Island hopping is one of the most fun things to do anywhere, including while you are in south Thailand – for the same islands, it could be as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it, choice is yours, but at the end of the day, it is all dependent upon the weather – but it is beautiful and it is different – blue, sunny, green with brilliantly white shores!
How to Plan
Some people claim that Phi Phi, etc. are overrated, well, I think they are rated well, with a base in Krabi (or Phuket) and a visit during perfect climate, so keep a buffer day in south Thailand, an extra day or two; do not book your excursion to these islands in advance – remember, the same winds and rains over the years are responsible of creating these caves, gorges, shallow waters, rock shapes and shore formations that are so picturesque!
Although, I also believe that – cloud cover, with distant rains, shades of grey-green water and silhouette of fjords afar with the right camera settings may bring photos that are different from regular-classic-bright-sunny Phi Phi island pictures that you see all over the internet, a very unique ones, but off-course it is better with still clear waters, bright sun and perfect visibility.
While being in Krabi, we booked and re-booked island hopping tour using our hotel’s concierge desk – had to return back to mainland on our first day due to choppy seas (and poor visibility due to sporadic rain showers!) – but on the next day, we spent an entire day hopping on islands and it’s shores – kayaking, snorkeling, dipping and sunbathing – with bright white sands, tropical saffron sun, self-greased skin with humidity, deep green sea competing with it’s own greener shores.
The time you end up spending at these islands is all dependent on the price you pay for the excursion – so check out the plans of each tours and, there are many out there – compare against what you want to do. We picked a tour with more activity around kayaking and snorkeling rather than sunbathing-on-beaches, deep-sea-fishing, paddle-boating, etc. Our small group tour outfitter had organized food as per our dietary needs at one of the islands – but be ready to purchase drinks, fruits and noodles at small villages on these islands, while you spend an entire day surfing these islands. A must have is – freshest coconut.
We had to cover all three islands in one day (as we lost the first day due to weather) – Phi Phi, Railay Beach and Maya Bay, from 7am to 7pm, we thought that was enough except that – we should have spent more time at Maya Bay while kayaking, its amazing and a must do, especially on a kayak. I think a special all-day-excursion is required just for Maya Bay in itself, due to its beauty visual effects and wonderful kayaking opportunities.
We split the kayaks into 2 each as we were family of 4 and it was a (very) good decision, because, often the distances and efforts became extensive – you need an extra hand while on vacation to push your boat – we passed through caves, currents, winds and waterfalls, all unexpectedly – amazing birding as well (so many kingfishers), camera in a dry-pack that often needed to come out! In all – it was a great family bonding experience for us – uncharted waters, yet, (very) safe excursion and beautiful with friendliest of people! Be aware of jelly fish and sea urchins though, they are everywhere, sea-shoes are highly recommended and a dry-pack if kayaking.