After spending the best part of two months exploring bustling cities and historic towns in South East Asia, we were more than ready to hit some beaches. I’d been long awaiting our island hopping adventures in Thailand because everyone I know who has spent time in this part of Thailand have come back telling tales of beautiful beaches, exquisite snorkelling and beautiful sunsets. I’ve seen photo album upon photo album on Facebook, filled with the most beautiful photos that look like a real life paradise. Naturally I was incredibly excited to do some island hopping in Thailand with my little tribe in tow.
We started our journey in Phuket, where we found ourselves spoilt for choice when it came to beaches. We stayed at a great hotel that offers small apartment style accommodation called Pure and Pam Village, which is perfect for families. It was the perfect place to start our island hopping as it meant we could spend the morning at the beach, before heading back to the apartment for an afternoon of playing on the front porch, eating good food and taking naps.
While in Phuket we hired a long tail boat for a day and set off to explore some of the other islands. We opted for Koh Hae (also known as Coral island) and Koh Bon.
Coral Island and Koh Bon
Coral Island is incredibly scenic, with shallow blue waters lapping against white sand beaches, with a beautiful a backdrop of green mountainous islands. The beach is scattered with leaning palm trees and the occasional flowering shrub. Unfortunately, Coral Island is no secret hideaway and is a hot tourist stop in Southern Thailand.
As we approached the island, the waters became a lot rougher and our boat began lurching from side to side. The seawater splashed over the sides of the boat and to be completely honest I was so glad we had bought and packed some sturdy children’s life jackets for our trip. As the boat worked it’s way around the corner, we were met with dozens of speedboats ferrying groups of tourists from the shore to floating platforms, where they could begin a wind surfing excursion. The level of activity in the water made for some difficult navigation.
We made it to the shoreline and disembarked. We waded through the water to the beach and set up camp in the shadow of the only uninhabited shaded spot on the beach. It would have been a rather idyllic spot, in the shade, a stone throw away from the shallow water and some distance from the crowds. Unfortunately, it appeared the tourists who had visited the island before us had left a considerable amount of rubbish. Bottles of hair spray, medicine bottles, packets of unopened tablets, perfume bottles, beer bottles, water bottles and what looked like half of a dildo.
We decided to try and ignore the horrendous amount of rubbish behind us and laid down our beach mat. Only we then began to notice that the entire area was littered with cigarette butts. It’s a saddening moment, when your children stop digging for treasure because all they are finding is rubbish, discarded plastic and cigarette butts.
We encouraged the boys to go on a shell hunt along the shoreline, where we found a number of shells, broken dead coral and an interesting lump of wood with carvings. Unfortunately we had to do our search around more scattered rubbish, more discarded plastic bottles and more cigarette butts.
After a couple of hours we boarded back onto the boat. The boys were starting to get a bit tired, so we decided to skip Koh Bon and headed back to Phuket. We did pass by Kon Bon en route though and found the tours we had seen there earlier in the day had long gone and left only a handful of people on the beach, which is something to consider if wanting to visit an island without the crowds.
After passing by Koh Bon, we unexpectedly stopped a short distance away from the shore line of another island. Our driver and his friend began throwing food over the side of the boat and we looked over the side to see a mass of shimmering colours just underneath the water’s surface. The boys looked down for a moment before realising they were fish, which made their day after being obsessed with ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘Finding Dory’ in recent months. The driver then asked if any of us would like to do some snorkelling, which Mr. C jumped at the chance to do. The boys and I watched as Mr. C swam further away from the boat and deeper in the coral reef.
Our driver’s friend then jumped from the side of the boat and swam into the depths of the water himself. He appeared minutes later with a bright purple starfish in his hands. He did this trip a number of times, so we ended up with three brightly coloured starfish in the boat. Although a truly beautiful sight we would have otherwise missed, it did then start an awkward discussion with the boys about the importance of leaving sea animals in the sea. Thankfully Mr. C took all the starfish back to the coral reef before getting out of the water himself, which set a brilliant example that I hope the boys will remember in the future.
The Phi Phi islands
Our five year anniversary fell during our time on Thailand’s islands, so we decided to spend a little bit extra on accommodation than usual and booked a hotel for two nights on Ko Phi Phi Don.
Although a great place to book a number of island hopping and snorkelling excursions, we decided to spend our limited time on the island relaxing, with the exception of a short hike to the viewpoint. The hike to the viewpoint is hard work, so if doing it with young children bring a carrier and be prepared to carry them up a lot of steps. Both of the boys did so well climbing to the top, with Bear in particular climbing a majority of it himself. Once we reached the top, it seemed only fair to indulge on ice cream from the cafe / shop before taking in the truly beautiful view.
Krabi and Ao Nang
We ended our island hopping in Krabi, where we stayed at the River Front Hotel. The hotel has a great outdoor pool, that the boys were eager to jump into. Krabi is a great place to use as a base for island hopping, but we decided to stay on land and took a taxi down to Ao Nang, where we could sit in the shade of towering trees and look out to open waters. Krabi also has a great little night market, where we stocked up on some fresh fruit, found a great muslim restaurant and even found a stall selling pre prepared Durian fruit.
Durian fruit is found throughout South East Asia and has a reputation of having an unpleasant smell and unusual taste. To be honest, we didn’t find the smell that bad, but the fruit was a bit like garlic avocado. It’s one of those things people tell you doesn’t taste good, which makes you want to try it even more. Trying Durian fruit is definitely one of those things travellers in South East Asia should try at least once.
Our time island hopping in Thailand with young children
We loved our time exploring Thailand’s island and visiting some truly stunning spots on our travels, with Ko Phi Phi Don being one of our favourites. It was the perfect place to kick back a bit after some more hectic travel destinations and definitely somewhere we loved visiting.
Although we have loved our time island hopping, it really brought home the impact human activity and plastic waste is having on our planet. In every location where rubbish was piled up, we found people walking past it, as if it wasn’t even there, as if it wasn’t even a problem. This only highlighted how dire the situation is. There are some initiatives in place that are tackling this issue, with some beach clean ups happening in various places on the islands. That alone is not enough though, we need to be doing more. If you are going to visit this region and do some island hopping, clean up after yourself and do your bit. This is our planet, our one and only home and our attitude to how we treat it needs to change globally. If we don’t tackle this problem head on, these beaches will no longer be worth visiting, our seas and oceans will be dead, toxic waste lands and our children will never be able to see the true beauty of it under the waste that we have left scattered all over it.
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