With engines in full throttle, our wooden Thai long-tail boat parted the aquamarine waters of the Andaman Sea, our destination, a vague menagerie of islands and snorkeling spots that I failed to grasp when it was relayed to me. It really didn’t matter, as long as we’re at sea, I’m totally good.
|ISLAND HOPPING AT KRABI|
From the horizon, we can see the outline of massive stone karsts jutting out from the sea like humps of a sea creature totally alien to us. Our boat moved closer and our jaw dropped in awe. The rocks soared, higher than I have imagined them to be, lush green vegetation and dry ones in golden hues interspersed across its dark craggy face, the morning light adding poetry to their splendor.
|GEORGEOUS ROCK FORMATIONS|
We never really intended to go island hopping in Krabi. Holed up at the Holiday Inn Resort in Ao Nang, it was so easy so simply waste our day lazing around the pool and eating hawker food at the nearby market, especially after the madness of the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan.
|A TYPICAL LONG-TAIL BOAT PLYING THE WATERS OF THE ANDAMAN SEA|
But by chance, we tried asking how much the tour would be around the waters of Ao Nang on a random tour operater at Ao Nang’s night market. We were floored at how cheap it was! Priced at THB1,700.00 for Krabi’s popular Four-Island Tour, it is quite a steal considering that we were eight in the group! Divided into each one, that’s just PHP300.00, or almost equal to a bucket of Red Horse in a bar!
So the next morning found as at the shore of Ao Nang Beach, trying hard not to dump our camera bags on the choppy waters of the shore and struggling to haul our asses up the long-tail boat. We specifically asked for the Thai traditional boat to use for the tour, since not only does it look legit, but it is also way cheaper than the usual speedboat, lol.
There were hardly any clouds above as we scudded across the waters of Ao Nang. The water is a bit choppy, but we were quite comfortable inside our wooden boat. About half an hour into the ride, we stopped near an island, not quite docking on land. Swim, our boat captain said, flailing his arms, showing us how to swim.
|SNORKELING WITH SEARGENT MAJOR FISHES|
And so we donned our snorkels (we brought our own, but they have one just in case you prefer sucking on a million-times-kissed snorkels) and jumped into the green waters. A massive school of seargent major fishes immediately swarmed on us as we did, lightly biting, looking for scraps of bread to feed on. Apparently, these fishes are so used to being fed that they follow humans whenever they see them.
|CHASED BY SEARGENT MAJORS|
Escaping from the hordes of silver and yellows, I circled around our boat and found the seabed to be replete with hard corals. Visibility was a tad on the low side though, so I went back and swam with the fishes before boarding our boat.
|KOH PODA, SWARMED WITH TOURISTS|
|LOVELY HUES OF GREENS AND GOLD|
Our tour, consists of four islands along Krabi’s waters; Koh Poda, Koh Hua Gwan, Koh Tub and Koh Mor. We didn’t land on any of these islands at all. We specifically told our boatman that we really weren’t interested in docking on islands which imposes entrance fees. And it seems all these have entrance fees! Darn.
|KOH HUA GWAN OR CHICKEN ISLAND TO THE TOURISTS|
It really was okay, since we saw hordes of tourists on each one except Koh Hua Gwan or more popularly know as the Chicken Island. Well, there really was no way to dock on the said island, as it’s more of a rocky outcrop with one of its spires looking like a chicken head.
|GIANT CLAMS AMONGST HARD CORALS|
|SOFT CORALS, NO NEMO|
What we did here was anchor on its western coast and jumped. Water clarity is way better at this area and it seems the corals are much healthier. We saw a lot of giant clams, interspersed with both hard and soft corals. It was our tummies that told us to board our boat back.
|MASSIVE ROCK FORMATIONS ALONG THE BAY|
Since we skipped the other three islands, we headed straight to the Phra Nang Cave Beach. It’s really not an island and it is connected to the mainland, only thing was, it really can’t be accessed by motorized vehicles so most of those who come here arrive by boat.
|LONG-TAIL BOATS DOCKED AT PHRA NANG CAVE BEACH|
|A DEFINITE FAVORITE FOR TOURISTS|
The beach, as expected, was packed with tourists. Unending lines of long-tail boats and speedboats were docked on the shore. We grabbed our packs and brought everything down to the beach, we’re gonna be staying here until the late afternoon.
The good thing about Phra Nang Cave Beach is that there are a lot of trees along the shoreline. So, picking a shaded area, we laid our beach blankets and proceeded with our own packed lunch. The tour doesn’t offer free meals, but we just came from a massive breakfast buffet, so...
|KOH RANG NOK OR BIRD NEST ISLAND, JUST A SWIM AWAY FROM PHRA NANG BEACH|
I saw a lot of tourists swimming to the neaby Koh Rang Nok or Bird Nest Island, a huge karsts with one of its sides seemingly broken off. So while my buddies went off for the viewing deck atop one of the cliffs in the area, I set off with them backpackers to the islet in front of the beach. It can be easily reached, I suppose, but the water, although emerald green, was too murky for my taste. Filipinos are indeed quite spoiled when it comes to fine beaches.
|OFF TO PHRA NANG BEACH’S CAVE|
Drying off on our basecamp, I turned to the eastern corner of the beach and was surprised to find a cave full of cocks. Yup, cocks, and not the crowing kind.
|PHRA NANG’S PHALLUS CAVE|
It turns out that Phra Nang Cave Beach, as its name suggested has a cave. Lol. And inside it are tons of wooden phalluses offered by the fisherfolks to Siwaleung or Palad Khik, the symbolic Phallus of Shiva. The offerings, from tiny 5-inch ones to massive 5-foot long penises, are made for safe journeys and bountiful harvests, but it is also believed that the cave helps with fertility. Those beliefs aside, you can just imagine how popular this cave is for naughty tourists.
|PATHWAY TO THE VIEWING DECK|
|LONG-TAILED MACAQUE MONKEYS PROWL THE GROUNDS|
Going back, I saw a path leading to the side of the cliff. Thinking it was a shortcut, I followed it through, passing numerous long-tailed macaque monkeys along the way. With the warnings from Batu Caves still fresh in my mind, I made sure I was holding my cameras quite securely.
|THE HIKE TO THE LAGOON AND VIEWING DECK|
About five minutes into the path, I met a group of gals in their two-piece get ups all muddy and sweaty. Apparently, this was where my friends went to. They said there’s a viewing deck above and also a serene lagoon right on top. But, as their muddied bottoms revealed, the way up was quite hard, and the way down even harder. There’s no freakin’ way I’m climbing up those slippery rocks, heck, I can’t even see a trail up that cliff!
Look what we found on that spontaneous rock climbing to the viewpoint and this lagoon during our island hopping. #BeachHopAsia2016 elaljanelasola.com #travel #wonderful_places #liveoutdoors #fantastic_earth #wonderlust #lifewelltravelled #igersph #travelawesome #bestvacations #ourplanetdaily #travelstoke #awesomeearth #exploretocreate #wildernessculture #natgeotravel #theglobewanderer #doyoutravel #traveldeeper #letsgoeverywhere #welivetoexplore @worlderlust @cntraveler @natgeoyourshot @discoverearth @awesome.earth @awesome.pix @earth.discoveries #rockformations #swimsuit #thailand #krabi #railay #lagoon #rockclimbing #phranang
So lazy me went back to my even lazier buddies who slept through all that. I woke them up as I arrived with cold cans of Change beer from the long-tail boats cum restaurants right in front of our base camp. Our more adventurous friends arrived after more than an hour later, cursing and laughing at how hard the climb was. We asked if it was worth it. They cursed some more.
|SHEER ROCK WALLS ALONG RAILEY BEACH|
Before going back to Ao Nang, our boat passed by Railey Beach, we initially planned on spending an hour or so here, but our adventurous trekker friends were just too doggone tired. It was quite a shame since the place is very scenic with its white beach surrounded by lush towering karts. We made do with photo ops from the prow of our boat, taking multiple portraits of each one, and finally a group hug taken by our captain.
Our island tour around Krabi actually surprised me. I knew this place is beautiful, even for Filipino beach-snobs like us, but I never realized how much more beautiful it really was in real life. With its gleaming emerald waters, soaring rock cliffs, fine white beaches and teeming underwater life, it is actually spectacularly stunning.
Krabi Four Island Tour
Address: Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand
Rates: for the whole day
Koh Poda GPS Map: 7.971960, 98.809545
Koh Hua Gwan GPS Map: 7.954226, 98.806966
Koh Tub GPS Map: 7.958997, 98.810220
Koh Mor GPS Map: 7.960953, 98.809931
Phra Nang Beach GPS Map: 8.005914, 98.837624
Railey Beach GPS Map: 8.011883, 98.837548