Working on Koh Phi Phi for two weeks had both Dave and I exhausted and desperate for a break from our productive yet soul-destroying work routine. After deciding that we needed a digital detox and to spend a week offline on a beach, we set about trying to find the perfect island.
A few searches for “Thailand paradise” brought up the island Koh Hong repeatedly and it looked absolutely stunning. However, being protected by National Park status meant that we would be unable to stay there.
I had to keep looking.
I eventually decided on Koh Yao Noi and it was only once we arrived that I realised boat tours frequently run from the island out to Phang Nga National Park, where Koh Hong is located.
It was fate!
We hired a longtail for the day and set off to explore the National Park.
Hundreds of boat tours run to Phang Nga Bay every day from Krabi and so this collection of 42 islands can get busy extremely quickly. Koh Hong was no exception, despite the 200 baht entrance fee warding off a few people.
Wanting to avoid the crowds, we set off to Koh Hong first, which was absolutely the right decision. We were the only people there when we arrived at 8am!
And why was I so desperate to visit Koh Hong? Because from above it looks like this!
And here’s how it looked from ground level while we were there.
I’ve used the word paradise a lot recently while talking about the Thai islands but it’s the only word that can accurately describe Koh Hong. With some of the softest white sand I’ve ever set foot on and transparent emerald-green water, having the island all to ourselves was an incredible experience.
Within just a few hours, the hoards of tour groups were passing through and our private island suddenly became a little too crowded. We jumped back into the longtail to explore the rest of the island.
On the opposite site to the beach, we discovered a hidden lagoon surrounded by striking limestone rock formations. Easing through a tiny gap in the rocks we emerged into a circular pool of water that was full of colourful tropical fish.
We couldn’t stay for too long – our stomachs were rumbling and we had to find somewhere to have lunch!
We raced past beautiful beach after beautiful beach, each one filled with hundreds of Koreans on tour. Eventually we found our perfect lunchtime spot – a beach with just enough room for the two of us.
Having lived in England my whole life, the only fish I’ve encountered are limited to the goldfish I won at my school fair that we had to keep in the kitchen sink for weeks because I didn’t want to buy a fish tank, and the scary grey beasts that lurk at the bottom of the River Thames.
So when I was half-way through my lunch and saw one of our drivers squeal excitedly and leap into the water with snorkel in hand, I knew that it wouldn’t be long until I was jumping in there too.
These fish were amazing!
They were so colourful and so pretty. They were nothing like fish that I’m used to seeing back home. And although I couldn’t figure out how to work my snorkel and spent half the time inhaling water into my lungs, it was still so exciting!
I really need to work up the courage to go diving…
My fish-induced hysteria had me exhausted after just a few minutes and Dave had to work quickly to get me back into the longtail through fear that I might end up collapsing with joy and drowning.
The rest of my afternoon was spent calming down on a small sandbar we discovered and glaring furiously at anybody who dared to join us and shatter the illusion of owning a private island.
We didn’t have to glare for long as the darkening of the sky and rumble of thunder in the distance alerted us to the fact that our tour was now over and it was time to race the storm back to Koh Yao Noi.
We made it back just in time and the rest of our afternoon was spent lying in our hammocks and trying not to get blown across the balcony by the storm.
Cruising around Phang Nga Bay was one of the highlights of my time in Koh Yao Noi. I got to see some truly beautiful and, more importantly, unspoiled islands that I was unaware even existed in Thailand anymore.
If you ever find yourself anywhere near Phang Nga Bay (there are plenty of cheap flights to Phuket available at this time of year) then I highly recommend paying the money to rent a boat and go exploring for the day. It’s definitely worth it.
[Image via: Postcard Exchange]