JUST A DAY AT THE BEACH…
We left the village of Ban Na Thai this morning and made our way to Ao Nang for a couple of days of relaxing on the beach. Thailand’s beaches are famous for their pristine beauty and, having come all this way, we thought we should stop by to see what all the fuss is about. THIS is why Thai beaches are so popular…
We’re staying in Ao Nang, on the Western side of the Thai peninsula not far from famous beachside destinations of Krabi and Phuket.
Facing the Andaman Sea, Ao Nang is a small and ridiculously touristy resort town populated almost entirely by unattractive, overweight, and sunburnt tourists – or at least so it seemed to us when we arrived this morning! The main (only) street faces the beach and is lined with souvenir shops, bars, and restaurants; the hillsides back from the beach are peppered with an assortment of hotels and resorts, catering to every taste and budget. The town itself isn’t much to speak of (in fact it’s ugly and tacky), but the beaches aren’t bad and, more importantly, Ao Nang makes a good base from which to explore the off-shore islands.
After dropping our bags off at our hotel we wandered down the hill to the main beach, eager to start our day of sunbathing and relaxation. Unfortunately the main beach in Ao Nang is not that nice, though the longtail boats that line the shore do make for some pretty photos.
After a quick exploration of the main beach and street, we decided Ao Nang is convenient as a base, but for some good beachside R&R we had to venture a little further afield for the day. Luckily there are islands aplenty not far off the coast, and a plethora of longtail and/or speed boats available for hire. We chose Koh Mai Phai (aka Bamboo Island) as our destination for the afternoon.
Located just 12km off the coast, Koh Mai Phai is a small uninhabited island that sits within the Hat Nopparat Thara National Park. The national park covers an area of almost 40,000 hectares and includes dozens of islands, as well as innumerable limestone mountains, coral cays, and white sandy islets like the one we visited.
Surrounded by crystal clear water, Bamboo Island is fringed by a pristine white sandy beach and capped by a dense patch of shady trees. It’s a tiny island; there’s not much to do there but swim, sunbathe, and relax. Which is exactly what we did!
We caught the boat back to Ao Nang late in the afternoon, in time to enjoy a long walk along the beach at low tide and to see the sun set over the ocean.
After today we can see why so many people flock to Thailand to enjoy the beaches and soak in the sunshine, though it does seem that towns like Ao Nang have had to sacrifice a lot of their “Thai-ness” and soul for the sake of the tourist dollar. Certainly the next time we come to Thailand to enjoy some beach time we’ll be looking further afield to find a less commercialised, touristy destination.