Welcome back to our Phuket, Thailand, three-day itinerary! If you haven’t yet read Part One, where we cover our wonderful resort and the Patong Beach city center, then click here. This week’s post will cover the most spectacular beach with the clearest water, fewest people, and best snorkeling in Phuket, Thailand (and maybe the world?)!
My biggest fear is being eaten by a shark in the ocean. As irrational as it sounds, I even hesitate to dip my toe into the water, or a shark is going to just open its mouth and eat me whole. I don’t have severe phobias such as Galeophobia (fear of sharks) or Thalassophobia (fear of the ocean or deep dark water), but I won’t go in water if I can’t clearly see my toes. Knowing this, my hubby knew it was essential that we find the clearest water if I was going to enjoy snorkeling with him. He just didn’t want to be in a super touristy area and surrounded by people.
Just the day before, we had been in town near Patong Beach at the Jungceylon Shopping Center, and we stopped at a travel agent booth to book our tour:
- Travel agent recommended: Based on our guidelines of clear water, few people, and great snorkeling, the SeaStar Andaman company is the only option that is willing to go the extra distance and take guests out to the middle-of-nowhere paradise. This tour literally takes you to the farthest south island of Phuket, meaning that it has to be an all-day tour because it is a long distance to cover.
- What our travel agent said to avoid: She said most people ask for the famous Phi Phi Islands or James Bond Islands of Phuket. Although those are the most photographed, the water is brown because of the quantity of boats and people visiting daily. The fish avoid those areas because the water is so murky, and therefore there isn’t good snorkeling. The other companies jam multiple tours in a day by completing half-day excursions to these nearby mainland attractions.
I was wavering booking at first because I don’t like to make quick decisions, and it seemed so expensive at ฿ 2,315 Thai Baht. Hubby on the other hand can make more impulsive buys with the facts, so he quickly ran the conversion numbers for me. ฿ 2,315 Thai Baht equals $75 USD. That was a more palatable number for me, and with the conversion and travel agent recommendations in hand, we decided to book.
I began my day at the resort’s beachfront restaurant breakfast buffet by downing my breakfast as quickly as possible as to not be late for our early shuttle pick-up. Hubby stayed in the room and didn’t eat breakfast, because he had a violent case of food poisoning the night before and his body was still in the process of rejecting the white seafood pizza that he had for dinner the night before. It was really unfortunate that he had to be sick on a day we were leaving the hotel, as opposed to a day that we were lounging around, but when you book a tour in a foreign country, it’s not easily possible to cancel for refunds, so we were going to make the most of our day.
The shuttle van picked us up first and we headed off-property to pick up more guests. The ride was about an hour and we stopped at one other hotel to pick up an English-speaking couple, then we rode to Panwa Pier by the Chom Thong Village.
Upon arrival, we were ushered into a holding room with many other guests where there were light refreshments being served and gear for purchase. We began our check-in process in that large room. We figured that everyone there was for the same tour as us, but receptionists began to come in and call guests out for two other excursions. Before we knew it, there were only four people left in the room: us and the other couple we had picked up in our shuttle van. We began to joke that they must have forgotten about us. We thought it couldn’t be possible that the whole excursion was going to be for just the four of us.
We got called next. The receptionist said that it was our lucky day because only four people reserved today’s excursion. Say what?!?! She explained that the day before they had 40 people on the boat, and today it would only be the four of us! We all got super giddy because we knew that besides the fact that we chose the farthest away and most remote beach possible, this was going to be SUPER exclusive because we would basically be THE ONLY PEOPLE THERE. Talk about a deserted island! It was seriously lucky. Had we picked just a day earlier, it still would have been paradise, but not the private beach type of day that we experienced.
They gave us our goggles and flippers, and we headed to our boat. Along the walk down the dock, they stopped and took a photo of us before we boarded. Besides us, there was a captain and three other staff members on the boat. We began to depart the marina and head out to the open waters.
I felt so bad for my poor hubby. As we rode, he just felt sicker and sicker. Poor thing was laying across a bench in the back of the boat with a towel over his head. He had hardly slept the night before, and he was still queasy. Not a great mix for a day at sea. While he tried to recover from the last hours of food poisoning, I took as many photos as I could. I knew he would appreciate looking through them later.
Thailand is the most gorgeous tropical place I have ever been to. Mountains and rock formations that blend perfectly into the ocean. Many islands, some inhabited by locals, some developed by resorts, and some totally pristine and undeveloped. The bluest teal and turquoise water I have ever seen. Like literally the stuff I had only ever seen in movies which I figured was photo-shopped.
I grew up on the east coast of southern Florida. I thought the water there was clear and perfect, but once I saw southern Thailand’s waters, there is no comparison. As we went farther and farther from the mainland, the water became more clear and more blue. As we rode through the ocean past each island, we got farther and farther away from civilization. The final island we came to, Raya Noi Island, was totally uninhabited. It was a good distance from land, which may be why it wasn’t developed. As we rode in closer to land, it became more and more impressive. It was a culmination of the most unbelievable sights: mountains and rocks going straight into the ocean, a lush jungle, white sand, the bluest blue water I had ever seen in my life, and not a person in sight for miles. In the moments before we got off the boat, I knew we made the right choice booking this excursion.
There was no dock, so they turned the engine off, opened the back door, and we walked down right into a foot deep of water and onto the beach. The white sandy beach looked small enough that it may only be exposed in low tide and totally submerged in high tide. The sand at Raya Noi Island is so white that the shallow water is crystal clear pale blue. The medium water is crystal clear teal, and the deep water is royal blue. Clear light blue water is my kind of water!
The four crew members exited the boat and immediately started setting up a picnic of snacks. The tour included a full lunch (to be served later) as well as bottled drinks, fresh fruits, and packaged goods like chips and cookies on the boat and on land. We were able to go back to the picnic blanket and help ourselves as much as we wanted while at this island.
The tour also included all the snorkeling gear we needed. We put on our gear and immediately jumped into the water. I initially stayed right at the water’s edge, and hubby swam out a bit. Even though the water was super clear, I was still terrified because I hadn’t snorkeled since I was a child. I didn’t see many fish in that shallow water, so I swam out a bit farther and saw some. Eventually, I decided to take off my gear and walk on a nearby rock formation and look for shells. We ate some snacks and went back to continue snorkeling. Hubby was way braver than I was and went out deep and found vibrant coral. I could have honestly stayed at this beach all day and been 100% happy with what we paid for the excursion, but this was only stop one of four! So after maybe an hour and a half, the crew packed up and we boarded the boat to move along to the next spot.
The island north of us was Raya Island. This time, there was no beach, so they stopped the boat about 20 feet from the rocky cliff going into the water, and we were expected to hop into the middle of the sea to snorkel. Now I was really terrified! I probably would have been more comfortable if there were more people in the water with me (you don’t have to out-swim the shark—just the other people with you haha!), but it was just the four of us and another neighboring boat with a few people in the water snorkeling. From this spot, you had to jump off the back of the boat into about 20-feet-deep water. I only did it because the water was so crystal clear that I could see the bottom. Otherwise, I’d have been sitting back taking pictures of my husband enjoying himself. The area had large coral reefs and lots of colored fish swimming around. There was also a lobster in the reef. Hubby used his flippers to swim deep and capture the coral and fish with our GoPro camera. The underwater photos are awesome! I recommend anyone who does a water excursion to either have a GoPro or other underwater camera so you can cherish the memories forever! We didn’t stay in this spot as long as the first beach, because you had to swim the entire time and it does become exhaustive after a bit. So about 45 minutes later, we boarded the boat and moved along.
The next stop was for lunch being served at Siam Bay. We had worked up a mighty appetite snorkeling, and I was looking forward to a proper meal. This time, we pulled up to a more developed island called Ko Racha Yai. It had a restaurant right on the water, as well as several other buildings and resorts. There was no dock, so we pulled up the boat as close as we could to the sand and hopped into the water to walk to shore. They sat us at a four-top and paired us up with the other couple for a family-style lunch. By this point on our six-week honeymoon, hubby and I didn’t mind the company. Of course, we would have also enjoyed eating privately, but the company was welcome! We ended up having a lovely time connecting with them while we ate.
My hubby was still feeling unwell from his food poisoning, so he didn’t eat anything, but boy did he miss out! The food was delicious. This ended up being my second-favorite meal in Thailand (first being a cooking school in Chiang Mai where they let you customize your dishes). They served Thai classics—a lot of the same dishes we cooked at the cooking school—and the portions were plentiful.
After we ate, we had some time left on the island. We used the restrooms then separated from the other couple so we could explore a bit. We made our way to the water and took some time strolling down the beach and taking a few more pictures. Even though the island was more developed, it still felt like our own personal paradise and not too over-commercialized.
We were heading back north towards the marina and made our last stop at Maiton Island, a spot notorious for spotting wild dolphins. When they cut the engine, there was another boat nearby. Both captains began to blow a high pitch whistle to capture the dolphins’ attention. Soon enough, we were audience to a small school of dolphins that swam by to visit. I think we were really lucky that they happened to be around that day. The guides do say that dolphin-spottings are not guaranteed, so we felt even luckier about our already perfect day.
After the dolphins, we made the final leg of the trip back to mainland. After docking, we departed the boat and were handed a small framed photo as a parting gift. They had printed the photo we took at the beginning of the day and put it into a branded SeaStar frame. What a nice, unexpected touch! It was rare on the honeymoon we got a photo of the two of us that wasn’t a selfie, so this photo is really special! We boarded the van and made our way back to the two hotels for drop off.
When we arrived back to the Tri Trang Beach Resort, we were exhausted. The long day of swimming, saltwater, and sun had taken a lot out of us. We went downstairs to the resort’s beach-side restaurant and enjoyed our last dinner in Phuket as we listened to the sounds of live music and waves.
We began our day with a final breakfast buffet at the resort’s beachfront restaurant. We savored every bite as we enjoyed the final ocean views. We went back upstairs and packed up our massive hotel room. This task actually took longer in Phuket than other cities, because the room was so spacious that we had really spread out and unpacked.
We schlepped all our bags down several flights of elevators and stairs leading to the front desk. The only thing worse than carrying our bags down all that way was actually leaving Phuket. We had really come to fall in love with this city. The front desk called us a taxi, and we made the hour-long drive to Phuket International Airport arriving at 11:30am. Next stop on our trip was Bangkok, Thailand, which is a domestic flight. We allotted ourselves two hours to go through security for our 1:25pm flight. Ends up, security at Phuket International is very fast. There was a quick curbside bag scanner and magnetometer walk-through, then we were inside the airport.
We are Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card holders, which gives us access to Priority Pass airport lounges around the world. Normally, most airports only have lounges in the international terminals, but Phuket had both domestic and international lounges available, so since we still had almost two hours to spare, we headed to the Coral Executive Lounge. We noshed on snacks and beverages and utilized the WiFi to get a little work done and FaceTime our families. Soon after that, we boarded the flight and were on our way to Bangkok.
In recent years, the Thai government has decided to close certain beaches and public waterfronts due to environmental damage. I remind everyone to be respectful of the places you travel to. Never litter, do not anchor boats to coral reefs, and do not disturb the wildlife. I recommend before you travel to Thailand that you look up the beaches and islands that are restricted. This may affect the location you pick to stay. Below you can read articles about the closure of Maya Bay on Ko Phi Phi Leh island (as of August 2019):
- 4 Places That Have Closed to Tourists in 2019 – The Discoverer – August 2019
- Thailand bay made famous by The Beach closed indefinitely – The Guardian – October 2018
- Thailand bay made popular by ‘The Beach’ closes indefinitely – CNN Travel – October 2018
- The idyllic cove from The Beach is closing due to overtourism – The Telegraph – May 2018
Though it may seem backwards, with the closure of beaches for environmental remediation and recovery, the country has approved plans for a new Phuket airport that would open in 2025 and bring in an additional 10 million tourists a year. Having experienced the original airport, I will say that an upgrade would be nice. It would definitely make visiting a tad easier if the airport was located more centrally or in the southern area, which would cut down on travel time from the north to the bulk of the southern hotels. Location has not been announced yet, but keep your eyes open for the opening of this airport if you plan to travel to Phuket after 2025.
Our beachfront resort was more than we could have hoped for. Our excursion to a private beach in the middle of the ocean was literally paradise and our favorite day of the six-week honeymoon around the world. Sometimes I look at my husband and just groan, “Ahhhhhhh… Take me back to Phuket!” We love to visit new countries before we revisit others, so it may be a little bit before we visit Thailand again. But the beauty of Phuket’s water is something I will never forget. To me, it really can’t come back soon enough. Stay tuned for our next Amarvelous Honeymoon post that will cover our final city in Thailand – BANGKOK!
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