Wowowowowooow we have had the best day today! Philippines throwback Thai style!
For only 1060BAHT (about £25) you get a full day adventure from ten AM to six PM, to Monkey beach, shark point, Loh Moo Dee Bay, Bamboo island, Rantee Bay, Viking cave, Pileh lagoon, Loh Samah Bay and Maya bay, with breakfast and lunch included in the price. If you don’t fancy being gone for the whole day or you’re on a tighter budget, there is also a half day option which covers all the main spots. The tour company also provides snorkels, water and life jackets if you want them.
A 7/Eleven ice coffee perked me up at 9:30AM, after I woke up drowsy from really weird dream I had about catching Rabies and being in New Zealand but it wasn’t actually New Zealand and running away (or trying too, it’s always harder in a dream) from these guys who hired me for a job but they were really sexist and then the police weren’t listening to me or something I don’t know it was all very confusing.
A tour guide walked us up to the beach where our boat was waiting and we sat with more coffee and a simple breakfast- rice and chicken for people that can eat that kind of thing in the morning, and toast and jam for everyone else. An interesting thing I noticed about Phi Phi on our walk there, is that even at ten AM there are hardly any shops open. The streets were almost deserted. I guess it’s one of those places that gets up late and closes late.
At that time, the sky was partially cloudy, which we were disappointed about because everything looks so much better against a baby blue sky and when you’re getting in and out of the sea it can get chilly when the sun’s sleeping behind the clouds (even in Thailand). Luckily for us, as the day went on, the sun popped out and the clouds made way for the angel delight blue sky! Yay!
There was a small group of us and everyone seemed really friendly (except one woman who kept staring at us and giving us dirty looks- don’t hate us cause you aint us). No one was loud or overpowering like other characters we’ve had on tours before, so it was really chilled.
I have decided that early morning boat trips are my new favourite thing. I guess today’s one wasn’t as early as others we’ve been on, but it still had that fresh, therapeutic sensation, where you feel like the more you sail out, the more you wake up and the rest of the world wakes up with you.
If we hadn’t woken up on the way there, we undoubtedly would have when we got to our first stop- Monkey beach. A lot of people reading this would have been to Monkey beach, so you’ll know how hilarious and cute and scatty it is all at the same time haha.
There are sooo many monkeys and they’re all so confident!! At first me and Jenny only saw a couple of adult ones, chilling on rocks and climbing up logs and looking at you as if to be like ‘what you looking at?!’. One of them picked out a crab from behind rock and ran away with it so it could tear it apart and eat it. Another one followed but monkeys don’t share food…
When we approached the island on our boat I was disappointed to see the amount of bottles and rubbish floating by the shore, assuming it was tourists being disrespectful. But after being on the island for five minutes I realised this was actually from the monkeys grabbing things off people and either eating them or playing with them!
A bit further down on the beach there were baby monkeys! So many of them! They had such tiny, tiny, adorable little wrinkly faces and tails longer than their bodies and tiny, tiny little hands- SOOO CUTE! They were just as confident as their parents, climbing all over people and snatching things out of their hands so they could run away and eat it. They too were unfazed by us humans and gave us the same ‘what’s your problem’ matter-of-fact glare.
Snorkelling at shark point was mesmerising. The crystal clear water invited us in before we even stepped off the boat; you could see the rocks and coral from a birds eye view because the water was so clean. It was the perfect temperature to cool us off from the heat and the perfect depth that you could swim just above all the coral reefs and rocks without having to swim right down to see anything.
I have never seen so many different types of fish in one place before. We saw Dory and all of Dory’s family!! There were large black fish, even bigger rainbow fish with holographic-like scales, small, spotted ones which lingered against the seabed, white ones which were almost camouflage, fat-looking florescent ones with big lips, and schools of tiny ones, which all followed each other in perfect unison like synchronised swimmers.
We saw colourful algae and sea sponges and swaying anemones and giant clams which were embedded into the corals. They were bright blue and purple and would open and close their ‘mouths’ every now and again.
My favourite fish were these small, yellow and blue stripy ones, which seemed to hang around in very large groups and all swim together in the same direction. At one point there were so many of them all swimming to the left right in front of me, like they were part of fast-moving traffic and I was hovering waiting to cross the road. There were so many of them all doing the same thing, with their scales reflecting in the sun that it started looking really trippy like some sort of underwater acid trip. One even swam into my goggles! I floated for ages and just admired them getting such a sense of euphoria. It looked just as amazing watching them all circle and swim past Jenny in the distance.
Snorkelling at Loh Moo Dee Bay and Rantee beach was very similar. We saw the same types of fish and the sturdy coral. Something that I was nervous about before coming was the sea urchins. For some reason they didn’t bother me in the Philippines, but I think it’s because I’d never really thought about them and since then I’ve built them up in my head.
But there were a lot of black, spiky sea urchins in all different sizes and at some points when I was swimming over massive groups of them I felt really scatty and swam away quickly. I even avoided some bits of larger coral in the distance in case they had ones that would be closer to me as I swam over. They made my toes curl and my heart race and I really hated them for the first couple of hours, but after giving myself a pep talk I was fine again and more than happy to swim over them.
Bamboo Island is next level paradise. You know when you picture a stereotypical shirtless, bearded man that’s been stranded on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean for weeks, living off coconut water and fish killed with sharpened wood? Well Bamboo Island is the kind of island that man would be stuck on.
It’s pure, white sand, so soft. It’s a scorching sun against a sky so blue it’s blinding. It’s water such a vibrant, turquoise colour that it’s as if it’s been stolen right out of a Disney mermaid film. It’s tall palm trees and gentle waves and brightly coloured shells.
Some of our time here was spent spread out on the sand. I can’t even express the words to describe how soft it was. It was so powdery and proper stuck to your skin when you stood up. But when you went into the sea and picked up handfuls of it, it was a lot more sludgy and colourful and less broken up. We went out for a bit with our snorkels and underwater you could hear this kissing noise a fish was making whilst it nibbled on a rock.
Lunch was simple, but really nice! Fresh watermelon and egg fried rice-something light so we wouldn’t get cramp at the next place.
Lon Samah Bay and Maya Bay are pretty much blended into one; you get off the boat at Lon Samah then make your way to Maya Bay, which is a bit of a nightmare by the way. Well, I say it’s a nightmare, it’s actually really adventurous and makes you feel like Bear Grylls, but it’s scary and dangerous too.
You have to swim over rocks and coral towards a small cliff. The closer you get the more shallow the water gets, so eventually you are just clambering over sharp rocks and corals. Whilst you’re pulling yourself along a thick rope to get to the net that goes up the cliff, huge, violent waves keep hitting you and throwing you around and smashing you against rocks.
All whilst this is happening, you’re having to duck your head underwater to check there are no sea urchins, just in case next time you get taken out by a wave you get thrown onto one. People get in the way, you get cut up and scratched, you fall over… it’s quite scary And then when you get to the rope net, it looks like it’s going to fall apart at any moment and it’s really painful to climb up because you’re feet are bare. But we made it!
I couldn’t get any photos of Maya Bay, because there was no way I was going to risk bringing my phone on that trek. But it was nice just to experience it without my phone. One of my favourite films, ‘The Beach’ (which we watched again at Banana Bar a couple of nights ago), starring one of my favourite actors, Leonardo DiCaprio, was filmed there, so it was so amazing being right there! But it was also really hard not rolling around in the sand and eating it and sniffing it because Leo’s feet have once stepped foot there.
To get to the bay you had to walk through these tropical trees and a sandy path, and although there were a few other people walking alongside us and Maya Bay is ridiculously famous now, having that slow build up to finally walking out to the bay made it feel like we were in a really secret, mystical place.
We went all the way back to go through the dreaded rocks and water back to the boat (this time we cut through the cave underneath the net rope but it was just as bad), but after all that the boat wasn’t even there! So we had to go all the way back again and back up the cliff (with bleeding and scratched legs), to go back to Maya bay only to see that the boat wasn’t there either!
A couple of the guys we were on the boat with told us they had just seen it go back round to where it dropped us off. So we had to walk back and go through the cave and the scary waves and rocks AGAIN. I’ve never felt so happy to get back on a boat in my life.
Our last stop, Pileh lagoon, was the perfect end to the day and one of my highlights. Another place with the classic real-life-Photoshop image, Pileh Lagoon stretched out wide between two or three really tall cliffs. The water was that same bright turquoise colour, so clear you could initially see the bottom. There were no waves here.
As we went deeper into the lagoon, the water also got deeper. It got to the point where you couldn’t see the bottom so we could all get up and jump and dive off of the boat.
If you shouted, you could hear an echo. The water was so salty that it was so easy to float it was as if we were wearing invisible life jackets. If you lay like a starfish on your back and looked up, you could see birds of prey circling around the tops of the cliffs. Such a cool place, I could have stayed and swam there for hours.
Our boat gradually made its way back to shore, stopping briefly via the Viking cave, which seemed like it was going under some sort of construction, so we couldn’t really see much. We also stopped to admire the beginning stages of the sunset. The sun looked as if it was pulsing, gleaming behind a couple of clouds and darkening the cliffs to its right.
After a long day of breathing in sea air, swimming and jumping on and off of boats, both me and Jenny were feeling pretty shattered, especially after eating some food. We still went to the live music bar a few doors down for a Chang, which was really chilled and the two singers we saw were really good. We’re going to go back tomorrow night too. We reminisced about the day and how lucky we were that we didn’t have any encounters with jellyfish or eels.
Anyone looking to a book a tour like this, don’t bother doing it online, wait until you get to the island and you can arrange it through pretty much every hostel. Otherwise there are plenty of tour booking offices amongst the bars and restaurants which arrange these also.