The boat is criss-crossing between the islands that rise like dragon’s teeth from the blue of the Thailand gulf. Around us longboats are passing by, carrying passengers from other boats to the perfect sand little beaches. Other people are furiously paddling in sea kayaks, some more are swimming and snorkelling and the more daring are hiking up the short but brutal trails to a couple of viewpoints on top of the small rainforest in the larger island.
We are in the Ang Thong archipelago, a group of 42 small islands around 30 km from Ko Samui. What used to be a pirate hideout, then Thai navy training center is now a preserved area declared a national marine park.
We have finished the tough hike on top of the steep hills of Ko Wua Talab, the largest island in the group and we are heading towards Ko Mae Ko, a smaller island northwards with the unique feature of having a saltwater lagoon in the middle of the island. This lagoon was the inspiration of the Hollywood movie “The Beach”, now is a preserved are. You can go up and walk around the lagoon, for another breathtaking view of the lagoon and the archipelago, but you cannot walk down or swim there.
But you need to swim.. especially after two tough hikes in the tropical sun. Head then to one of the excellent fine sand beaches. The water is warm and refreshing. You can also snorkel there, although it is not the best are in the islands of the Gulf of Thailand (Snorkelling and diving in Ko Tao is much better)
The trip starts early in the morning, from the port of Ko Samui at Na Thon. The first part of the journey is rather unevenful, the action starts when reaching Ko Wua Talab (which means Sleeping Cow island), the largest island in the group. There is a stop of around 1.5 hours there with the option to start hiking up a STEEP hill. The views are wonderfull, especially in good weather but beware : you need to have walking shoes or sandals (no flip-flops) and start right away if you want to also enjoy a swim afterwards, as the hike is very tough and you will need more than one hour round trip.
There are also other activity options. The most rewarding is sea kayak, easy and rewarding in the shallow waters. Most boats also provide handy water proof bags to store your valuables and keep them with you. Some trips also allow for visiting caves in the islands and it is also possible to stay overnight – in a simple bungalow at the marine park headquarters or camping. Don’t expect any 5-star facilities though!
In the end of the day, the boat starts its way back to Ko Samui. Everyone is tired but also happy. The boat crew are washing snorkelling masks and preparing the vessel for next days trip. Everybody else is relaxing, taking some last photos and already a unique experience is becoming a memory to keep
Image Gallery :