Authored by Jo Karnaghan
I’m not an adventurous person. I’ve never bungee jumped, zip lined or skied. I don’t even care for hiking much. Give me a market, a food tour or a lounge by the pool any day. But family holidays are different. It’s a time to explore, and we always aim to try something different. We aim to place ourselves outside of our comfort zones.
That’s why we decided on canoeing around the islands of Phang Nga Bay rather than a leisurely boat ride on our recent trip to Phuket.
Canoeing Around the Islands of Phang Nga Bay Thailand
Phang Nga Bay, off the east coast of Phuket Island is definitely one of the most beautiful parts of Thailand. That means there are plenty of tour operators, flight bookings, and options for departure points. We boarded our ship in the village of Ao Por at the far north east of Phuket Island. It was a pretty little village in its own right, complete with traditional fishing boats, and that gorgeous aquamarine water.
The trip out to our canoeing destination was about an hour by boat, but what a trip! Glorious scenery, stunning rock formations and that pretty sea. I wasn’t really sure how canoeing could improve our experience. But I was willing to give it a go! Can you canoe around the islands in Thailand?
We reached Hong Island, our first canoe stop. Our canoes were inflatable and our guide Bobbie ordered the family in to keep everything nicely balanced. “You here Mrs, now you Miss, you go at the front Mr.” Ay, ay, Captain!
I still wasn’t feeling adventurous, but at least I was in the canoe without any mishap!
Start of the Adventure
Canoes headed off into the coves and inlets of the island. Despite the other canoes in the water, it was incredibly peaceful. Just us, Bobbie and the sea. Sensing our mood, Bobbie paddled slowly, keeping us away from the noise and boisterous water fights going on between the other canoes. Instead, he showed us the features of the island, and told us stories of the local people’s history and beliefs about the island and the sea.
The last “room” we entered was a real treat. A tiny little gap in the rocks, which required us to lie flat to fit through we arrived in an almost perfectly circular inlet – stunning! Best water adventures in Thailand.
We heard birdsong, and on the way back to our ship we saw crabs and fish as our little canoe hugged the island.
Off to our second and last destination, Panak Island, which was completely different. We beached our canoe and headed off on foot through knee height water, into what looked like a cave. Bobbie took my youngest and went ahead with a little torch to light our way. He also had some mysterious object in his hand.
As we headed deeper into the cave we could see a soft glow in the distance. Getting closer, the glow started to make more sense. Bobbie’s mysterious object also made sense – a coconut shell with an offering. We added ours to the rest of the offerings. No, it wasn’t adventurous, but it was a pretty and meaningful part of our excursion.
Deeper into the cave, and finally we emerge into the sunlight. Again we are in an almost perfectly circular inlet. Except this time it is a mangrove. At high tide it is possible to canoe through the caves and into the mangrove itself, but it’s low tide when we visit.
Return to Ao Por
It’s getting late as we return to Ao Por. But the beauty of our trip is not finished. We are treated to a magnificent Thai sunset just as photogenic as any I have seen.
Canoeing round the islands of Phang Nga Bay is wonderful trip whether you are a solo traveller, a couple or a family. Choose your tour operator according to your taste and budget and your canoeing expedition can be as adventurous or relaxing as you want it to be.
We let Bobbie paddle us around, but many others on our ship paddled themselves with their guide for company. I thoroughly recommend a trip that returns to Phuket in the evening. Watching the sun set over the Bay is worth the trip alone.
I’m still not an adventurous person, but I did love my little “adventure” canoeing round the islands of Phang Nga Bay!