If you thought Koh Phi Phi was the inspiration behind the film ‘The Beach’ that starred Leonardo Dicaprio, think again. While the movie was filmed there, the original story took place on a secret island utopia in the azure waters in the south of Thailand. So on our last trip to Koh Samui, we hitched a ride on an incredible 30-metre yacht and headed out on the high seas to explore this island paradise for ourselves.
Scattered across the Gulf of Thailand lies Ang Thong Marine National Park – an archipelago of 42 islands with towering limestone mountains, thick tropical jungles and white sand beaches. Island hopping across the entire archipelago takes a few weeks, but if you’re staying on Koh Samui or Koh Pha Ngan, you can get a taste of it in one day.
There are plenty of tours on offer, but choose carefully as it will shape your entire island hopping experience. There are speed boats that will get you there fast, luxe yachts that take their time, and private charters for those wanting to go at their own pace. Then you need to decide on the vibe of your boat – do you want a party boat with music pumping, or a family friendly one with slides running from the deck to the ocean? You can even go diving, kayaking and hiking – or combine all three.
We chose a luxurious yacht so we could take our time getting out there. The entire wooden deck was covered in sun beds, giving us a rare opportunity to catch up on sleep in between island shoots. Halfway to Ang Thong we ran into some pretty dicey weather, but by the time we reached the main island of Koh Mae, the sun was beaming. We climbed the hundreds and hundreds of steep wooden stairs up a 240-meter rock to see the island’s main attraction – an inland saltwater lagoon called Emerald Lake that is a glittering green-sea body of water. We weren’t there long enough to visit the sea gypsy village on Koh Paluay, but we did fit in some pretty epic snorkelling and beach time.
If you’re keen for a yacht cruise, we sailed with Boutique Yachting on their ‘Marine Park Discovery Cruise’. The yacht was dope, the crew was chill and they kept us hydrated with some damn good mojitos. What more could you want? 😉