I’ve come to find out that I really, really enjoy spending time on a boat. Island hopping around Phang Nga Bay was the highlight of my most recent trip to Thailand. We spent a couple of our days island hopping in the area, but one day in particular certainly stood out for me. It’s a day that I could relive over and over again. Yes, it was that close to perfect.
The beautiful, traditional, long-tail boat waited for us at a nearby port. We hopped onboard and we were off to explore the unique beaches in the bay. Chaya the resort manager explained that she was taking us to a place that the Thai people called “the room.” She didn’t give much away and I’m so glad that she didn’t, because it was such a fabulous surprise once we were there. Before we reached it, we passed by these beautiful limestone stalactite formations, coming out of the cliffside. The boat slowed and we idled into a cave, above us were the great, big pieces of stone. It was quiet, everyone stared up at these masses of rock.
The boat sped on. Soon we saw a narrow opening between two walls of cliffs and the boat turned in that direction. All of us got to our feet, anxious to see this room we’ve been hearing about.
I’m pretty sure the first thing that came out of my mouth was “WHAT?!!” We sailed into the room, where walls of cliffs fully surrounded this stunning pool of water. What really surprised me was how shallow the water was inside this area. We took the kayaks off of the boat and the others jumped off to have a walk around. My travel buddy (mom) and I paddled around the rim of the room, noticing that the water was only waist deep everywhere that we went, never deeper. Both of us were surprised we had this area all to ourselves. This kind of day trip is certainly kid friendly. I know my niece and nephew would just go crazy exploring these “secret” coves, in the bath-like, calm waters. Thailand is a destination that the whole family would enjoy. Perfect for multi generation trips if you ask me!
After taking the photo of the starfish, I looked up and couldn’t believe how beautiful of a shot the entryway to the room was (below). With those tiny islands dotting the background of the scene, the tranquil water and not another boat in sight, I swore I’d remember this day for the rest of my life.
We stopped in front of another beach, only one other boat was anchored there, two people snorkeling in the crystal blue, clear water. I had just mentioned to my mom that I was anxious to see some marine life and wondered what type of fish they had in this region. My mom had the ladder over the side of the boat as soon as we stopped and she was back in the water. Little did she know she wasn’t alone- all sorts of different schools of fish swam around her. I couldn’t believe my eyes! The water was so clear, I was watching fish swim in around the boat, from all different directions.
Our next stop was for lunch. Which was another pleasant surprise. We were back on the boat, headed to another island. We saw three boats anchored on another beach, but not a soul was at the one we were pulling up to. The ANI team said they packed a picnic, but as we had come to find out day after day, they don’t do anything simple. A picnic to you and I may mean a cheese plate, some snacks and don’t forget the wine! Of course the ANI team also didn’t forget for our little rendezvous. Ice cold rose was pulled from a cooler, as well as go-vino plastic wine glasses. I think I high fived myself when I saw this. (I do that some times…)
Lunch wasn’t a picnic in my opinion. Though I’m sure chef Yao from the villa would argue that it’s very casual and simple. Tae, Nu, Narin, Berb and the team quickly set up these adorable wooden tables and mats for us to sit on in the sand. Place settings, all of the the glorious food, individual sauces were set out, our wine glasses filled and we were happily saying cheers to one another in the shade of the tree, looking out at the bay.
Why does swimming and being in the water make you feel so hungry? We ate until our bathing suits began to talk back and then rolled into the water to float in the cool water. I am far from being the cool, stylish girl, but I sure wish for this trip I had found myself a great beach hat. Something I could have taken into the water with me. Next time!
Our last stop for the day was the monkey island. Which the staff had told me about and I basically insisted that we stop the boat there. I didn’t know there would be THAT many monkeys. Some off the ANI team tossed a bit of fruit into the water and the monkeys were already jumping into the water when they saw our boat pulling closer to shore. They were swimming out to the boat!! I was shocked. I had never seen a monkey do this, not that I hang out with monkeys all the time, but this was just crazy to see in person. The little buggers weren’t just out for a swim, some of them made their way onto the boat, which was even more of a shock. Their sweet noises when they were eating just cracked me up. I could have watched them forever.
We made it back to the ANI Villa and were greeted by warm smiles. It was one of the best days, my mom and I had been smiling and laughing all day. I’m sure both of us will cherish these moments for a very long time. A huge thanks to the ANI team for showing us your beautiful island and all of the ones surrounding you in the gorgeous bay. This is a very special part of the world, I look forward to sharing it with other travelers!