The tourism industry in Thailand is very well-organised for providing hosted tours for visitors, and on our third day in Krabi we took one of the most common: the “four islands” tour. We were collected from our hotel in Ao Nam Mao at 8 am and taken to Nopparat Thara Beach at Ao Nang where the tour was to begin.
After an introduction from the lead tour guide, about twenty of us plus half a dozen guides boarded a motorboat. We were an eclectic group, made up of Japanese, Indian, ourselves, and a surprising number of Thais on holiday from Bangkok. We chatted with one such couple and learned that their trip was part holiday and part annual return to the husband’s parents’ town for the Thai New Year, which was a few days away.
Our first stop was Phra Nang Beach, or Princess Beach. The beach includes a cave famous for being home to a mythical sea princess, and some locals make fertility offerings to a shrine in the cave.
After marvelling at the crystal clear water and stunning limestone cliffs and islands, we headed to our next stop: Koh Tup. Here we were able to walk, Moses-like, through the ocean between two islands, and Pei Pei has reminded me that this can only be done for a few days before and after the full moon each month, so we were fortunate in our timing.
As our boat left Poda Island we could see that the second island we had walked (waded) to was Koh Gai, or Chicken Island – see if you can guess why! We were then taken to a quiet, rocky spot for snorkelling, and the amazing experience of floating among the brilliantly-coloured tropical fish, coral, anemones and what looked like giant clams.
The final stop was Poda Island, for lunch and to enjoy the pristine white beach and water. Just by wading a few metres into the water you could be surrounded by fish, which seem particularly attracted to hands!
Even though this was one of the most basic tours offered, and we were shuttled from location to location on a schedule, I have never enjoyed a beach trip so much – and when an Australian says that, you know it must be special!