“Why you go there? No tourists go there. Only one boat a day.”
Dave and I exchanged glances and I knew he was wondering if we were making the right decision.
We’d travelled to the Thai islands a month ago and I had expected so much more; Koh Chang, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta – I’d enjoyed my time on them but they weren’t the vision of paradise I’d held in my mind for so long.
After spending two weeks living on Koh Phi Phi and working for over 10 hours a day I needed a break. I didn’t want to look at my laptop any more, I didn’t want to write another word. I just wanted to leave my room and go outside.
I was burnt out and I needed a change of scenery.
I needed an island without internet.
I desperately wanted to spend a week away from the online world, getting away from tourists, spending every single day sunbathing on a beach and doing nothing. And it needed to be cheap.
Did such a place even exist anymore?
I spent a week researching and I found the island that I believed to match everything I needed:
Koh Yao Noi.
Information about the island was scarce. I could only find two websites with useful information, and they were years out of date. I struggled to find out how to get there, what was there and where to stay.
However, when I saw that there was little internet, very few tourists, secluded beaches and found a guesthouse website with this amazing view,
I had made my decision.
We were going to Koh Yao Noi.
From the second I had arrived, I couldn’t wipe the enormous grin off my face. How had I never heard of this place before?!
It was perfect. Absolutely my definition of paradise.
It had friendly locals.
The people of Koh Yao Noi were some of the friendliest I’ve come across in Thailand and that’s really saying something.
Walking around the island, it was not uncommon to see scooters parked up with the keys still in the ignition. It felt safe and like everyone was looking out for one another.
One day, I waiting by the side of the road while Dave dropped off his bag at the room and in the space of 10 minutes, I’d had around 10 locals pull up next to me on a scooter and ask if I needed a lift somewhere!
After staying in an amazing guesthouse on the island for almost two weeks, the lovely owner cooked us an enormous fish barbeque as a leaving present, and didn’t charge us a penny for it.
It had the perfect secluded beach.
Renting a scooter for the day, Dave and I were exploring the island when we came across a small wooden sign with the word “beach” scrawled across it in marker pen. It was pointing towards a tiny dirt track winding through the middle of a forest.
How could we not follow it?
It was just a few minutes later that most of the track had disappeared and we found ourselves swerving precariously around curves, urging the scooter over hills and attempting to dodge the branches and spider webs that blocked our path. Several times we considered turning around and heading back – surely we should have reached the beach after 20 minutes of riding? I desperately clung to Dave, convinced I was about to get thrown from the back of the scooter.
When we did eventually arrive at the beach though? We had it all to ourselves.
Stretching along the east coast of the island for what seemed like miles, there was not a single person in sight and it stayed that way for the three hours we remained there.
It had varied landscapes
With the east side of the island filled with deserted beaches, the west is all about the rice paddies and water buffalos. Exploring the west side of island by scooter, we passed through rubber plantations and fields lined with mangroves before reaching the mountains and rainforests in the centre of the island.
We even stopped off at a holy spring – the point on the island where freshwater pours into the sea, making it possible to drink from the ocean. Of course, when we went there the tide was out and I ended up drinking swamp water that had me terrified I was about to die for the next day.
There were actually things to do.
You’d imagine that being on such a quiet island would mean that there would be hardly anything to do, but it was actually the opposite!
One of the highlights was renting a kayak for the day and paddling out to Koh Nok, a tiny island about 2km from Koh Yao Noi. It took just over an hour to get there and the journey consisted of whimpering, crying and moaning as I battled the tides to get there. It was worth it though, as we got to spent the afternoon on our own private island.
Koh Yao Noi is located on the edge of Phang Nga National Park and we hired a longtail for the day to explore the amazing islands. Koh Hong, in particular, was incredible. The beach was immaculate, the sand felt like talcum powder under my feet and with very few people sharing the beach with us, it felt like I was in paradise.
The week I spent on Koh Yao Noi was one of my best in Thailand. The laid-back feeling of the island was incredibly contagious and I was finally able to go offline and really feel relaxed for the first time in months. I read books, I wandered down to the beach to sunbathe, I ate good food, I spent hours lying in the hammock on my balcony listening to the crickets.
Koh Yao Noi really is my Thai island paradise.