We are just back from a very relaxing two weeks in Thailand and I would like to share with you some of the beautiful places we visited.
For this holiday we decided to do a bit of island hopping around Krabi as the children are older now (six and ten) and can handle clambering on and off boats. The islands we decided on were Koh Ngai, Koh Lanta and Koh Jum. They each provided us with a slightly different experience, as we thought two weeks in one spot may be a little tedious. In this post I will tell you about our stay on Koh Ngai.
After our direct flight with Tiger Airways to Krabi, we hopped into our waiting minibus which took us to the longtail boat headed for Koh Ngai. In total the journey of plane, bus and boat took around 3 hours.
Our first stop was CoCo Cottages. We chose to stay at CoCo Cottages purely on a recommendation from my sister, who stayed there with her family earlier in the year. They loved the place because of the friendly staff, beautiful scenery, good food and large rustic bungalows. We loved it for all the same reasons.
The kids with the lovely staff
This resort has a special feeling to it, almost like a family-run B&B. It is so laid back that you have no choice but to leave your city-ways far behind and enjoy the peace (although there is wi-fi access in the restaurant area). The staff really do make the difference. They were always happy, relaxed and friendly, and seemed to blend into the environment perfectly. Main man Moo would spark up a conversation in his relaxed way, and Natalie showed us some local words and phrases they had stuck up for the kids to learn. When we had air-conditioning problems one night, the kids were given the biggest plate of ice cream I have ever seen to apologise.
Maya outside our rooms with sarong and bag supplied
Our first full day here we went out on a day's snorkeling tour of the surrounding islands. This is an excellent way to spend the day, not too long for the kids, but enough snorkeling to see some gorgeous fish and coral. One of the highlights was swimming through the pitch black Emerald Cave with just a flashlight, to the beach on the other side.
A group swimming through the Emerald Cave
We stopped at Koh Kradan for lunch and the beach here is sparkling. This is your perfect tropical beach-white sand, crystal clear water, palm trees, but many longtail boats anchored up along the beach which could make it a little busy. The resort where we ate (Kradan Beach Resort) did look quite basic though, with small fan huts (no A/C) with beach view.
The beach at Koh Kradan, where we stopped for lunch
Back at Koh Ngai, the beach outside CoCo Cottages is not the most beautiful, and at low tide (the tides seem to go from very high with no beach to very low on these islands) it is impossible to swim because of all the dead coral.
We hired a kayak to paddle out at low tide
We got over this by hiring a kayak and paddling out to the floating pontoon a hundred metres out and snorkeling off this. The coral here is great-about a metre of reef right along the beach with a shelf that drops straight down. Watch that you don't drop your snorkel and mask off the pontoon though (as Ben did) as the drop after the coral is deep.
At high tide it is possible to swim and snorkel from right outside the resort. Apart from this there is little to do here but lie around and read, have a wonderful massage, kayak, eat and sleep. We walked up the beach a few times to check out the other resorts and their restaurants, but we were pleased we were staying at CoCo Cottages. The other end of the beach is actually wider and better for swimming (less coral) so you could walk up a bit if you could be bothered.
Sunset on the beach
There are around eight resorts on this beach, a couple being quite basic, the others having better facilities. Koh Ngai Resort, right up the other end, does have a very nice swimming pool, which could be good with kids.
There is also a small resort on a beautiful beach on the other side of the island, with a path through the jungle to it. We got a long tail boat around one morning with the thought of having lunch at the resort and walking back. Unfortunately the resort was closed for the season so we had to walk back in the heat of the day with only a little water left. Nevertheless, it was a gorgeous beach to visit and an interesting walk through the jungle.
As far as accommodation was concerned, we had an air conditioned family room in one of two long houses at the rear of the resort. Actually it was two connecting rooms, each with its lovely open air bathroom. A special touch was the sarongs provided and the very useful basket/bag for beach gear. The interior was lovely, with lots of rattan, bamboo and natural materials. We didn't have a sea view but we had space, privacy and the noisy kids didn't disturb anyone.
Here are a few things you will need to think about if visiting CoCo Cottages with children:
- You may want to bring rubber sailing shoes for the kids if they want to tread on the very sharp dead coral at low tide. We brought some but the kids only used them a couple of times.
- We bought snorkel and masks in Singapore for everyone, but if you are only planning on snorkeling during day trips organised by the resort, the snorkel and mask is included in the price. You can hire fins for 50B a day (S$2.10).
- Don't expect a beautiful white sandy beach here-it is a coral island, but if you enjoy snorkeling, this is the place.
- Make sure you have at least one massage-the Thai massage is around $11 and smooths out the city stiffness.
- Take a walk up the beach to eat in one of the other restaurants for a change. After dark, take a flashlight and watch the thousands of crabs scurry into their holes.
- Take plenty of water if you go for a walk through the jungle. We took a wrong turn at one point so it took longer than it should have.