Phuket, Island Hopping


8am and my island hopping tour arrived. I was whisked away to the jetty where others waited. To be real honest, this is the part that sucks. We were waiting till around 1030am probably due to many tourists who woke up late and were taking their own sweet time. ( This is why I travel alone or with one more person, max) .

I booked this tour via They were the only tour that would go to Bamboo Island and Khai Island. Just note that this means less time on each location and it is a rush for each location averaging 20-30 minutes each. This was my 3rd time out to Phi Phi and I was going there for the photos. Plenty of time.

It was a gloomy day. The consolation was that it was the raining seasons and it was not raining, nor were the seas too rough to go out.

Rio, our tour guide.

The briefing was part standard part scare tactic as they were trying to get all the tourists to rent the flippers to protect against Sea Urchins. To be real honest, if you do not dive deep and waddle around at the top of the water, there is no need to fear the sea urchins. Dishing about 200 baht for rental was just a quick way to generate a quick buck for the operators. This is totally up to you. I was not too bothered with this.

The tour covers everything you need. You get unlimited supply of water and Pepsi.

There was the customary Photo taking session for ‘insurance’ policies. Actually, it means that you can buy the photo at a cut throat price later at the end of the tour.

The boat ride from Phuket Jetty to Phi Phi took about an hour. Midway, there was some slight maintenance to be done on the engines as it was not “opening” up.  The captain fixed it in about 2 minutes.

Bamboo Island.

Back in 2008, I was here via my Krabi trip. It has been a long 5 years and the beauty of Bamboo Island never escaped my mind. Warranted, I travelled during peak season in 2008 and the weather was great and sunny with blue skies. Well, Bamboo Island in 2013 feels like a tired old veteran of many wars. Overcast skies aside and the harsh noon sun overhead, Bamboo Island looks ordinary.

Years of tourism have caused the uninhabited island to change. You can see that it was more dirty, more polluted and the remnants of decay from human’s touch.

From crystal blue seas to aqua marine. Is this caused by us?

I took a walk to the other side of this island. Bottles and plastic bags littered here and there. I would suspect in another 5 years, this will no longer be paradise.

Chalets that were once used in 2008 have not been left empty.

This was what it was like in 2008.

In January 2008.

In January 2008.

In January 2008.

This was a reminder of what we need to do. We have choices in life and this is a simple choice.

We sped off to the next hop. Goodbye Bamboo Island. If I am fortunate enough to return, I hope I find you in better conditions.

The next hour was spent snorkeling in cleaner waters.

I spent my time on the boat taking pictures before jumping in. I’ve been here before and I wanted to focus on taking photographs.

After a while, I decided to jump in for a quick splash.

No sea urchins here.

Phi Phi Island Lunch.

We stopped by at the main island Phi Phi, to have a quick lunch. This is the usual location for lunch and there are shops and even scuba diving courses here.

Do not expect much. There are many restaurants that are paid by the tours to provide lunch for the island hoppers. The food is basic and usually running out. It is a miserable scene and the need to maximize profits is shameful. I was handed one piece of chicken. I would say it is bones with some chicken meat.  Second helpings are not easy and you would usually come back with a plate of rice and some sauce. Eat to survive. Do not expect a banquet.

Whilst the rest were satisfying their hunger, I walked to take some photos.

I can never find the logic of girls from Asia going island hopping in make up and a dress. Isn’t it a bit of a hassle? Won’t it get messy?

Monkey Bay.

Just 5 minutes across Phi Phi’s main island is Monkey Bay. Monkeys inhabit this short beached cliff. The boat staff were throwing bananas to the monkeys. These monkeys know that they will get a daily supply of bananas from tours. Just be selective of what foods you throw at them. No plastics or anything that can harm them.

Monkeys will come down and all you have to do is throw the bananas. Some do lose their balance and end up in the drink.

Monkey island is much cleaner and clearer. I think monkeys do a better job of keeping the place clean.

Just be careful that the monkeys do not jump onto your boat. Tenanus shots are far far away and you do not want an open wound being splashed in salt water.

Viking Cave

There are some paintings on the walls of boats resembling Viking ships that are supposed to be ancient. Well, you be the judge.

Swifts build their nests here and it has become a source of income. This is where your bird’s nest drink comes from.

Phi Ley Bay.

This little bay is nestled on the other side of Phi Phi Island. This palce is a good place to jump in as the currents are not so strong and the waters are clear and true blue.

For this part of the hop, I stayed on the boat again. Been here, done it.

Maya Bay, The Beach. 

The main reason for the boom in tourism in Phuket and Krabi is due to the movie staring Leonardo di Caprio, The Beach. It was no surprise that Maya Bay was filled with tour boats. There was a collective agreement that we would skip this portion and zoom off to Koh Khai which is more beautiful and more peaceful.

Koh Khai.

As we approached the island some 30 minutes after Phi Phi, it was close to evening and the afternoon sun was strong and harsh. Time to put on sun block and whatever anti-UV wears you have.

If you have a long sleeved diving suit or swimwear, now is the time to use it.

For 100 baht, you can sit and lounge on these chairs. I chose to walk around the island to take photos.

It is more fun here. The water is clean and there are small pools to safely swim and waddle in them. Children love these places.

I walked to the quieter side of the island. the rocks are slippery and you must be careful.

I climbed a few rocks to get better views. This place is indeed beautiful.

Just watch where you step as you never know what hides inside these small crevices.

If you see the tree on the right, I had wanted to climb out there. The only problem was I was still recovering from an ankle injury and would not make it back.

Years of travel taught me that, going there is only halfway and it is easier to go up than to come down. I listened to my logical side though as much as my photographer instinct wanted me to go there.

It was more quieter here. I spent a few minutes just sitting here enjoying the cool sea breeze coming in and the sound of waves crashing on the rocks.

I did climb out a bit and turned around to take a photo.

Back on the main beach waiting for the return journey. I think Koh Khai is a beautiful place to be. The extra time we got due to us skipping The Beach was well spent here.

The waves break just before they slide up the beach.

I even had time to do a timelapse of Koh Khai. Do watch it on Youtube in 720p minimum.

It was time to leave. It was 4:37 pm Phuket time. It was a long tour and as much as I enjoyed it, I was glad I was heading back into the comforts of my room, to shower and to rest.


One thought on “Phuket, Island Hopping

  1. Great Photos out there! I was amaze the moment I scroll your photos of Bamboo Island way back 2008. It was totally different from our last visit in November 2013. For sure unsustainable tourism is one of the culprit that fades the charm of Bamboo Island.

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