When visiting the south of Thailand, a favorite activity is to take a boat ride to other islands! Krabi is a province attached to the mainland on the Andaman Sea, it’s most popular town is Ao Nang right on the beach. There are numerous islands off its coast visible from shore. You can choose to take a longtail boat which is more affordable and atmospheric – but also more crowded. You could take a speedboat which has less people and is more expensive. You can even rent your own private longtail boat for the day. Prices are negotiable, always see if you can get a better deal. Some tours are more organized than others, some run late, just remember you are in paradise and go with the flow.
A turquoise lagoon guarded by towering limestone walls is the draw of Hong Island Tour. On this tour we took a speedboat, there were far fewer people – but the ride is fast so there is no moving around once you’re underway on the boat. The group of Hong Islands is further off the coast than the Four Islands – approximately 30 minutes from Ao Nang with delightful views on a speedboat.
We made five stops, with three chances to snorkel, and a kayaking opportunity. It is a very active and visually fulfilling day. Our first stop was for snorkeling at Koh Daeng, about half way to the islands. This was interesting because the rock formation nearby was actually red, instead of the normal limestone in the area. This is open water kayaking beside a coral reef in warm calm water. There were huge great groups of fish, huge sea urchins, triggers, and colorful little things. As consistent with the rest of snorkeling in Thailand – the visibility was not great and there was trash in the water. Next up was a lovely little island with white sand and more snorkeling. The water was shallow and warm, great for beginner snorkeling. The amount fish here were evident before we even submerged.
My favorite aspect was the flowerpot rock formation right off shore, you can swim right up to and around it.
After that we jetted over to Koh Laolading for lunch and relaxation. This was a small island with an extremely short nature path leading to a little view of longtail boats docked up.
The main beach was crowded so we decided to just lay out on the sand. There was an interesting arch hanging off of the limestone wall.
Also, there were a few cats on this uninhabited island.
They were very appreciative of fresh water and lapped it up immediately. I am not sure if there is any source of fresh water on this island, so share a sip if one plops beside you. On to the main event – Hong Island Lagoon.
Hong translates to room and as you glide in through the narrow passage to this epic pool with its towering walls – you’ll feel closed off from the world outside. When we entered with the boat tour, it was crowded and didn’t quite feel as grand. Tons of other groups were present as well. When we came back later on our own – that is when the magic occurred. So we left the lagoon and headed around the bend to Hong Island to dock. Some people got out to lay on the beach or to swim and snorkel, but we made a beeline for the kayaks. It was such a pleasure to strike out on our own. If you’re a strong paddler it isn’t more than a 15 or 20 minute journey to get back to the lagoon. The view is even more stunning in 360 – not in the confines of a boat window.
It is on open water with many longtails and speedboats zipping by, causing some wake. The slender passageway into the lagoon is particularly hazardous – enter with caution. For moments, we had this place entirely to ourselves – it’s florescent water and dripping formations.
It’s striped streaks on statuesque walls.
It’s strange, beautiful, exalted aura.
Taking our time paddling through the mangroves along the circumference we were able to spot so many birds. Pairs of elusive collared kingfisher laughed and darted through the branches.
Pacific reef heron of plenty crept above the shallow water.
If you have snorkel gear, the water is only waist deep inside – but we wanted to get back and explore the main beach as well. Just as we were leaving, some of our group mates were just making it to the lagoon having set off at the same time we did. It was their first experience kayaking and they had just enough time to see it for themselves then turn around as not to be late for the boat. Just know your limitations and realize if you’re on a tour, you need to be accountable for a timetable. Back on Hong Island Beach we walked the length of the sand and settled in the swimming area to don our snorkeling gear once more. This was a great area with some reef and plenty of fish – the coolest sight was a squad of cuttlefish!
Good to know:
Cost is approximately 600 baht and includes transfer from your hotel, snorkel equipment, lunch, water, some fruit, a guide, and of course the day which runs from around 8AM-4PM. Bring everything you would need for a day at the beach – sunscreen, hat, and towel.