There are some places that one describes as impossibly beautiful, and they stay fixed in one’s mind as impossibly beautiful forever. For me, one of them is Krabi, more specifically, its islands. The soft golden sands with stunningly clear turquoise-green waters and deep blue skies have captured my heart. I have always loved beaches, but Krabi’s beaches are a class apart and I would love to go back.
It was our second day at Krabi and of the unexpected trip to Thailand courtesy the hubby’s uncle and aunt Banti mama and Renu masi (Thailand November 2019). We had to wake up ridiculously early (for a holiday) to go on the pre-booked 4 island tour. Thanks to the rain, we had rested enough the previous day and could wake up on time for a scrumptious breakfast and head off on time, sleepy but very excited.
It is a different matter that once we were unceremoniously dumped by the car driver at the meeting point, there was no one to meet. We went to the waterfront, to the few shacks around, then back to the drop-off point, but found no one. Banti mama struggled to call the local travel agent, who didn’t take the calls. After more than half an hour of getting frustrated, we met someone who told us to wait near the waters.
Happy to find a point of contact, we walked right back to the beachfront, cheerfully stood under the trees, admiring the waters and wondering how there was no one around, while the kids shrieked for beach toys. As their mother went back towards the road for the toys, she noticed a large gang of people and approached them to ask about our tour guide. It turned out that we should have been waiting right there, by the road, instead of being misguided by one of their own people!
As we trudged the long walk back, the tour guide actually yelled at us for having wandered off and making everyone late. That was the last straw, considering that we had reached way before anyone else.
However, it was impossible to stay angry for too long, as the tour group was led by an extremely entertaining woman. She proceeded to “orient” us for the better part of an hour. She had us in splits, not because she was funny, but because she was really silly. We could only thank our stars that she was not our boat guide.
We set off almost 3 hours after reaching the beach from where the tour started, and it was very hot by then. Still, we were very excited as we approached the line up of long tailed boats, till we struggled to clamber in. Note to all elderly and physically challenged travelers, approach these boats with caution. You need to wade into thigh deep water and hoist yourself over the edge to get in. Luckily, with a lot of effort, all 18 of us managed to get in safe and sound and settled in, and then we set off.
Soon, the beach was a tiny speck on the horizon and beautiful blue-green waters surrounded us. A gentle breeze blew into the boats, cooling those of us not covered by the shade. Fortunately, the Gujju food bag had made its way onto the boat too, and we cheerfully chomped on theplas and chili pickle, interspersed with biscuits.
Once your tummies are full, everything appears more beautiful. The sea appeared greener, the skies bluer and the sun seemed sunnier!
Even the clouds seemed, well, cloudier.
Even the grins were toothier!
Happily, we leaned over the side of the boat and let our fingers trail in the water. The kids squealed as the spray flew over their faces, and we had to hold them down as they jumped about. Tall karst islands protruded from the waters, some with entertaining shapes.
Soon, it was time to reach our first island of the 4 island tour, Phranang Cave on Railey island. As we moved in, we could see that this part of the island was packed with people and boats. Our driver expertly maneuvered between 2 boats, and hurriedly 2 adults, 3 kids and 1 teen jumped out and ran onto the beach. Before any more of us could hop out, the waves started tossing our boat towards the neighboring one. Our driver struggled to control the rocking boat and we to keep our balance. Unable to secure a safe docking spot, he finally moved away, planning to dock a little ahead.
But he hadn’t accounted for a new set of boats coming in. Before we could reach the shore, the landing area was full and we had no way to get off. Feeling panic stricken about being separated from our group, we considered jumping into the water and swimming to the shore, but the driver and guide wouldn’t allow us. Finally the boat had to back away, turn around some rocks in the water and stop on a part of the island far away from the rest of our family.
The guide told us that we could only spend half an hour here as he had wasted a good chunk of the allotted time trying to get the boat to the shore. My mother-in-law waited back in the boat as it was a huge struggle for her to get on and off (actually she spent the entire day on the boat till the tour was over).
We rushed to find our children, who had thoroughly enjoyed playing on the soft sands and the clean waters. They dragged us into the waters for a good swim.
We had so much fun in the water that we didn’t want to leave this island, despite the scorching heat. But time was short, and leave we had to, so we clambered back onto the boat, to get to the next island, Chicken island.
While the name got everyone hungrier, this island had no beach to land on. There was a small cove at one edge where snorkeling could be done. Our younger cousins cheerfully hopped into the deep green-blue waters, but the in-laws were too frightened to allow us (and mainly our teens) to get into the waters, so we couldn’t experience that.
It was a very still part of the ocean, sheltered away by the island, with very beautiful shades of water.
Once the snorkelers were safely back in, we headed off to the next island, the Tup island. This island is connected to another by a sand bank that you can walk on when the tide is out. I had really hoped that we would be there at such a time, but that was not the case. Instead there was enough water to stand in, and the sand below made it a gorgeous shade of green.
We spent a lot of time in this shallow stretch of paradise. The kids had picked up the snorkeling gear and were practicing with it.
The rest of us swam about, marveled at this place or just floated along.
Had we not been on the tour, we wouldn’t have left this place, we loved it so much. But we were on a tight time frame and we really had to move onto the next stop.
Did I forget, lunch was calling?
Our last stop was Poda island (lunch island for me), where we disembarked and rushed for food, turning our backs to the alluring sea. Lunch, however, was a terrible disappointment. After standing in a huge line, we got some over cooked unsalted vegetables and mushy glass noodles. It was basically food for a fussy toddler and we ate to fill some bit of the crying stomachs, but really hated it. So, we wasted as little time as possible on lunch and rushed to the sea instead.
Before we could swim to our heart’s fill, we were called to the boats as the waters tend to get choppy in the evenings. We hopped from boat to boat as there was no ladder on ours, feeling very happy indeed that my mother-in-law had stayed back on the boat. Here, we had a wonderful surprise, finally something to eat to our heart’s content, delicious fruit!
Needless to say, we wiped out the boat’s entire stock of fruit in seconds. The long ride back, the full stomachs, and the exhaustion of the day caught up with us and nearly everyone slept off.
We were very tired once we got back at the hotel, so we made good use of the pool (and its cafe) to recover and catch up with dinner and slept soon as we had an early morning drive to Phuket the next day.
We had had a wonderful albeit short time in Krabi. I would certainly call it the best part of my Thailand trip and would love to go back. However, I wouldn’t take the 4 island tour again and wouldn’t recommend it either to anyone. The islands are doable on their own and its better to choose the island and amount of time you have there rather than be at the whims and fancies of Thai tour operators.
Yet, nothing, not even the mass tourism of Thailand, can detract one from the abundant natural beauty of Krabi and that’s why I loved it. And till I go back, this is what my dreams will be made of.