After playing with tigers in Phuket Brian and I headed straight to Koh Phi Phi. This island paradise became famous after Leonardo DiCaprio starred in The Beach; a movie about pot farmers and hippie tourists set on Koh Phi Phi. Although the ferry from Phuket takes less than 2 hours plan a half day for your journey since they tend to leave late and you’ve gotta find your accommodation once you arrive.
Brian and I opted for Marine Hotel, a guesthouse near the main port on the island. Unfortunately we unknowingly walked right past it not realizing how close it was! Phi Phi is a tiny island and everyone is extremely friendly. After wandering like Harry and Lloyd of Dumb & Dumber we were lucky to meet a Thai local who walked us there herself! We expected that she’d want some payment and were ready with a few bath (roughly 30 bath = 1usd) but she laughed and walked off when we tried to thank her with a few bills.
After a crazy night at a rooftop bar we weren’t sure renting a long boat was a good idea. I confirmed that Brian doesn’t get seasick and quickly realized I didn’t want to waste a day. We wandered around grabbing pad thai in the morning and carousing the main street. It became clear that the island had few or no motor vehicles as locals pushed massive carts along the roads. This beach-filled island is less than 30 square kilometers. Well, Koh Phi Phi is actually 2 islets. We spent most of our time on Koh Phi Phi Don. Phi Phi Leh is only 6.6 square kilometers and mostly National Park.
Wandering around we noticed a sign saying 4 hour boat tour 2000 bath (roughly $60). It was an easy choice to split the cost since the English advertised ones were 3000 bath ($90) per person! A few instant drawbacks were not even understanding our captain’s name and having immediate second thoughts when the boat rocked into the sea. Once the motor was going it felt sturdier but Brian and I eyed each other as I double checked that he knew how to swim and pointed out the life jackets.
Within minutes the sea was whooshing past, littered with tour boats, private yachts and dozens of long boats just like the one we were riding. Cruising along Phi Phi Don you can’t help but stare in awe at the magnificent rock structures. These sheer cliffs rise a hundred meters or more above the ocean and are covered in jungle. Where the waves crash in small overhanging caves have been carved out over millions of years.
Our first stop was an abandoned pirate ship (well, honestly we couldn’t understand a single word this guy said so I’m just gonna pretend its a pirate ship). It might have been an old wreck or even the house of a stubborn local who didn’t want to live in town. Frankly, we didn’t care what it really was because it was freaking awesome!
Continuing onward our next stop was a chance to jump in the crystal clear waters. Surrounded in the aquamarine underworld we donned snorkels and frolicked still in awe at our good fortune.
After chilling with the fishies we asked our “guide” to go to the next spot. Right around now we realized that it may have been a terrible idea to take the cheap tour. This guy had absolutely zero English and we spoke no Thai. Luckily he easily knew what we wanted and after a quick ride we found ourselves at Maya Bay!
Maya Bay was made famous when DiCaprio’s The Beach sported the most iconic beach scenes of our generation. We found the cove packed with boats and other like-minded tourists but paid no heed. Brian and I disembarked and took a quick stroll trying to take it all in.
Had we been on some romantic getaway perhaps we’d have ended there but alas we were two adventurers hoping to see more and more of this gorgeous island. With paradise around every corner we begged our guide for one more destination before sunset. Maybe he understood us. Maybe he just knows what tourists want because sure enough he started the motor back up and we were off to bed. No wait, that’s me. Stay tuned for sunset & the rest of this stunning journey!
Whats your favorite island hopping experience? Have you ever taken a tour with a local guide that you couldn’t understand? Tell me all about it in the comments!