Sorry was MIA for a few days, did not have internet access!
Anyway about the current boat situation from Pak Bara to Lipe. There is always at least one per day, leaving anywhere from 11:30 to 12:30 depending on when it fills up, as it is low season now and there are not so many people going to Lipe every day.
However, if there are more people than can fit on the first boat, or if enough people show up after the first boat leaves, a second boat will go to Lipe, around 3:30pm. Now I know this uncertainty kind of sucks but for those of you who are definitely going to Lipe anyway and were planning on spending a night in Hat Yai, you could always try to see if there's that afternoon boat. If not, then you're already in Pak Bara and can spend the night there. There are several choices for accommodation and quite a few restaurants. But bear in mind there's not much else to do in Pak Bara, it's a quiet village.
Hat Yai is actually a nice place to spend a night, with the Tune Hotel right in the city center, shopping and eating at the night markets, a few bars close by.
And what people have been saying about the monsoon season is right...while you can visit Lipe now, it is rainy season and even if it doesn't rain, it can be windy meaning choppy seas and a potentially rough boat ride out there. Not always the case though, as this can change day to day.
High season starts around middle of October and goes until middle of May. This is when the monsoon starts to move over to the east coast of Thailand and dry season kicks in on the west coast.
During low season, most businesses are closed on Lipe. The advantage is that you can get great deals on accommodation and you feel like you have the island all to yourself. But the downside would be fewer restaurant and bar choices.
tinaturner, hope to see you on your next trip to Lipe!