Islands & Diving - Magic of South Thailand
If you find yourself as I did with two months of vacation time, you might consider island hoping around the islands of South Thailand.
On arrival day in Thailand I transited right through Bangkok and immediately head to Krabi by air. The whitest of sands is contrasted by the deepest of blues of the adjacent waters and the most intense shades of green of the forested cliffs. When not enjoying a dip in the salted sea, days were spent floating in natural pools filled with fresh spring water. Krabi also boasts an active nightly market providing a place for a youthful social scene. A side trip to nearby Tiger Cave Temple is a worthwhile venture. The cave and its Buddhist sculptures are located at the top of a mountain reached after an invigorating hike up 1,237 steps.
Boats depart frequently from the Krabi pier to take you to the islands of the Andaman Sea. Koh Phi Phi is located 1.5 hours away on a ride that meanders among limestone pinnacles. To reach the nicest of the islands beaches, one can board a longtail boat. Ours took us to Long Beach where the beach was jaw droppingly beautiful, the locals amazingly welcome, and the food so delicious that I continue to miss it each day. Long Beach became my home for 28 days, enough time to take an Open Water Scuba Diving course and then get certified as an Advanced Open Water diver. Every time we went out diving, it seemed more beautiful than the last. The diversity of marine life was astonishing, and the colours so vivid.
Other Andaman Island visited were Koh Lanta which provided a nice area to unwind. The island has an organization called the Lanta Animal Welfare. Health rehabilitation and adoption are the goals of the organization. There are several notable dive sites off Koh Lanta including two of my most memorable dives at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. Daeng translates as red and Muang - purple, named for the different colours of soft corals found on each reef. If you are lucky, which we were, you can dive with Manta Rays.
Other vacation islands lie off the east Coast of Thailand. They are accessed from the town of Suratthani where you embark on a boat to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan or Koh Tao. While the latter two are certainly relaxing and scenic, Koh Samui was my personal favourite. I found beautiful waterfalls (Hin Lat) on one of my day hikes. I would recommend bringing a picnic lunch and spending an entire day there. Koh Samui also has a robust night market with a bounty of clothes and crafts and live music.
Many travellers spend their time on Koh Phangan, especially during each month’s full moon party. At other times is it less visited. Koh Tao, the smallest of the three islands is famous for its bargain priced accommodation, food and scuba diving – perhaps the best bargain in South East Asia.
Despite having two months, I left feeling that I had insufficient time to explore these idyllic islands.