Island Hopping off the west coast of Thailand (Part 1)

After two days in Bangkok, strolling along the Sois, sightseeing around the city, and coursing through the crowds, I couldn’t wait to get to the coast. The second part of our holiday was devoted to the Sun, the Sand, and the Sea!

A short two-hour flight later; okay a short two-hour flight + a forty-minute cab ride to the resort + a ten-minute walk later that is exactly what we got.

My first sighting of the Beach took my breath away.

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Krabi, or Ao Nang to be precise, was our destination of choice over the more frequented Phuket and Pattaya for precisely that reason: they are too frequented. Phuket specifically I had been advised to avoid like the plague: over-crowded and over-hyped.

Some Facts:

  • Krabi Province is one of the Southern Provinces of Thailand, neighbouring the Phuket Province.
  • Krabi Town is the Capital of the Province.
  • And Ao Nang is the busiest beach destination in the province.
  • Officially Ao Phra Nang, or Princess Bay, but everyone just uses the short form, Ao Nang.

Ao Nang makes an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding islands and their beaches. Its proximity to Phuket ensures that you can still explore some of this region’s most popular islands, while staying away from Phuket’s over-crowded beaches and sex-themed everything.

Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

Thailand apparently has 1,430 Islands off its coasts, 154 of which lie in the Krabi province itself. We visited quite a few of them, spread over two days.

Day 1: The Sunset Tour

We booked this through our resort itself. Op, our Guide for the day, picked us up in a motorcycle taxi promptly at 12:30 pm for the short ride to Ao Nang Beach.

Tip: All Ferries / Speedboats / Long-tail boats depart for the different Island trips from Ao Nang Beach itself, so my advice would be to pick a hotel accordingly.

We boarded the colourful and quintessentially Thai long-tail boats, all set to explore some of the islands scattered about the sea. While other trips such as those to James Bond Island and Phi Phi Island rely on speedboats to cover the larger distances, the islands closer to shore are best experienced by long-tail. The ride is bumpy yet thrilling, prepare to be soaked.

Here’s a bit about all the islands, or Kohs we visited (the word for Island in Thai is Koh). Don’t forget to linger on the slide show at the end for some pictures of these beautiful islands.

Railay Beach: a peninsula surrounded by the sea and mountains, it is accessible only by boat because of all those limestone cliffs around. Most boats from Ao Nang will arrive at West Railay Beach, as ours did. The beach itself is pretty but crowded, with an abundance of restaurants and shops at the back. East Railay Beach is the mangrove side, so does not allow for much of swimming or sunbathing. Phra Nang Beach, a ten-minute walk from West Railay, is a lovely beach excellent for swimming, but very crowded. Part of what pulls the crowds in is the Phra Nang Cave, or Tham Phra Nang Nok, believed by local fisherman to be the home of a mythical sea princess. Inside the cave there’s an odd collection. Fishermen make offerings of flowers and incense for a safe journey, but strangely, the cave is full of many phallic symbols, as a blessing for fertility.

Koh Poda: A small limestone island no more than a kilometer in diameter, covered in palm trees and almost entirely encircled by a white sandy beach.

Koh Kai (Chicken Island): Also called Koh Hua Khawan or Koh Poda Nok, the cliff shaped like a rooster on the limestone mountain at Koh Kai is probably the most recognised Island around Krabi.

Koh Tub: Tub Island is also known as Tap or Thap Island, a tiny island with a nice beach, perfect for a bit of relaxation.

Koh Mor: Mor Island is a rocky beach, connected to Tub Island by a narrow sand bar. This sand bar gets covered during high tide, but at low tide, it becomes completely visible; allowing you to easily walk across. The tide was coming in by the time we visited, but we were still able to walk across through knee-deep water.

These four islands form part of Mu Koh Poda, or Poda Group of Islands, the largest of which is Koh Poda. On the beach here we were served a barbeque dinner, also included in the Tour. The dinner was very simple, yet very tasty, consisting of chicken on skewers, fish (which our guide caught during the course of the day itself), prawns served on a bed of cabbage, accompanied by boiled rice.

Koh Si: This Island is a popular location known for some excellent snorkeling opportunities. The snorkel masks were provided to us, as is usually the case with all Island Tours in the area. I did not enjoy the snorkeling on this day at all. But more on that later.

Koh Talu & Koh Mae Urai are basically some beautiful caves and places to swim through, with an abundant amount of colourful life under water.

Swimming with Glowing Plankton: This was probably the highlight of the day for me. Post dinner, we were back on the boat, under the impression that we were heading back to Ao Nang to call it a day. But somewhere in the middle of the ocean, the long-tail boat stopped, and we were told to jump into the water. It was pitch dark, there was no source of light on the boat either. All possible worst-case-scenarios popped into my head. But what we experienced on jumping into the water was a burst of light. Tiny streaks of white igniting with our every move. This is what bioluminescent snorkelling is all about: the plankton produces light within their bodies due to a chemical reaction called chemiluminescence, resulting in a mesmerizing underwater light show. We thrashed around the water for a while, before heading back.

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Stay tuned, the next post is all about Day 2 of our Andaman Island Hopping; to the Phi Phi Islands this time.

So, where are you off to today?

3 comments on “Island Hopping off the west coast of Thailand (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: Island Hopping off the west coast of Thailand (Part 2) | Life On My Plate

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