Paddling Paradise: Kayaking in Phi Phi
The Bodega Guide to Kayaking in Phi Phi
The clear blue waters of Thailand are tailor-made for for epic kayaking in Phi Phi. Paddle out!
Imagine paddling along this spectacular coastline in your very own canoe, calling in at secluded bays to sunbathe on the empty golden sands and jumping into the ocean to snorkel on reefs untouched by tourist boats. You could even get up close and personal with local fishermen at one of the traditional villages that fringe the shoreline. Sound good? Read on for the low-down on this fun and laidback activity.
Tasting Turquoise Water Paradise
The setting for this kayak adventure is the gorgeous Phi Phi islands, off the coast from Phuket. This is the Thailand of the imagination. Limestone karst cliffs tumble down to soft golden sands, and the warm turquoise water is home to vibrant coral and a spectacular array of fish and marine life.
You could quite happily while away the hours daydreaming in this paradise setting, but if the urge to explore hits you then grab a kayak and get paddling. There are two islands to explore and both have something unique to offer.
Route 1- Koh Phi Phi Don
This is the bigger island so you’ll want to get an early start to make sure you have time to make the most of the day. Paddle south-east round the tip of the island and head for Rantee Bay. The snorkeling here is spectacular so tie up your kayak, jump in and get swimming.
Once you’ve had your fill of spotting Nemo fish, carry on north. The area just below Laem Tong beach is the traditional home of the ‘Moken’ sea gypsy tribe and if you’re lucky you may spot some local guys doing some free-diving to catch fish.
Grab some lunch at Laem Tong before carrying on round to Nui Bay on the west coast. Your arms will probably be tired by now, so have a rest! Lying on the warm sand with a cold beer is one of life’s pleasures and you’ve earned a break. The sun will start to dip towards the horizon as you lie here, but don’t leave it too late to leave as you’ll want to be back at Ton Sai by sunset.
Route 2 – Koh Phi Phi Le
This route takes you to Maya Bay, the big hitter of Phi Phi. Made famous by the film version of Alex Garland’s iconic book The Beach it’s an undeniably beautiful place, but Phi Phi Le has plenty of others gems to offer the adventurous kayaker as well. Pack a picnic for this one as Loh Samah bay is a wonderful lunch spot but doesn’t have any food options.
Start with a paddle to the northern point of the island then track down the east coast to Viking Cave. This is a super cool place to explore, with (recent) cave paintings of ships on the walls and bamboo scaffolding providing access to the shadowy depths for local birds nest collectors. After a poke around in here, carry on south to Pileh Bay for some more excellent snorkeling. Black reef sharks are occasionally spotted so fingers crossed you might get lucky!
It’s time to crack open the food now, so paddle to Loh Samah bay and relax with some lunch. If you have a siesta then so much the better! We’re saving the best for last- paddle round the headland to Maya Bay. You’ve made it to the most famous beach in the world. If you time your visit in the late afternoon then you’ll avoid the tourist crush and be able to enjoy the stunning setting in peace and quiet. What a way to finish your kayak adventure!
Costs and Logistics
Kayak hire is about 200-300 baht per hour for a one person boat, or 300 baht per hour for a two-seater. Choose your paddle mate wisely, relationships have ended over less! It’s easiest to pick up a boat in Ton Sai or Loh Dalam bay and prices are negotiable if you smile and haggle hard.
Take a waterproof bag for your kit and your camera and chuck on as much sunscreen as you possibly can. We’d also advise watching out for rogue waves that might want to acquaint you with the cliffs a little too closely as well, and this one comes from bitter experience!
Did you know?
In order to protect and preserve the local environment, Maya Bay is now closed for four months a year. The closure lasts from June to September but dates are liable to change so make sure you check locally before you set off.