Known for: Koh Phi Phi and surrounding islands Monkey Beach Scuba Diving Maya Bay James Bond island No motorised vehicles Partying
Coves of white sand beaches and translucent turquoise ocean are dotted around the Krabi providence and are known as some of the most idillic beaches in the world.
As the boat approached the bustling dock of Phi Phi island, my stomach sunk. Reckless partiers had carelessly flung Chang’s half way down the beach and blaring pop music streamed out of boom boxes. It was safe to say my first impressions weren’t all rosy. However after crossing to explore the opposite side of the island, it was a different story. It was quiet, the sand was pristine, and a great sense of calmness washed over us, manifesting in a sigh of relief. This is why sustainable travel is so important, and how vital it is that we uphold a respectful standard as travellers.
Koh Phi Phi took a while to grow on me, but once I fell in love with the place, I didn’t want to leave.
WHAT TO DO
1. Catch your bearings with a sunset boat cruise around the islands off Phi Phi. For only $30 NZD pp we boarded the boat at noon and travelled to Monkey Bay, Vikings Cave and Maya Bay. You’ll have the option to visit the bay for $30 or go snorkelling instead (we opted for the latter). Once the sun dipped behind the hills we enjoyed fried rice for dinner, followed by the most magical part of the trip, swimming with plankton by moonlight. The skipper dimmed the boat as we plunged into the warm bath water and swished our limbs through glowing sea-life.
Travel tip: All the boat trips on the island are the same price company to company by rule so don’t bother about trying to shop around.
2. Book in a snorkelling trip as Phi Phi is a protected marine reserve where no commercial fishing, trawling or bleaching is allowed. The experience is beautiful, coral is protected and the fish population is thriving. We even saw black tip reef sharks, moray eels and turtles.
3. Get off the island and visit Tonsai and Railay beaches. If you’re after a bit of R&R away from the party scene, visiting the secluded neighbouring islands for an off the beaten track adventure.
4. Take a long boat round the corner to Ao Nang, for a nice lunch and wander through the cute shops. We found some cute vegetarian restaurants run by Aussies.
5. At any given chance, go kayaking. Look up and the sun is shining across the bright blue sky, look out at the monumentous cliffs hanging over the ocean, look down through the turquoise ocean and see the white sand below your canoe. Need I say more?
6. Learn to dive. If you’re game and have the funds saved up, it’s an incredible experience of a lifetime. Just make sure the place you choose to book with is safe and reputable by checking Trip Advisor. Also ensure you have a good relationship with your dive master as you’ll be spending the day with them and they will essentially have your life in their hands, literally. They will initially hold your tanks as you get the hang of equalising, but of course David & I were zooming off in different directions like dogs on a leash. A big thank you to the lovely Karli Drinkwater from Aquanauts for putting up with us!
WHERE TO STAY
You’ve got to be prepared to rough it a little on Phi Phi as places book out fast depending on the season. We didn’t take the luxury hotel option this time round, but instead found a couple of cute hostels. I would recommend Sunset Hill because it was far enough away from the party scene. We spent another night in the centre and I kid you not, our whole room rattled the entire night from the parties below. Lesson learned.
WHERE TO EAT
Amico Resto: We stumbled upon this place on the main drag of shops and it was delicious. My best tip when it comes to choosing an eatery overseas, is to pick the busiest one off-peak. If it’s good enough to be busy throughout the day, you know you’re onto a local gem. We ordered a Red Curry with spring rolls and a Pad Thai, all were super tasty and served piping hot.
Cafe 8.98: Located in the heart of Ao Nang, Cafe 8.98 is on the pricier end of the brunching spectrum, but you’re guaranteed some tasty kai whether you’re after a bircher with fresh cut fruit or bowl of greens with poached eggs.
WHAT TO WEAR
Live in your swimwear, throw on an oversized shirt and buy yourself a cute sarong. The sun is extra vicious on boat trips, so it’s best to go prepared. When everyone is as red as beetroots after snorkelling, you’ll be glad you covered up!