No amount of internet surfing or google images can do justice to the actual experience of this natural wonder! A place of incredible natural beauty, Phang Nga Bay, covering an area of 400 square km, is encircled by the landmasses of Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi. Located in southern Thailand, it is home to dozens of gravity defying volcanic rock formations. Today we were going to visit a few of these islands on our day cruise.
We were located near the Patong Beach in Phuket and it took us an hour to reach Ao Por Pier – the departure point. The pier houses hundreds of tourism boats and serves as an entrance to the Phang Nga Bay. Sailing through the emerald waters of the vast Andaman Sea, we passed by innumerable towering limestone peaks arising dramatically out of the emerald green waters. Its pure zen, being out in the seas with no land in view and none of the din of civilization. Feel Alive!
Over an hour of sailing later, we landed on the instantly recognizable Koh Khao Phing Kan or popularly known James Bond Island, the famed location of the Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun”. One is transferred from the cruiser boat to smaller boats to land on the beach which is laden with little shacks selling souvenirs. Incredible how enterprising man can be to earn a few bucks to take the pains of setting shop in the middle of the Andaman Sea!
The cynosure is the 20 feet vertical rock (locally called Koh Tapoo) arising from the waters near the island.
The most exciting part of the trip was yet to come. Our next stop was near the Hong Island. The word ‘hong’ stands for lagoon in Thai. The result of 280 million years of erosion, karsts are formed from collapsed limestone islands leaving a lagoon in the centre. Here, you get a chance to get up close and personal with the mesmerizing landscape of the Phang Nga Bay in a kayak. The guide rowed the kayak into the beautiful lagoons taking us past tunnels and caves. There was only the sounds of the paddling waters and the chirrup of the wildlife inhabiting some of these lush green karsts.
A little farther away, the Panak Island has exotic sea caves and we rowed right into these dark dingy low-roof caves armed with head torches. Home to hundreds of smelly bats hanging upside down from the roofs, it can seem a bit unsettling visiting these damp stinky caves. The ceiling of the caves can get really low at some junctures and we had to lie flat on our backs to be able to pass under the roof. Sitting in the low canoes gives an altogether different perspective of the place and is highly recommended.
Our last stop of the cruise was the Lawa Island. ‘Lawa’ stands for ‘pretty’ in Malaysian and indeed what a pretty sight welcomed us as we approached the island on the cruiser boat. Soft white sands and lush green forests, the island stopover was a fitting end to the full day excursion. Relax on the beach and admire the perfect sunset or be an onlooker to folks trying a hand at sea kayaking close to the beach.
It cannot get any more organic than a day spent in the waters of the Phang-Nga Bay. Meandering through innumerable cliffs, sea caves and mangrove forests, one is transitioned to a distant world! It is one of those places that you want to go back to again and again. One visit is not enough to explore, behold and absorb the stupendous beauty and charm of the Ao Phang Nga National Park.