It's our last full day in Thailand and what would be a better way to round off this amazing trip than to take a tour around the paradise islands of Phi Phi.
The taxi picked us up looking weary eyed just after 7.30am and we made the short drive to Phuket Royal Marina.. Pulling in to the marina the sun was shining hard already at 28 degrees and the forecast was telling us it is only going to get hotter (it would later reach 35 degrees!). We were introduced to our tour guide for the day Tik from Tours By U who were recommended by our hotel and they certainly did not disappoint.
After a brief introduction on the boat the motors roared to life and we were on our way, only to be stopped just 40 minutes in to our journey due to a slight engine malfunction!
A few concerned eyes darted around the boat but within 10 minutes we were back on our way cruising over the mild waves heading toward Maya Bay. This is probably the most famous beach in Thailand as it played host to the filming of The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio over 15 years ago! Since watching the film it has been a dream of ours to visit and knowing that there are over 1000 visitors a day to the bay we were expecting hoards of crowds to be packing the sand. To our surprise it wasn't half as bad as we were expecting and we were still able to enjoy the views surrounding us as well as having a quick dip in the sea too. The beach is surrounded by limestone cliffs with bonsai trees scaling all around them. The palm trees which line the sand are not native to the island and were in fact imported at the time of filming the movie by the creators to attempt to make the island seem even more idyllic
This really was a magical experience for both of us but the day was only about to get better! Just a five minute ride around the corner is Pileh Cove. A deep lagoon providing the perfect opportunity for some ship diving. Alex was first to take the plunge off the boat performing a monkey-esque pose on the way down. Due to the height of the jump you dive down quite a distance and it does take a few seconds to resurface which gave Lydia a slight feeling of apprehension. But after some hesitation, Lydia plucked up the courage to make the splash too, much to the applaud of the rest of our tour.
Drying off in the blistering heat and constantly reapplying sun cream to avoid any unwanted burns, we made another short journey to Monkey Beach. As you approach the shore the trees ahead of you begin to shake. Branches are swayed in every direction as the monkeys swing down the trees for feeding time. Armed with bananas we stepped off the boat cautiously, presenting the monkeys with small slices in the palm of our hands. The monkeys graciously pinch the banana out of your hand before retreating back to the safety of their beach. Feeding wild monkeys is an experience everyone should do at least once!
Trying to calm down from the excitement and realisation of what we had just experience we made yet another short journey to Loh Samah Bay. A shallow coral reef lining the coast of Phi Phi Leh was the perfect opportunity for Lydia to have her first experience of snorkelling! What a perfect place to do it! With plenty of Nemo and Dorey looking fish to swim amongst, Lydia was in her element.
The Phi Phi Islands aren't just about being in paradise. They also host some very historical and educational elements too such as Viking Cave also known as Bird Nest Cave. Inside the cave are old paintings on the walls of Viking style ships hence the reason of the former name. The latter name has come around more recently as birds nests now engulf the cave which a Chinese company now owns. They sell both the eggs from the cave but also the nests themselves and it is guarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year by a lone man. You may be able to see from the photo below that bamboo ladders are erected around the cave allowing the staff to be able to go from nest to nest at free will.
Phi Phi Leh really is an incredible island, probably because it is so strict with rules in regards to development. Phi Phi Don however is a little more relaxed with hotels, apartments and restaurants all around the island which is where we stopped off for lunch. If you do stay in Phi Phi Don then you will be able to hire a taxi boat to take you around these stunning places on a more intimate tour.
We really did have the most fantastic day touring the Phi Phi Islands and it was a phenomenal ending to a brilliant time in the Land of Smiles.