Inside the caves
More of Deanne Scott's pictures follow the review.
What a joyful, fascinating day out this proved to be as we toured to several locations in Phang Nga Bay, which is part of Ao Phang Nga National Park on the Viators organised tour. It was also a photographer’s dream trip with majestic cliffs, dark caves, secret lagoons, sea eagles, macaque monkeys, and even a magnificent sunset. It was a full day of new and exciting experiences and gets my full recommendation.
My wife and I were picked up from the hotel on time and taken across Phuket Island to the dockside where the motor boat was awaiting us and the rest of the guests. The boat was roomy and with a great sundeck area. The sea was flat calm and the ride smooth.
The scenery was beautiful with clear turquoise water lots of “floating” island, seabirds, and flying fish.
After a pleasant light lunch on board it came time to “hop” into a canoe as the guides put it and go off exploring. Actually it was no problem at all sliding into the kayak, which seated two and our guide, Noy, who did all the paddling.
Be warned though, it is not too comfortable sitting with no back rest. We solved my problem easily though; we stowed a life jacket behind me, which made life a lot easier.
But it was worth the little discomfort as we approached the magnific soaring limestone cliffs of the islands. The area is hauntingly beautiful and the sea caves magical. The entrances to some of them were so low we had to lie flat in the kayak and watch the barnacles on the roof float by just above nose height. Obviously we were there at low tide for the entrances were all covered by the sea at high tide.
I thought I might experience a bit of claustrophobia in the confined space, but Noy kept up cheerful chatter as we slid through and the time we spent in the confined space was short. Then the roof became high and we sat up as we entered the huge cliff-ringed lagoon. It was eerily silent. That was where we saw the secretive macaque monkeys leaping from tree to tree.
We kayaked through larger caves including the Bat Cave where flocks of bats sat high among the strange formations of the stalactites. Then we emerged and found that the motorboat had disappeared. With a mock look of concern our guide set off paddling hard around the edge of the island where we saw the motorboat happily moored in a new spot. Pretend panic was over with a lot of laughs.
After seeing the sights it was back on board to watch the sunset from the water, and join in in a ceremony inspired by the Thai holiday Loi Kratong, named after the kratong, a small floating bowl made from banana leaves and decorated with flowers and candles. With the help of Noy we made one of your own, and then climbed back into the kayak to let it float on the water while we made a wish. This was magical enough but then we saw the fireflies in the sky and the luminous plankton in the water which glowed every time we ran our hands through the water. Back on board the engines started up and we settled in and ate from a buffet Thai dinner cooked on the boat by the crew, with fresh seafood and chicken.
Noy had another surprise for us – a pair of hammocks strung just off the deck, where we lay and watched the bright stars and the dusky Milky Way in comfort.
Two hours later we returned to a crowded pier and in a highly efficient operation we were on our way back to the hotel in a couple of minutes.
This tour is suitable for adults and children and includes all necessary equipment, lunch, dinner, and transportation. Cost is from $164 per person.
Dee and I get comfortable in the kayak
Right: Our kratong
Phang Nga Bay sunset.