Having been to a host of other snorkeling destination before, the following could be biased reporting…NOT!
Why did we come to Krabi and go on a snorkeling trip? Partly it was because Mel and Suan had bought our own goggles and flippers. Particular for Mel whose got the prescription lenses affixed to his goggle, so that he may see the next time he bumps nose first into a shark (read here about this interesting story in the Maldives).
As with buying anything else in Thailand, you need to bargain.
So it was with this snorkeling trip. Rack rates (sounds like hotels huh?) are ridiculously high until it’s bargained down. Starting from 1,800 baht/pp, we eventually settled for 1,000 baht each. This is like a magical number for us (recall our Phuket island adventure). But you know what? When you get on the trip and someone tells you he’s paid 580 baht for it, you sure to feel – ugh.
Never mind, you can only get screwed once.
Before getting to know the fishes
It’s 8am. The van arrived and it was filled with dreary looking people. The group was diverse and we hailed from Russia, Malaysia, South Africa, the UK, US and local Thais. Plus us two little red dotters flying the flag for Singapore. We waited at Ao Nang beach for nearly an hour before the boats came to life. And it was for dear life to scramble aboard the correct boat, since there seem to be hundreds of people waiting too!
The route threaded southwards towards the Phi Phi islands, where we could get some snorkeling if the weather permits. The sea was rough and choppy and we had a great splash every now and then. Many got seasick and had to take “timeout” to empty breakfast into plastic bags provided by the boat guide.
The first stop we made on this trip was at Viking cave. Part of the marine reserve, there lives a couple of guards whose sole mission was the protection of the birds’ nests within the cave. These guys have shoot to kill orders and take their jobs seriously. They take month-long stints to keep the cave secure against potential poachers.
We went onto Phi Lei bay, where we say loads of tourists from the other boats disgorge into the sea to snorkel. Because of this, our boat guide decided to bring us somewhere else that is ‘quieter’!
Along the way we made a quick stop at Monkey beach, where we observed other tourists landing to feed the local community of monkeys. What a pandemonium as the monkeys fought to take food offered by the visitors!
Due to inclement weather, the high sea waves meant we could not get to Maya beach today and we headed to where we think is Loksamah bay. A quick change and we were into the water! For sure the water is not as clear as in Redang or in the Maldives. And this has partly to do with the fact that it is the shoulder season – and the currents are stirring up lots of silt and sand into the area. This coupled with the fact that the sky is overcast, let very little light to stream into the sea beneath.
However, all was not lost and we managed to see a vast treasure trove of marine life. Imagine when the waters are clearer! Did you notice that there seems to be a lot of sea urchins around? Good thing we have our rubber shoes on!
Perhaps timing can be better
After a 30minute snorkel, we headed to Phi Phi Don to have our buffet lunch. We ate quickly and moved to do some island shopping before getting on the boat.
We made some way out to the sea once again dropped anchor.
Here the waters were a little clearer and facilitated us to see more. The difference about this location is that there are a lot less sea urchins compared to the first snorkel site. Here we saw a profusion of clams of all shapes, size and color! Some were positioned so closely to each other that it looked like they were fighting over territory!
As usual, a lot of curious fishes – which means they were fed by a lot by snorkelers. They were virtually examining my camera as I moved it about. Pesky fellas!
This snorkel site contained the jewel of the trip – a lot of anemones and their attendant Clown fishes! In fact, we saw more clown fishes here than we ever did in all of the past snorkeling trips to the Maldives, Palawan and Redang combined. It was really fortunate that the waters here were a little clearer. It might have something to do with the fact that there were only 2 other boats in the vicinity.
So, it was photos galore as we took our time to snap away at our stripped models swaying to the currents around their anemone shelter. There were not many people who came into the water this round as many had fuller lunches than we and were uncomfortable with getting into the water. This made for an area less crowded and for us greater space to maneuver.
Final stop was at Bamboo island where we spent 40 minutes exploring the sand beaches facing the Andaman sea. Alas when it was time, we had to leave the islands and head back to Ao Nang beach.
Along the way, we dropped a couple of medical undergraduates back at Railey beach (a part of the mainland inaccessible except by boat), before heading back.
Ok, perhaps we should time our visit better with some research.
If you look it up, the recommended period of visit is from November to March. And the period September to October is the wettest!!! No wonder the Sofitel was so cheap to book, and Tiger Air was not full… but for us it was still a fun trip, because we got to know the fishes well!
Remember, ‘knowledge is power – what you don’t know you cannot use’.
On this journey we did not explore more of Krabi. Perhaps someday we may do a road trip that traverse across Phang-Nga to end up here, starting from Phuket. And the next time we will make sure we are here when we know the probability of drier weather is higher!
This journey was made in September 2010