One of the things we wanted to do in Thailand was explore and relax on its beautiful islands and beaches. We are learning that some sights and adventures you read about in travel books are not up to the hype – but these islands were every bit as amazing as marketed.
Top on our list was Phi Phi Island (pronounced “Pee Pee” – guaranteed to make a ten year old boy happy all day). We read that there is nothing really to do there so you either love the beauty and seclusion or not. We opted for a speed boat ride that left from Phuket City, about a 45 minute van ride from Pa Tong Beach where we were staying. Lots of tourist signed up for this adventure and from the start the boat felt very crowded (half Chinese). The staff of the tour company worked to make you feel comfortable by explaining the day and passing around snacks and drinks (and Dramamine tablets thankfully).
From Phuket City (Royal Marina) the first stop, a snorkeling area off the coast of Bamboo Island, was about an hour away. We were given 35 minutes to snorkel. At first I thought there was no way 35 minutes would be enough time. The water was absolutely beautiful. The water was clear, clean, blue-green, and the perfect temperature. We may have been spoiled after Fiji and Australia; there were disappointingly only a few fish swimming around. But floating in the beautiful water was the fun part. What we saw with a snorkel and mask was just “ok”.
Next, we went to Bamboo Island. If there is a perfect island with a perfect beach and perfect water, this is it. We walked along the beach and swam in the water. It was amazing.
Our next stop was Phi Phi Island where we ate a buffet lunch with the other tourists. The stop gave Kate and I a chance to pick up some cute bracelets and postcards. The whole beach was like a postcard. A girl we met said that it rocks (like a mini-Vegas she said, which is hard to believe but we get the point of it coming alive later at night) once all the tour boats leave for the day. When we return we will make a point of staying on Phi Phi for a couple of nights to check it out.
Monkey Bay was schedule as a” float past”, not a stop. We were told the monkeys here swim in the water and catch fish to eat. They told us our tour boat would get close enough to see the monkeys but if a monkey jumped on our boat we shouldn’t touch it (I suppose someone needs this advice but I think it would have been better to advise us to not abandon ship). We were happy the nearest monkey decided to jump on a neighboring tour boat. We had a great view of the monkey walking by the people and then a few seconds later, as if planned by script, the monkey jumped off the boat, into the water and swam to the trees.
Our last two spots were swimming spots. The first was the smaller of the two islands that make up Phi Phi islands. Everyone who wanted to go swimming went by jumping in the water from the front of the boat. The kids just loved this (Alan too). It is like being lost in a movie scene (this is where The Beach was filmed) – there is no real beach but the salty warm clear water surrounds you and you just float looking around at these spectacular jungle covered rocks.
The next spot was Maya Bay, Krabi. It had a perfect white sandy beach and walking in the sand almost felt like walking in firm flour. The water again was perfect for swimming.
John says: The boat had 3 motors and we were packed in like sardines. We got unlimited Pepsi. I thought the boat was super fun. The three motors went really fast. The boat bounced up and down really fast. I saw a bunch of colorful fish. The water was warm and clear. I loved floating around and jumping off the boat. I thought it was really funny when the monkey jumped in the water off the other boat and started to swim.
Kate says: It was great that our guide spoke good english. The best part was just floating in the beautiful water. There was no current so you could just sit there and relax. I liked going to the first snorkeling spot but then everything was wet after that. The monkey was cool but I’m glad I didn’t know the story about a girl getting bitten by a monkey until after we saw another boat with the monkey on it. My favorite place was probably where we got to jump in the water off the front of the boat – there were very few people there but I also liked the last stop for swimming but there were tons of tourists there.
Alan says: I loved the trip but it wasn’t really a snorkeling trip. They just got us in the water one time and they didn’t have a range of masks and equipment to use. There were a few colorful fish around and a bit of coral but nothing amazing really. It became pretty clear early on that this was more about enjoying the beaches than anything else. Which was fine for us, but might disappoint others.
We highly recommend coordinating tours and activities through TripToPhuket.com. We actually got to meet Mr. Not, his lovely wife Julia (from Vancouver Island, Canada) and their wonderful daughter Araya. Their focus on service and making sure their guest have a wonderful time made using them an easy choice. Time and again they went beyond ordinary service for us.
It would be a shame to have come to Thailand and not have seen these islands and beaches. We just touched a few and look forward to returning for many more days just like this one.
If you Go:
We booked through Trip to Phuket – Mr. Not. http://www.triptophuket.com
Our day trip was – http://www.triptophuket.com/tour_detail.php?id=29
And cost $238 for two adults and two kids. It included a wonderful lunch buffet, transport from hotel, water and soft drinks and a variety of snacks.