Saturday, July 27, 2013

Phi Phi Islands Tour - Speedboat to Phi Phi & Koh Kai

For my second trip to Phi Phi in just over a week I thought I really might have a problem with the weather, there had been rain and strong winds the day before and on arrival at Port Island Hopper on Koh Siray I was told there were 2 metre waves. Fortunately that didn't turn out to be the case and though there was a little bit of swell it was actually a fairly flat day.

The day started with the pick up and transfer into and through Phuket town and over the short bridge on to Koh Siray on Phuket east coast and then a short drive to Port Island Hopper, the tour operators private jetty. When we arrived we were checked of on a list and given a coloured sticker indicating which tour we were on, and then were were shown where we could get fresh coffee.

PP Gold - guide
Route Planning
After all the mini-vans had arrived all those for the Phi Phi and Koh Kai tour were called over to map hanging on the wall and our guide explained the order of the day, as the waves were expected to get bigger as the day went on we would be going to Phi Phi first followed by a late lunch on Koh Yao before finishing the day on Koh Kai.

Then off we trooped along the Plastic floating jetty, as there were almost 30 people on the tour we had been assigned to their largest boat which is able to take 45 people and has three large engine, this means we had plenty of space on the boat.
PP Gold - Boat
Our Chariot for the day

The 40 minute ride was suddenly eventful when one of the customers fainted, the guide and one of the other guests, who it turns out is a trainee nurse, were very quickly on the spot and the problem was solved, after a few minutes checking whether he was OK to continue the tour we found out he had been ill for a few days and was dehydrated, so with a bottle of water and some fruit he declared himself fit to continue.

PP Gold - Bamboo
Bamboo Island
Due to this incident the tour guide, very wisely, altered our itinerary slightly visiting Bamboo Island so that those that needed to could have a 45 minute rest on the beach.  Bamboo island is a small island with a very wide beach, inland is an area of rain forest which has a small campsite and restaurant.
Back out the beach a number of people were in the water snorkelling and raving about the numbers of fish.

Fairly soon it was time to get back onto the speedboat and head to Mosquito Island, the boat moored just of the beach and the water here was very shallow and crystal clear.  Back at the port before we left fish food had been offered for sale and many people were now using this to attract the Sergeant Majors and Rabbit fish, them one of the boat crew started throwing in banana to add to the chaos.  all the time the boat's videographer was taking shots of everybody being mobbed by the fish.

Next stop was around on the south side of Phi Phi Don, Monkey Beach. As the tide was high there was
PP Gold - Monkey Beach
Long-tailed Macaques
very little of the beach there but the trees around it were lined with the longtail macaques which give the beach it's name.  It is said  that the ancestors of these monkeys were taken to Phi Phi to work picking coconuts and that when tourism started and the coconut plantations closed the monkeys were released and have become wild, personally I'm not sure if this is true as normally short tailed macaques are used for coconut harvesting - but who knows?

From Monkey beach we headed south over a stretch of open water to Phi Phi Lae, once we had reached the Island we started touring around the east side visiting Viking Cave, Pi Le Cove and Losamah bay before coming around the southern tip and back up the west side and into Maya bay.  The boat pulled up onto Maya Beach, we were quite lucky, there were only 5 other boats on the beach - virtually empty compared to a high season day.
PP Gold - Maya Beach
A surprisingly empty Maya bay
Once on the beach we had an hour to relax, go swimming or explore.
Last time I had been on Maya beach at was almost 10 years previously, at that time there was nothing on the island, now there is a visitors centre and a park rangers camp as well as a toilet block and a restaurant.  Before the only way to the other side was a small hole in a rock wall that led through to Losamah bay, now a walkway has been  built leading to a set of steps which you can climb onto from the water of Losamah bay, this way you can get onto the Island in all weather.


PP Gold - Maya stepsPP Gold - Maya Losamah steps
Steps leading from Maya bay into Losamah bay

After a bit of time lounging on the beach it was time to head back towards Phuket and stop at Koh Yao for lunch. It was another 40 minute ride and the sea was starting to get a little bit rougher, nothing too bad but a few people were making use of the free plastic bags.

PP Gold - Lunch
Classic Thai lunch
We pulled onto the empty beach on Koh Yao and headed to the private restaurant for our meal. The menu today was sweet and sour chicken, Green Curry, Tom yam gung, chicken and seafood kebabs and stir fried vegetables with rice and noodles.

After having plenty of time to let the food go down and enjoy the view we headed to our last stop at Koh Kai Nok, by this time everybody was quite tired so most people just settled into a beach chair and relaxed, a few  people ventured into the water for some more snorkelling.  The guide told us this island was given it's name because from above it looks like a fried egg (the island is a large rock covered in rain forest surrounded by a wide beach). After about 30 minutes we reboarded the speedboat for the last time and headed back to Phuket, in about ten minutes we were back at the jetty and into the mini-vans for our ride home.

This Phi Phi Speedboat trip is a fun and active day out getting close to all the sights, great in calm seas but only go in rough weather if you have a strong stomach.

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