Tuesday 24 October 2006 – Koh Phi Phi Don, Krabi Province, Thailand
In lieu of staggering out to the restaurant for a buffet breakfast, as in Phuket, I stopped at one of the many places doing ‘Thai’ pancakes – a sort of roti made on the spot, offered with a variety of pretty unappetising fillings (principally Nutella and/or pineapple). A cheese and egg version took the edge off, for 20 Baht.
Around 50 people turned up for the snorkelling day trip, a mix of Israelis and Europeans with a few Brits and a couple of other Aussies. The island seems to attract this sort of mix – a lot of Scandinavians and – for some reason – Israelis, with several restaurants spruiking their ‘Israeli’ food menus, charging what seems well over the odds for hummus.
The boat had plenty of room for this number. First stop was Maya Bay on Phi Phi Le – famous as the location for the movie ‘The Beach’ – a lovely inlet on this small but very mountainous island. However below the water, it appeared quite badly degraded, with a lot of dead and broken coral. There were fish, but mostly small ones. The boat also offered canoes, so I paddled into ‘The Beach’, which was very nice, but crowded with speedboats, longtails and other bigger tour boats.
Next stop was ‘Shark Point’, off the end of the ‘long beach’ on Ton Sai Bay. No sharks, but much better corals and fish. We then cruised around the east side of Phi Phi Don to ‘Bamboo Island’, a picture-perfect coral island to the north east. Here, the reef had been cordoned off to keep boats out, so I snorkeled in. Fantastic snorkelling, despite a strong current. Fish of fantastic variety and colours, fat sea slugs sitting on the sand, and wonderful corals.
A monsoon on the horizon to the north east appeared to be heading our way – it hit Bamboo Island shortly after our departure – but for the time being we were OK. ‘Monkey’ Beach (like Shark Point I didn’t notice any monkeys), but the best snorkelling yet. Huge coral formations just under the surface, and fantastic sea life – all in the shade and without a strong current. Just as we left the cove, a large sailing ketch with some tourists, apparently on a sailing tour of the area, arrived – that would be the way to see this area!
The tour had the option of returning to Ton Sai at about 4.30pm or staying on to view the sunset. I opted for the former, which turned out to be prescient as no sooner had we arrived back than the skies opened.
Dinner at a touristy but OK place in the ‘casbah’ of Ton Sai. I decided to do the longtail boat snorkelling tour tomorrow, so purchased a waterproof bag such as we’d used in the seacave kayaking tour.