, (100 baht) or Nakhon Si Thammarat, an hour south of Khanom, (80 baht). Minibusses generally depart from the “old” bus terminal in the center of Surat Thani.